Wow, a lot can change in five episodes! The first three episodes left some interesting (and not so interesting) questions left to be answered. Unfortunately I don’t think any of the answers we were given were really that satisfying or shocking.
What I’m left with after the final five episodes (and in particular the final two) is a genuine feeling of betrayal from The Flight Attendant—a show that honestly started pretty strong! Ultimately, though, its spinning plates act of different genres and too many storylines comes to a messy and phoned-in conclusion. And it wrongs its talented cast in an ending where everyone is basically a good person??? (Yeah, I’m confused too.)
Your Lawyer BFF Who Does and Doesn’t Hate You and Her Hacker Boyfriend That You Almost Killed
Annie (Zosia Mamet) has a fun and confusing arc where she gets really mad at Cassie (Kayley Cuoco) after her hacker boyfriend Max (Deniz Akdeniz) gets hit by a car while pushing Cassie out of the way. They spend an episode fighting and Cassie goes on this bender with Buckley (Colin Woodell). The episode is supposed to come off as sad because she’s supposedly hitting rock bottom, but it just feels like a filler episode.
Annie then forgives Cassie for the aforementioned boyfriend/car crash incident when it is narratively convenient. In all of this haze, Annie also realizes she has a conscience and can’t work her fancy lawyer job anymore, and that maybe she does love Max. In a very meta-ending for her plotline she has a line that’s something like “well my whole identity hinges on me being a lawyer, so I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”
It’s a moment of self-awareness that sadly becomes a rare quantity in the later episodes of The Flight Attendant. Annie’s character started so strong as a much needed voice of reason in this world of bonkers characters, but her plot-line is reduced to just realizing that she does love Max, and that there’s more to life than being a lawyer.
Although these are important takeaways, I don’t fully buy that Annie would forgive Cassie in the timeline presented. I think Annie’s character would’ve actually come back years later, maybe gone on sabbatical for a year and gotten a nose piercing, and time would’ve healed some of the wounds there.
I know that is perhaps not realistic for the timeline of this show, but I do wish some of the characters were honoured here, because the actors are really giving it their all (particularly Zosia Mamet). Also was it too much to ask for Annie’s character to actually be evil…or at least morally corrupt? Surely that would’ve been more fun than just watching her mope around a hospital bed for the bulk of the later episodes.
Your Dead One-Night-Stand From 3C Who You Actually Didn’t Kill
I did kind of forget during some moments of the later episodes that the central mystery here was Alex Sokolov’s (Michiel Huisman) murder. The latter half becomes very wrapped up in a weird Cassie/Miranda/Felix drama-triangle.
Anyway, in case you were worried for a second that Alex Sokolov might be complicit in the whole money laundering scheme, he’s not! He’s a good school boy, and dies a hero! He was actually trying to throw a wrench in the plans of the bad guys, but got killed doing so.
What’s rather interesting here—but not actually engaged with—is a brief snippet in which we learn that his parents are heavily involved in this but had kept him in the dark about it. The Flight Attendant has really loved the whole family connection rabbit-hole for Cassie, so I wonder why this wasn’t used in Alex’s case? Surely having parallel family horror stories would’ve been more interesting than what was turned in, which felt like just a slew of random villains in random locations.
Also Alex’s parents’ Westchester house had way more brooding vibes for a villain than just mysterious locations in…London? And while we’re on the topic of villains, was Miranda’s boss (Ritchie Coster) Victor—the supposed actual big bad—ever fleshed out beyond his random phone calls? (No, no he wasn’t.)
The Person Who You Thought was a Hit-Woman but Actually Isn’t
Our red herring for being the big bad wolf in this show is of course Miranda (Michelle Gomez), who again has multiple close-calls with Cassie, but in Episode 7 she finally has the chance to kill Cassie! But wait she’s going to whip out her catchphrase: “I’m just a flight attendant!”
Well, that and the surprising amount of intel that Cassie has collected which includes the fact that Miranda is also on some mysterious hit-list. They seemingly bond about this, and in a strange end to her arc, Miranda ends up helping Cassie, and having this weird plane monologue where she confesses actually caring about Cassie’s well-being.
Look, I know Michelle Gomez was a re-cast quite late and they had to reshoot a bunch, but this really came out of nowhere for her character given that she spent like five minutes with Cassie, and I really don’t think Cassie is that likable. She’s human and flawed and you root for her, but I don’t think she’s likable (more on that later).
Miranda ends up taking the money—you know the money from the account codes Alex had written in the copy of Crime and Punishment which Cassie had taken as a see-you-later gift for herself—and re-gifting the book to Cassie in a mysterious ending moment for her character. Anyway, wherever she ended up, I hope she’s happy. I think Michelle Gomez is great, but god help the contradictory arc she was given. This whole criminal with a heart of gold thing, ugh. Surely there’s someone actually bad here.
Are You There, Greg Berlanti? It’s Me,
Joe Goldberg Felix/Buckley
Okay, yes. There is the person who actually killed Alex—and a bunch of cats during childhood—but I didn’t actually find this twist that rewarding or shocking. I mean, why else was this random actor so interested in her? (Also, a moment of silence for the You-esque montage of Felix wearing a black baseball cap in public and not being recognized.)
Anyway, yeah Buckley’s name is actually Felix (and he’s the real piece of work that works for Miranda’s boss Victor). But when I ask for a bad person to be a part of this show, I don’t mean an actual psychopath, I mean like morally corrupt and fascinating, but supposedly good in our eyes.
The finale (and episode before) spend a lot of screen time with Cassie/Miranda running from Felix, which is understandable, but also kind of a complete waste because nothing else actually gets revealed in the finale, besides confirmation that Felix killed Alex, but that was heavily implied in the previous episode.
My main beef to pick here is with how Cassie handles the situation with Buckley/Felix. See, when she gets off the plane in Italy, Felix is waiting for her, but he doesn’t know that Cassie knows that he’s Felix the serial killer! To his knowledge Cassie still thinks that he’s Buckley the actor, y’know the one that she talked about running away with!
So why would she reveal her cards here? Why wouldn’t she simply run to his arms, apologize for breaking it off with him, and act like he did this to run away with her? I ask this question because in the end Cassie is recruited to work with the CIA. And I do think that’s all fun and good, and I do think she actually managed to do a lot of detective work. So it begs my question: why would someone so supposedly intelligent not play this situation smarter?
Unfortunately I have to chalk it up to inconsistent writing of Cassie. In one moment she’s this total genius fighting her way out of things and putting together complex corporations, in another moment she’s a dumb, alcoholic flight attendant. Sure, we contain multitudes as human beings that often contradict one another, but this one just didn’t add up for me. Cassie (and Kayley Cuoco) deserved better.
The People Who Wanted You in Jail But Now Realize You’re Just a Flight Attendant
Then of course there’s your favourite FBI agent dynamic duo (Merle Dandridge and Nolan Gerard Funk) who…I don’t know just kind of pick up the phone and call a bunch of people in the end to try and protect Cassie from Felix.
I kind of wish there was more to say about these two but there’s not. Remember earlier on when Merle Dandridge had that really sloppy monologue about intersectionality and oppression in the workplace? Yeah, that was a weird moment, but I also wish there was more characterization attempts like that for these two. I’ve been a fan of Nolan Gerard Funk since the weird cult-classic The Canyons, so I know he can sort of act, but this really didn’t do anything for him. Remember that corrupt FBI agent that Annie blackmailed in the beginning that worked in the office? That was fun, where was more of that?
This Whole B-Plot That’s Basically a Different Show Starring Your Other BFF Rosie Perez
Elsewhere in a B-Plot that fails to connect to the main story besides the whole Shane (Griffin Matthews) working for the CIA and actually being there to monitor Megan (Rosie Perez) thing, we have this weird standalone piece of an unfulfilled wife’s life.
That’s really all it adds up to for me, she’s unfulfilled, she breaks some rules, lands her husband in some real hot water and ultimately feels regret. Arguably Megan is the baddest and most morally corrupt person on this show, and faces the most consequences, but none of that actually connects to the whole Alex Sokolov murder/Cassie main plot. Weird, honestly. Can you believe Rosie Perez caught COVID in Thailand while traveling to film The Flight Attendant and ended up with this plot-line? Yikes.
When Will You Learn That Your Actions Don’t Have Consequences?
My last bone to pick with this series is Cassie’s conclusion and overall lack of consequences. Again, I think the whole CIA thing is kind of fun, and I do think Cassie is smart enough to do work for the CIA, but my main issue with this ending is that I feel like Cassie is rewarded for her behaviour throughout. There are no consequences for her general selfishness, and in the light of her trauma coming out, there is also no real healing given to her character.
The trauma is of course getting into an accident where her drunk father dies. She runs from the accident and sees a rabbit (hence all the rabbits in this show). Cassie has a nice moment where she goes back and talks to her past self, and another nice moment where she has a moment with Alex where they kiss and stuff after she’s vulnerable.
Then again, I do feel like some acknowledgement that she was changed because of this was needed. Maybe she started to work on her healing and alcoholism instead of just getting on a plane and having this very “and I’m a flight attendant!” ending? (Which felt very like a superhero blasting off to save the world again, ugh.)
Remember the episode where she said she became a flight attendant to help people, and then in the end she actually realized she became a flight attendant because she runs towards chaos? Where was that self-awareness in the ending?
It’s like all the contradictory edges of her character were discarded, all her wrong-doings (including years of gaslighting her brother) were forgiven, and just like that she goes to work for the CIA. I half expected Cassie and Alex to break out in this specific song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but alas The Flight Attendant lost its self-awareness in the end, and really all touches of reality.
I think it really could’ve done something smart and subversive for the whole mystery/thriller/comedy genre if it kept that up, but sadly that wasn’t the case. If you must watch The Flight Attendant, keep your expectations stowed at all times, and don’t check any baggage, you’ll probably just want to take your carry-on and run. Thanks for flying Imperial Atlantic!