Review: Kaley Couco shines as ‘The Flight Attendant’

(Photograph by Phil Caruso)

After 12 years of playing Penny, Leonard Hofstadter’s love interest on the CBS TV series The Big Bang Theory, and the past year as the foul mouthed animated version of Harley Quinn on the TV series of the same name, Kaley Couco brings her charming allure to the new series The Flight Attendant on HBO Max.

Not only does Couco lead the series as Cassie Bowdan, the promiscuous, alcoholic flight attendant, who might also be suffering from PTSD, she is also the show’s executive producer. 

On Thanksgiving, 2020, HBO Max gifted subscribers with 3 episodes of this binge-worthy, whodunit, murder mystery The Flight Attendant.  The series begins with episode 1, In Case of Emergency, as we are introduced to Cassie, who is a hot mess of a party girl who spends her evenings dancing the night away soaked in booze with the nearest attractive boy-toy, which makes her struggle to get to her job on time as an international flight attendant alongside of the likes of Birds of Prey star Rosie Perez who plays her gossipy coworker Megan.

Rosie Perez Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik

Cassie openly flirts with passenger “3C” ( Michiel Huisman) to the point of passionately making out with him in the tiny airline bathroom. After the flight, he slips her his business card and offers to take her out on the town in Bangkok Thailand. Her co-workers chide her and she claims she has no intention of looking him up. Of course, he finds her and whisks her away for a drunken and debaucherous night in the city as well as his luxury hotel room.

Michiel Huisman Photograph by Phil Caruso

She wakes to discover his dead body in bed with her and absolutely no memory of what transpired, much like movies like The Hangover and Dude Where’s my Car? 

Knowing that Thai prisons are the worst place to be on the planet, Cassie makes a frantic effort to clean up the crime scene and get out of the country as soon as humanly possible after having a phone conversation with her best friend who also happens to be an attorney for “dangerous people” who tells her specifically to NOT get arrested in Bangkok, oblivious to the fact that Cassie is in the room with a dead body. 

By the time Cassie reaches the United States, 3C’s body has been discovered and the FBI wants to question the entire flight staff regarding Alex’s (3C) murder. On a flight to Seoul Cassie begins to hallucinate deceased Alex talking to her as she tries to piece together the events of the previous evening, much like Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, only this flight attendant, Cassie, does not have the deeply ingrained training of Jason Bourne.

As the episode progresses, Cassie remembers quick flashes of the previous night, conversations she shared with the deceased, as well as continuing to hallucinate Alex talking to her.

Zosia Mamet Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik

Upon arrival at the airport, Cassie attempts to flee from FBI questioning, but explains it away as being on “automatic pilot” and “forgetting” she was supposed to be questioned. Almost all of her coworkers tell the FBI that Cassie was flirting with Alex AKA “3C.”

During the initial FBI questioning, Cassie remembers there was someone else there, a mysterious woman whose face she can’t recall at this time and the episode ends with that revelation. 

The second episode entitled Rabbits picks up right where In Case of Emergency left off in the makeshift interrogation room in Cassie’s “home” airport. Cassie struggles to make out the face of the mysterious woman she remembered from the night she spent with Alex, who we discover is named Miranda and is played by Michelle Gomez, whom you might recognize as The Master on Dr Who or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Mary Wardwell.

Without consulting her best friend Annie (Zosia Mamet) who also happens to be a high priced criminal attorney, Cassie takes it upon herself to physically go to Alex’s place of employment on a quest to gain information on the mysterious and elusive Miranda.

As she strives to leave the premises quickly, Cassie knocks over a very expensive sculpture of a rabbit, which has triggered some traumatic and confusing memories from her childhood. As soon as she exits the building, Stacy Q sings Two of Hearts, which is Cassie’s ringtone, to alert her to the fact that the FBI is calling because they have more questions from her. They mention that she can bring an attorney if she wishes and she then goes straight to the office of her best friend Annie, where she tells her the entire story.

In the meantime, Miranda is conducting her own investigation on Cassie and manipulates a bartender into giving her Cassie’s full name. In true Cassie fashion, she goes out with her coworkers and endeavors to drink her problems away, finding herself drinking and flirting with yet another attractive dude.

Even with the copious amount of alcohol she ingests, she can’t get the flashes of the crime scene out of her head and she makes the decision to sleep with the guy she just met at the bar, which makes her late to her questioning with the FBI. Annie gives Cassie very specific instructions regarding the questioning.

The FBI were hoping they would have footage of Cassie at the airport, however the footage was erased and they have no reason to question Cassie further. Cassie completely ignores Annie’s instructions and spills almost her entire side of the story to the FBI. 

Annie instructs Cassie to get back to her regular life and go back to work as if nothing has happened. As Cassie leaves her apartment to take a flight to Rome, Miranda breaks into Cassie’s apartment to try and learn more about Cassie. Before setting off for Rome, Cassie takes it upon herself to stalk and approach the receptionist from Alex’s workplace in hopes she can tell Cassie more about Miranda.

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At first the receptionist Sabrina (Stephanie Koenig) refuses to discuss anything with Cassie, but soon succumbs to Cassie’s charm and is loosened up a bit with alcohol and tells Cassie that Miranda was dating Alex and that she’s a horrendous and violent human being. The episode ends with Miranda ready to attack Cassie on the street with a knife. 

Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik

The third episode, Funeralia picks up where the previous cliffhanger left us hanging. Miranda is ready to pounce on unwitting Cassie as she leaves the bar where she finessed the interrogation of receptionist Sabrina. Luckily Miranda finds herself surrounded by a group of partying men, one of whom she violently assaults, and Cassie manages to hop into a cab unscathed. 

When Cassie arrives in Rome, she discovers there is a memorial service scheduled for Alex via a google alert on her phone. After telling her coworkers that she wanted to be alone, Cassie wanders to a restaurant where her Italian “friend with benefits” happens to work. As she tries to make plans with him, her coworker Megan (Rosie Perez) saunters up to them and confides that she’s had 3 glasses of wine and harbors her own secrets. 

When Annie confronts receptionist Sabrina, she completely denies everything she previously disclosed to Cassie, which sets off some red flags for Annie. Cassie ultimately decides not to sleep with her Italian beu, and chooses to babysit her drunken coworker Megan. 

Upon returning from Rome, Cassie discovers that someone broke into her apartment and searched all of her things. Nothing appears to be missing, but everything is moved just a little bit. Annie discovers after some sleuthing that the Bangkok police department have discovered the possible murder weapon and believes they can pull fingerprints from it.

After remembering more flashes from the night Alex was murdered, Cassie decides to go to Alex’s memorial service at his mother’s home and manipulates one of her coworkers, Shane (Griffin Matthews) into attending Alex’s memorial service with her where she is continued to be plagued with both her own traumatic childhood memories as well as hallucinations of Alex talking to her and aiding in her investigation into the mystery of Miranda.

While Cassie is off completely ignoring the advice of her attorney, Annie has her non-boyfriend do some internet sleuthing to discover that Alex’s family owns the company where he works, and that company launders money for “very dangerous people.”

Cassie is inadvertently putting herself and her coworker Shane in a very dangerous situation and drinks excessively, makes herself a public spectacle multiple times, including her phone inappropriately singing Stacy Q’s song Two of Hearts “I-I-I-I-I-I I need you” during Alex’s father’s eulogy, knocking over a platter of food, and infuriating his mother by questioning her about Miranda.

Annie desperately begs Cassie to leave Alex’s mother’s home and ultimately must call upon one of her “very dangerous” clients to call the family home and explain that Cassie is a harmless flight attendant. During all of the drama, Cassie manages to steal a bag of shredded documents she believes could hold the key to Miranda’s identity. 

The third episode ends with Cassie wandering around the train she and Shane are riding back home to the city and Cassie comes face to face with the elusive Miranda.

This series is delightfully addictive and Couco does an amazing job in her role and looks absolutely fabulous as well. Every episode leaves the viewers with a fantastic cliffhanger.

The intro sequence is reminiscent of the opening credits of the film Catch Me if You Can, only this one is much darker, even though it seems and feels lighthearted. Despite the fact that he is deceased, Alex remains a main character, continuing a relationship with Cassie in her hallucinations.

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This enjoyable murder mystery is a wonderful addition to HBO Max’s already fantastic catalogue. Episodes 1-5 are now available on HBO Max and The Flight Attendant  will continue to air on Thursdays with episode 6 scheduled for December 10.


Joia DaVida is a Jersey girl and mermaid at heart taking in all things Geek in California.