This article contains spoilers for The Flight Attendant finale.
HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant ended its second season with a tinnitus-triggering explosion, but that wasn’t the biggest showdown of the episode for Cassandra Bowden (Kaley Cuoco), who has spent all season fighting various versions of herself, from someone impersonating her across the world to the worst parts of her personality manifesting inside her mind palace. After eight episodes of following doppelgängers in blonde wigs, it turns out they were red herrings—the real threats came from the natural blondes.
Who’s Trying to Frame (and Kill) Cassie?
The penultimate episode, “No Exit,” knocked both of Cassie’s bewigged doubles off the suspect list. At the pier, Annie (Zosia Mamet) and Max (Deniz Akdeniz) tased Gabrielle (Callie Hernandez) and Esteban (J.J. Soria) Diaz, while Cassie wound up on the ferris wheel with fellow flight attendant Grace St. James (Mae Martin), who it turns out was a hired killer. Grace clearly didn’t want to be doing this, but her mysterious employer had dirt on her from her Army days. With no exit, she shot herself in the head right in front of poor Cassie.
But who was blackmailing Grace to kill? Turns out it was Dot Carlson (Cheryl Hines), the CIA’s Regional Manager who kept insisting that Cassie could talk to her, and who was trying to make Cassie doubt her handler Benjamin Berry (Mo McRae), was the mastermind behind all of this: she was the one who set off the car bomb (Will the mark had also tried to blackmail her) and framed Cassie for various murders around LA. Dot was selling her own CIA secrets, and she knew she could pin it on Cassie, whose psych eval said she couldn’t resist a puzzle (ouch, but not wrong).
Yet Dot’s plot was nothing personal—just based on her impression of Cassie and what she felt she could manipulate. And even though Cassie uses the personal alarm that Miranda gifted her to trigger Dot’s matching tinnitus and evade being shot, it’s only the first time in this finale that she will save her own life. Turns out there’s someone else who has a much more personal vendetta against our flight attendant…
Who’s Also Trying to Kill (and Replace) Cassie?
Jenny (Jessie Ennis) from AA, who we all clocked as a bit off from the start, turns out to be actually trying to Single White Female Cass. That boyfriend she kept slipping into conversation was none other than assassin Feliks (Colin Woodell), who Jenny met in prison when pretending to be running a true crime podcast.
Even if the podcast wasn’t real, Jenny’s hideout boasts an impressive murder board connecting all of the people in Cassie’s life via surveillance photos and pilfered possessions. Because instead of trying to solve a murder, she’s trying to commit one: despite their extensive letters and phone calls while he’s in prison, Feliks would not shut up about his “ex” Cassie. Claiming that he might be able to love again if Cassie is out of the picture, he’s manipulated Jenny into trying to knock her off—and Jenny even seems to know that that’s what Feliks is doing. But at this point she’s grown to hate Cassie too, so she’s all too happy to carry out the plan.
Trapped in this house with a smiley murderer advancing on her, Cassie has nowhere to go but within.
Escaping the Mind Palace
After spending so much time regarding her mind palace as a trauma response to either drunken benders or lingering tinnitus, Cassie accepts that it is a part of her. It’s a unique quirk of her brain that has given her the access to her subconscious to solve several mysteries now, not to mention the impetus for saving her own life multiple times over.
But to do so, she just needs to clear out the self-loathing voices. Thankfully the key to doing so is to go up: After all season spent in the hotel bar, she drags all of her other selves—the suicidal Bender Cassie in black, the glittery Thrill-Seeker Cassie, and especially her younger self, already damaged by her alcoholic dad’s attentions—into the elevator. As they move up to the seventh floor, each facet of herself disappears, until it’s only Cassie left.
This mirrors what she says to Jenny, which is part distraction to allow Davey to sneak up on her with a cast-iron pan, but after a season of lying to herself, none of it is false:
“You’re right about me. I am a deeply flawed, sad alcoholic, narcissistic thrill addict, and I don’t like myself very much. But it is who I fucking am, and it is enough for me.”
The choice of floor number seems to be an homage to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Step Seven, which AA says is foundational to the process, involves practicing humility by getting rid of character defects: “For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all. … Without it, they cannot live to much useful purpose, or, in adversity, be able to summon the faith that can meet any emergency.”
If there’s a third season, I look forward to seeing how a more (but not too) humble Cassie will go about solving its mystery.
Megan in Witness Protection
After dispatching the North Korean agent chasing her (by knocking him out and trapping him in the trunk of her new car), Cassie’s flight attendant bestie Megan Briscoe (Rosie Perez) is ready to stop running. One more flight to Los Angeles reunites her with Cassie… and with Shane (Griffin Matthews), recovering from his stab wound. Megan approaches him with the laptop full of secrets on the North Koreans in exchange for protection.
Specifically, the Witness Protection Program: Megan agrees to go into hiding and start over with a new life and a nice house. But what she isn’t expecting is to see her husband Bill (Terry Serpico) and son Eli (David Iacono) choose to start their lives over with her, too.
Annie & Max
…get married in Las Vegas in a quickie ceremony, likely because Max is worried Annie will change her mind if given too long to think about it. They’re also pondering opening up a PI firm, which would be very cute and very them.
…nobody! Having jumped into her relationship with Marco at the beginning of her recovery, Cassie smartly learns from that misstep and ends the season romantically uninvolved. (She and CIA handler Benjamin Berry agree to forget about their hot-mess hookup in his office and go back to their handler/asset relationship.) She dances alone at Annie’s wedding, which also marks 30 days sober, and seems perfectly happy in the moment.
Shane’s Back to Work
Shane and Cassie continue to be coworkers in two different fields. And while he can’t always talk to her about their second shared job, it leaves the door open for them to actually collaborate on future missions instead of him just having to clean up her messes.
Davey’s arc this season was unclear, as he was mostly responding to the increasing fracturing of Cassie’s life. His need for her sobriety to be going perfectly seems to have been a projection of his OCD (which he says is worsening), and that is having an impact on his marriage. But opening up to each other about their imperfect lives—not to mention teaming up to fend off a murderer—is a good step for brother and sister. That, and going to Al-Anon.
Cassie also attempts to make amends with her mother Lisa (Sharon Stone), calling her from an Imperial Atlantic flight to acknowledge that she was right: Cassie doesn’t like herself either, but she’s accepted who she is and is trying to get better with each day. Lisa seems open to talking more than once a year, and mother and daughter trade “I love you”s as the first step toward reconciliation and understanding one another better.
Just like last time, Cassie ends season 2 with her flight taking off. But whereas last year Cassie was facing down an exciting new job and life shift via working more formally for the CIA, The Flight Attendant season 2 ends with her focusing on how to make her current self better instead of chasing the shiny new thing.
It’s unclear if there will be a Flight Attendant season 3, but season 2 ends in a place of hope, looking onward and upward.