Where do we even start? The penultimate episode of The Flight Attendant season two was so frenetic and packed with wild plot threads that I found it nearly impossible to stay emotionally — or even mentally — connected to anything going on at any given moment.
But perhaps that was the intent?
We all know Cassie has been living on tilt forever. Even though she did successfully string together a good chunk of sobriety, she hasn’t bothered to work on changing any other behaviors that are making her life unmanageable. We’ve covered all of that before, so I won’t delve into it again. However, the twist her mind palace has been taking since her relapse has felt very off-kilter and not really keeping with the intent of her mind palace from the previous season.
The mind palace is pulling her in two different directions: First, Black Hole Cassie is back, listening to Carly Simon croon about a man who wronged her, but really a hostile takeover has occurred. Inner Voice Cassie (formerly known as Responsible Cassie) is a mirror image of Cassie in real life, but she’s generally more disheveled and way nastier. Much as she did last week, she continues to plant ideas of self-harm and suicide in Cassie’s brain throughout the episode, but Young Cassie tries to break the pattern by whisking her away into the elevator.
There, Cassie confronts an ideal version of her mother. Sharon Stone stands regally atop a stark staircase, pensively staring out of a large plate-glass window overlooking the ocean. Stone’s stoic presence suggests that she’s in full command of this gorgeous set piece, and the image completely sold me on Stone as a potential Marvel villain at some point in time. Eight million Marvel projects are happening at any given moment, so I think Kevin Feige can (and should) make it happen.
Mind-palace Lisa and Cassie have a very different conversation from the one they had in that sad little kitchen in Jersey. Lisa assures Cassie that she just needs to be patient with herself and with others and change will happen. As she delivers these reassuring words to her daughter, a river of ocean water starts to trickle in through the window and cascade down the stairs. Cassie comes back to earth, only to hallucinate a giant version of the Easy Does It bear emerging from the ocean.
Presumably, the bear is supposed to symbolize Cassie’s problems reemerging from the ocean. She tossed the bear into the Pacific during her relapse and has been trying to distract herself from her problems ever since. But latent trauma, mental-health issues, and addiction have a way of metastasizing when no one is paying attention. This is the first time Cassie has confronted her issues’ sheer size and weight, and perhaps it marks a turning point. A ridiculous turning point, to be sure, but a turning point nonetheless. The visual of a giant, fuzzy, soaking-wet bear initially feels like exaggerated nonsense, but it honestly wouldn’t be The Flight Attendant without some bonkers twists and turns.
The lead-up to the reveal of Grace as Cassie’s double is an all-out plot bonanza. As Shane, Cassie, Max, and Ani race to the Santa Monica pier, Cassie sees the double and follows her onto a carousel. Round and round she goes, clocking her inner and outer demons in a futile attempt to make sense of it all. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results, the concept of the carousel and the Ferris wheel as Cassie’s carnival rides of choice is actually pretty spot-on.
Max and Ani take down the Diazes, who are … just there for some reason? There’s not much explanation for why this is happening, but it is fun to watch a badass Ani use the Diazes’ Taser against them. And she takes her ring back, which is pretty fun.
Shane and Benjamin also have an altercation, and it appears as if Benjamin stabs Shane, but I guess it was Grace? She stabs both of them in an attempt to get to Cassie? I don’t know. None of this makes sense, but I’m willing to let it all go at this point because I’m along for the thrills of this carnival ride of an episode.
Elsewhere, Megan is trying to get some sort of deal with the CIA. A North Korean operative threatens her son, Eli, and tells her to hand over everything she’s got. He’s kind of stupid because he should at least promise protection for Eli so that Megan will comply, but he doesn’t, so she doesn’t. Instead, she whacks him on the head and shoves him into her trunk like an overstuffed suitcase. Later she gets pulled over by a sweet, sympathetic mom cop who lets her go because their kids both sold the same candy in school. Sometimes it pays to be a mom!
This episode is more stuffed than that waterlogged Easy Does It bear. So much so that the tragic Grace reveal unfortunately doesn’t even hit with much of a punch.
Mae Martin definitely does their best with what they’re given in the short and tragic scene on the Ferris wheel. They’ve been an electric presence on the show so far, evoking a mysterious egocentric yet kind demeanor. It’s odd because Cassie was the one pursuing Grace’s friendship, yet Grace was the one screwing her over.
As Grace grapples with serious reservations about killing this person she actually grew to know and like, Cassie asks a million questions, but Grace doesn’t have an answer to any of them. She doesn’t know about the View-Master, and she’s very remorseful about killing. She makes reference to a deal she made to get out of the Army but says she’s just doing the same thing all over again. Cassie tries to reason with her, saying, “There’s always a way out.” So Grace chooses the most immediate way out that she can think of: She hoists the gun to her head and squeezes the trigger. Thankfully, the camera goes wide on a view of the Ferris wheel at this moment, and when we come back, we’re living in the moment with Cassie.
As a viewer and a mental-health professional, I think Grace’s suicide is a completely unearned plot point. Suicide has been teased in Cassie’s mind palace in the previous two episodes as Inner Voice Cassie has gone very dark in her communication and keeps telling Cassie that she’d be better off dead. For someone who has just relapsed and had an earth-shattering altercation with her estranged mother, this is realistic. Yet the episode seems to feel that planting the idea of suicide in Cassie’s mind is enough to justify another character’s dying by suicide at the conclusion of the episode. It’s not enough. And in the end, Grace’s death feels sensationalized and empty. I sincerely wish we had more time with her character.
That said, given the cryptic things Grace revealed in the moments before her death, I’m doubling down on my prediction that we’re going to get to see the rest of that torn Army photo from her apartment. And I’m almost sure the other person in that picture is going to be none other than Dot Karlson. I guess we’ll find out next week in the finale.
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 …
• Early in the episode, Cassie asks Shane, “What would my motive even be?” And that’s a terrific question, but people never really care about true motive when someone has addiction and mental-health problems; the CIA can just pin all these murders on her as an unstable individual.
• Davey texts Cassie a bunch of times asking what’s going on, so it’s probably safe to say that he’s interacting with the double responsible for the View-Master? Could it be Jenny? No way, right? But … maybe? I’m kind of hoping it is, mostly because I want to see Jessie Ennis go full villain.
• When Cassie thinks she’s being stalked by Benjamin, she scoots up onto the Ferris wheel, which reminded me of idiots in horror movies who run up the stairs when a killer is chasing them. It all ends up working out for Cassie, but that girl needs to access the rational part of her brain, stat.
• Why is everyone wearing Santa hats on the pier? If Cassie relapsed twice in March when she was six months sober, and she didn’t count those as relapses, then the extra six months would place us squarely in September, which is even too early for corporate America to be shelling out Christmas merch. But this episode also had a giant stuffed bear emerge from the ocean like it was no biggie, so I guess I shouldn’t be asking questions about Santa hats.