I’m very sorry about that headline, but for those of you who were holding off on watching HBO Max’s Flight Attendant until you heard whether it ends well, allow me to assure you that it does. The entire season is a blast, there are two twists that I didn’t see coming, and the first season leaves open the possibility of a second season without sacrificing the first season’s storyline (HBO has just today renewed the series for a second season). If you were mulling whether to make the time investment (eight hour-long episodes), it is absolutely worth it. It may not land on anyone’s top ten list, but it definitely is one of the most enjoyably fun series of 2020, and Kaley Cuoco — free from the constraints of laugh-track hell — is absolutely fantastic.
The Flight Attendant was never about the motives of the killer; it was more about how a barely functioning alcoholic could investigate the murder of a one-night stand while also evading the FBI, who suspected her. It was also about coming to terms with her role in her father’s death (and it’s fun to see Jason Jones in the role of her drunk father in flashbacks) and repairing her relationship with her brother (T.R. Knight). It was also about Kaley Cuoco being generally screwball funny in a comedic thriller.
With the killer identified, the finale was mostly about following the story to its natural conclusion. Cassie works another flight, this one back to Rome, where she reconnects with an old f**k buddy, Enrico, who hooks her up with a gun. Enrico returns to Cassie’s hotel room with her, but while he’s out for ice, Cassie discovers Miranda’s body in the bathtub, and she’s attacked by Felix. Enrico returns just in time to get stabbed, but he distracts Felix long enough for Cassie to grab a gun. She shoots Felix once in the leg before — surprise! — her flight-attendant co-worker, Shane, barges in with a gun looking all badass.
That’s the second twist, which Steve Yockey — adapting from Christopher Bohjalian’s novel — sells really well. There’s been a side story involving another of Cassie’s colleagues, Megan (Rosie Perez!), who inadvertently found herself selling trade secrets to North Korea. Other than the opportunity to cast Perez, the necessity of this subplot didn’t make a lot of sense until the finale when Shane — an undercover CIA agent posing as a flight attendant who had been investigating Megan all along — barged in with his gun. (Megan, by the way, fled once authorities figured out who she was. She is in the wind.).
For readers of Bohjalian’s novel, there were a few surprises, including Shane’s real identity. Meanwhile, in the book, it was Miranda who killed Alex, although Buckley did exist in the book, having been hired to kill Miranda. Also, the book ends with Cassie learning that she’s pregnant with Alex’s baby.
That’s not going to happen on the series, although as with the book’s ending, Cassie is offered a job with the CIA to basically use her position as a flight attendant to spy for the feds. That’s precisely where Cuoco plans to take season two. “I hope it doesn’t sound too cocky, but we have always had a vision for a season 2,” Cuoco told EW a few months ago. “We have had a very clear path for what a season 2 would look like and we know exactly what it’ll look like, and we hope we’ll get the opportunity to do that.”
Showrunner Steve Yockey, meanwhile, says that they will explore some unanswered questions that didn’t necessarily need to be answered in the first season (the North Koreans manipulating Megan, for instance; or the organization that hired Miranda and Buckley; or even the shady law firm that Cassie’s best friend, Ani (Zosia Mamet) worked for). Felix/Buckley is still alive, and so apparently is Miranda, who left behind a book that belonged to Alex, which should provide Miranda with the location of Alex’s stash.
A second season would also, presumably, track whether Cassie can maintain her sobriety after revealing, in the finale, that she is two days sober. For the mental and physical health of Cassie, I hope she can stay on the wagon. For the comedic potential of season two, however, I hope she quickly falls off.