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Warning: contains spoilers for Season 2 of "The Flight Attendant"
In Season 1 of HBO Max’s "The Flight Attendant," star and executive producer Kaley Cuoco plays Cassie Bowden, an alcoholic flight attendant who has a one-night stand with a sexy stranger and gets framed for his murder after waking up to his dead body the next morning. It’s loosely based on a novel of the same name by Chris Bohjalian. The show was originally supposed to be a miniseries, but the ratings were so good and the story so intriguing that HBO Max couldn’t say no to a 2nd season (via Deadline). Interestingly, they decided to lather, rinse, and repeat the whole framed-for-murder-in-a-foreign-country premise for the second go-round. You might think this blatant lack of creativity would lead to a disastrous 2nd season — but you would be wrong.
As of this writing, the Season 2 finale has earned an impressive 8.6/10 on IMDb and the show as a whole has a 91% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s too early to know whether or not this show will get a Season 3 (via Decider), but the writers did a good job tying all the loose ends up in a neat little bow just in case. That being said, there’s still fertile ground for continuing narratives and even exploring new storylines. Let’s take a look at how they brought everything together and what it all means for the end of "The Flight Attendant" Season 2.
Megan and her family get a happy ending
Megan Briscoe’s (Rosie Perez) storyline this season was a classic redemption arc. At the end of Season 1, she was lost in the wind, having just lost her family after getting caught selling state secrets to North Korea and going on the run. And she didn’t even know what she was doing at first; she was just a bored suburban woman looking for a spark of adventure that her mundane life and comfortable marriage weren’t giving her. But she bit off more than she could chew, and nearly paid the ultimate price.
With Cassie’s help, a strong sense of determination, and a tenuous love/hate relationship with mushrooms, Megan navigates the troubled waters of her situation and gets back in the good graces of the CIA. Shane Evans (Griffin Matthews) takes pity on Megan and what he recognizes as her inadvertent espionage. Of course, it certainly helps her case that she brings incriminating evidence against the North Koreans straight to him so that he can impress his bosses with a nice score. As a thank you, he sets her and her family up in witness protection in a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood. If a third season happens, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Megan finally appreciates what she has and settles into her suburban family life under her new identity, or whether she gets mixed up in more international espionage.
Surprise: there’s no podcast!
Many fans and critics saw Dot’s (Cheryl Hines) sudden but inevitable betrayal coming a mile away. What most people didn’t see coming, however, was what happened next: the big Jenny (Jessie Ennis) reveal. Sure, she came off as a little weird from the very beginning what with her cutesy knit sweaters, her uncharacteristically dark obsession with true crime podcasts, and her talking ad nauseam about an alleged boyfriend who, frankly, sounded made up. But the truth ended up being so much more disturbing.
As it turns out, her boyfriend is a real person: Feliks (a.k.a. Buckley Ware, played by Colin Woodell), the serial killer murder-for-hire with whom Cassie had a brief romantic relationship during Season 1. But being behind bars and locked away for life apparently still isn’t good enough to keep Cassie safe from him. Jenny, a serial killer groupie who fell in love with his deadly and mysterious nature, became obsessed with Cassie as she got to know Feliks. Being the true blue sociopath that he is, Feliks takes advantage of Jenny’s infatuation with him and manipulates her into stalking Cassie and eventually trying to murder her. Things do not end well for poor Jenny, but in the midst of her attempt at murder, the sudden threat to Cassie’s mortality triggers a big emotional breakthrough for her.
Cassie struggles with suicidal ideation throughout Season 2 …
One could argue that Cassie has had problems with suicidal ideation since Season 1. But they certainly take center stage in this season, especially in the later episodes. For those that don’t know, suicidal ideation is a psychiatric term for people who claim they do not want to take their own life, yet their risk-taking behaviors put them in positions where they frequently come dangerously close to a premature end. And Cassie exhibits multiple examples of this throughout the 2nd season.
It’s relatively subtle at first. But the flashback to her time in the bathtub that overflows to the point of leaking into the hotel room below hers was a big red flag. As intoxicated as she was, she’s lucky she didn’t drown that night. She also got lucky driving to that beach where she called her sponsor for help; she was so intoxicated that she could barely stand on her own two feet, cursing out the sand for making her trip. When the other version of herself in her mind palace starts suggesting that she is "meant to die," it feels awkward and shoehorned in at first; but after Grace (Mae Martin) dies by suicide right next to Cassie on the Ferris wheel, her psyche becomes even more belligerently insistent that her bad behavior and selfish actions mean she no longer deserves to live. Thankfully, Cassie does not end up suffering Grace’s fate.
…and conquers her inner demons in the end
This process doesn’t happen immediately for Cassie. Instead of picturing Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman) in her mind palace, she spends the majority of Season 2 confronting the darker parts of herself. Whether it’s her boozy party-girl persona in the gold dress, her traumatized teenager self, her internal nihilist in the black sweater, or the part of herself with strong suicidal urges, the show makes it clear that to really heal, she’s going to have to make peace with her imperfections. It’s a combination of Grace’s untimely end and Dot’s blatant attempt on her life that finally flips the switch in Cassie’s mind and inspires her to start really fighting for herself.
The sonic scream she unleashes in her mind that flings her suicidal self into the mind palace bar was symbolic of Cassie silencing her inner demons and taking control over her negative thoughts. Anyone who’s ever had to fight that battle in their own mind knows exactly how profound and important that moment was in the show. Later on, when a murderous Jenny is seconds away from taking a perfectly good hammer to her skull, Cassie has a moment of radical self-acceptance, symbolized by her alter-egos disappearing one by one inside of her mind palace elevator. But they weren’t disappearing; they were coming together as one. Their "disappearance" was symbolic of her accepting herself for who she is as a whole — even the parts of herself that she wishes didn’t exist.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The season ends nicely with a wedding and a phone call
Cassie’s double near-death experience doesn’t magically cure her. She still has a lot of work to do on herself and the relationships she cares about most. She enthusiastically supports her brother (T.R. Knight) in attending Al-Anon meetings to deal with the baggage he holds from their alcoholic father and the mistakes Cassie made growing up. And she even makes a quick call to her mother — played by none other than Sharon Stone — and the two share a brief, tearful promise to start the reconciliation process. We’d also like to point out that it says a lot about the show when the fact that Stone is a cast member gets so easily eclipsed by everything else that’s going on in the series.
Finally, the impossibly neurotic Annie and her patience-of-a-saint boyfriend Max make things official and tie the knot at a very pink, very Elvis-themed Vegas wedding. A bit of dialogue between Shane and Cassie reveals that the newlyweds are going to open up their own private investigation business! Is this a hint at a spin-off series that fans have been begging for since Season 1? Or is this just a playful bit of fan service from the showrunners to let the viewers know that they’re watching and listening? Either way, it’s a fitting way to wrap things up in the event that the story ends with Season 2.