Much like the images in Cassie’s mystery viewmaster, this episode of The Flight Attendant felt like a series of random stories cobbled together to form a single narrative. Over the course of a single day, Cassie stalks her new friend Grace (who she believes is the doppelgänger) through a farmer’s market and an airport, attends her one-year AA meeting with her brother and boyfriend, spies on Grace some more, heads to dinner with her friends, and receives a cryptic message from Megan. That’s a lot of stuff. I can barely make it to the grocery store and the gym on most days. Maybe I need to eat more donuts and Hot Tamales for energy?
Cassie is nothing if not productive, but she’s also indulging in some of her worst impulses. Her mind palace is back in full swing. Oddly, it seems to be activated by loud noises such as the round of applause she receives at her AA ceremony and an air horn at a park. In the first season, Cassie was whisked away to her mind palace whenever she was on shaky ground or questioning her own rash actions. The transition was always marked by internal turmoil, not external. I’m thinking the series might be trying to pair the physical aftereffects of Cassie’s trauma at the explosion with her visits to her mind palace, but this quirk seems wholly unnecessary, especially when the concept is otherwise executed so perfectly.
The evolution of Cassie’s innermost voices is fantastic. In the premiere, we met Party Cassie, and while she’s very energetic, we know she does not make the best decisions (see: getting back into bed with a dead guy in Bangkok). More voices are added throughout this episode as Black Hole of Joy Cassie and Young Cassie (Audrey Grace Marshall) begin to chime in. None is empathetic, thoughtful, or even very helpful to Cassie as she works on unraveling the current predicament she’s found herself in. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Later in the episode, when Grace hands Cassie a frosty glass of rosé, Party Cassie eggs her on, saying it won’t even give her a buzz. And when Cassie, Max, and Annie find the source of one of the pictures from the viewmaster at the base of the Lady of the Lake statue in Echo Park, Black Hole Cassie expresses utter hopelessness for the whole situation, saying, “We’re really going to fuck this up, aren’t we?”
But Young Cassie seems to be the most telling in terms of Cassie’s current mindset. When Cassie receives her one-year AA chip — an accomplishment she should definitely be proud of — Party Cassie pops up, mock clapping from the back row. Moments later, Party Cassie enlists the help of Young Cassie to belittle real Cassie and encourage her to slip back into her old ways. Despite the fact that Cassie revisited the first big trauma of her life with Alex in the previous season and even gave her younger self a tearful hug, it seems as if she hasn’t worked to fully heal from the abuses of her childhood.
If nothing else, the great Pixar movie Inside Out taught us that we all have these competing voices in our heads, and it almost feels as if we’re getting introduced to Cassie’s versions of Anger, Sadness, Joy, Fear, and Disgust. Except Cassie’s emotions want nothing but the blissful release of an alcoholic beverage. And there doesn’t seem to be a positive influence in sight. At least not yet.
Instead, Cassie’s positive influences come from the real people she’s chosen to surround herself with, like the ever patient Max and Annie. Annie isn’t able to attend Cassie’s ceremony because she’s busy bombing a very important interview, and Max is holed up at the house researching the viewmaster. But Cassie’s cheery brother, Davey (T.R. Knight), is on hand to celebrate her year of sobriety, as is her new boyfriend, Marco (Santiago Cabrera), and her sponsor, Brenda (Shohreh Aghdashloo). We’re also reminded that Shane is someone Cassie knows and loves and trusts, but we don’t see him in this episode.
There’s also a busy bee hovering around Cassie at her AA meetings, and her name is Jenny (Jessie Ennis). Jenny clearly wants to get closer to Cassie in a Single White Female way — she buys the same exact necklace Cassie wears and gloms onto Davey within moments of meeting him — but Cassie is too distracted by the idea of Grace being her doppelgänger to really care about all that. It seems as though Jenny might just want fodder for her true-crime podcast, but the accessory-copying and incessant hugging tell me there’s more here. Also, as evidenced by her hilariously cutthroat turn on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest, Ennis can shift from sweet and innocent to wicked nasty on a dime, so I’m looking forward to seeing if a similar metamorphosis takes place here.
Despite all the wonderful things happening in her life, Cassie has eyes only for Grace and exposing her as the mysterious doppelgänger from Berlin. And Grace — well, Grace kind of turns out to be an insufferable twit. She’s got hipster white-savior complex to the max. She makes perfect sourdough bread, which is a tolerable trait, especially because that’s what we all did to get through COVID-19, amirite? But as Cassie tours her apartment, she finds all sorts of red flags. Grace was in the army for a short period of time, and while she was in Fallujah, she stole a ceremonial shamshir. Of course, Grace doesn’t think she stole it. She just liberated it! Someone else was going to take it anyway! Um, okaaaay.
Grace also gestures to a photo on her bookshelf. The image is ripped in half, showing only Grace in her Army gear and the arm of a rando Army person next to her, and I’m surely sure we’re going to meet the person on the other half of that image at some point in the near future. Are ripped photos the new Chekov’s gun? Discuss!
As Grace showers, Cassie pokes around the rest of the apartment. She doesn’t see any telltale bruises or tattoos on her new friend. In fact, she doesn’t find much at all. Even though Party Cassie thinks she smells a whiff of Santal 33 — the same scent that was on the bloodstained wig — Cassie can’t locate a bottle of the bougie perfume. But she does find the secret package Grace picked up earlier at the airport; it’s full of fentanyl lollipops. Cool, cool, cool.
When Grace catches Cassie eyeing the stash, she tries to explain. But it’s a horrific explanation. Instead of just admitting she’s a drug dealer (no judgment, girl!), she says she’s a fentanyl fairy godmother. Oh, barf. Grace might not be a murderer, but she’s straight-up murdering any patience I have left for her holier-than-thou antics. Even though Cassie rules Grace out as the potential wig woman, it seems as if she will be an important character as the series unfolds. I just really need to know who’s on the other side of that picture!
Speaking of pictures, we get a few stolen moments with Megan. The one contact she has with the outside world consists of a string of emoji that she sent in a Snapchat to her son, Eli (David Iacono). Eli sends the image to Cassie, but the emoji don’t make any sense to her either.
The two scenes featuring Megan are brief and basically just raise 8 million more questions. First, we see her picking poisonous mushrooms in the woods. Later, in a well-appointed apartment, Megan goes at the mushrooms with a mortar and pestle. She helpfully has a guidebook open, identifying exactly what type of mushroom she’s using: the jack-o’-lantern mushroom. According to my brief search on Wikipedia, these mushrooms grow in the forests of Europe and in South Africa. They’re poisonous but not deadly, which means Megan is likely looking to impair someone but not kill them. Hmmm. Interesting.
But the biggest surprise of all is Megan appears to have a lover! And that lover is none other than Margaret Cho! This woman comes into the apartment, says Megan’s real name, then cuddles up to her for a dance. Megan doesn’t really seem into it, but she does give in, slowly swaying with this mystery lady as she gives her mushroom powder a side-eye.
It feels inevitable that Cassie and Megan’s mysteries will collide at some point during this season, and perhaps Cassie’s new neighbors will shed some light on any connections in the coming weeks. As Annie and Max return home from dinner, they see a creeper trying to get into Cassie’s bungalow. The guy excuses himself, saying that he got turned around. His name is Esteban Diaz, and he and his wife, Gabrielle, are just renting an Airbnb across the street. Annie and Max are charmed by this duo in their Hunger Games Panem-casual attire, but we know it’s the same couple who tagged Cassie’s phone back in Berlin. They’ve got the real neighbors tied up in a closet, and Gabrielle has a Taser at the ready for anyone who crosses them.
We’ve made our final descent into the end of the recap, so please make sure your tray tables and seats are in the upright position. Until next time …
• Annie and Max continue to be one of my favorite couples on TV. When Annie worries about her job interview, she says, “I mostly miss being self-sufficient and feeling valuable. I’m supposed to be the together one!” To which Max gently replies, “You lost your shine? I’m sorry. You haven’t. You’ll always shine.” They. Are. The. Sweetest. Every lady deserves a Max.
• When Cassie sees Davey at the farmers’ market, we overhear a snippet of conversation indicating that he’s been in L.A. for over a month. What? Why? What’s going on with his cutie husband and his adorable children in Denver? Are Davey’s childhood ghosts coming back to haunt him, too?
• Cassie’s behavior at the airport underscores why she’s so good at the undercover work. Even though she’s really terrible at staying under the radar, she’s great at going with the flow and acting like a damsel in distress. The way she said “Can I see a menu? I’m soooo hungry” to the waiter made me laugh out loud.