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Review

THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT 1×01 Review

Neil calls the series premiere of THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT an energetic, glossy murder mystery. Read his full review right here.

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The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

Synopsis

A flight attendant wakes up in a Dubai hotel room with a dead man but with no memory of what happened.

Review

The opening minutes of HBO Max’s latest glitzy series, The Flight Attendant, are easily some of the most intriguing new TV in 2020. It’s high gloss, high stakes and seriously high energy. Within moments it feels like absolutely the vehicle to propel executive producer and lead, Kaley Cuoco, from ex-TBBT cast member to serious heavy-hitting (and hilarious) actor.

The series centres on Cassie Bowden (Cuoco), a serially drunk air hostess. The pilot episode quickly establishes that she loves her booze, she loves to party and she’s not against a one night stand… if she can remember it. But what the pilot is also doing is quickly communicating to us that The Flight Attendant is no cheap production.

The series filmed on location in Bangkok, Italy, and New York and isn’t ashamed to tell us. There are plenty of luscious cityscape shots, airport interiors and street shots. Rather than feeling like Bangkok-Vancouver, The Flight Attendant has some huge aspirations for creating global, cinematic television and easily surpasses all expectations.

Cuoco’s performance is at the centre of the show’s success. Here she’s able to show off a much broader range than either TBBT or Harley Quinn has showcased. Here she demonstrates an ability to switch from dead pan comedy to extreme desperation on a knife-edge. One moment Cassie is a drunk, flirtatious woman of power and the next she’s crying in to a bucket of ice and screaming as portraits of a praying mantis. It’s by far and above her greatest ever performance.

There are plenty of moments for the supporting cast to shine through too. Rosie Perez (yet we commented it was Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya together too!) gets most time to shine in the pilot. The plays Megan Briscoe as a particularly straight, maternal figure to the rest of the cabin crew. If her character follows the arc from the book it’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds with Perez in control.

Michiel Huisman, as Alex, has excellent chemistry with Cuoco. There’s an electricity between the characters which instantly legitimises the speed of their relationship. But even after his (not a spoiler) death, Huisman sticks around for some really insightful dialogue with Cassie.

The Flight Attendant sets itself apart from other murder mysteries not just with its dark humour, but also with its ability to step in to Cassie’s mind. A number of scenes dive in to her psyche as she grapples with her lack of memory and the events which are unfolding around her. It’s a truly unique insight in to her inner workings and one which, if well utilised, will be The Flight Attendant‘s ultimate weapon for success.

Verdict

The Flight Attendant is an immersive, glossy and darkly comedic murder mystery. Anchored by an outstanding performance from Cuoco this is a brilliant opening gambit.

The series stars Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden. Co-starring are co-stars Rosie Perez (Birds of Prey), Zosia Mamet (above; Girls), Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones), Michelle Gomez (Doctor Who), and Colin Woodell (The Purge).


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