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Ranking the Many, Many Crimes Committed in ‘The Flight Attendant’

Sure, there is one biggie that sets off the show’s plot, but there are A TON more after that

HBO/Ringer illustration

A crime is what we start with in The Flight Attendant: Someone murders the handsome passenger that the titular flight attendant, Cassie (Kaley Cuoco), had spent a woozy, boozy night out with in Bangkok. The mystery of who did the deed and why—and if Cassie, who wakes up beside his body with spotty memories of the preceding evening, was involved—drives the plot.

But from there, there are a whole lot more crimes—many of which are not even related to what happened in Bangkok or committed by Cassie. So: Behold a dissection of all the crimes—OK, not all the crimes; there were so many. With the hearty acknowledgment that Murder Is Bad and just about everything on here would, in an ideal world, result in lengthy prison sentences, fines, longform print features that could be optioned into future prestige series, and lifelong therapy, this unapologetically horny show gives us little choice but to contemplate the wreckage—ranked less by (il)legality than violent absurdity. Spoilers, obviously, abound.

21. Taking Down That Fucking Vase

HBO Max

It had it coming.

20. Stealing a Hot Date’s Pretentious-Ass Reading

As Cassie put it, she nabbed the copy of Crime and Punishment that the doomed Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman) kept lovingly paging through in the hope of having a pretense to meet up with him again later. Not great, but also, oh my god, can you even imagine how obnoxious this guy was at parties?

19. Stealing a Merry-Go-Round Horse

Drunk and giddy, Cassie and her plus-one du jour attempt to steal a merry-go-round horse from outside a bodega—carrying on even as the store’s owner catches them in the act and pleads with them to, you know, not. The theft also results in the smashing of the rear windshield of a car parked outside the bodega. (Joke’s on whoever thought they should own a car in New York!)

Note that this is seemingly the only one of The Flight Attendant’s numerous crimes to actually be prosecuted: Cassie is promptly arrested. She spends a night in jail before being bailed out; hopefully a court date awaits her now that she’s cleared of everything else on this list.

18. Breaking and Entering (Various)

In a normal world, burglary would register as a serious offense. Nothing about The Flight Attendant, however, exists on any plane (heh) of normalcy.

17. Stealing $200 Million

I know, I know—the crime that starts it all is suspiciously low on the list, especially given the fact that it technically happens twice. We learn that poor Alex was killed after he, in the words of Miranda (the love of my life, Michelle Gomez, who I demand be cast in every single show on television starting yesterday), got into the less-than-legal family business and “realized mommy and daddy were dirty.” He shifted $200 million of ill-gotten spoils to an offshore bank account that only he had access to—your classic Robin Hood deal, with the exception of the, uh, giving to the poor part. Once that account was located by Cassie & Co. and the mystery of his death solved, Miranda—miraculously alive after a knife fight with a fellow assassin; more on that shortly—absconds with the account deets. Just think about how many knives she can buy now.

16. Kidnapping at Gunpoint

I mean, they did need to talk.

15. Stabbing a Nice Italian Boy

Poor Enrico (Alberto Frezza), or as I like to call him, a-Manic a-Pixie a-Dream Ragazzo.

14. The Hit and Run

All Ani’s sweet hacker paramour Max wanted to do was help Cassie (and OK, maybe have Ani, a ferociously scene-chomping Zosia Mamet, officially recognize him as her boyfriend). He and Cassie follow the trail to a warehouse in Manhattan and steal some files off the secret data center therein (sure!). Then, while attempting a getaway, Max (Deniz Akdeniz) is hit by a car, which zooms off into the night. It doesn’t look good for Max—“he seems big dead” is how I recorded it in my notes; I am a serious journalist—but he pulls through, now with “an epic scar,” as Ani puts it, and probably an insane amount of medical debt. Good luck with your GoFundMe, buddy!

13. Fleeing the Scene of a Murder That You Believe You Might Have Been Involved In

Cassie’s original sin is not great. Nor, for that matter, was her decision to collect potentially incriminating evidence (see: many empty glasses) from around the hotel room where Alex died. Then again, she does contemplate the plight of poor Foxy Knoxy. And Ani, a lawyer by trade, does raise the point that Thai prison is probably not where one wants to go. In the grand scheme of The Flight Attendant, this somehow doesn’t register as all that bad.

12. That Knife Fight in the Elevator

Assassin on assassin crime! Not for the last time, alas. I guess they both make it, so there’s that.

11. Lying to a Law Enforcement Officer, Identity Theft, Traveling Under Falsified Documents, Carrying an Illegal Weapon, and Murder

Maybe she had a good reason?

10. Treason

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just spit it out: Rosie Perez has been tricked into doing corporate espionage for the North Korean government! Rosie Perez! Corporate espionage! North Korea!

Possibly the only thing more preposterous than that conceit is that it’s entirely incidental to the plot of The Flight Attendant. Perez plays Megan, Cassie’s colleague and (allegedly) good friend, whom we learn was approached at some point prior to the show’s start by a North Korean agent. (New York! Greatest city on earth, baby!) One thing led to another, and suddenly she was doing shady flash drive swaps on her husband’s work computer—which was no bueno, given he works for some amorphous tech company that fulfills government contracts. What’s a little light treason between friends?

In the end, with the CIA hot on her trail, Megan caps off the treason (not to mention her, er, marital woes) by fleeing to parts unknown. Hopefully not North Korea!

9. Building a Shower in the Middle of an Apartment

Come on, what? Nobody wants this! It was actually built on a soundstage, but it’s the principle of the thing. (And to be clear: Yes, I am saying that it is worse than treason.)

8. All of the Mafia Stuff

We don’t really know anything about the organized crime syndicates that Ani’s boss at the law firm hints at—only that they are very bad, and expect repayment for favors. This leads to a variety of eminently disbarrable offenses, like, for example ...

7. The Cyanide Pill

Ani is told to deliver an envelope to an inmate in a nearby jail, along with a message: His family will be taken care of. He cracks open the envelope and finds two pills inside. Watching him down them was somehow not the worst part of Ani’s day. What a show.

6. Murder via Eyeball (of an Attempted Murderer)

I suppose if you are an assassin attempting to kill another assassin, you are somewhat aware of the potential hazards. Possibly you even took out a great life insurance policy to take care of your family should the worst happen! … Right?

5. Murder (of Alex Sokolov)

We stan a mega-rich liberal arts bro with qualms about war crimes.

4. Murder (of an FBI Agent and a Nice Secretary Who Was Just Doing Her Job, Sheesh)

Pour one out for Agent Chavez (Brandon Morris) and Sabrina (Stephanie Koenig), who were just trying to put food on the table but got got by a cat-slaying knife maniac instead.

3. Running Over the Corpses of Two People You Just Murdered (With the Car You Just Stole from Them)

Miranda offs her boss, Victor (Ritchie Coster), and his driver, and badump-bumps away in their car. Having said that—they were bad guys, so, you know. As Victor put it: “Good help is hard to find.”

(“Easy Victor,” by the way, is apparently flight attendant slang for an impending passenger evacuation. The more you know!)

2. Those International Arms Deals

We don’t really know what exactly the Sokolov family was up to with the off-the-books delivery of batteries to the shadowy den of villainy otherwise known as Maine. Rocket launchers, something-something-something? Anyway, seems bad.

1. Drunk Driving With Your Young Child in the Car (Who Is Also Drunk, Because You Gave Her Beer)

Cassie’s dad, it turns out, was not exactly an upstanding citizen; his death came after he crashed the car that he was drunkenly driving with a young Cassie in the passenger seat. There’s also the small matter of the aftermath, which leaves the girl bloodied and traumatized and ultimately results substance misuse that leads one to crawl into bed with a dead body in Thailand, which in turn kicks off its own demented string of international murders and crime. For starters.