After 12 years and millions and millions of dollars, Kaley Cuoco has disembarked from The Big Bang Theory to strike out with her own TV projects. She’s already booked a voice role as a very funny Harley Quinn, but her first major new live-action project is HBO Max’s comedy-thriller The Flight Attendant. It’s a smart showcase for Cuoco’s winning comedic talents, albeit a sometimes infuriating one, as her titular flight-attendant character, Cassie, wakes up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel room and then proceeds to make the worst decisions imaginable. Cassie, a good-time girl whom we met via a montage set to Sofi Tukker’s “Good Time Girl,” has a drinking problem and a propensity to launch into harebrained schemes in order to try to prove her innocence in the midst of what soon becomes apparent is a vast criminal conspiracy. As Cassie does her best but inevitably keeps messing up, we’re here to recap all of her bad, worse, and worst decisions along the way. Needless to say, spoilers lie ahead.
Episode One: “In Case of Emergency”
Don’t hook up with the hot guy in the airplane bathroom if the only thing you know about him is that he’s reading Crime and Punishment!
I absolutely respect and love a nice little one-off mile-high hookup, but Cassie should really take more precautions around a Dostoevsky dude. She claims to have read enough Russian literature to make a joke about how all the women fare poorly in Crime and Punishment (read: the protagonist decides to murder a woman just to see what it’s like), and that she prefers Dr. Zhivago, and yet she’s still willing to got for it?
Poor decision level: Okay, so this guy will get you entangled in murder, but he looks like Michiel Huisman, so I get it.
Don’t sneak off with the hot guy who was reading Crime and Punishment without telling anyone!
This ends up working out well for Cassie, in that once the hot guy gets murdered there’s less of a trail leading directly to her. But if you’re going off on a fling with a mysterious Dostoevsky-loving stranger, you really should tell a friend so they can help rescue you.
Poor decision level: Cassie, have you ever heard of the buddy system?
Do not leave the hot guy’s dead body in your hotel room!
This is where Cassie’s poor decision-making really gets going. Once she wakes up next to Michiel Huisman covered in blood, she immediately calls her friend, Lawyer Zosia Mamet, and panics about the idea that she will be Amanda Knox-ed and imprisoned if she reports the murder to the Bangkok police. Maybe! But there is enough blood all over her body that she’s also definitely not going to be able to cover up her presence. So she decides to run.
Poor decision level: Extremely bad. Extremely incriminating!
Especially do not clean up a crime scene in your hotel room!
Okay, okay, I get the flight or flight impulse to flee the scene … maybe. But in a fit of panic, Cassie also decides to try to clean up the crime scene, try to pick up all the pieces of a broken wine bottle that might’ve been the murder weapon (thus getting her DNA all over it), and take a shower (she misses the blood under her fingernails anyway).
Poor decision level: Have you seen any episodes of CSI, or even Dexter, Cassie? Nobody is good enough to clean up every shred of evidence, especially you!
Don’t act all suspicious after poorly cleaning up a crime scene in your hotel room!
As soon as Cassie does flee the scene of the crime, she starts acting erratically, wrapping a scarf around her (which confuses her friend Rosie Perez), insisting that it’s weird that their flight is delayed (it’s not, according to Rosie Perez), and accidentally serving vodka to an air marshal who only asked for soda (a crime, says Rosie Perez).
Poor decision level: Nerves are understandable, but Cassie, you really need to focus on doing your job!
Don’t try to run away from your interview with the FBI!
Once Cassie lands back in the U.S., she gets called into an interview with the FBI because they have, of course, found the hot guy’s body and, of course, are interviewing the flight attendants on the hot guy’s plane. Cassie tries to duck out of this interview by just walking out of the airport pretending she does not hear the announcer repeatedly saying her name.
Poor decision level: Nope, not going to make you the absolute center of suspicion, Cassie! Not at all!
Don’t lie about easy-to-verify details in your interview with the FBI!
Once she does get dragged into an FBI interview, Cassie decides the best course of action is to pretend that nothing happened between her and the dead hot guy in seat 3C, despite the fact that all her gossipy coworkers saw it play out.
Poor decision level: Cassie, why! This just further erodes your credibility!
Episode Two: “Rabbits”
Don’t try to go to the hot dead guy’s office under an assumed name to conduct inept espionage!
Cassie, I don’t care if the hot dead guy hallucination that now haunts you told you that it would be a good way to track down the woman you vaguely remember from the bender you went on before he died, you will be caught and chased out of the office!
Poor decision level: Cassie, this is just making you look more and more suspicious. Also, don’t knock over an expensive rabbit statue.
Don’t lash out at your best friend and co-worker Rosie Perez and lie about being photographed in Bangkok!
She saw you in the scarf! This is obvious.
Poor decision level: Don’t ever alienate Rosie Perez! She just wants what’s best for you.
Don’t suddenly spill everything to the FBI against the insistence of your lawyer friend because the ghost/memory of the dead guy that haunts you tells you to!
And lie right at the end and say he was alive when you left!
Poor decision level: As Lawyer Friend Zosia Mamet tells Cassie in the episode, “I am watching you make some really not good decisions.” Yes, obviously!
Don’t corner the woman you saw in the office during your failed investigation at a bar!
This actually works out pretty well for Cassie in that she learns about the existence of Miranda, but there are so many ways it could’ve gone wrong.
Poor decision level: Cassie, will you ever listen to the good advice of Lawyer Friend Zosia Mamet?
Episode Three: “Funeralia”
Don’t go to the dead guy’s funeral just to try to get his mom to confirm a jackpot theory you have!
And especially don’t bring your snarky gay coworker to the dead guy’s funeral without telling him what the event is! That’s just creating a terrible workplace environment for him.
Poor decision level: Your snarky gay coworker deserves better than this!
This isn’t about Cassie, but if you’re Rosie Perez, don’t get entangled in a corporate espionage scheme that involves hacking your husband’s computer!
Rosie Perez, I love it when you pronounce the word “jadeite” because your cover in this plotline is that you want to buy a piece of jadeite, but the whole corporate espionage scene is really not going to go well.
Poor decision level: Cassie-level, which is to say not very good!
Don’t accost the dead guy’s mother who also happens to own most of the shady corporation that’s somehow central to this plot while at her son’s funeral!
First of all, give the woman some space, her son died. Secondly, she’s obviously got a bunch of goons at her beck and call and she will sic them on you.
Poor decision level: Cassie, you’re reaching new lows.
Episode Four: “Conspiracy Theories”
Don’t sneak onto a mysterious plane flight to Maine just because you saw it mentioned in the shredded pieces of paper you found at the hot dead guy’s house!
Especially if your nice gay brother T.R. Knight happens to be visiting town with his kids and is trying to connect with you, and especially if in order to get onto the plane you need to pay off another hot guy who keeps trying to hook up with you and happens to have addictions to both gambling and expensive gyms.
Poor decision level: Well, it was a good idea to piece together those paper shreds, but a very bad idea to sneak off right at this moment! You might just find yourself in the middle of a weapons-smuggling scheme!
Don’t go behind your gay brother’s back and buy his kids presents after he asks you not to!
If you don’t like his parenting, probably bring it up with him before dragging the kids into your whole passive-aggressive thing.
Poor decision level: Seemingly one of Cassie’s more minor bad decisions. She just wants to be liked! But wow, an easy way to trigger all your lingering toxic family dynamics.
Don’t hook up with the random bro who flirted with you at a bar who constantly texts you!
His name is Buckley, he claims to be obsessed with animals, and he is definitely stalking you!
Poor decision level: I respect a good emotional rebound hookup, but, Cassie, please be more careful with your choice!
Episode Five: “Other People’s Houses”
Don’t blab to the FBI about the unsubstantiated information you dug up about weapons smuggling!
First of all, you already look bad given the fact that a woman died in your proximity; secondly, what you’re saying implicates your friend Lawyer Zosia Mamet in stealing information. Now Lawyer Zosia Mamet has to go do creepy errands for her scary mob clients at the urging of her boss, Bebe Neuwirth, and that is all very stressful to watch.
Poor decision level: Great, Cassie, now you’ve gotten your friend in trouble too. Slow your roll!
Do make fun of the terrible giant staircase statue called the Vessel when you’re in Hudson Yards!
Cassie is right; it’s so ugly.
Poor decision level: Very smart! This helps her talk her way past a doorman thanks to the continuous stream of information Hot Dead Guy gives her in her PTSD dreams. Maybe Cassie is actually good at this?
Don’t break into the mysterious headquarters of the evil corporation’s subsidiary based on the address on one envelope!
You might discover an empty building with a whole server bank that Zosia Mamet’s hot not-boyfriend who is a hacker can break into and discover some new clues. But you also might get caught in the process of hacking, which leads you and Zosia Mamet’s hacker not-boyfriend to race out of the building in a panic. And then you’ll be trailed by someone evil in a car, who then drives straight into Zosia Mamet’s hot hacker not-boyfriend!
Poor decision level: Jesus, Cassie, please stop ruining Lawyer Zosia Mamet’s life!
Episode Six: “After Dark”
Don’t go on another bender that leads to hooking up with the guy who keeps stalking you after pissing off your friend Lawyer Zosia Mamet, whose name is Annie! Luckily, Zosia Mamet’s hot not-boyfriend, Max, has been taken to the hospital after getting run over and just may survive, but Cassie and Annie’s relationship may not. Cassie continues to spin wild conspiracy theories about Lionfish, the corporation they were investigating, but she admits that the crucial Hello Kitty flash drive Max had saved the data on must’ve been knocked out of his pocket and lost when they got hit. Annie is understandably very mad about all of this, which leads Cassie to go on another bender and end up calling Buckley, the cheery bro who is definitely stalking her, so they can continue to drink together.
Poor decision level: The show has made it clear that Cassie’s drinking is compulsive, and Cuoco plays that compulsion very empathetically and well. Although the decision to run off to Buckley and throw a hobby horse through a car window (“Symbolism, ever heard of it?!”) still counts as very not good, especially since it lands Cassie in jail.
Don’t try to blackmail Rosie Perez for the voicemail in Korean she accidentally left you! While on the above bender, Cassie discovers that Rosie (a.k.a. Megan Briscoe) has sent her a call in Korean that’s mighty suspicious. As we know from Rosie’s subplot, this links her to a whole other (probably entangled) conspiracy. Cassie, drunk and angry, refuses to delete the call. This leads to Megan donning a disguise and getting her high-school boyfriend to help her out as she slips past Cassie in a bar and steals her phone to delete the recording. Good spy work, Rosie!
Poor decision level: Cassie, please stop pushing your friends away from you! Also, on a related note, The Flight Attendant, please stop implying that every Asian character on this show is involved in some shadowy enterprise. From the Korean men threatening Rosie to the crime syndicate that’s threatening Annie (and that includes a silent Ann Harada ominously eating a rare steak), the repeated use of Asian actors as villains is getting pretty xenophobic.
Don’t just unquestioningly walk out of jail when your bail is posted by someone you don’t know! Once in jail, Cassie makes one of her rare good decisions and calls her brother, Anxious Gay Man T.R. Knight, to try to make amends and also to apologize for the way their homophobic drunk father treated him. Both Knight and Cuoco do a good job of teasing out their characters’ childhood scars, and the emotional beat lands very well. But then when Cassie wakes up in the morning, she discovers that someone (not T.R.!) has paid her bail, so she just up and walks out of jail in her “I ❤️NY” sweatshirt, running right into Michelle Gomez’s operative, Miranda.
Poor decision level: I too would want to get away from that as quickly as possible, though it feels like Cassie should be a little wary about wandering into a new situation without asking more questions or trying to get a call out to someone she trusts, given the whole “running from a conspiracy” situation.
Episode Seven: “Hitchcock Double”
Do apologize in depth to your friend Lawyer Zosia Mamet! Luckily for Cassie, Miranda turns out to be on her side for now, or at least is willing to help to the extent that Cassie can lead her to the money that hot dead guy Alex Sokolov apparently stole from his family. They end up heading back to check in with Annie, who is (understandably, as always) very mad about Cassie putting her hacker not-boyfriend, Max, in jeopardy. Cassie does her best to make amends, though constantly prefaces things with “I was drunk,” while Annie admits that she does in fact love Max (awww!).
Poor decision level: Pretty good! Although Cassie might do better than prefacing her apologies with excuses.
Don’t run away with the mysterious operative who’s been trailing you! Despite Lawyer Zosia Mamet’s many lawyer skills, she admits there’s no way she can get immunity for Michelle Gomez’s slinky operative, Miranda, so Miranda instead offers to help Cassie flee the country and adopt new identities elsewhere. In the process, Miranda turns off Cassie’s Find My Friends app, further isolating her from anyone else who could help her. This way, she can’t even be told that Max has survived when Max finally does wake up! Or that Annie has taken it upon herself to go find that Hello Kitty flash drive!
Poor decision level: Cassie, no! You can’t trust this woman! Have you seen Michelle Gomez in any other film or TV property?!
Don’t spend your life blaming yourself for your father’s actions! Cassie and Miranda run off to a church where Miranda knows someone who’s running an AA meeting that could somehow help them. This triggers Cassie’s memories of her father drinking and driving with her when she was a kid and how he drove into another car and killed himself and the people in it. As Cassie reveals to the ghost of Alex Sokolov, who haunts her, she believes she was responsible because he drank only with her.
Poor decision level: Obviously, this is a lot of personal trauma to work through, and again, Cuoco plays it very well. But it feels like accepting that this is not her responsibility may be a good first step for Cassie to confront a lot of her life. Though again, not something to take up with me, a snarky blogger, or the ghost of a hot dead guy, but an experienced professional.
If you discover that a book is suddenly crucial to this whole mystery, don’t shove it into a jacket pocket it could easily fall out of! This one goes out to Miranda, who makes a Cassie-level error late in the episode. In a sudden burst of That’s So Raven–style insight after a conversation with the ghost Alex, Cassie realizes that he must’ve been hiding the bank codes to the money he stole from his family in the margins of his copy of Crime and Punishment. They run off to Annie’s apartment to pick up the book and then the mysterious assassin whom Miranda calls Felix shows up to chase after them. Miranda sticks the book in her coat, and they run away but as soon as she tries to leap between buildings with Cassie, the book falls out, right into the hands of Felix. And of course, once Cassie turns around to see what Felix looks like, she realizes that … he’s Buckley! Cassie, you should have known, no bro fuckboy is that insistent.
Poor decision level: Miranda, you are supposedly a super-skilled operative (who, yes, is under a lot of stress and listens to mediation apps all the time). You should be better at securing valuable intel!
Episode Eight: “Arrivals & Departures”
Don’t let the professional killer you’re working with out of your sight! After plotting a whole sting operation to catch Felix after a flight to Italy, Miranda tells Cassie she has to run an errand and leaves her behind to attend to her next flight to Italy alone. Cassie tries to stop her, but she can’t. Miranda goes and tidies up some of the corporate mystery plot by accosting and shooting a scheming corporate executive who hired Felix. She shoots him in a parking lot, but ends up getting shot in the leg and missing her flight. Cassie has to fend for herself in Italy, while Miranda races to get another flight.
Poor decision level: Both Cassie and Miranda need to remember the cardinal rule of thrillers, which is to never split up!
Don’t kill the guy you’re supposed to get bank-account codes from until you absolutely have the codes in hand! This one goes out to Felix, a.k.a. Buckley, a.k.a. the psychopath killer whom the corporate exec hired to get the codes from Alex Sokolov. As that guy reveals in a flashback to Miranda, Felix was indeed the one who snuck into Alex’s hotel room in Bangkok, disguised as room service. When Cassie drunkenly wandered out to the hallway, Felix (who — confusingly, in a darkly hot way — has a British accent) snuck in, choked Alex, got him to reveal that the codes were hidden in a book on the couch, but then slit his throat before actually finding the book. That’s why he’s been trailing Cassie the whole time, to get his hands on that copy of Crime and Punishment.
Poor decision level: Never kill the guy before you have the intel, this is contract killer 101!
Do make up with your friend Rosie Perez after she defends you from being attacked in the airport! Finally, Cassie starts on a roll of good decisions once she lands in Italy. First, she sees Felix in the airport and figures out that if she grabs him and pretends he’s attacking her, the nearby police will defend her, as will Rosie, who conveniently speaks enough Italian to corroborate Cassie’s story. Then, the two of them fess up to each other in a hotel room, as Cassie admits that she did wake up next to Alex’s dead body, while Rosie admits that she has been stealing technology for the North Korean government — in a large part because she feels so invisible moving through the world as a middle-aged woman. Lovely sad work in that scene from Rosie Perez, by the way.
Poor decision level: A nice way to mend a broken friendship, though not a great idea to implicate each other with knowledge of your involvement in various international conspiracies.
Don’t drag your hot Italian fuck buddy into all your drama by asking him for a gun! To defend herself in Roma, Cassie goes and reconnects with the hot Italian waiter she hooks up with for fun sometimes and asks him to help defend her by getting her a gun. Because it’s impossible for anyone in this show to say no to Kaley Cuoco, he brings her to his grandmother’s house, where he has access to a gun somehow. The grandmother gives Cassie some harsh lecturing about dragging him into violence, but still, the guy likes Cassie and later rushes in to defend her when she gets attacked by Felix in her hotel room. He ends up getting stabbed right in the stomach. Luckily he survives, but, wow, that’s gotta hurt.
Poor decision level: Do whatever it takes to stop yourself from being murdered, but, oof, the poor Italian hot guy deserved better.
Do realize you have to stop feeling responsible for your father’s death! After some stern lecturing from her hot Italian fuck buddy’s nonna, Cassie hits a breaking point with all her drinking, flashes back to her younger self in the moment after her dad’s car crash, and tells herself to stop taking responsibility for it. “A lot of things will be your fault,” she says. “You will make really, really bad decisions, but this is not your fault.” In that moment, she also decides to pack away her mini vodka bottles and try to stop drinking.
Poor decision level: Good on all counts! Cassie is turning a corner! I’m so proud.
Do step in to defend your co-worker when she’s being attacked, even if it means jeopardizing your CIA cover! This goes out to Cassie’s gay co-worker Shane (Griffin Matthews), who rushes in with a gun after Felix has shot her Italian fuck buddy and helps her stop him. As it turns out, Shane has been a CIA operative the whole time, because he’s been keeping tabs on Rosie Perez’s spying for the North Korean government. Twists upon twists! It’s a real risk for him to spill all that to Cassie. But it also means that, as the episode ends, he mentions to her she might be a good asset for the U.S. government, while Rosie has sped off into the night on a train in Italy. We’re setting up for a Rosie Perez–centric season two, baby!
Poor decision level: Kind of a real gamble to trust someone as unstable as Cassie, Shane, but hey, she’s kind of proven herself!
Do make amends with your best friend! As everything wraps up, Cassie and Annie get breakfast together in that diner in Williamsburg. God, remember diner breakfasts? Cassie says that she is not drinking, or at least trying not to drink — I like that the show doesn’t treat her sobriety like suddenly flicking a switch — while Annie says that she’s still here for her, even if she has quit her job. Then, Cassie discovers that Miranda, who somehow survived Felix fully choking her out in the elevator, left Alex’s copy of Crime and Punishment in her coat, sans that crucial page with the bank codes, of course. Once again: We’re setting up for season two, baby!
Poor decision level: I’m happy for Cassie; she’s really doing her best to move ahead and make amends. I hope the show doesn’t mess that up if it does another season. Again, the best bet would really be to make that season Rosie Perez–centric. Let’s hope we can sit around compiling Megan Briscoe’s bad decisions then, because, oof, honey, never spy for North Korea.