Unpacking Season 1 of The Flight Attendant - Episode 8
This is Part 8 of a blog series about The Flight Attendant. I will be posting my response to each episode after watching, and doing a bit of 'on the fly' analysis after each initial viewing. Be warned: since the plot will be discussed, there are spoilers ahead!
The Flight Attendant - Episode 8 - 'Arrivals and Departures'
Creator: Steve Hockey
Director: Marcos Siega
The season finale was set up in episode 7 so that viewers were poised for a showdown in Rome: the destination of Cassie's next scheduled flight. From the off, tensions were high as so many lives (and a lot of money) were at stake, not to mention our protagonist being on the cusp being able to love and forgive herself - two much under-appreciated attributes in people. With Miranda as an ally and a half-cooked plan to execute, take off couldn't come sooner.
Agent White doesn't get any less annoying as the finger prints come back with Cassie as a match, putting her in the Bangkok hotel room after the time of Alex's death. Thankfully, Agent Hammond (or Kim, as she tells Ani to call her) is not yet willing to accept that Cassie is the killer with this single piece of evidence. The moment she tells White to get out of her face and to stop belittling her instincts was way, way overdue and made me thankful that her character existed, otherwise we could have been looking at a much less sophisticated manhunt led by one agent and his ego. Cassie just seems to be one of those women that men feel they need to avenge. His obsession with her as the lead suspect not only undermines his professionalism but makes him seem seedy.
Take off doesn't come without a few hitches. Miranda is delayed and doesn't show as planned, Megan is still being frosty and Felix intercepts Cassie at the airport. The plan for her to stick with a group for safety doesn't quite work and she meets him eye to eye, relying on a 'Cassie stunt' to buy some time and make a getaway. Quite what his statement suit (see below) was about, I have no idea. For me, the 1940s gangster look just exacerbates his profile as a delusional (yet lethal) oddball.
The following reconciliation between Megan and Cassie made the secondary storyline about Megan stealing information from her husband worthwhile, even if I haven't been a huge fan of its overall execution as a storyline throughout the show as a whole. These characters' situations are different but the spiralling effect of being involved in a criminal world is something they bond over on more than a superficial level, and the comfort of knowing that the friendship has been anchored - even if they have reconnected over absurd experiences - is a relief.
Cassie returns to Enrico (Alberto Frezza) in search of a weapon. Lovely, gorgeous, generous Enrico. As she walks up to him (mid-shift, no less!), and declares, "I need to find a gun," the realisation that yet another innocent person will be involved and hurt becomes clear. The look on his face suggests he knows it is going to end badly too, but he obliges all the same, requesting a weapon from his grandmother. Understandably, his grandma has some questions about why her late husband's gun is needed and who might be using it. The conversation between her and Cassie while they overlook the Italian countryside is a little on the nose. She is an example of a typical elder, archetypal character whose few lines pertain less to the current situation and more to the wider battles faced. It's unclear how her advice about children repeating their parents' mistakes and having the space to carry other people's choices relates to the search for a weapon, but the close up shot on the bottles of vodka spilling out of Cassie's purse makes it clear that their exchange provides a moment of clarity for her. It's a little shoehorned in to accommodate Cassie's personal growth and to guide her on the path to sobriety, but it does the job! As they leave with the desired gun, nine mini bottles of vodka are left lined up along the wall. She finally has the strength to say no.
As Cassie revisits the crash that caused her father's death with another flashback, she cradles her younger self and provides her with the reassurance she has needed for so long. During this incredibly intimate and moving scene where she tells herself that this moment, "will not define who you are," Alex watches over her. This dramatic technique, which is used throughout, works because it is integrated consistently and it is clear through the colour palette what is a revisited memory, and what is a realtime thought (unrelated, but I could also see this working effectively on stage in a theatrical version of the show too). Soon after, Cassie also takes control of her relationship with Alex, forcing herself to remember him in best way possible. She is realistic about her feelings towards him and the kindness she shows him and herself, despite the grief and pain that loving him brought to her life, is commendable. With this and her saying she'd prefer a coffee over vodka, she is making tremendous strides in her personal recovery after years of abuse.
The climax of the episode occurs in Cassie's hotel room. The guise of over-keen Buckley is gone and replaced with merciless Felix, who torments Cassie emotionally, plunges in the knife and twists with vicious words as he ridicules her actions and behaviour. A fight breaks out involving multiple gun shots and injuries, and the intensity of the scene increases with an edit of all the times he had followed Cassie in various locations, showing the insistent dedication he had with his second persona. His choice of weapons say everything you need to know about him as a villain: first a switch blade and then a garrote. With help from a friend who makes an unexpected appearance to save the day, Cassie leaves the scene relatively unscathed (physically speaking), though there were a few casualties.
For the episode's denouement, ending on board a flight feels very fitting, and as the crew prepare for take off, Cassie revisits Alex's hotel one last time in her mind's eye and circles the space. The lights in each room turn out one by one as Sia's 'Angel By The Wings' plays with the words "you can do anything" being the final sentiment as Cassie finds closure in this incredibly turbulent chapter of her life.
What questions do I have at the end of episode eight? How did Miranda escape? Will Cassie work for the CIA now on their 'Human Asset Programme' or will she continue to fly with Imperial Atlantic? What will Ani do after sacrificing her career? Why was Crime and Punishment the novel of choice for Alex to leave the financial details in? How does this adaptation differ to Chris Bohjalian's novel? Are fans of the book happy with the show? I'd love to know! Get in touch with me on Insta or Twitter to tell me your thoughts.
The Flight Attendant is an excellent mini series. It's entertaining, fast-paced and the cast are superb. I enjoyed the journey the audience were taken on over the course of eight episodes and was impressed with the way that trauma, grief and abuse was expressed - not just through Kaley Cuoco's acting, but the physical manifestation of these horrors as seen through the filmic and dramatic techniques that were consistently well executed. There was a good balance between archetypal characters (which we need to some extent to drive forward the plot, especially if there is a lot of ground to cover in a short space of time like in this instance) as well as characters who challenge our perception of commonly stereotyped groups, whether that is through gender, occupation, nationality or race. As I've mentioned in a couple of my posts within this blog series, the shifting tone of this series kept each episode exciting, and, lastly, the title sequence is one of my favourite ever. I looked forward to it each and every time! Overall, this is a show I would (and will) unreservedly recommend to others.