By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)
“So we have a lot of suspects, doing a whole lot of nothing.”
For once, I agreed with Ryan 100 percent at the beginning of this episode. Of course, he said that line as he, Alex, Nimah, and Shelby were going through the various young members of the CIA training class. As usual, this week’s intro was full of red herrings. Does the working mom have something to hide? The lawyer? The party planner?
(Note: I’ve given up learning everyone’s name. There are too many characters!)
There was one cute moment and that’s when Ryan noted that Leon (the sultry war photographer) seemed to always be rushing off somewhere. While Shelby put on her best poker face for her friends, we flash back to the night before. In a development that should surprise no one, it turns out that Leon and Shelby have been having a secret affair for weeks.
Why Shelby thought she could keep this a secret from Nimah was a bit bewildering. Nimah instantly picks up that something is going on with Shelby, but does not immediately put her finger on what it is. She does note that Shelby is receiving a ton of texts from her ex Caleb, even though they hadn’t been speaking much previously. So Nimah does what she does best: she figures out Shelby’s password and searches her phone, quickly learning that Leon’s number is the one listed as Caleb.
After chastising Shelby for a bit, Nimah comes up with an idea that would benefit them both. She proposes that Shelby go undercover and use her “special” relationship with Leon to spy on him. Shelby, bored to tears by her desk job, agrees. What could go wrong? (This is a joke. I’m expecting everything to go wrong.)
Permission to Sparkle sounds so fun until you find out it is how the CIA talks about drone attacks. #Quantico
— Quantico WritersRoom (@QuanticoWriters) November 7, 2016
Permission to Sparkle: Perhaps it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a show about the CIA and FBI is pretty pro-drone warfare, but it was a bit disappointing. Also, the thought of a bunch of recruits being assigned to decide whether or not a drone strike is necessary is TERRIFYING.
And then there was a twist! The recruits decided not to go through with the drone strike, but they were overridden by Owen, who made the call to go through with the bombing. (Casualties followed.) The recruits were also told the exercise was hypothetical and they were acting out something that had already occurred. Owen then gaslight them once again and revealed the strike was real and so was the suffering that they caused.
Also, the fact that Owen makes something as important as deciding who lives and who dies as if it were a cult initiation was even more over-the-top than usual. “Today we’re going to find out who among us is strong enough to face themselves,” he intoned. Grr.
Does Party Planner Lady know what the CIA does? While I understand the show wanted to portray the mixed feelings many people have about drone warfare and military strikes, I think there has to be a way to do so without having Party Planner Lady wax poetic about reading bedtime stories to her children. Did she not read the CIA’s Wikipedia page before she applied for her job? I suggest she start here!
I would also love it if we saw one of the men of Quantico talk about the pain of taking a life or the moral ambiguity of their career path. Those feelings are not just the purview of women who are parents.
What is Harry Doyle’s deal? Remember last week when we learned Harry had a former boyfriend who killed himself because he struggled coming to terms with his sexuality? (Gosh, what a horrible storyline!) Anyways, turns out that was completely fake! Harry made that story up in order to manipulate Sebastian into giving up his own secrets.
We discovered this plot twist when Alex and Ryan decide to try to break Harry with the knowledge of his dead boyfriend. Ryan casually confesses to Harry that he and Alex were assigned to the CIA in order to investigate the death of a recruit three years earlier. Harry reacts instantly, telling Ryan the story was weak as a cover, as his dead boyfriend was completely fictional.
And then! Because this scene wasn’t disturbing or confusing enough, Harry tries to tell Sebastian that, actually, the story of his ex-boyfriend dying really was true. He just told Ryan that because it was none of his business.
In the face of all of this gaslighting, Sebastian does what all of us probably would have done. He snapped “I don’t care!” and threw his covers over his head and went to sleep.
The NATs mourn Simon on the one-year anniversary of his death. One of the most moving scenes this week was when we heard Raina and the rest of Simon’s friends say Kaddish at his grave. It was also poignant to see Alex take a moment to remember the man who was her best friend during the most trying period of her life.
Lydia, no!!! Wait, Lydia is one of them? The tension between Alex and Lydia clearly hasn’t eased in the “future” timeline. But it turns out that Lydia has good reason to dislike Alex and vice versa. Lydia reveals her father Owen is in federal prison, while Alex reveals she’s been kicked out of the CIA.
RIP, Party Planner Lady. Wow, that was a brutal way to go! Remember those metallic collars all of the hostages were required to wear? Party Planner Lady’s ends up strangling her before she was apparently about to reveal some vital information she’d just learned.
That final scene: I can’t be the only one who said “what just happened” out loud. In it, we see who we think is Raina talking to the terrorists. She confides to them that “Dayana might be one of them.” The woman we think is Raina then removed her headscarf, to the disbelief of viewers everyone. In the final moments of the episode, the camera pans out to reveal that Raina is actually being held captive in the next room and it is Nimah who is talking to the terrorists.
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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