Thursday, May 26, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Flight Attendant' - Multiple Revelations Leave Cassie in a Number of Precarious Situations in 'Backwards & Forwards'

HBO Max's The Flight Attendant - Episode 2.08 "Backwards & Forwards"

Still in shock from the events at the Pier, Cassie manages to get even closer to connecting the dots in a far-reaching conspiracy. After arriving in LA, Megan looks to make amends with Shane and start a new chapter in her life.

"Backwards & Forwards" was written by Steve Yockey and directed by Silver Tree

Throughout the entire season, Cassie treated the various depictions of herself in her mental palace as their own separate figures. It was always abundantly clear they were just an extension of her subconscious. She had complete control over this framing device. She could never pull herself too far away from these conversations. She was always on the verge of breaking down. She had many conflicting thoughts in her head. That's why it was necessary for the devisions to become less obvious. These figures were nothing more than generic blobs meant to convey a message. It's taken until the finale for Cassie to realize her own power. She has to unite the various versions of herself. She can't prevail simply by deflecting from what has always been true. She isn't a good person. Her attempt at reinvention was destined to fail because she wanted to live in the fantasy of what life could be. She always had complexities under the surface that prevented her from ever achieving success. She wanted to believe she was broken simply because of her tragic childhood. That could be blamed for all the problems she has. That lets her off the hook. Her mother refused to give her that compassion. She had to be brutally honest about who Cassie actually is. She's a selfish person who demands so much from others and only helps them to prop up her own sense of importance. She is aware of these conflicting feelings. It leads to such immense chaos. She can't even react in shock following Grace's suicide. Instead, she's pulled into even more drama. Grace was revealed as the person pretending to be Cassie in order to frame her for several murders. Instead of completing the mission, Grace simply told Cassie someone else was pulling the strings. Dot was really the only viable candidate for that reveal. As such, it's inevitable the moment Cassie starts spending a lot of time with her. Dot has shaped the information Cassie led with. She only questioned Benjamin's motives because Dot planted that seed of doubt. Dot treats all of this so casually. This is simply part of her job. She knows exactly how to get away with this vicious manipulation and murder of a CIA asset. She exploits people for their specific skills. Plus, she is drawn to those who can conveniently create convincing cover stories for her to enact all her corrupt schemes. As an expected twist, it does leave the finale falling a little flat. It's also meant to showcase Cassie's own quick thinking. She believes she has a way to escape these lethal encounters. In reality, she's lucky because others happen to be dragged along and can also put the pieces together. As such, it's less dependent on Cassie at the center. The show needs her to be the core focus though. And so, it's hard to believe in the success of others. It's mostly to ensure she can survive to deal with the next international mystery against her.

Dot is hardly the only person with a nefarious agenda against Cassie either. Jenny also got close for her own personal reasons. That too felt obvious. At first, Jenny was positioned as the person in AA who looked to Cassie for guidance because she was propped up as this success story. Cassie couldn't validate that position because she didn't actually commit to the work. And so, it was destined for Jenny to fail as well. In reality, Jenny simply wanted to get vengeance for Feliks. She sees the killer from the first season as sexy and charming. He must be innocent of his crimes. Cassie is the true monster. She must be killed in order to unlock love in his heart once more. It's so completely deranged. It plays into the seduction people feel towards stories of serial killers. That too was always present in Jenny's story. She was obsessed with true crime podcasts and was always chasing a story. She was mostly just interested in Cassie. It means Cassie falls into two deadly situations on the same day that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. That's crazy. It's the show trying to amplify the stakes to reveal how dangerous so much is in her life. It's freeing when people take ahold of moments to celebrate happiness. Max and Annie get married in Las Vegas. Megan and her family enter the witness protection program after she trades information about the North Koreans. Everyone needs a little support from others in order to thrive in these endeavors. Megan gets such a good deal because of the laptop Max and Annie stole from the Diazes. They aren't even aware of how important that was. Instead, it's up to Cassie to carry that burden. Of course, she needs saving too. Against Dot, it's up to Benjamin to realize the threat in time. Against Jenny, it requires Davey to wake up after being drugged. Cassie has these loving bonds. She still needs to set firm boundaries between the personal and professional. She is capable of making those distinctions now. She remains indebted to the CIA. The agency champions the work she does even though it was all a spur of the moment decision. People got sloppy with their work. Shane can never behave that way. Cassie still trusts him to help her whenever she needs it. And yet, it's most cathartic for Cassie when she can bear true responsibility over the phone with her mother. She doesn't believe Lisa will instantly accept this transformation. It's simply heartwarming to know that Cassie got the message. It was painfully delivered so many times across the season. She ultimately got it. It didn't come at her personal expense. She survives to endure another day on the job. She won't drink. She can commit to these paths. She still has to continue showing others the dignity and grace of her being. That's a work in progress. She's making plans to help cement that reality. That too is a luxury but one afforded to her now that the most dramatic elements have settled down.