Kaley Cuoco Soars in HBO Max’s Season 2 – The Hollywood Reporter

The Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) we meet at the beginning of The Flight Attendant‘s second season (on HBO Max) is, very pointedly, not the Cassie we received to know within the first. Gone are the single-serve vodka bottles and blackout-drunk hookups; this Cassie is sober (developing on an entire 12 months!), having fun with a steady relationship with a pleasant dude (Santiago Cabrera) and crushing it in her twin jobs as flight attendant and secret CIA civilian asset.

But as anybody who’s ever made a drastic life change is aware of, the thought of a very new you is a sham. Cassie could have stopped consuming however, as she realizes to her chagrin, she’s nonetheless impulsive, intrigue-prone Cassie. Likewise, The Flight Attendant could also be beginning recent with brand-new materials (having used up the plot of Chris Bohjalian’s novel for season one), however it’s nonetheless a scrumptious mixture of pulse-pounding thrills, razor-sharp comedy and surprisingly meaty psychological drama.

The Flight Attendant

The Bottom Line

Still a thrill.

Airdate: Thursday, April 21 (HBO Max)
Cast: Kaley Cuoco, Zosia Mamet, Deniz Akdeniz, Griffin Matthews, Rosie Perez, Mo McRae, Callie Hernandez, J.J. Soria, Santiago Cabrera, Sharon Stone, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Creator: Steve Yockey

It takes lower than one episode for Cassie to see what BFF Annie (Zosia Mamet) describes as her “perfect, I-have-vegetables-in-the-fridge life” blown to items. Literally: While tailing a goal in Berlin, Cassie watches him die in a fiery explosion that’s formally being blamed on a defective fuel line, however that Cassie is certain was the results of a bomb. More worrying nonetheless, it appears to be one planted by a lady who bears a hanging resemblance to Cassie, all the way down to the moth tattooed throughout her shoulder blades. Naturally, the incident sends Cassie scrambling to resolve the case earlier than she’s framed (or worse), which in flip threatens to throw off the white-knuckle stability of her booze-free life.

As in season one, The Flight Attendant takes a daredevil’s pleasure in seeing how shut it may get to chaos with out fully shedding management. The depth of the storyline will get dialed up early on and stays there, with Cassie zipping throughout Los Angeles or jetting off to Reykjavik seeking clues whereas attempting to evade the discover of the CIA, her airline coworkers, her fellow AA members and her overprotective brother, Davey (T.R. Knight). Meanwhile, the stress of the mission forces her to face demons even sobriety can’t preserve at bay — right here represented by different variations of Cassie tempting, scolding or mocking her from the imaginary lodge foyer in Cassie’s thoughts.

The stress is reduce via with a biting humorousness, delivered by way of dialogue that pops with character. Its secret comedy weapon continues to be Mamet’s Annie, who responds to the whole lot from Cassie’s reveal that she’s within the CIA to a job interviewer’s questions on her extra-legal duties in her earlier place with the identical faintly disdainful deadpan. Like any true New Yorker, Annie reserves a few of her greatest barbs for Cassie’s new hometown: “L.A. is like someone painted a coffin happy colors,” she sniffs to her maybe-fiancé Max (Deniz Akdeniz), himself a local Angeleno keen to maneuver again.

Other jokes the present goals at itself, as when it winkingly calls out a deus-ex-machina twist earlier than the viewers has time to begin groaning about it. The season’s central thriller is a matter of life or dying for Cassie, who compulsively downs packing containers of Hot Tamales the best way she used to throw again bottles of liquor, however The Flight Attendant isn’t taking itself almost so critically. If it’s cuter to ship Cassie on a stealth mission in a giant shiny purple coat than in drab separates, or extra narratively handy to have Cassie reject widespread sense in pursuit of her personal elaborate, half-assed plans, that’s the route The Flight Attendant goes to go, rationality or “realism” be damned.

Given the variety of plates The Flight Attendant has spinning within the air at any given time, it’s hardly a shock that its stability teeters occasionally. Some of its ongoing plots are inclined to get misplaced within the shuffle — most egregiously, the North Korean spy plot involving Megan (Rosie Perez), who’s much more sidelined in season two than she was in season one. (Ironic, contemplating she explains she did what she did as a result of she wished “to be seen.”) Her arc is positioned as an ungainly detour from the primary plot moderately than an integral part of it, at the least within the six episodes (of eight) despatched to critics.

And maybe it’s truly a testomony to The Flight Attendant‘s writing team — led by showrunners Steve Yockey and Natalie Chaidez — that I kept finding myself disappointed not to spend more time with their new supporting characters, like Jessie Ennis’ codependent AA member Jenny or Shohreh Aghdashloo’s disaster-prone AA sponsor Brenda. As for the season’s splashiest new solid member: Sharon Stone reveals up as Cassie’s mother in solely one of many episodes I’ve seen, however her show of complicated, contradictory feelings makes an entire meal of the restricted display time she will get.

Whatever the present’s flaws, they’re far outweighed by its strengths — chief amongst them Cuoco, who has to throw herself not solely into Cassie’s mile-a-minute psychological state but in addition into all the opposite Cassies egging her on. Her means to distinguish between them whereas preserving all of them recognizably the identical individual is sort of a feat, and places her up there with Doom Patrol‘s Diane Guerrero and Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany within the pantheon of actors who’ve riveting chemistry with themselves.

Their conversations grow to be Cassie’s inside monologue. As giddy and foolish as The Flight Attendant can get, it’s wholly honest in its exploration of Cassie’s emotional baggage, and her conversations with herself grow to be an increasing number of bruising as her journey continues: “While you’re here, why don’t you do something useful and dig a hole for yourself?” one hisses whereas Cassie stands over a grave late within the season. The Flight Attendant, like this spring’s Single Drunk Female, acknowledges that the top of Cassie’s consuming days have been simply the beginning of her journey, and that the bottom moments can come as soon as the numbing haze of alcohol has cleared.

At the top of The Flight Attendant‘s first season, the series seemed in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. The show’s addictive, crowd-pleasing qualities made a renewal really feel like a no brainer, and but the season had additionally been so satisfying {that a} follow-up hardly appeared vital, and even advisable — its odds of hitting the identical highs appeared doubtful at greatest. But essentially the most spectacular trick the present pulls off is identical in each seasons. Even as Cassie loses her grip, her collection by no means does.

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