The first season of HBO Max‘s Hitchcockian thriller series “The Flight Attendant” wrapped in December 2020, and whether you’ve been slinging back vodka and sodas like the show’s main character Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) enjoyed doing throughout the entirety of that first season, or dry as a bone and carefully balancing all of your internal and external baggage, to the best of your abilities, like the turned-a-new-leaf Cassie of season 2, it may be hard to remember where we left off.
When we first met Cassie we followed her booze-soaked antics as a flight attendant for Imperial Atlantic, flirting her way across the friendly skies during her work hours, and partying her blonde ponytail askew during any personal time she was afforded. It didn’t take long to catch on to the fact that these two things often blurred together in Cassie’s life, which, as a thriller will sneak up and do on ya, propelled her right into the perfectly wrong place at the perfectly wrong time to set up the conflict needed to advance the rest of the season. And in this particular case that conflict comes in the form of a handsome dead guy that Cassie wakes up next to.
After discovering baby-faced businessman Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), throat slit and very much deceased in the bed next to her after what was supposed to be a one-and-done night of debauchery that began with a dual membership to the mile high club and continued during Cassie’s layover in Bangkok, Cassie spends the rest of that season attempting to clear her already pretty tarnished name, and figure out who’s behind his murder, all while trying to quit drinking and stay alive.
The second season jumps ahead with two back-to-back episodes, and in the premiere we meet back up with Cassie just days before the one-year anniversary of her sobriety, so we see that she’s managed the whole no drinking thing all this while; but the staying alive part is still, apparently, challenging for her as she has, once again, put herself smack dab in the middle of danger.
Kaley Cuoco in “The Flight Attendant” season 2 (Julia Terjung/HBO Max)Having moved from her apartment in New York to a gorgeous cottage in Los Angeles that would be an immediate add to anyone’s Pinterest, Cassie is six months into the longest relationship of her life with a guy named Marco (Santiago Cabrera), helping to keep her AA meetings well-stocked with donuts, and preparing for a visit from her best friend Annie (Zosia Mamet) and Annie’s kinda sorta fiance Max (Deniz Akdeniz). All well and good, and nothing that could eventually lead to her early death in that life equation, but add in the fact that she’s moonlighting as a CIA civilian “asset” when not working as a flight attendant and here comes our conflict for this season.
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When Cassie’s CIA “handler” Benjamin (Mo McRae) sends her on an assignment in Berlin to observe the comings and goings of a man named Will (Kayvon Esmaili) she’s warned to not get too close, which she has a bad habit of doing, but of course she doesn’t pay that any mind. Trailing her “mark” to his hotel, Cassie has a run-in with a sketchy couple in the lobby who stop her to say they were on her flight from Los Angeles. While one half of the couple, Gabrielle Diaz (Callie Hernandez) distracts her with pleasantries, the other, Esteban Diaz (J.J. Soria) uses a phone app called “data clone” to steal the info from the contents of her purse. I’m assuming this is info contained in her phone, but who the hell knows what a “data clone” is capable of, really? Either way, this is an interaction to keep in the back of your mind as this couple will surely play a large part in the danger and intrigue of upcoming episodes, starting with episode 2 where they’re caught trying to break into her house.
Once Cassie cozies up to Will at the bar you can see her struggling with pushing back demons of the past. She wants to flirt with him. Possibly go up to his room. But she holds herself back and continues with her mission, following him to the roof of a heavily graffitied warehouse and snapping pictures of him retrieving a mysterious envelope.
Conning the front desk clerk of the hotel into telling her which room Will is staying in, she checks into the one across from it so she can continue keeping tabs. Peering across in a very “Rear Window” fashion, she’s shocked to see Will having sexy times with a blonde woman who has the exact same back tattoo as she does. Staring in amazement, she’s late to retreat from the milky-eyed gaze of the man in the room beneath Will’s who appears to be spying on him as well, and now her.
In a panic, Cassie flees her room, making it out to the street just in time to see Will get into a car that explodes soon after, killing him (we’d assume) and knocking her unconscious. While she’s out she has visions of her former selves, echoes of her messy past, who neg and taunt her. When she snaps back to reality she makes her way back to her room but finds that her key card no longer works. A cleaning woman lets her in, but that doesn’t bring much in the way of relief as all her stuff is missing. And while all of this is happening we get snippets here and there that introduce a second mysterious plotline in the way of needy friend and fellow flight attendant Megan (Rosie Perez) who seems to have been kidnapped, but TBD on this one.
On this same TBD front, there are a few new characters introduced in this season who we, as of now, are uncertain as to whether they’ll land in the black hat or white hat category. Grace, played by the fantastic comedian Mae Martin, is a fellow flight attendant and seems cool and casual at first, but then we see her get wrapped up in a sourdough-themed lie, and partake in some shady dealings with a box of fentanyl lollipops. And then there’s Dot Karlson, played by Cheryl Hines (BRAGGADOCIOUS ALERT . . . a little Easter egg there for any fans of the Tig and Cheryl: True Story podcast who may be reading this) who is a higher up at the CIA and seems to want to bend the truth about what happened to Will, and whether or not someone may be trying to frame Cassie for his murder.
Zosia Mamet and Deniz Akdeniz in season 2 of “The Flight Attendant” (Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max)In episode 2 Cassie is reunited with Annie and Max, who come to Los Angeles to visit and don’t even have time to hit up a taco cart before getting thrown back into Cassie’s drama. While they’re catching their breath from hearing Cassie rattle off the details of Will’s murder, an airport employee knocks on the door and delivers Cassie’s missing suitcase.
Tipped off to the fact that it’s been tampered with by the change in location of the the blue ribbon identifier she always ties to it, they have a feeling they’ll find something alarming inside once they unzip the case, and they’re certainly right about that. Rather than a few changes of underwear and a couple pairs of jeans they find a bloody blond wig and a vintage ViewMaster with a reel of ominous photos and/or clues in place. One of these clues takes them to the base of The Lady of the Lake statue in Echo Park, but they don’t know what to do once they get there. The person snapping photos of them from a distance likely knows what’s up, but we won’t be privy to that intel until the next episode, if we’re lucky. Hopefully by then we’ll also learn what Margaret Cho’s character Utada’s intentions are with Megan, and why, aside from the fact that they’re slow dancing to records like it’s any ‘ol Tuesday night, it seems like she’s the one who kidnapped her? Damn. I love this show.