The Flight Attendant‘s titular Cassie Bowden will experience all kinds of turbulence as she closes in on one year of sobriety.
Season 2 of HBO Max’s Emmy-nominated dark comedic thriller finds Kaley Cuoco’s title character in happy enough of a place, having moved to sunnier Los Angeles, found something resembling love with a new man (Salvation‘s Santiago Cabrera), and somewhat ably juggling her Imperial Atlantic gig with her side hustle as a civilian CIA asset.
But when Cassie’s latest CIA assignment — to simply get eyes on a POI in Berlin — spectacularly and very literally blows up, her life again begins to spiral. And her fought-for sobriety becomes a potential casualty.
“The first thing that we thought about for Season 2 is: What’s Cassie’s emotional journey? And it was pretty clearly going to be about recovery [from alcoholism],” says showrunner Steve Yockey. “At the end of Season 1, she’s got her white chip, she’s been sober for a day, and aren’t we all excited for her? But it’s a lot more work than that, and it takes a long time. As thoughtfully as we could within our show, we wanted to lean into the process of recovery. So, if Season 1 was a journey to recovery, Season 2 is navigating that recovery.”
In Season 1, hapless Cassie’s implication in a Bangkok murder led to her visiting a “mind palace” retreat, where she compared notes with slain hook-up Alex (Michiel Huisman). “That was such a big part of the show, and something that people really responded to,” notes Yockey. “So the question was: how do we reinvent that so we can surprise people and keep them entertained?”
Enter Gold Dress Cassie (aka who she was before Alex’s murder)… and Future Perfect Cassie (suggesting the queen of bad choices’ ideal potential)… and Black Hole of Joy Cassie… and others. (It’s a “mind palace” meetup of multiples that TVLine dubbed “Cassie and the Cassettes.”)
Says co-showrunner Natalie Chaidez, “Thematically, I thought about: what do you do with this dark side of yourself that you finally admit exists? That means there’s two of you, and that led me to this theme of doubles, which is a very Hitchcockian theme. And then Steve kind of took that big idea and came up with ‘the Cassettes.'”
Adds Yockey, “We were excited about this idea of, ‘If Season 1 was about honesty about finally admitting that dark part of yourself is there and not going away, then Season 2 has to be about accepting these parts of yourself.’ Cassie starts the season by being, like, ‘Those things are all dead. I’m a new person and everything’s great,’ but that’s not how recovery works. So we get to watch her across the course of eight episodes figure out how to accept all these pieces of herself and bring them together into one whole identity.”
Asking an admittedly-surprised Cuoco (who was Emmy-nominated for Season 1) to take on multiple roles was in part a case of going with what works. As Chaidez explains, “It was a priority for us to try to give Kaley more to do, because I think Season 1 so surprised people with what they thought of as a very comedic actress could do. We felt that there was further to go. Sure enough, there is, and it’s really exciting to watch.”
As Cassie grapples with an actual doppelganger of sorts who is out in the real world making mayhem for her, she gets much-needed support — but always a smidgen of judgment! — from visiting BFF Annie (played by Zosia Mamet) and her hacker beau Max (Deniz Akdeniz); she toes a fine line between looping in fellow flight attendant/CIA operative Shane (Griffin Matthews) and keeping huge secrets; and she even finds time to help MIA colleague Megan (Rosie Perez) navigate the bit of deadly espionage she got herself roped into in Season 1.
Having already established Annie, Max, Shane and Megan during the thriller’s freshman run, “this season, we started from a place of, ‘Everybody now knows what’s going on with these characters, so we can open up the storylines more,” affirms Yockey. “We made the choice to have more things running.”
Also as in Season 1, there is some very messy family stuff to deal with, when Davey (T.R. Knight) sets in motion a reunion for his “black sheep” sis and their mother, Lisa, played by Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Sharon Stone.
The motherly casting is not just uncanny, it was a bit serendipitous.
As Yockey explains, “Lisa was a very minor part of Season 1 flashbacks (played by Morgan Hallett), so we were like, ‘OK, who’s going to play this in the present?’ We need somebody that can go toe-to-toe with Kaley, tackle some heavy stuff and, quite frankly, be a version of a mom that isn’t the mom we usually see on TV.
“And then we found out that Sharon Stone was a fan of the show. And then they were like, ‘Sharon Stone’s not only a fan of the show, she’s interested in being on the show,'” says Yockey. “So, it worked out really well, and she delivered in spades.”
Sharon Stone, though, is not the only one who is new for Season 2. Scroll down for our guide to some of the other characters about to rock Cassie’s world….