Friday, November 27, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Flight Attendant' - Cassie Interacts with Alex's Family and Sees How Intimidating Their Influence Is in 'Funeralia'

HBO Max's The Flight Attendant - Episode 1.03 "Funeralia"

Returning from Rome to find someone has broken into her apartment, Cassie doubles down on finding Miranda - even if it means crashing Alex Sokolov's champagne-soaked memorial service at his family home.

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 next episode of HBO Max's The Flight Attendant.

"Funeralia" was written by Kara Lee Corthron & Ryan Jennifer Jones and directed by Tom Vaughan

A lot of the narrative is built around the insane and exhausting choices that Cassie makes on a regular basis. It's incredibly overwhelming. She is the focal character as well. The story is predominately centered around here. This is the first episode in which significant time is spent with some members of the supporting ensemble. Megan and Annie are given a few character beats as well that will more than likely complicate the situation further. With Annie, it's easy to see that direct cause and effect too. Cassie may only get out of the Sokolov family home because Annie makes a call to one of her unsavory clients to vouch for her. Annie has no clarity on if her appeal in that way made any difference at all. She did so unilaterally because Cassie is her best friend. She says that instinctively. She will do anything to get her out of this precarious situation. And yet, Cassie only continues to make things worse. After a certain point, Annie has to question not only why Cassie would do such things but why she continues to be surprised about them as they happen. Annie's world is more than Cassie. She has her own issues to deal with. She fears the wrath of her boss. She also deflects whenever her hacker boyfriend wants to have a serious conversation about their relationship. The narrative is never too deep when it comes to these character portraits. The motivations are rather clear. That can make things less exciting as well. It maintains an aura of predictability and thus relies on the briskness of the plot. And yet, everyone is still in the dark about Miranda Croft. Her involvement in everything is still shrouded in mystery. The previous episode closed with her seemingly about to attack Cassie. This episode begins with the outrageous way in which that confrontation is delayed even further. It means Cassie is free to roam this world begging anyone for clarity about this mystery woman. In the end, the two women come face-to-face. That is enticing and scary. No one knows what to expect from this woman. Michelle Gomez plays her as an imposing and intimidating figure. But again, there hasn't been much depth so far. It's simplistic. The same extends to Megan. She appears to be living nothing more than a lonely and boring existence. She is on the same routes as the other flight attendants. However, they are having fun during their adventures abroad. She is always comfortable with quiet nights in. She has a husband but doesn't really know how to keep it together. It makes her susceptible to corporate espionage in an appeal to add some excitement to her life. That plot is incredibly tangential at the moment. It shows how the isolation and fear of the world around oneself is a common theme throughout this series. Cassie feels that crushing weight with every action she does. It's what forces her to continually run into danger. She can't sit still in any moment. She is surprisingly thrown when being at Alex's memorial service brings her back to the memories of her father's. That tragedy clearly was a breaking point for her. It was the moment in which she embraced hard liquor. She justified the little beer her father gave her previously. This was the moment that changed everything. She has always projected a sense of being an outsider. She doesn't react to the world the same way her brother does. He is a foreign concept to her. And yet, everyone is baffled by the idea that she would attend this memorial for someone she barely knew. She wants to clear her name. That is her driving motivation. This is a bad way to do that though. It may only make her look even more guilty. Van White starts seeing the easiest answer as the most likely. Of course, the Sokolov family is very powerful and intimidating as well. Things are clearly happening that would suggest more threats that could have placed Alex's life in danger. The narrative is steering away from Cassie having anything to do with it. She is an innocent bystander. And yet, this death is once again a turning point in her life. It's not making her change her behavior in a dramatic way. People assume she always makes bad decisions. This has only amplified that. After three episodes, the audience understands that perspective. The narrative should be challenging us more to show why the threats are real and daunting. At the moment, the visceral thrills are starting to fade. That's unfortunate because compelling things are still happening in the performances - especially from Kaley Cuoco despite the insane choices that Cassie continually makes.