Tv Review: The Flight Attendant Season 1 Episode 1

the flight attendant s01e01 indexThe opening scene to The Flight Attendant effectively introduces us to Kaley Cuoco’s Cassie Bowden, who works hard and plays hard, by day an ever smiling flight attendant and by night an ever drunk hedonistic individual, and there’s lots of split screen usage to show the audience her ridiculously hectic life. It’s also suggested that sometimes she overdoes it, as in an early scene she’s initially horrified to find a semi-naked man in her apartment, only to slowly remember that she’d texted him and asked him to come over.

Created by Steve Yockey (Scream The Tv Series, Supernatural) we’re also shown how lovely and kind hearted Cassie is when she reassures a nervous child, some dodgy dialogue suggests she’s incredibly caring after a colleague asks “What is your deal with rescuing every animal on the planet?”, while we know she’s smart when she tells a passenger called Alex (Michiel Huisman) that “I’m more of a Doctor Zhivago kind of girl”, and horny too, as she ends up in the toilet with the same guy. All of which is a little blatant, it’s like we’re given an all too obvious guide to our lead heroin in as short a time as possible, and subtlety is right out of the window here.

A date with Alex follows, and more sex, and more drinking and more sex, etc, etc, though it’s all of the carefully lit and shot variety PG13 movies are famous for with Cassie waking up wearing a nightie even though it’s not her apartment that she’s in. Cassie then fails to notice the dead body next to her, wonders over to the window, sees a bit of blood on her hand, and finally becomes aware of the corpse of poor old Alex. Being a sensible sort the first thing Cassie almost does is call the police, but then because she’s a bit annoying she changes her mind, hence why we’ve got another seven episodes of this nonsense to burn through.

Her vague reason for not doing calling the cops is due to what happened to Amanda Knox, and a quick phone call with a friend tells her that Bangkok really is not the kind of place you want to be arrested in. Cue a clean up, with Cassie trying to remove any sign of her existence from the place, though anyone who’s watched more than one episode of CSI will know her efforts are pretty poor, and to add some weak humour to proceedings her efforts are juxtaposed with that of a friend on the phone also doing some cleaning. One dodgy attempt at a disguise later, which colleague Megan (Rosie Perez) mocks for “looking like Norma Desmond”, and Cassie’s off on a bus and having flashbacks to the night before and almost having a panic attack when she hears police sirens. An overtly over the top soundtrack attempts to ratchet up the tension too, though it is mainly annoyingly manipulative.

Cassie initially seems to have made it away scot free until she starts chatting with Alex’s corpse back in the apartment who complains about the police not being called, just so she can explain why once again she didn’t call them. It’s amusing (if slightly akin to An American Werewolf In London, though sadly Cassie doesn’t sprout a huge amount of hair and giant teeth at any point), and the first sign that this is going to be a playful piece, and that Cassie’s issues aren’t over just because she’s no longer in the same country as the dead body she left behind.

Soon the body is discovered after a mysterious woman asks to speak to him via the phone, and we know she’s mysterious as we only get to see her mouth and the back of her head and not her face at any point. Before they even land his death has hit news websites online, and Cassie is in denial mode and pretending nothing happened between them, but she’s in a very manic place indeed as she’s also paranoid about a photograph of an insect, about to hook up with someone else before deciding against it, and both a dead Alex and a dead deer flash through her mind, with the suggestion being that she killed the latter – so could she have killed the former?

It’s hardly the first time the “waking up next to a dead body” storyline has been used as a set up, there’s probably several thousand dodgy films that have used it, though it’s rare for it to revolve around a female protagonist I suppose. Cuoco pulls off the lead role, even if most of the time she’s asked to be flirty or sweet natured, bar those panic-y scenes towards the end of the episode, but despite being fond of the actress there’s nothing that original or interesting going on here and I can’t say I’m that engaged with the plot.

The only thing that makes it even vaguely interesting is Cassie’s sudden moments where she’s suddenly back in the hotel room and chatting with Alex / questioning her sanity, but other than that it’s a little predictable and average. The soundtrack is annoying and obtrusive, the use of editing for cheap gags feels tired, and the dialogue as a whole is, well, exactly the kind you’d expect from someone with a history of writing for bland genre tv, and due to all of the above it’s something that’s not really worth bothering with unless you’re Cuoco’s number one fan / have just woken up next to a corpse and aren’t sure what to do.

★★

Alex Finch.
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