The Biggest Questions from 'The Flight Attendant,' Our New Mystery TV Obsession
The HBO Max show starring former 'Big Bang Theory' star Kaley Cuoco is a tense, fun murder mystery waiting to be cracked.
The Flight Attendant is one of the most stressful shows I have ever watched. It's also one of the most fun. Now that HBO Max has dropped the first three episodes, please get on board so we can collectively untangle these mysteries together.
Based on a book by Chris Bohjalian and developed by Steve Yockey, a veteran of shows like Supernatural and Awkward, The Flight Attendant stars Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden, a... flight attendant... for the fictional Imperial Airlines. As the opening montage suggests, Cassie likes to party—hard. She spends her nights clubbing and her days in first class. On one trip to Bangkok, she meets a handsome man, Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), in 3C. They flirt. They hook up in the bathroom, and then he invites her out for a night on the town. The date looks romantic, but is more of an alcohol-fueled blur. When she wakes up in Alex's gorgeous hotel room, he's dead next to her, his throat slit in especially gruesome fashion.
Cassie panics, calls her lawyer friend Annie (Zosia Mamet), asks about Amanda Knox, and tries to clean up the crime scene, obviously making her look like more of a suspect. But who killed Alex is only just the start of The Flight Attendant's intrigue. Let's dig in.
When did I become a huge Kaley Cuoco fan?
Here's where I'll admit that I have not watched a single episode of The Big Bang Theory from start to finish, only catching bits and pieces every so often in syndicated cable reruns. Now she's in two of my favorite shows of the year: this and the animated Harley Quinn, both of which she also produces. As Cassie, Cuoco convincingly manages to come off as both an extremely fun hang and a deeply traumatized person, the former constantly trying to keep the latter at bay.
What happened to Cassie's dad?
Some of that trauma is related to finding her hookup bleeding and very dead, but there's clearly something else Cassie has repressed, related to her father. A large chunk of The Flight Attendant takes place in Cassie's mind. In one corner, she's conjured a version of Alex that talks her through unraveling the circumstances around his death. (He also remains hot and seductive.) In another, we flashback to her childhood, where she goes hunting with her father who hands her a beer, starting her alcoholism from a very young age. What also precipitates that? His death, for which Cassie may or may not have been responsible. There are also rabbits involved. Cassie seems to have a fixation on bunnies.
Speaking of which, what can we close read from the opening title sequence?
The Flight Attendant has a gloriously animated opening title sequence, packed with what we assume are clues. For instance: Notice all the rabbits? And the women with deer heads? Also, man, these titles are just so well done.
What is Rosie Perez up to?
The legendary Rosie Perez plays Megan, Cassie's colleague at the airline. Initially, Megan seems like she may fill a stereotypical "best friend" role, but Rosie Perez is far too famous for that, and it quickly becomes obvious that Megan isn't really one of Cassie's close friends. She wants to be, but she's an oddball with an air of desperation, and is up to something involving stealing information off her husband's computer. Likely, this is all somehow linked. Also, more Rosie Perez is always better.
Who is Miranda?
Obviously, the biggest cliffhanger of these first three episodes revolves around the identity of Miranda (Michelle Gomez), who apparently showed up while Cassie and Alex were out in Bangkok and could be either Alex's killer or someone who knows why Alex was killed, at least. But Miranda (and her Scottish accent) might not be the villain we think she is. Either way, we're in for a bit of turbulence.
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