Thursday, April 21, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Flight Attendant' - Cassie Embraces a New Life Even Though It's Just as Dangerous as Before in 'Seeing Double'

HBO Max's The Flight Attendant - Episode 2.01 "Seeing Double"

Almost a year sober, Cassie is living her best life in Los Angeles, has a supportive new boyfriend Marco... and moonlights as a CIA asset in her spare time. But when her latest assignment inadvertently makes her an eyewitness to a murder in Berlin, Cassie becomes entangled in yet another international mystery. Later, Annie and Max arrive in LA with news of their own.

"Seeing Double" was written by Steve Yockey and directed by Silver Tree

Cassie's life has changed dramatically and she's happy with the changes she's made. She now lives in Los Angeles and has been sober for almost a year. She has reckoned with her bad behavior and applied the necessary lessons to improve her well-being. Drinking wasn't the source of all her bad decisions though. It was easier for her to rationalize it. That was a problem she could directly address. Sobriety isn't easy. However, she feels good about her life. She is happy when Annie and Max come to visit her. She is also thrilled about being a CIA asset. Of course, she isn't exactly good at the work. That hasn't suddenly changed. She's not more capable now than she was a year ago when she was investigating Alex's murder. It's simply more believable for her to suddenly become involved in yet another international mystery. It was a move meant to provide longevity to the series instead of cutting itself off after one story. The framing device can still be utilized as well. After an explosion, Cassie is right back to hallucinating figures who tease her every step of the way. Previously, it was Alex who haunted her mind. It was a way for her to process the crime while also deflecting from the fragile nature of her mental state. This trauma had to be deeply rooted somewhere. Her destructive nature had to connect to her troubled childhood. That has been revealed. And yet, it's traumatizing once more for Cassie to return to that mental palace to face off with yet another vision of her mental instability. In this case, she is the troubled person prompting a wildly different response. Cassie already suffers from insecurities. This framing device could be used entirely to externalize the conflict over her drinking. It was easy for her to get a year of sobriety because she was never placed in a life-or-death situation. And now, she is truly being tested once more. Of course, the stakes don't necessarily have to be that high in order to justify the challenges of addiction. If the show is truly making that statement, then it would actually be a disservice to the disease. Hopefully, it's not painting with those broad strokes. Cassie faced temptation before Will was killed in front of her. She simply had coping mechanisms to deflect from any true reflection. In her meetings, she acknowledges everyone is there because they have problems worth addressing. No one should be ashamed for that. It's the nature of that environment. Cassie accepts that understanding there but not in every facet of her life.

The world wants Cassie to distrust her version of events. She can never be a reliable narrator. It was a mistake for Benjamin to want to work with her. She was always going to be a liability in the field. She will never follow orders. She simply gets too involved and operates with the belief that she personally can make a big difference. She has more to give than simple surveillance. She has to be careful in the field though. She isn't protected. She is risking a lot. It's fun and exciting. Her willingness to do the job is seen as a positive. It's a desirable trait. As such, she can't be forced off the job. She survived so much. She was in a scenario most people couldn't handle. That was impressive. That doesn't infer some grand ability to control pulling off this high-stakes espionage. It may only put more people in danger. Of course, Cassie frequently carries that burden herself. She was the prime suspect in Alex's murder. And now, it's clear someone is impersonating her. She has no idea why anyone would do that or why they would tease her about it. It's simply unnerving enough to make it seem like she's losing her mind. She's a civilian asset for the CIA. She isn't entitled to the full scope of what the agency knows. She knows Will wasn't killed from an accidental gas leak. That's the overwhelming story given to her. It's innocuous when she's still in Berlin where no one knows any better. It's purposefully trying to distract her when it comes from Dot, the head of the local CIA office. That shows a willingness to put Cassie in these dangerous positions without trusting her with all the details. She hasn't quite earned that yet. She hasn't proven herself capable of being more disciplined. That remains a huge struggle for her. It also presents as her making the same bad decisions once more. That's then conflated with her sobriety. Is she actually all that better now than she was a year ago? Her former self certainly questions it. It feels like everything is the same. The only difference is she is no longer drunk. She still feels compelled to do so. She can't carry the burden of these secrets for very long. She explodes. She lets Annie and Max in on just a few details of her new life. They are in Los Angeles for completely different reasons. They are also catching up with an old friend. However, it's already clear they are going to be pulled into her drama whether they like it or not. The same applies to Cassie as she is continually being contacted by Megan for cryptic reasons. It's a mystery that will probably make sense eventually. This premiere suggests the tension and anxiety felt over the main plot can be safely replicated from the first season even without source material to guide it along.