Thursday, November 26, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Flight Attendant' - A Night Out in Bangkok Ends in Disaster and Uncertainty for Cassie in 'In Case of Emergency'

HBO Max's The Flight Attendant - Episode 1.01 "In Case of Emergency"

When flight attendant Cassie Bowden meets passenger Alex Sokolov, she decides to spend an extravagant, very drunk night with him. But when she wakes up the next morning beside a dead body - and with no memory of what happened - Cassie fights to keep her wits about her long enough to make it back to New York, where more trouble looms.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of HBO Max's The Flight Attendant.

"In Case of Emergency" was written by Steve Yockey and directed by Susanna Fogel

This premiere has such a strong propulsive energy to it. It maintains a solid sense of momentum throughout its entire run time. It never feels the urgency to stick in one particular moment for too long. That makes it understandable when it somehow reveals that there was some detail that Cassie forgot about her night out with Alex or that she forgot something in the hotel room. The show is fundamentally a mystery. Cassie insists that she would never be capable of murder. And yet, she wakes up in bed next to a bloody mess. She has no recollection of what happened either. She only has brief flashes of memories. The audience gets to experience that as well. A lot of story is told about the romance of this evening. It's seductive and fun. It highlights the many ways in which she is a chaotic and frazzled mess. But it wasn't a story that was heading towards murder. Cassie is simply a woman always looking for a fun adventure no matter where she goes. She has no concerns about having sex during her job. She simply sees it as an opportunity afforded to her when a sexy stranger starts flirting with her. Her colleagues notice it. As such, they point it out to the authorities when they have questions for the last people to see Alex alive. There is so much that Cassie isn't sharing with the people around her. There is never really the sense that she has close bonds with any of them either. Her boss, Megan, is protective and stern with her to a certain extent. But that mostly amounts to picking up some food for her. Meanwhile, the other flight attendants just want to enjoy the casual gossip. Sure, this is a tragedy that has occurred in Bangkok. However, the narrative really never gets bogged down by the grimness of this particular story. It could easily be consumed by the misery and uncertainty that now frames Cassie's world. That has been the story engine for so many shows also set in this mystery space over the last few years. This project takes a different approach. One that is light and quick on its feet. A lot of plot happens in this premiere. Several moments occur where Cassie is freaking out about what happened only to gain some comfort right before a new bomb goes off in her mind. She is not coping well with any of this. And yet, she reacts in fear for her life. She believes that it would be dire and inescapable if she is arrested in a foreign country. This job has given her the freedom to explore so many places. And yet, the casual way in which she conducts her life now has her living in perpetual fear. Her mind copes by returning to the scene of the crime over and over again. Alex pops up as a reanimated corpse providing her with a different perspective on the situation. Her subconscious desperately wants her to remember something. And yes, key details have been omitted to ensure a strong mystery narrative moving forward. The story seemed designed around a night gone awry between Cassie and Alex. However, another person was at the dinner table with them. Cassie realizes that while she is being interviewed by the federal agents wanting answers. Her instinct is always to run away seemingly. That makes others doubt just how trustworthy and dependable she is in any given situation. They know that she will always show up late. She will either be drunk or hungover. Her drinking is clearly a coping mechanism. She has suppressed a lot in her life. This event threatens to unravel all of that. She isn't emotionally equipped to handle that. It's a forced confrontation in her life. One that makes the inner dialogue even more compelling and propulsive to the overall character construct. It's a fascinating delivery mechanism. One that may shut out a lot of the supporting ensemble because it's always Cassie's perspective. And yet, Kaley Cuoco delivers a grounded performance that highlights Cassie's flaws while still making the audience engaged in what's happening to her. In the wrong hands, this character could easily have been unbearable because of her vices and lack of self-control. Here, it's clear that it's part of a pattern that has now pushed her to a breaking point. She makes a lot of bad decisions. That's the point. The mystery builds as a result of that. Things happen outside of her control too. That will force some major reveals into occurring. As such, this is bound to be a thrill ride that should easily be able to entertain throughout this season.