I was stoked when I first saw the trailer for “The Flight Attendant”, it felt like an intriguing thriller and I had accompanied the lead actress Kaley Cuoco through Instagram in her day-to-day throughout shooting and production of this show, so I felt that I was a part of that project in a weird way. Notably, this HBO Max series is an adaptation of the book “The Flight Attendant” by Chris Bohjalian, which I have never heard or read about, but it surely got me intrigued.
The mini-series revolves around flight attendant Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco), who is at first, a very charming and fun character that spends her time-off partying, drinking, and having romantic encounters anywhere her job takes her in the world. Her life is suddenly turned around when she meets “3C” or Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), he flirts with her, and despite the company policies she flirts back and even joins the “mile-high” club with him on their way to Bangkok. The passenger invites Cassie to a night out in Bangkok and what ensues is an endearing, beautiful, and enviable first date in the streets of the exotic country. After a beautifully crafted first-date montage, Cassie wakes up in bed with Alex Sokolov only to realize that he has been murdered.
At glance, this can look like just another thriller and mystery mini-series, but the truth is the show refuses to be cornered into just one genre and becomes a mixture of dark comedy, family drama, personal growth, investigations, action, and even a dash of philosophy and ethics into its short 8-episode season. And at its core, in my opinion, all the elements mentioned above are used to create a compelling story about trauma, self-discovery, and accountability.
It would be remiss of me to not clearly state that the production, editing, and sound of this series is simply superb. HBO really nails the meaning of “Home Box Office” in this one, as the quality of this project is vastly superior to many movies you have seen for sure. I am not a filmmaker of any kind, still, I was baffled by the editing and composition of the scenes in this show, I’m not the one to really pick up on these things but here it’s impossible to not see the beauty of every shot and transition. Aside from production, the story unfolds at an amazingly comfortable pace, keeping the viewers attentive and on edge while still providing satisfying conclusions to all the plotlines that develop up during the main story.
Character development is crucial to the success of this series, the script and the themes displayed are fully-fledged out and don’t shy away from tough (whilst relatable) emotions and relationships. The supporting cast was a mixture of veteran actors and actresses and some newcomers, who all deliver convincing performances, granted not everyone has the same opportunities to shine as bright as the lead, yet they all provide very solid work that allows Kaley Cuoco to deliver the performance of a lifetime. It is her portrayal of Cassie Bowden’s personal journey through self-discovery, that really drives the show home.
Cuoco’s depiction of desperation in face of a murder scene was extremely relatable and felt exactly like what I would go through if it happened to me. As she moves forward trying to figure out what happened, who was Alex Sokolov, getting investigated and navigating this marvelous mystery we learn that her character is much more complex than what meets the eye. You are not spoon-fed a character, but you soon enough begin to piece together who is Cassie through her relationships, friends, family, and memories. Finally, the way we gain access to Cassie’s internal monologue, and mind is cleverly written and fun.
Without spoiling this one the topics of addiction, substance abuse, crime, self-destruction, morality, and the superficiality of appearances, along with the subtle symbolisms that we get further down the show, are delightfully rewarding and make the show easily and quickly watchable, while extremely enjoyable.
The conclusions for season one are perfectly written and down to earth, “The Flight Attendant” felt like a self-contained and perfectly delivered stand-alone miniseries that did not need any expanding upon. This is why having HBO announce a second season had me confused as I don’t really see where they can take these characters without deviating from all the development that they went through in season one. I’m interested to see where season 2 goes, if the author of the book jumps in, if there’s a sequel to the book, or if it will be an originally scripted story.
Again, I can’t stress enough how surprised I was with the emotional range and acting skills that I’ve seen from Kaley Cuoco, straying so far from her iconic role as Penny that I almost forgot she was in “The Big Bang Theory”. The Flight Attendant is an excellent series, with a great supporting cast, interesting story, and magnetic suspense, but ultimately the spectacle resides in Kaley Cuoco’s acting. A must watch for any fans of entertainment, The Flight Attendant is streaming on HBO Max.