“What was very important was the mind palace. That's what made our show different last season and we wanted to keep that,” Kaley said, when asked what would differentiate this season from the last.
If you recall, the mind palace were those scenes where Cassie would find herself transported back to the hotel room, talking to Alex (yes, the dead Alex from season one). This was a way for her to process what was going on, and gave the audience a glimpse into the inner workings of her mind, especially as her behavior became more difficult to understand. Season Two needed a mind palace, there was no doubt about it. But as for who Cassie was going to meet in there, they decided she needed to confront the most terrifying monster of all - herself.
“That was a whole new storyline and a big plot point as a way for the audience to get inside her mind,” Kaley said. “We took big swings this season, I played five Cassie’s and that's definitely up in the ante. It was a lot of work and a lot of people involved to make this huge - the scope was very, very large.”
When asked to list off every version of herself, even Kaley had trouble remembering how many there were.
Let's see, we've got Regular Cassie, Gold Dress Cassie, Black Sweater Cassie, Future Perfect Cassie and Nihilist Cassie. Wait a second. Is that six? How many did I just know count? Let’s do that again,” she said with a laugh, before running back through them once more, and confirming that yes, she had definitely counted five.
“Okay, we learned how to count on this episode of Kaley learning how to count,” she said, laughing again. “There were a lot of Cassie’s, it felt like 30.”
Showrunner Steve Yockey shed further light on the decision to introduce five different Cassie’s, explaining that they each had an important link to the first season and in representing the key theme of this one.
“Thematically, Season One was about honesty and Season Two is about acceptance,” he explained. “So, if you're going to write a season about acceptance, and you're a person who is struggling with addiction and recovery, then you need to accept that those parts exist within you. The Cassie’s are mostly representative of Season One. There's Black Sweater Cassidy, which is what Kaley was wearing when she was in jail, there's Gold Dress Cassie, who’s the party girl, and she represents everything that happened before Alex was killed in Season One. There's Future Perfect Cassie, who is a little bit high and mighty, and then there's a couple that you haven't seen quite yet. We knew that it was going to be a big lift, but we also thought that creatively, it was worth it.”
Despite the creative back-and-forth in the writers room, landing on the idea was the easy part. After that, came the execution, which proved to be brand new territory and an entirely different ballgame. Showrunner Natalie Chaidez spoke to the difficulty of actually shooting these scenes,
“Ignorance is bliss,” Natalie said with a laugh, when asked how technically challenging these scenes were to shoot. “We had no idea how technically difficult it would be. On our call with the Orphan Black director, he was like, ‘it's harder than you can imagine’. And he was absolutely right.”
“He was like season three, we got a really good handle on it. And I was like, ‘Oh, no’”, Steve added with a laugh.
Kaley echoed these sentiments as well, describing the filming setup as “crazy.”
“It was also crazy to shoot, our team actually spoke to the team who shot Orphan Black, and a lot of those people helped with our process because they had very similar storylines and used the same cameras. It was a pretty wild experience, so it’s very different and bigger in scope than it was in Season One.”
That being said, the actress took it in her stride, with the cast and crew finding themselves taken aback by how well she juggled everything.
“What Kaley pulled off this season is unbelievable,” Natalie continued. What she's doing means she has to match her body position in space, perfectly, like an Olympic athlete. It was really amazing to watch and it was also very tedious and challenging. But, what we pulled off as a creative team this season with the mind palace, I'm so so proud.”
Playing five different versions of yourself is a massive undertaking, and Kaley wasn’t one to brag about the simplicity of it. At times, the actress said she struggled under the weight of it all, but tried to separate each character in her mind by assigning them their own genre of music, from extreme rock to classical. This helped her lean into their unique personalities and get her in the right headspace before getting on camera.
As for which version of Cassie is the worst, Kaley revealed that for her, it wasn’t the ones who were outwardly problematic, it was the one we’ve likely all fallen victim to at one point or another - the perfect, yet unachievable version of ourselves.
“Future Perfect Cassie is just like a joke, right? No one is perfect. She was the one we used used to laugh about and say she was the most fucked up of all. Like, at least the others are being truthful, right?
My stunt double who ended up doing a lot of the Gold Dress Cassie, her name is Monet and she worked with me for months and became a big part of it, so I like to mention her because she helped me out a tonne.”
So, if the international criminal chases and high-intensity thrills isn’t enough to pique your interest in The Flight Attendant, the mind palace almost certainly should be.
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