“In Case of Emergency” introduces Kayley Cuoco’s character and the general premise, though at this point it’s difficult to tell which of the bad decisions are intentional and which are casualties of sloppy writing.
This recap of The Flight Attendant episode 1, “In Case of Emergency”, contains spoilers.
Freed from the oppressive machinery of The Big Bang Theory, which in retrospect really was just 280 episodes of listing things that dorks are into, the ever-charming Kaley Cuoco is branching out into more daring and interesting projects, which thus far have included voicing Harley Quinn in the DC Universe’s very good animated series and now include fronting HBO Max’s new live-action comedy-mystery The Flight Attendant. The first episode, “In Case of Emergency”, introduces Cuoco’s hapless drunkard, Cassie, and the premise, which is that after a fling with an enigmatic passenger in a Bangkok hotel room she wakes up the next morning to find him dead.
One of the weird things this episode does is establish that Cassie is deeply irresponsible and unreliable and has a propensity to concoct rather wacky schemes, but it also tries to imply that she’s a lot cleverer than she lets on and I genuinely can’t tell what’s a quirk in her personality or bad writing. For instance, mere moments after meeting Michiel Huisman’s passenger 3C, Alex Sokolov, Cassie has a mile-high dalliance with him, which seems ill-advised given she’s working the flight, but all their early banter is about Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime & Punishment (Alex is reading it) and Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago (Cassie prefers it). So, she’s well-versed in Russian literature but also liable to sneak off with a passenger for a sexy evening and not tell anyone about it.
These contradictions continue apace in “In Case of Emergency”. Cassie and Alex enjoy their time together and then the next morning she wakes up next to him and he’s dead. The first thing she does is call her lawyer friend Annie (Zosia Mamet), which seems smart, especially since she’s worried about getting Amanda Knox’d, but then messily attempts to clean up all the evidence at the crime scene anyway, almost certainly incriminating herself even further. Then, all the clever sneakiness Cassie exhibited in hooking up with Alex in the first place goes completely out of the window as she starts acting deeply suspicious around everyone, making really notable and memorable mistakes in her job, and just generally ensuring that everybody knows she had something to do with the guy whose body is quickly discovered by the authorities.
Matters are only made worse when Cassie makes it back to the U.S. and swerves a pretty routine FBI interview with all of the flight’s staff since it turns out Alex was — all together now — quite important and mysterious and his death could have all manner of knock-on effects for the obviously wide-ranging criminal conspiracy Cassie has inadvertently gotten herself involved in. When she finally is forced to speak to the FBI, what does she do? She lies about everything!
Things haven’t gotten off to a particularly good start for Cassie, have they?
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