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The Flight Attendant season 2 episode 5 review: crash and burn

Cassie stops lying to herself and everyone around her.

Kaley Cuoco in The Flight Attendant
(Image: © Lara Solanki/HBO Max)

Our Verdict

Everything piles up for Cassie, but the season is finding its groove.

For

  • - The final scene between Kaley Cuoco and Shohreh Aghdashloo
  • - Bringing Shane into the fold
  • - Annie and Max mini-adventure
  • - The Grace mystery

Against

  • - The tone does swing wildly from funny to tragic
  • - Megan's scenes are fun, but it's disappointing she is disconnected from the main storyline

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for The Flight Attendant season 2 episode 5, "Drowning Woman." Catch up with our previous recap for The Flight Attendant season 2 episode 4 right here.

It doesn’t take a trip into Cassie’s (Kaley Cuoco) mind palace to know she isn’t holding it together and her description of her great Los Angeles life is little more than a Band-Aid concealing the truth. Not only is she juggling a double life, but she is also still in the dark about who is framing her for at least three murders. Plus, her impulsiveness and lack of patience continues to contribute to some terrible choices in the Flight Attendant’s second season. As we pass the halfway mark, Cassie is now dealing with the consequences.

"Drowning Woman" begins with Cassie waking up in her CIA handler Benjamin’s (Mo McRae) office after throwing caution to the wind and sleeping with him. She didn’t drink any of his booze, but this is a self-destructive act in reaction to her Iceland jaunt and Marco’s (Santiago Cabrera) desire to commit further. When Marco shows up unannounced at Cassie's house, despite her best efforts she eventually can't help blurting out she slept with someone else. To make matters even worse, Cassie admits, "I guess I forgot about you," when explaining why she did it. Ouch! 

The only way to make this situation better is to tell Marco the truth. However, there are enough people entangled in this mess and the story is so outlandish he wouldn’t believe her anyway. The loss of this relationship anchor is only one small part of Cassie's inability to "catch a f***ing break" this week. Without the facade of her perfect relationship, she can admit everything is far from okay. 

Before Cassie can get to this rock bottom acceptance, the civilian asset continues to make a case for being the worst spy as she makes a half-hearted excuse to Dot (Cheryl Hines) as to why she is at the CIA office. Cassie is not a particularly convincing liar despite all the practice, certainly not when she has just been snooping in her handler’s office. Somehow, Benjamin doesn’t wake up while Cassie fumbles around the place, taking photos of her personnel file that contains a psych evaluation she didn’t do and evidence she is involved in the Echo Park murder. 

Mo McRae and Kaley Cuoco on a couch in The Flight Attendant

(Image credit: Lara Solanki/HBO Max)

The imposter is working hard to frame Casey and even though she was out of the country when the crime occurred, it might still be hard to prove her innocence — remember, she was registered on the flight as her co-worker Carol. 

Finally, she confides in Shane (Griffin Matthews) about everything that has led up to this moment as she needs someone in the CIA on her side. Unfortunately, he also reminds her they have mandatory Imperial Atlantic training that morning as if she needed anything else on her plate. "Wow, the tears make sense," is Shane’s reaction when she updates him on the romantic drama coinciding with the life and death stakes.

The Flight Attendant leans into the comedic elements during these training day scenes; however, there is some tonal whiplash later on when Cassie does descend into the boozy darkness. After melting down during a CPR demonstration, Cassie seeks refuge at Grace’s (Mae Martin) place and the temptation of an ice-cold martini is too much. She also doesn’t question why Grace wasn’t at the mandatory training, which is a red flag. So is the call that her new friend receives. Seems she may have dismissed Grace as a suspect far too quickly.

Cassie doesn’t stop at one cocktail, as her next stop is the liquor store, where she picks up two bottles of vodka that she starts to drink as soon as she steps outside. A note from Marco about picking up his stuff sends her into a rage and she beings to trash her house before grabbing the stuffed bear her brother gave her to celebrate one year of sobriety and driving to the beach.

This dangerous choice speaks to how little regard she has for herself and others. Thankfully her sponsor, Brenda (Shohreh Aghdashloo), calls out this reckless act. Cassie was vulnerable in front of Brenda last week and now she finally sheds the lies holding her back. Cassie had only been sober for six months after stumbling twice in New York but didn’t want to start back at square one. 

"You never left square one," Brenda tells her about the unstable sobriety foundation. Pretending you are doing great doesn’t paper over the cracks and she was always headed for the fall while she lived a lie. As with last week’s moment of vulnerability, this highlights Cuoco’s ability to nail Cassie’s fragility and Aghdashloo is an excellent scene partner. 

Kaley Cuoco in The Flight Attendant

(Image credit: Lara Solanki/HBO Max)

Admitting is the first step, but Cassie has left a trail of destruction behind her — including telling Shane’s boyfriend he is dating someone in the CIA — and the mess Annie (Zosia Mamet) and Max (Deniz Akdeniz) are trying to fix. The couple successfully retrieves the ViewMaster taken by bounty hunters Esteban (Joseph Julian Soria) and Gabrielle (Callie Hernandez), but Annie’s engagement ring is still missing. The pair seem stronger than they did a couple of episodes ago, but this ring is a sticking point.

Elsewhere, Megan (Rosie Perez) has made it back to Long Island and retrieves her lockbox of cash and evidence with a few bumps along the way. While this is a fun side plot, it's disappointing she is out on her own again. Megan is far more adept at this spy life and it would be great if we could spend more time with her — especially because Perez is fantastic in this role. 

While things are looking up for the ex-flight attendant on the East Coast, Cassie still has a personal and professional mountain to climb. Everything is far from great in her new Los Angeles life, but now she has admitted this, the only way is up.  

New episodes of The Flight Attendant release Thursdays on HBO Max.

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.