By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)
Lakshmi’s recaps for “Quantico” episodes 1-7 can be found here and for episode 8 onward here, including her recap of the show’s most recent episode. Her recaps appear on Reappropriate every Monday morning! As with reading any recaps, please be wary of spoilers.
We don’t know about you, dear readers, but we found it impossible to watch this week’s episode of ‘Quantico’ without reflecting on all of the events of the last week. It’s admittedly strange to watch a fictional drama about the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts that has the stereotyping of South Asians and Muslims as a central plotline just hours after the President of the United States delivered a primetime address from the Oval Office addressing all of those themes.
During his brief speech Sunday night, the President declared the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino an “act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.” A bit later he noted that as Americans “it’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose.”
The president’s remarks came after a week that saw many moments that seemed straight out of a ‘Quantico’ episode. After last week’s horrific and tragic mass shooting, in which 14 people lost their lives, we witnessed an unprecedented media frenzy as reporters everywhere rushed to find everything they could about the two suspects (who later died in a shootout with police.)
First we saw the Daily Beast file a story about what the site’s reporters thought was the home of the suspects. There was only one problem:
This was followed by a bizarre scene at the suspects’ home (the correct address this time) in which reporters from CNN, MSNBC and other outlets basically walked from room to room, rummaging through and broadcasting images of personal photographs on live television — which included publication of identifying documents and photos of the newly orphaned six-month-old child.
Writer Maris Kreizman perfectly captured the bizarre scene with this tweet:
If this MSNBC stuff was happening on a Quantico episode I'd be like, "I love this show but it's so silly & this isn't how the world works."
— Maris Kreizman (@mariskreizman) December 4, 2015
Now on to tonight’s episode. When we last left the world of the fictional FBI, Alex Parrish had just pleaded guilty to being the mastermind behind the Grand Central bombing (even though in reality she had nothing to do with it. The episode opens up with a television news frenzy, as a handcuffed Alex is paraded towards a waiting FBI van. “Gand Central Bomber Surrenders” the cable TV channels proclaim as she is driven away.
Here are our biggest takeaways from this week’s episode.
The remaining NATS get a huge shock: It’s important to remember that the other recruits weren’t originally in on Liam and Alex’s plan to have her plead guilty as a way to trip up the real culprit. The group was legitimately shocked then when Alex returns to the fold. “The bomber wanted me guilty, that was their plan from the start,” Alex explains to them. “Before today, the bureau had one suspect: me.”
Shelby always has time to take a dig at Alex: Things have been rocky between Shelby and Caleb for a while. What Shelby doesn’t know (but we do) is that Caleb’s dad is pressuring his son for information about Shelby’s ties to the Middle East and her half-sister there. Caleb starts distancing himself from Shelby as he starts to try to figure everything out.
“You run from relationships, right?” Shelby asks Alex curiously. “What are you scared of?” (It should be noted that we never get a clear answer on that one.)
Nimah and Simon’s relationship gets even more tense: We learn early on in this episode that things are bad between Nimah and Simon. Nimah pointedly leads Raina away from Simon when the latter asks to work with her and she repeatedly hints that she knows something bad about Simon and that she’ll expose him as soon as she gets the chance. She gets that chance during an emergency disciplinary hearing all of the recruits are ordered to attend.
“Simon Asher is a war criminal,” she tells all of the NATs during their training exercise. Simon rightly points out that he had been upfront about his time in Gaza and with the IDF early on in their training. “There’s no way you were just a translator,” Nimah snaps. “We have seen your skills with firearms, we have seen you build a whole persona.”
Alex is asked to turn on her own: Liam and Miranda once again return to the fact the other recruits are the most likely terrorism suspects, which means that Alex must once again investigate them. Needless to say, Alex does not take that order well.
“You want me to spy on my own team?” she asks incredulously. “I’m not going to lie to them, they are my friends and they need me.”
“It’s the people of New York who need you the most now,” Miranda replies.
Simon’s secret is pretty weird: Because Simon and the rest of the NATs are now suspects again, they are under 24-hour surveillance. Alex and Liam discover that Simon is once again heading to South Williamsburg, Brooklyn in order to meet the mysterious bomb expert from the IDF that he’d met with previously.
As the episode progresses, all of the clues point to Simon as the bomber and this leads to the strangest revelation in the history of ‘Quantico.’ “I planned a political act,” confesses Simon. (And here’s where things start getting REALLY weird, even for this maddening show): Simon says that he had planted two bombs, one under a famous synagogue and one under an equally famous mosque. “The bombs were never going to go off,” he tells the group, instead he was making a statement that “peace is the only solution.”
Let’s take a moment so that everyone reading this can roll their eyes.
Naturally, the recruits find out Alex is spying on them: And even more naturally, they are extremely upset. “When this is over, you’ll be famous, we won’t even have our names,” Nathalie points out.
Cuteness alert: There was one sweet moment in this week’s episode, and that’s when Alex and Booth finally got to talk about their relationship and what’s going to happen after training is finally over. “You move back to Los Angeles, I graduate and move somewhere,” Alex says. And then they talk about emails and texts and liking each other photos on Facebook and it’s all the most adorable thing ever … until Alex messes everything up.
“Do you know I’ve never said I love you at the right time?” Booth asks. Because Alex is an emotionally blocked mess, she replies, “I’ve never said it at all.”
Everything unravels: As all ‘Quantico’ viewers know, the last five minutes of any episode is when it all starts falling apart. Of course this episode was no exception. We knew that things have been tense between Shelby and Caleb and we discovered long before Shelby does that Caleb wants to find out the real story behind Shelby’s mysterious half-sister in the Middle East in order to protect her from his father’s machinations. But it turns out that Shelby’s sister isn’t her sister at all. Instead she’s a random Arab lady who has been catfishing her for over 15 years (???) to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars (!!!). Naturally, Shelby starts sobbing uncontrollably. (Wouldn’t you if you were an orphan who realized you’d been lied to for years?)
We also learn that Raina has inexplicably recently visited Hamza, the man running the suspected terrorist cell in Queens that the agents raided a few episodes ago. “He’s a lost human being, Nimah,” Raina tells her sister while explaining her visit. “That’s not what I heard him say when I slept with him for our mission, Nimah replies.
For those of you who follow the official Quantico account, you know that the show has been teasing the fact that this is the episode we learn all about Simon. As promised, we finally learn what got Simon kicked out of Quantico, and it was once again all very confusing.
It turns out that Simon wasn’t kicked out for lying about his personal life, or not being upfront about his time in Gaza as a translator, but for the “unreported assault in your third week here” of Ryan. (We would totally have forgiven Simon at this point for throwing his hands up in exasperation, they seem to be very selective about the rules they enforce in Quantico-land.) But Miranda insists the charges are quite serious and that Simon has to go.
No one seems to have much sympathy for or desire to speak to Simon before he leaves. No one but Alex that is, who comes by as he is packing up his dorm room to say farewell. “You are not invisible,” she insists to him. “And yet watch me disappear,” he replies.
As he walks out of the dorm, his virtual invisibility becomes more and more apparent. It was particularly painful to watch him hesitate as he passes Nimah’s room, where through the open door we get a glimpse of Raina sitting on a bed reading. Noticing Simon, she quickly walks away to the other side of the room without making eye contact. Things quickly becomes worse when Nimah notices him standing there, she closes the door in his face.
We’re back at zero: Alex’s sentencing (for a crime she definitely did not commit) is tomorrow, yet they are no closer to solving the mystery of the second bomb. Alex says to Liam that she is now completely alone, but is she? It turns out the answer is no. We soon see Alex (her perfect hair covered with a hoodie, get out of a cab near Simon’s house. She’s come to ask for Simon’s help. Again.
“I need you,” says Alex. “I’ve always needed you.”
Simon rejects Alex’s pleas and instead opens the door to his surprisingly huge and beautiful suburban home (seriously, how does an FBI recruit get such a nice house?). It’s dark and scary and we just know that something bad is about to happen. And it quickly does. Just as Simon is about to turn on the light a hooded man suddenly appears out of the darkness and covers his mouth to muffle his screams.
That’s all until next week. We’re more than a little excited for next week’s episode, which promises to be the show’s Christmas-themed mid-season finale.
Lakshmi Gandhi is a journalist and pop culture writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Metro New York, NBC Asian America and NPR’s Code Switch blog, among other sites. She likes it when readers tweet her @LakshmiGandhi with their thoughts on Asian American issues and romance novels.