Kaley Cuoco Soars in HBO Max Season 2 – The Hollywood Reporter

The Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) that we meet at the start of The stewardessThe second season of (on HBO Max) is, very accurately, not the Cassie we knew in the premiere. Gone are the single-serve vodka bottles and drunken hookups; this Cassie is sober (coming over a whole year!), enjoying a steady relationship with a nice guy (Santiago Cabrera) and overwhelming him in her dual job as a flight attendant and secret civilian asset of the CIA.

But as anyone who’s ever drastically changed their lives knows, the idea of ​​a whole new you is a sham. Cassie may have quit drinking but, as she finds to her chagrin, she is still an impulsive, intrigue-prone Cassie. Likewise, The stewardess may start fresh with all-new material (having used the plot from Chris Bohjalian’s novel for the first season), but it’s still a delicious blend of thrills, razor-sharp comedy, and surprisingly meaty psychological drama. .

The stewardess

The essential

Another thrill.

Broadcasting date : Thursday, April 21 (HBO Max)
Cast: Kaley Cuoco, Zosia Mamet, Deniz Akdeniz, Griffin Matthews, Rosie Perez, Mo McRae, Callie Hernandez, JJ Soria, Santiago Cabrera, Sharon Stone, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Creator: Steve Yokey

It takes less than an episode for Cassie to see what BFF Annie (Zosia Mamet) describes as her “perfect life, I have vegetables in the fridge” in pieces. Literally: While tracking a target in Berlin, Cassie watches him die in a fiery explosion that is officially blamed on a faulty gas line, but which Cassie is sure is the result of a bomb. More disturbingly, it appears to be one planted by a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Cassie, right down to the tattooed moth on her shoulder blades. Naturally, the incident forces Cassie to scramble to solve the case before she gets framed (or worse), which in turn threatens to upset the white-knuckle balance of her booze-free life.

As in the first season, The stewardess takes daredevil delight in seeing how close he can get to chaos without completely losing control of it. The storyline’s intensity escalates early on and stays there, with Cassie traversing Los Angeles or flying to Reykjavik in search of clues while trying to evade notice from the CIA, her colleagues at the airline, her fellow A.A.s, and her overprotective. brother, Davey (TR Knight). Meanwhile, the stress of the mission forces her to confront demons that not even sobriety can keep at bay – here represented by alternate versions of Cassie tempting her, berating her or mocking her from the imaginary lobby of the hotel in Cassie’s mind.

The tension is cut with a biting sense of humor, delivered via dialogue that pops with personality. Her comedy secret weapon continues to be Mamet’s Annie, who responds to everything from Cassie’s revelation that she’s in the CIA to an interviewer’s questions about her extralegal duties in her previous position with the same stalemate. slightly dismissive. Like any true New Yorker, Annie reserves some of her best beards for Cassie’s new hometown: “LA is like someone paints a coffin in happy colors,” she sniffs at her possibly-fiancé Max (Deniz Akdeniz), himself a native of Angeleno wishing to move. back.

Other jokes the show takes aim at itself, like when it snaps a deus-ex-machina twist before the audience has time to start moaning about it. The central mystery of the season is a matter of life and death for Cassie, who compulsively swallows boxes of Hot Tamales like she used to toss liquor bottles, but The stewardess doesn’t take itself so seriously. Whether it’s cuter to send Cassie on a stealth mission in a big, bright red coat than drab partings, or more narratively practical to have Cassie spurn common sense in pursuit of her own elaborate, half-baked plans , this is the road. The stewardess will disappear, rationality or “realism” be damned.

Given the number of plates The stewardess has been spinning through the air at one point, it’s no surprise that his balance wobbles from time to time. Some of its ongoing storylines tend to get lost in the shuffle — most egregiously, the North Korean spy plot involving Megan (Rosie Perez), who is even more sidelined in season two than she only was in season one. (Ironic, given that she explains that she did what she did because she wanted to “be seen.”) Her arc positions itself as an awkward detour from the main plot rather than an integral part of it. of it, at least in the six episodes (out of eight) sent to critics.

And maybe this is actually a testimony of The stewardess– led by showrunners Steve Yockey and Natalie Chaidez – that I kept finding myself disappointed not to spend more time with their new supporting characters, like Jessie Ennis’ codependent AA member Jenny or Brenda, sponsor of the Disaster prone AA from Shohreh Aghdashloo. As for the season’s brightest new cast member: Sharon Stone appears as Cassie’s mother in just one of the episodes I’ve seen, but her display of complex and conflicting emotions makes for quite the meal of the time. limited screen she gets.

Whatever flaws the series has, they are far outweighed by its strengths – chief among them being Cuoco, who must throw himself into not only Cassie’s mental state at a mile a minute, but all the other Cassies that encourage him. Her ability to tell them apart while keeping them all recognizable from the same person is quite an achievement, and puts her up there with Doom Patrolby Diane Guerrero and black orphan‘s Tatiana Maslany in the pantheon of actors who have a fascinating chemistry with themselves.

Their conversations become Cassie’s inner monologue. As giddy and silly as The stewardess can get, he’s utterly sincere in his exploration of Cassie’s emotional baggage, and his conversations with herself grow more deadly as his journey continues: “While you’re here, why not do something useful and dig a hole for yourself?” one whistles as Cassie stands over a grave at the end of the season. The stewardesslike this spring Drunk single womanacknowledges that the end of Cassie’s drinking days was just the beginning of her journey, and that the lowest moments may come once the numbing haze of booze wears off.

At the end of The stewardessIn the show’s first season, the show seemed in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. The show’s addictive and enjoyable qualities made a renewal seem like a no-brainer, and yet the season had also been so satisfying that a follow-up seemed hardly necessary, or even advised – its chances of reaching the same highs looked questionable at best. But the show’s most impressive turn is the same in both seasons. Even though Cassie loses her grip, her show never does.

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