‘The Flight Attendant’ Season Two: Despite Sobriety, Still A Mess and Full of Drama (In a Good a Way)

Kaley Cuoco's frothy, borderline ridiculous HBO series remains as unhinged, and enjoyable, as ever.

Kaley Cuoco Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max

The first season of The Flight Attendant was immensely entertaining, if somewhat unhinged. Its murder mystery, which centered around a messy, alcoholic flight attendant named Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco), unfolded with chaotic glee (and, sometimes, a loose grasp on reality). The second season of the HBO series, which airs its first two episodes before rolling out weekly, tempers some of the zaniness, but retains its sense of fun as Cassie finds herself in the middle of a new mystery. 

As the new season opens, we find Cassie in Los Angeles, a year sober and still working as a flight attendant. She secretly moonlights as a CIA operative on the side, which seems to involve trailing people but not, as her handler warns, getting involved with them. She has a new boyfriend, a new apartment and a new lease on life—for now. On a trip to Berlin, Cassie is tasked with observing an asset in a hotel, a directive she immediately ignores and joins him in the bar for a soda. When he leaves, Cassie is hot on his tail, spying on him as through an adjacent hotel window as he has sex with a mysterious blonde woman, who happens to have the exact same back tattoo as Cassie. (Gasp!) He’s later killed by an exploding car and Cassie soon realizes she’s being impersonated by this mystery woman. 

The upheaval of the situation, of course, sends Cassie ricocheting. She celebrates her one year sober at a (very glossy) AA meeting, where her brother Davey (T. R. Knight) has come to support her. Cassie’s best friend Annie (Zosia Mamet, still a delight) and Annie’s boyfriend Max (Deniz Akdeniz) are in town so Annie can interview for a new job, but despite all the support Cassie is barely hanging on. She’s as messy as ever, but this time she’s sober and has to come face-to-face with the repercussions of her behavior. There’s a side plot about her flight attendant pal Megan Briscoe (Rosie Perez), who is on the run from the North Koreans after the fallout of season one, and a new character, Mae Martin’s Grace, gives Cassie a foil for her antics. Some old characters pop up. New ones emerge. In essence, there’s a lot going on. 

From left: T. R. Knight, Kaley Cuoco, Santiago Cabrera Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max

Cuoco, also a producer, is aware that audiences don’t want to see Cassie completely sorted out. While The Flight Attendant has a tenuous relationship with reality, it would be unreasonable and unrelatable for a disaster like Cassie to have all her shit together only a year after the events of season one. But it’s also far more interesting to see Cassie grapple with the challenges life throws her way, particularly as someone who used to rely on alcohol for a quick fix. The AA storyline feels pretty grounded and there’s a great dynamic between Cassie and her sponsor Brenda (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The show acknowledges the challenges of sobriety, as well as how easy it is to relapse. It’s an admirable representation, even if Cassie’s AA meeting takes place in far too nice of a room, and it’s one that has the potential to help some viewers feel less alone in their own struggles. 

Last season, Cassie’s internal monologue took place inside the hotel room where Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman) was murdered. This time, she argues with herself—or, rather, several versions of herself—inside the Berlin hotel bar. It’s a compelling visual gimmick to showcase her struggle, although it’s sometimes overused and can become overwrought. Although if there’s one thing The Flight Attendant is not, it’s nuanced. But maybe that’s why we love it so much. In our heads, we’re all pretty dramatic. Cassie just plays that drama out in her day to day life, with little regard for the consequences. She’s a terrible spy, but that’s why she’s so much fun. 

There’s a misconception that for something to be good it has to be serious. Prestige drama is treated like the pinnacle of television achievement, but there’s something to be said for just enjoying a fast-paced, slightly unhinged story that doesn’t take itself so seriously. This is a frothy show that is enjoyable because it’s borderline ridiculous. The second season of The Flight Attendant feels like a reset, which will work for some fans and less so for others, but Cuoco and crew have found a solid way forward, even if the storylines often feel like a bit too much to follow collectively. Was a second season necessary? No. But it makes for a very good time.  ‘The Flight Attendant’ Season Two: Despite Sobriety, Still A Mess and Full of Drama (In a Good a Way)