Thursday, May 5, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Flight Attendant' - Cassie Must Confront Her Lies Despite the Power It Takes From Her in 'Drowning Women'

HBO Max's The Flight Attendant - Episode 2.05 "Drowning Women"

After finding her own - highly incriminating - file in Benjamin's office, Cassie seeks assurances from Shane during their annual flight attendant safety training and continues to evade Marco as mounting stress tests her sobriety. Max attempts a high-tech hack to track down the Diazes. Megan searches for a lockbox that holds life-saving evidence against the North Koreans.

"Drowning Women" was written by Liz Sagal & Steve Yockey and directed by Pete Chatmon

Cassie has been lying to herself for a long time. She has refused to accept the power alcohol has over her. That's the first step in working the program. As such, she has always been teetering on the edge. The longer she goes without a drink the more she is tempted to do so. She wanted to believe the lie as well. It's a celebration that she maintained a year of sobriety. That's a huge accomplishment. That's not the truth. It's easier for Cassie to lie than face the judgment of her loved ones. It was freeing to escape New York City. She could run away to Los Angeles in the hopes that it would all be different. The usual triggers wouldn't exist. She could embrace something new without having to start over. Sobriety doesn't work that way. She relapsed after six months. She built up to that same time again and relapsed once more. It's the same pattern that has always dictated her life. Brenda sees how reckless it is for Cassie to get behind the wheel after drinking. It connects to the tragedy that happened with her father. All season long Brenda has been telling Cassie to work on what she wants to say when visiting her father's grave. That trip is imminent. Cassie hasn't done the work. Instead, she wants to run away. Every encouraging text she receives from Davey only makes her feel worse. It's overbearing. He is so proud of her. He wants to lift up every good thing she has done. It's all built on a lie. And so, the celebration isn't worth it. She spirals into pity and despair. She won't disappoint anyone if they don't know she continually slips up. She can't hide from herself either. The figments in her mental palace strive to hold her accountable. They point out the same mistakes she has made before. Cassie wants to believe everything is different now. It's not. It's the exact same story. She plunges into the darkness of this disease. She verges on death. She has a dependable sponsor to call. She can only brace for that when she has no where else to go. Before then, she is calling people hoping to find a mission to pursue. Instead, she only causes more drama. With Dot, it showcases how empty her promises have always been. With Shane, it reveals how costly this friendship has become. Shane wants to protect Cassie. He is devoted to his work. He wants to keep her safe. He sees the danger she is in. He also recognizes all the self-inflicted wounds. No one can discount the threat against her. Someone is impersonating her. Cassie is simply left to wonder why anyone would bother going through all that drama.

Cassie's story is a singular achievement. It reaches these emotional depths that are truly traumatic and revealing. They unravel the lies and how they've defined Cassie's entire being since moving to Los Angeles. Everything was always teetering on an edge. The audience could see that. The patterns functioned the same as before. That left the narrative feeling redundant. It wasn't striving to do something different. Instead, it was Cassie right back in international espionage. She created some of the drama. A lot has been done to her as well. She can't cope with any of these issues. She must if she has any hope of surviving. Brenda can offer sympathy by detailing her own attempt at taking her life. She was willing to walk into the ocean and be swept away by the current. That was reasonable to her. Her life no longer had value. It would be easier to disappear. She failed. The ocean had different plans. She found a way to survive. And now, she gets to offer that support for Cassie. It takes true honesty in order for these relationships to function. Cassie leaned on Grace knowing they could provide alcohol or drugs whenever she needed it. She relies on Annie and Max too because they are absorbed into the CIA drama. They are invested and have nothing else going on. That's not true to a certain extent though. They are willing to infiltrate Esteban and Gabrielle's home in order to retrieve their possessions. Of course, Annie is more concerned with any incriminating evidence while Max wants the ring he knows was perfect. They are learning just how much friction exists between them. They can't communicate and ease these wounds. That may ultimately tear them apart despite how much love is present. They need each other. They require the support. That doesn't make it healthy. They may be perpetuating the same vicious cycles as Cassie. They are kindred spirits. They simply have a better handle on things because they don't also have to deal with addiction. That's freeing in a way. They are still all too willing to live in denial. Cassie carries so much of that personal burden too. She cares about her loved ones to a point. She is still willing to destroy their lives through her selfishness. That's all too apparent. She has no control over what her loved ones are willing to do. She believes she has to manage Megan. She doesn't. Megan can go off on her own adventure. Sure, it's incredibly tangential to everything else going on. That's too blatantly obvious now. It stands out. It mostly showcases the evolution people have to endure even when they refuse to admit it to themselves. As a result, they are frequently stuck in place even when traumatic things keep happening around them.