By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)
Lakshmi’s recaps for “Quantico” episodes 1-7 can be found here and for episode 8 onwardhere, 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.
And… we’re back! Fans (and hate-watchers) got to jump back into the world of Quantico last night with the return of everyone’s favorite FBI drama after nearly three months.
ABC began Sunday’s episode with a quick montage of everything that happened last time around (it’s been months, we needed it.) Former NAT Elias Harper had confessed to being the mastermind behind the Grand Central plot and then died by suicide before he could be arrested. If that wasn’t dramatic enough, it turns out that even more horrific things were to come. When we last saw Alex Parrish she was looking on in horror as she watches a building packed with her co-workers and friends explode after yet another terrorist attack. Going into this week’s episode, we weren’t at all sure who had survived the second bombing.
We get our first glimpse of Alex as she sits inside a courtroom in a sharp outfit and professionally coiffed hair. “I believe that Elias Harper did not act alone,” she testified before a judge, but it’s clear that no one in the room believes her. It also soon becomes clear that Alex has become a celebrity of sorts since her arrest. Cable news talking heads are seen debating her character and motives. “Many feel Parrish is just playing on people’s fears,” says one, as her claim that Elias didn’t act alone is debated.
Quantico has always been at its best when it focuses on its characters’ foibles and love lives rather than its convoluted terrorist plot, so it was a relief when we left the courtroom and found Alex drinking away her troubles at a dive bar. “You can put the game back on,” she tells the bartender sadly as she watches the news about her testimony. The bartender nicely refills her glass and buys her next round.
Because Alex always gets into trouble in bars, it’s no surprise when a mysterious and handsome man approaches her and offers to buy her a drink. “My drinks are free and you’re not my type,” she tells him dismissively, but of course he’s not really dismissed. Being a FBI agent-in-training and the child of an agent she quickly jumps into detective mode by doing her ‘five things’ routine. (For those who don’t remember Quantico’s pilot, Alex first did her ‘five things’ break down with Ryan Booth in his car post-coitus, when she patiently explained why the two of them could never be together.)
“You’re vain… No one has ever broken your heart… and you’re bad news,” she tells our mystery man. “No you don’t get to sit.” While they don’t end up sitting down, they do end up hooking up in a dark corner at the back of the bar. When Alex finally does walk away, mystery guy is visibly surprised. “But you know I’m the CTO of a telecom company,” he tells her. (Run, Alex, run!)
Here are some of the other things that jumped out at us this episode:
What is going on with Charlie? One of Quantico’s biggest mysteries is what the deal is with Miranda son. The troubled teen had been accused of associating with terrorists online and of attacking his mother before he himself was kidnapped by a group of mystery men.
A group of FBI agents are on hand to question Charlie in his mother’s presence. Did his kidnappers have accents? What did they say? Did you hear their names? Alas, Charlie isn’t talking, either because he doesn’t know or because he’s hiding something. “If Charlie doesn’t give us names, I have to bring him down [to the FBI office],” one of the agents warns Miranda.
Raina goes rogue: Aside from the emergence of Iris, our second favorite part of this episode was the growing sibling rivalry between Nimah and Raina as they both try to prove (to the other and probably themselves) that they have what it takes to be a successful agent. They both decide to individually visit Charlie to see if they can get any info out of him.
It’s Raina who gets Charlie to open up, in a most unusual way. They bond over the fact that they both fit a stereotypical profile of ‘scary’ Americans.
“When I was in high school I wrote an article, it was for the school newspaper,” Raina tells Charlie. “It was about the spy planes that always flew over our neighborhood in Dearborn.
Three days later the FBI interrogated me.”
“I’m a 19 yr old black man with priors,” Charlie counters. “Try asking someone for directions.”
“Try buying fertilizer for your vegetable garden,” Raina replies. Then they both shared a laugh. (It should be noted that Raina also gotten the intel she needed out of Charlie.)
Shelby is talking to her weird fake half-sister again: The fact that Quantico’s resident Southern belle Shelby has a Middle Eastern half-sister who is later revealed to be an imposter has to be one of the show’s weirder plot points. Shelby was devastated when her sister was revealed to be an extortionist a few episodes ago and most of probably thought (and hoped) that storyline was put to rest. But Shelby quickly starts Skyping with her imposter sibling Samar again and finally convinces her to come visit…. or so she thinks. She’s met instead by Samar’s husband, who tells her that the woman who has been impersonating her sister for more than a decade has been kidnapped… and that the fact that Caleb doxxed her is to blame.
Where have all of these other trainees been hiding? “Trainees! Meet the class above you!” Miranda announced in a booming voice as a second set of NATs filed into the room. We can’t be the only ones who did a double take at the fact that there was a parallel set of trainees living on the Quantico campus. “They are one month ahead of you in their training,” Miranda explains.
Let the games begin: The presence of 50 more young, impossibly attractive trainees opens up all sorts of possibilities and the Quantico writers room took full advantage of them during this episode. First up is what Miranda calls, “Quantico’s version of Color Wars.” There were several reasons this was amazing. The first, of course, is that we got to see Alex in full Tracy Flick mode as she took command of the exercise. The second was that Li Jun Li finally got to make her Quantico debut.
Introducing Iris Chang: We were extremely excited by the news back in November that Li Jun Li would be joining the cast of Quantico. Here’s how Deadline described her character last fall: “Born in Shanghai to wealthy parents, Iris is a flirtatious, beautiful Queen Bee type. She founded six start-ups while at USC and sold two to Google.”
Given that description, Iris sounds like the perfect foil for Alex. But it turns out the biggest tension in Sunday’s episode was between Shelby and Iris. “Sit tight, sweetie,” Shelby sneered at her once Iris was captured during the exercise. (Were we the only ones taken aback by the tone Shelby took with Iris throughout the episode? Not only was it extremely condescending it seemed to be tinged with something … more.)
But Iris isn’t billed a Queen Bee for nothing. While she was seemingly sitting quietly as a hostage in the NATs control room, it turns out she was the mastermind of the whole operation as she secretly signaled her team while captive. “You think we didn’t know that you’d capture me first?” Iris asks the NATs incredulously when they all looked at each other in stunned shock. Indeed.
Did Elias act alone? Do we care? Honestly, this storyline is both confusing and a bit boring that we’re having a hard time paying attention to it. After Alex testifies, it’s clear that no one — not Shelby, not Simon and not Ryan — is on speaking terms with her. “You destroyed my life,” Shelby snaps at Alex when she attempts to reach out. “I had to move back to georgia just to get away from the paparazzi,” when news about Shelby’s affair with Caleb’s father broke. (It was also at that moment that we learned that Caleb’s father Clayton was one of the casualites of the second bombing.)
And because no Quantico episode is complete without a rant from Simon, we also got to hear him go on about how Elias absolutely had to have been the sole perpetrator of the attacks.
“I spent the last three months of my life breaking down what Elias said to me,” Simon tells her. “He hated the FBI. The attacks were Elias’ way of making a statement.” OK, then.
As for Miranda, she became the first person at Quantico to express any sort of concern for any of the NATs mental health when she tried to reason with Alex in her own, very Miranda way. “What you are doing is not healthy,” Miranda tells her trainee. “Not everything is a conspiracy.”
Alex pivots and lies under oath: After repeatedly insisting to FBI officials, a judge and all of her colleagues and friends that Elias could not have been acting alone, Alex startles everyone when she suddenly changes her mind.
“I know many of you blame me for prolonging your suffering but I won’t apologize for that, I can’t,” Alex tells the courtroom filled with survivors and family members of the victims of the bombing “The search for truth is not easy, which is why I’m reversing my position today. I can find no evidence Elias Harper didn’t act alone.”
While that should be the end of that, of course nothing is ever that easy. After she finishes testifying, Ryan rushes to confront her. “You lied under oath!” he snapped.
“I thought you told me too!” she replied. He then storms off, leaving both Alex and all of us a bit bewildered.
But that’s not all: Gosh, this was a jam-packed hour. While Alex told the world that she renounced her theory that Elias was part of a conspiracy, she continued her own private investigation, even following the instructions of an anonymous disembodied voice who called her. As she arrives to a desolate section under a bridge we suddenly get to the last surprise of the evening. There in the shadows is her fellow NAT Natalie, with a bomb strapped to her waist.
“You weren’t a terrorist before, but now you are going to be,” the anonymous voice tells us.
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.
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