Entertainment

'The Flight Attendant' Showrunner Breaks Down That Twisty Ending and What's to Come

The HBO Max series ended in a fascinating, unexpected place involving secret spies.

the flight attendant, kaley cuoco
HBO Max

HBO Max's twisty, turn-y Kaley Cuoco thriller The Flight Attendant had a few more twists and turns in its finale, which found our alcoholic heroine Cassie Bowden being pursued by a crazy assassin (who posed as an out of work actor to get close to her) in Rome. She uses her hunky Italian friend with benefits to get a gun, but that doesn't help much when Buckley/Felix (Colin Woodell) assaults her in her hotel room after taking down her foe-turned-ally Miranda (Michelle Gomez), who has a habit of assassinating people herself. (Don't worry: Miranda's okay. She somehow escapes and absconds with a large amount of stolen money at the end.) The person who does come to Cassie's aid is—surprise—her work friend Shane (Griffin Matthews), not just a flight attendant but also a CIA agent. He's been tracking the moves of their colleague Megan (Rosie Perez), given that she's an unwitting spy for North Korea. 

If you'll remember: All this started because Cassie woke up in Bangkok next to the dead body of her one night stand, Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman). Despite being dead, he became her inner monologue as she tried to entangle the mysteries surrounding his gruesome end. Amid all the intrigue, Cassie also untangles some deep-seated personal traumas surrounding the death of her father, and ends up in a much better place than where she started. While the eight episodes tie a nice bow on this saga, there are also plenty of lingering questions, so we turned to showrunner Steve Yockey for some answers.

the flight attendant rosie
HBO Max

Cassie gets a happy ending 

What Yockey does hope the audience mainly takes away from this season of The Flight Attendant: hopefulness. It's perhaps a surprising theme for viewers who have watched Cassie Bowden binge drink and spiral for an entire season. "The idea that it's not a journey of recovery, it's a journey to recovery," Yockey says. "What she goes through across these eight episodes gets her to a place where she's willing to see herself differently, forgive herself for some things and then admit that she needs help." It's not like Cassie is suddenly a-okay. Yockey acknowledges that she's realistic about sobriety. "I think she's going to try, and I think it's the first time she's tried," he adds. "That, to me, is a reason to feel happy at the end of the eight episodes." 

What was Megan up to this whole time? 

Yockey knows that the audience was asking whether Megan's storyline was somehow going to connect to Alex's death and Cassie's conundrum—in fact, he got those same questions from the studios and the network. Now we know that Megan's funneling her husband's corporate secrets to the North Korean government has nothing to do with Lionfish or Alex, but Yockey sees her connection to the central plot as more emotional than literal. "She's the star of her own movie and because this is a show about complex female characters, let's let the connection be emotional rather than plot," Yockey says. "When they have that come to Jesus confessional moment when they are both sitting on the bed in Rome, that is a hugely important thing for both women."

And Yockey acknowledges that Megan's ending is a downer. Whereas Cassie ends up in a good place, Megan is right when she says that not "everyone gets to be okay." "That was always the point of the Megan story, which some people who worked on our project felt was too sad," Yockey says. But should the show return for a Season 2, which seems definitely in the cards even though it was planned as a limited series, Yockey says he will not leave Megan or Rosie Perez behind, no matter where the character is going. 

The Flight attendant shane
HBO Max

Should we have seen that Shane twist coming? 

Arguably the most shocking moment of the finale is when Cassie's flight attendant pal Shane (Griffin Matthews) suddenly comes to her rescue wielding a gun. Surprise! He's a CIA agent. Should we have known all along? Not really. Unlike the reveal that Buckley was actually psychopathic assassin Felix, which was carefully constructed over three episodes, Shane's secret is more elusive. Matthews was aware from the start of the season, and wanted to make sure that his acting choices worked in the context of the twist, but you'd have to look really hard to guess what was coming.

"Shane is just a couple of comments that if you go back and watch the show again [you'll notice]," Yockey says. "The very first thing he does when he sits down the with FBI is start speaking Russian and they are asking other people questions, but he's just peppering them with questions the entire time because he doesn't want to have to lie to them. In episode three, when Cassie and Shane have their big fight leaving the memorial service, she says, 'please don't tell anyone that I brought you here, it's crazy and I know that it's crazy.' He looks at her and says, 'I'm really good at keeping secrets.'" There was one draft of episode seven that led the audience on a little bit more as to Shane's true job, but Yockey found it more effective to keep that in his back pocket. 

Will everyone return for a potential Season 2? 

Yockey doesn't want to get too ahead of himself in describing what he has in mind for a second season: The show has yet to be renewed, and he needs the opinions of his writers' room and other executive producers, like Cuoco herself. That said, the first season ends roughly where Chris Bohjalian's book does, even though it takes some major detours along the way. Alex's murder is solved, and Cassie's being recruited by the CIA. So would a Season 2 follow the same plot? After all, Miranda and Buckley are still very much alive. Or would it veer off in a different direction? "I think it would probably be a new adventure for Cassie, but we would see old friends," he says. "I don't know how exactly they would be involved. That feels right. The discussions we are having are much more about: What does the next chapter of Cassie's life look like?"

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.
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