The Flight Attendant‘s titular Cassie Bowden got a very rude, and very bloody, awakening during her Bangkok layover — and with her intense reaction, HBO Max’s dark comedy truly took off.
In the minutes prior to the worst morning after ever, we got to know Cassie (played by Kaley Cuoco, also an executive producer) as a fun-loving, vodka-sipping flirt. But once she woke up in bed next to a brutally murdered “3C” (businessman Alex Sokolov, played by Michiel Huisman), Cassie’s penchant for bad decisions — as well as The Flight Attendant‘s distinctive tone — came to the fore, as Cuoco and series creator/writer Steve Yockey detail below.
STEVE YOCKEY | It comes 10 minutes into the show, but it’s like 40 slugs [scene transitions] into the script, so we’d spent a lot of time moving Cassie through her life and establishing a certain tone. I think that pull back [to reveal a dead Alex] is great because in that moment we’re not just saying, “Oh, this is a show where bad things can happen.” We’re giving you a pretty extreme look at him with a slit throat and blood, because we really want you to understand why this moment and this hotel room and this character are burned into Cassie’s mind, and why she keeps going back to it for the rest of the series. Everything needed to be as visceral as possible in that moment, and we had a really great team to accomplish that.
KALEY CUOCO | I feel like what we accomplished was wildy difficult and sneakily comedic. We loved how amidst a horror scene — waking up next to a bloody, dead man — a hilarious ringtone [Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”] starts blaring!
YOCKEY | When you take that horrific moment for Cassie and butt it up against something comedic like the cell phone going off, and then you let it keep playing as she hyperventilates against the window… and then you jump to that very voyeuristic overhead shot… and then boom!, we’re to opening credits… that really does let you know, “I’m watching a show where anything can happen, from the hilarious to the horrific.”
CUOCO | We wanted you to go on an emotional coaster, never knowing if you were going to laugh or cry. And I think we did that quite well.
YOCKEY | The way that Kaley falls against the window and slides down, the position she ends up in she ends up revisiting in Episode 7, when she gets to the deepest, darkest [childhood] memory that she doesn’t want to remember. It was great that she made these choices in her movement that we were able to reference again, because they were specific and memorable. Kaley consistently went to that place emotionally, even when it was Alex’s coverage but she was partially visible. She’s really great at delivering over and over and over, and especially in a moment like that, that’s a lot to ask of an actor. But she went above and beyond.
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CUOCO | Cassie running away after waking up next to dead Alex, after she calls Annie (Zosia Mamet), is a metaphor for her entire life. She’s been running from pain and trauma since she was a kid, and now she is running from this. The difference here is this situation will not disappear. She can’t sweep this under the rug. Sadly, there’s a lot more to face under that rug! What I appreciate about the show, about Steve and our writers, is they really let me go ballistic. I mean, you saw it on-screen. I kind of just left it on the field and walked away, like, “Well, f–k, I hope that worked!”
YOCKEY | This entire scene is incredibly important because it establishes the tone of the show, while Kaley’s performance makes clear that Cassie is immediately in over her head, and we are sort of watching a “quirky rom com” turn into something deathly serious.