Thursday, April 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Flight Attendant' - Cassie Misreads a Message in 'The Reykjavík Ice Sculpture Festival Is Lovely This Time of Year'

HBO Max's The Flight Attendant - Episode 2.03 "The Reykjavík Ice Sculpture Festival Is Lovely This Time of Year"

Convinced that a cryptic text bears clues to Megan's location, Cassie jumps on a plane to Reykjavík, and visits haunts from seemingly better times. Shane grows increasingly suspicious of Cassie's erratic travels. Back in LA, Annie fumbles her way through meeting Max's parents for the first time - but a far worse encounter lurks for the couple.

"The Reykjavík Ice Sculpture Festival Is Lovely This Time of Year" was written by Louisa Levy & Ryan Jennifer Jones and directed by Jennifer Phang

Each episode of the season so far has introduced a new facet of Cassie's identity. Whenever she enters that mental palace, she is greeted by some new depiction of who she could be. Three identities are now vying for influence over her decisions. They are all equally an extension of her. She doesn't fit squarely within one in particular. She is the summation of all of them. This device helps externalize her inner conflict. She has these various urges trying to pull her in a certain direction. Her desire to drink is just as strong as her willingness to make better choices. But even that can be broken down. Nothing in life can ever lead with that much clarity. Cassie could be depressed and hate the life she lives even though she maintains her sobriety. Meanwhile, she pictures the perfect life that seemingly awaits her if she were to actually commit to the good choices. It's all a projection of her mental instability. These are the people she fears she will become. She is annoyed whenever they voice their concerns or try to sway her one way. It creates turmoil for her. It presents as her being frustrated because she has to avoid the temptation to be pulled in one particular direction. Every facet of her identity has the potential to be destructive. Even the latest addition has cracks under the surface even though she appears great. She does offer some sensible advice to Cassie. Right now, Cassie escapes to Iceland simply because she believes she is being a good friend. She isn't. She's running away from her problems. She wants to escape the threat targeting her. Ignoring it won't make it go away. In fact, it may leave her friends vulnerable to extreme consequences. At this point in life, Cassie and Annie should have things figured out. They are frustrated with themselves because they remain torn about what they want. It's hard for them to commit to anything. They don't want to be put in a box and forever only be capable of that one thing. It's limiting to their overall lives though. It leaves them chasing clues in search of meaning. Yes, that's the predominate focus of the show. Someone truly is pretending to be Cassie. She is being framed for murder. Esteban and Gabrielle assault Annie and Max. They cross that line. They further invade Cassie's life. Meanwhile, Cassie is in Iceland because she thinks that's what Megan needs. Now, her best friend is similarly chaotic. Cassie couldn't see how much she needed help before. And now, she is trying to overcompensate. She reads into things. She has good instincts. It still presents as total chaos.

People want to protect Cassie too. Life doesn't have to be this hard. It's more difficult because she is choosing to evade and carry so much of this burden by herself. She doesn't trust people. That's why she is always distracted by the voices inside her head. Those are more prominent than her actual friendships. Shane and Benjamin are worried about Cassie. They know she isn't being forthcoming with them either. They can be subtle with what they need from her. They want to warn her away from danger. Of course, danger is already part of her life. That must be accepted. It's not something Cassie wishes to embrace. It always follows her though. She internalizes some of that. Her chaos still takes priority above all else. Plus, a few people are willing to gaslit her along the way too. People don't appreciate having their agency ripped away from them. With Annie, it's easy for her to see that and vocalize her concerns. She doesn't want to be the traditional wife and mother. That narrative is seemingly being forced onto her. It's the natural next step in her relationship with Max. She wants to have control over it. She believes she has given too much to Max and his parents. They are plotting a nice life. It's one Annie recognizes even though she doesn't want it. She loves this relationship. She wants it to work only on her terms. She stands firm despite her uncertainties. Max still needs more though. They aren't able to have that conversation because they are soon attacked. Esteban and Gabrielle already have so much access to Cassie's house. They simply need to believe now is the right time to take action in order for them to actually do it. Meanwhile, Dot is trying to convince Benjamin that his worries about Cassie are unwarranted. Yes, she has information that the agency needs. They can't hand that leverage over to her. They must remain the power players in this dynamic. Cassie is nothing more than an asset who is convenient and useful sometimes. Of course, Dot also wants to convince everyone that Cassie has bought into the fake story of what happened in Berlin. She then wants to label Benjamin as too ambitious. He is too focused on being sidelined that he can't respect the work that still needs to be done behind a desk. Dot operates from a position of power. However, this show has already made it clear that people tend to misuse their authority in order to advance their own interests. That's so common that it makes every institution feel corrupt. Anything seen as inherently good is then positioned as cartoonish and not worthy of spending any time on. That remains too obvious. More nuance is needed. And yet, the chaos does work in some instances.