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The Flight Attendant season 2 episode 8: can Cassie solve this puzzle?

Cassie has multiple mysteries to address in the season finale.

Kaley Cuoco and Cheryl Hines in The Flight Attendant
(Image: © Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max)

Our Verdict

Fun and emotional moments are somewhat overshadowed by the overstuffed finale.

For

  • Great performances balance out plot holes
  • Guest star Sharon Stone steals the scene once more
  • The very fun final scene
  • Max and Annie's career plans

Against

  • The central mystery was too easy to solve
  • The second half of the finale is rushed and feels like an afterthought

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for The Flight Attendant season 2, episode 8 "Backwards & Forwards.” Catch up with our previous recap for The Flight Attendant season 2 episode 7

In The Flight Attendant season 2 episode 1, Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) told everyone she was doing great. It quickly transpired that the smile she had plastered across her face was masking the truth about her newfound happiness. Impulsive and self-destructive behavior continues even when Cassie is not drinking alcohol. 

The inherent messiness of this character mirrors the scattershot plotting of the HBO Max original's second season. The finale quickly wraps up one storyline while thrusting the Bowden siblings into another dangerous situation, making it impossible to take a breath.

Last week, Grace (Mae Martin) was unmasked as the person committing the murders while dressed as Cassie. Before she shot herself on the Ferris Wheel (with Cassie sitting next to her), she confirmed she was merely a pawn in a larger scheme. Cassie is whisked from the fairground ride to the hospital — shot with Cuoco in a tight close-up depicting Cassie's dazed and overwhelmed state — where we get a quick roundup of the CIA officers Grace stabbed. Thankfully, both Shane (Griffin Matthews) and Benjamin (Mo McRae) will be fine, but Cassie’s job is far from over.

CIA Regional Director Dot (Cheryl Hines) tells Cassie her statement is helpful, but Grace is not the only imposter.

First, she checks in on Shane because Megan (Rosie Perez) is here to hand over the evidence she has gathered against the North Korean agents. The item that acts as Megan’s get out of jail free card (quite literally) is the laptop Annie (Zosia Mamet) and Max (Deniz Akdeniz) stole from the bounty hunters. All the various story threads are coming together. There is a whiff of convenience about this endeavor; even Perez’s brilliant performance can’t compensate for how disjointed this plotting has been. 

Rosie Perez in The Flight Attendant

Rosie Perez in The Flight Attendant (Image credit: Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max)

After Cassie has ticked one problem off her list, she gets a panicked phone call from Davey’s (T.R. Knight) husband regarding strange text messages, but before Cassie can put out this potential fire, she needs to help Dot with the investigation. 

In the car, Cassie realizes that Grace’s blood is in her hair and, understandably, she wants to have a shower. Dot remarks about "nervous junior officers in Iraq," confirming her link to Grace. 

It isn’t until Cassie finds a bottle of Santal 33 in Dot’s bathroom that it all clicks into place, as this scent was on the wig in Cassie’s suitcase. Of course, as we predicted several weeks ago, Dot is the person pulling the strings and Cassie walks straight into her trap. 

Rather than face Dot alone, Cassie immediately calls Annie to tell her about this predicament. Luckily, Max can hack into Dot’s alarm system and quickly give her a reason to leave. Unfortunately, Dot is quick to turn it off and corner the woman she has set up for these crimes. 

Now comes the explanation regarding Dot’s scheme. Good old-fashioned blackmail is the reason behind her growing body count. Will tried to extort her because she has been selling CIA secrets for years, but Dot used Grace (who she calls a "broken toy") to do her dirty work. Cassie’s file gave Dot the idea to use her as the imposter because the flight attendant can’t resist puzzles. The View-Master is how Dot tapped into this part of Cassie’s curiosity and ensured she would visit every crime scene. 

Despite being cornered, Cassie uses the personal safety alarm in her pocket to distract Dot. Agents enter and ignore Dot’s command to grab Cassie and instead arrest the CIA boss for treason and murder. Cassie’s file put her in Dot’s sights, but it also provided Benjamin with evidence that Cassie didn’t do it. He called the other agents, which prevented more bloodshed.

T.R. Knight and William DeMeritt in The Flight Attendant

T.R. Knight and William DeMeritt in The Flight Attendant (Image credit: Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max)

So it is all over, right? Considering we're only halfway through the finale, it's clear something else will go awry. That something involves Davey and Jenny (Jessie Ennis). The overly friendly woman from AA isn’t interested in Cassie because of a true-crime podcast but because she is infatuated with Cassie’s ex, Feliks (Colin Woodell). 

This season 1 blast from Cassie’s past is the man who was hired to kill Alex (Michiel Huisman) and takes far too much pleasure in his hitman career. Feliks is in prison and Jenny believes if she kills Cassie, Feliks will turn his attention toward her — but he is manipulating her to do his bidding. 

Jenny lures Cassie to her grandmother’s home (in reality, Jenny murdered the homeowner) by pretending Davey is spiraling. Once here, she reveals her plan and sibling teamwork leads to Jenny’s swift defeat. This story is rushed and comes across as an afterthought so Cassie can confront the versions of herself in the mind palace. "It’s all me," she realizes, and instead of beating herself up, she turns her negative self-talk into a positive affirmation.

Deniz Akdeniz and Zosia Mamet in The Flight Attendant

Deniz Akdeniz and Zosia Mamet in The Flight Attendant  (Image credit: Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max)

Between Dot’s elaborate scheme (that was pretty predictable) and this last-minute danger, The Flight Attendant wobbles in its landing. More successful is the phone call Cassie makes to her mother several weeks later. "I heard you," she sincerely tells her mom about their last in-person conversation. Cuoco’s tears hit home and Sharon Stone is excellent at emoting on the other end of the line — this relationship has been a season 2 highlight.

"Backwards & Forwards" ends with some positives, including Megan and her family back together in witness protection and a Las Vegas wedding. After all of Annie’s hesitation, when she commits, she really commits and it is a glorious note to finish the season with Cassie, Annie and Max in a charming three-way dance.

So, where does The Flight Attendant go next if/when there's a season 3? While Cassie is still golden at the CIA — because she helped bring down Dot — the suggestion that Max and Annie are going to open a private investigation agency is an exciting possible direction for the HBO Max series. Cassie can still feature this way and it will ensure the series is more focused than this fun but messy sophomore outing.

All episodes of The Flight Attendant season 2 are now available to stream 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.