HBO’s spy dramedy brings viewers back to the friendly skies for another round of seriously dark stuff.
It’s been over a year since we saw Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) at the beginning of her sobriety, coming to terms with how the trauma and legacies of her childhood shaped her. As season two begins, we get the rundown on how that’s been going via her AA sharing. Now based in Los Angeles, Cassie is healthy, in a relationship with smoking hot photographer Marco (Santiago Cabrera). She’s also still working as an international first-class flight attendant with an unspecified side hustle that definitely isn’t working with the CIA, wink.
On paper, Cassie’s life is approaching that particular brand of California zen that you only read about in Elle. She’s like an aspiring Amanda Chantal Bacon. But this is The Flight Attendant. No matter how together Cassie seems on the surface, we know we aren’t getting the whole picture. The cracks in the facade are already there. So when an assignment in Berlin goes terribly wrong, evidence that points to Cassie begins to mount. In true “when it rains, it pours” fashion, bad shit just keeps piling up on Cassie and the people in her life.
While Cassie is once again pulled out of the frying pan and into the fire, her best bud Annie (Zosia Mamet) is in LA with her adorable hacker partner Max (Deniz Akdeniz) to do a little job hunting. Annie, more of a realist than Cassie, is also trying to deal with her life’s rudderless path. A sharp-edged New York native, Annie is entirely out of her element in good-vibes-only law offices. Even for a New Yorker who’s seen everything, offices where partners sit in lotus pose while conducting job interviews are still a lot to take. Seeing Annie’s more human, unsure side is refreshing after she spent season one keeping Cassie afloat.
As with the first season, all the heavy hitters are women, with newcomer Grace (Mae Martin) taking over for Megan Briscoe (Rosie Perez). After her light treason, Megan is still on the lam. She’s keeping company with bluefin tuna expert Utada (Margaret Cho!) and learning a lot about mushrooms. Then there’s Dot Karson, one of the CIA higher-ups overseeing Cassie. Played by Cheryl Hines in a warm, mentor-like manner, she still gets suspect when bodies start piling up around Cassie. Finally, Shohreh Aghdashloo steps in as Cassie’s AA sponsor Brenda. She gives one of the season’s most powerful perfomances in episode five, “Drowning Women.”
The Flight Attendant still weaves humor and heartbreak into some pretty solid spy stuff.
If there is anything this season of The Flight Attendant has in spades, it’s brutal honesty. It starts with Brenda, who makes it clear that there’s no real finish line when it comes to addiction. It’s something that takes work–hard work–every single day. So it’s especially gutting when, after this conversation, Cassie endures a confrontation with her estranged mother, Lisa (Sharon Stone). Lisa serves as a necessary reminder that addiction doesn’t just hurt the addict. It’s a devastating confrontation, with Stone and Cuoco putting everything they have into it. As someone who has had a thorny relationship with one maternal figure or another, it’s impossible to watch this scene and not feel heartbroken for everyone.
Some might say this season is trying to do too many things at once, and it is a lot of cloak and dagger that gets to be pretty chaotic, but as with season one, the heart of the story is Cassie trying to come to terms with who she is. Last season, she had to reckon with the past, but now it is the present and the future she’s not trying to see too clearly.
The stakes are higher and, yes, a bit ridiculous. However, in the end, The Flight Attendant still weaves humor and heartbreak into some pretty solid spy stuff. “So what, you’re telling me your life is some John le Carré novel now?” Annie asks at one point, and it’s not too far off the mark. Personally, I like to think of Cassie as a more self-aware James Bond. All the casual sex and martinis are window dressing for some seriously dark shit. Cassie just happens to be better at owning up to it.
The Flight Attendant Season Two begins its descent on HBO this April 21.