If the latest episode of The Flight Attendant is to be believed, Reykjavík is basically just one big pub crawl with some borderline inedible side dishes thrown in for good measure. As Cassie went on her exhaustive tour of what seemed like every bar in Iceland, I was reminded of the great Comedy Central series Insomniac With Dave Attell. In the years before travel TV became very big business, Attell did four seasons of this show, barhopping and getting increasingly plastered in a different major city every single night. It was a very fun show.
However, Cassie’s travels aren’t nearly as exciting. They’re actually kind of infuriating. As a sober person, Cassie insists that she wants to maintain her sobriety, and yet she keeps testing the waters. With the help of Party Cassie, she decodes (or thinks she decodes) Megan’s emoji chain and decides to head to Iceland. Deep down, she knows that her inner party monster doesn’t exactly have her best interests at heart, but Cassie books it to the airport early the next morning anyway. She leaves all her responsibilities behind for Ani to clean up. As we find out later in the episode, Ani doesn’t want kids, but maybe it’s because she already has an unhinged friend to take care of?
Speaking of Ani, let’s just take a brief layover to chat about whatever the fuck it is that they’re doing to her character here. And Max, too! All of a sudden, we’ve veered into an antiquated land of wedding bells and having kids to make the grandparents happy. The entire visit to Max’s family is cringe level ten, and the capper is Max’s aggro attitude when they arrive home. Sure, he gets knocked out by the psycho neighbors as karma, but still. Ani and Max didn’t feel like Ani and Max in this episode, and I did not enjoy it. Ani is also losing her mind regarding her job and her overall identity, and while mid-life crises are totally a thing, I’m hoping that the writers decide to get her back on track at some point soon.
Cassie’s mind palace is on high alert as she flees from her increasingly serious relationship with Marco and into the arms of a potentially deadly international conspiracy. Black Hole Cassie knows that they’re going to screw everything up, and Party Cassie is delighted, but there’s also a new Cassie to reckon with. I’m going to call her Responsible Cassie because her hair is perfectly coiffed and she’s trying to reason with her host. However, if I’m being honest, Responsible Cassie does seem like kind of a killjoy. Score one for Party Cassie.
Responsible Cassie has a huge blue rock on her finger, and she recognizes that her life used to be a “complete nightmare,” but she promises that things could basically be perfect if she just put in a little effort. This is a lie. Recovery and maintaining recovery in a real, honest way takes so much work. Cassie is not putting in the work, and Shane absolutely knows it.
Shaneeeeee! God, how I missed Shane’s dry wit, his devastating facial expressions, and his confident style. As Shane spots Cassie on the plane to Iceland, it feels like he’s really regretting his choice to recommend his friend for the CIA’s human asset program. Cassie doesn’t mention how she blackmailed “Black Market Carol” into giving up her jump seat on the flight, but Shane knows. Cassie also doesn’t mention that she’s headed to Iceland to track down Megan, but Shane knows that too. Shane knows all.
So as Cassie is stumbling around Reykjavík in her gloriously puffy coat and purple fanny pack, trying to find a Megan in a pub, Shane is on her tail. Everyone in Iceland is blonde and wearing a puffy coat though, so Shane must be really good at what he does. Even Cassie gets a little disoriented with all the blonde noggins spinning around her in the street, but Shane finds her in front of a bar with the best sheepshead, a.k.a. Svið (pronounced “svith”) in all the land. Yum?
The two friends get a table, and neither one backs down from the challenge. A tense conversation ensues in which Shane tells Cassie he knows everything without telling her he knows everything, and Cassie just nopes her way through the entire meal. She even takes an enthusiastic bite of fermented shark. Actors Griffin Matthews and Kaley Cuoco showcase their great natural chemistry here, as we can tell that these two still have a great love for one another, but neither one of them can be fully honest about what’s happening.
Shane is holding out because he knows if he tells the truth, she’ll bolt, and Cassie isn’t telling the truth because lying is like breathing to her. Shane is the person she should be opening up to — he’s her trusted contact at the CIA, after all — but she literally can’t. Breaking the habit of a lifetime of compulsive lying is difficult, and Cassie’s not ready to address all that yet. She’s not drinking, but she’s still lying, making very poor decisions, acting impulsively, and putting herself in situations where alcohol is on the table — literally — willingly and often, so she’s basically the textbook definition of a dry drunk.
Instead of opening up to her good friend Shane, Cassie flees back to her hotel room, where she gets a call from Ani about a lead on one of the View-Master slides. It’s a German license plate. Okay. But Cassie can’t really focus on all of that. She’s dealing with some rando stealing her credit card and buying a trunk full of murder from some big box hardware store. Oh, and a fire alarm is going off in the hotel, and the shiny mini bar has caught her eye. So, she ends yet another conversation with a potentially supportive friend so she can go three rounds with her own demons instead.
Even though there’s so much insanity going on around her, Cassie’s struggle with her mental health and sobriety is the cornerstone that the entire season, nay, series, rests on. Cassie is the flight attendant, after all, and as much as she gets into scrapes with the CIA and jets off to posh international locales, she’s still a huge mess. And we keep rooting for her even though she’s constantly self-sabotaging because her struggles are so real and human. So, when Cassie comes face-to-face with her hotel minibar, it feels almost like a standoff with the not-so-secret Big Bad of the series.
In real life, you can ask for your minibar to be removed from your room, but some people don’t know that. #TheMoreYouKnow! However, Cassie either wasn’t aware this was a thing, she didn’t think to ask, or she purposely didn’t ask because she’s on a super cool “tempting fate” kick. As much as Party Cassie plays devil bartender temptress in the back of her mind, Cassie manages to push the thought out of the way and heads to a meeting instead.
On her way to the meeting, Cassie spots Shane hiding behind a newspaper in the lobby. She confronts him, and his guard goes down. He basically admits everything to her and confronts her right back. But there was a reason he didn’t play this card in the restaurant, and it unfolds in spectacular fashion here. Cassie throws a huge tantrum and screams her way out of the lobby, claiming her innocence and playing the victim as she scrambles out onto the street.
Cassie does end up making it to the AA meeting, but lo and behold, the 12-step gods and goddesses smile upon her as a jovial gentleman mentions meeting a woman from Long Island who reminded him of home. It’s Megan, of course. And when Cassie finally finds her at the last bar in Reykjavík, Megan freaks out. Cassie is not supposed to be there. And she’s going to get them both killed.
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 …
• Cassie’s exchange with “Black Market Carol” is a highlight of this episode. The fantastic character actress Alanna Ubach plays Carol with a killer sneer and sardonic attitude for days. We’ll be seeing more of her as the season progresses, and I am too excited.
• Before Cassie gets into it with Carol, she bumps into Grace at the airport. Grace notices that Cassie is headed to Iceland and shares the info that she’s not allowed in Iceland anymore because she had sex with a girl who “wouldn’t shut up about volcanoes” on the flight. Later in the episode, Dot Carlson makes a reference to a volcano. Coincidence? I think not.
• Speaking of Dot, the way they framed the back of her blonde head as she walked into Benjamin’s office felt very much like the shots of doppelgänger Cassie loading up her trunk at the hardware store. Red herring? Perhaps. But Dot’s behavior has been erratic and odd. I wouldn’t count her out as the perpetrator of all this nonsense.
• Marco, on the other hand, well, I think I need to apologize to Marco. In my very first recap, I said I suspected him of being a spy. As the story progresses, I’m starting to think I was wrong. He’s just a sweet man who’s head over heels for Cassie. Poor guy.
• Miranda Watch: There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where Cassie texts an SOS to someone named Katherine O’Brien, which is the random name Miranda gave Cassie back in season one, episode seven. Hmmm. Interesting. We can only hope and pray that we’ll be graced by Miranda’s kick-ass presence very soon.