Quantico premiered on Sunday night and ABC have added what may turn out to be great addition to their fall lineup. However, the new show has some problems, more than just the “Everyone is Beautiful” cast. There may well be a large amount of agents in the FBI who look as though they belong either on a catwalk or on the pages of a fashion magazine, but it is not likely. While the stunningly good looks of the main cast members provides some very nice eye candy for the viewer it does not go very far toward building credibility.
Add to this the far-fetched plot thread of Elder Eric Packer managing to hold on to his “live” weapon and, undergoing a guilt trip of epic proportions, shooting an innocent woman (rather than the douche who has been heckling the poor chap non-stop) and then killing himself.
While the moment is pretty impressive, the fact that the FBI training facility at Quantico apparently rely upon an “honor” system of the trainees returning their live pistols to get back the faux red-handled weapons they are required to wear at all times is a bit dodgy at best. This “system” alone beggars belief as well as the fact that the thoroughness of the vetting process managed to miss tragic “crime.”
In essence, Eric Packer slept with an young Malawi girl (the girl was 14) and got her pregnant. Taking the girl to an illegal abortionist, she dies. Packer manages to keep the bureau in the dark about the crime. As the director of the training program relays the details of the crime to her second in command she pins the blame on to him.
Herein lies another problem with the plot. The deputy director, Liam O’Conner relays to the director, and the audience, the plethora of checks that should have caught the crime. Yet moments earlier, Alex Parrish is told by the agent in charge after the Terminal Station explosion that the FBI received a tip that one of the new agents was a terrorist. Surely all the checks, tests, background research and so on would have made this an impossible situation.
The worse offender of the “unbelievable” plot device is the Nimah Amin “twins” thread. The fact that, due to her religious beliefs, the agent in training has her own room does help facilitate the ruse. However, to infer that the FBI training and vetting program is that inept must be ruffling a few real feathers in the real Bureau.
The last “nail in the show’s premiere coffin” is that “undercover agent,” Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin) who has apparently been keeping an eye on Agent Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) under orders from the former deputy director who is now director of the training facility. Apparently, the two meeting on the plane was not a fortuitous event at all and has shades of Stitchers all over it.
There are too many lose ends and tangled threads in this season one opening. By the time end credits roll, we learn that Booth is dead and that Parrish is blamed for his death and the explosion. The former director, Miranda Shaw, helps Alex to escape custody in order to find out what is really going on.
Quantico starts off with a pilot episode that could have used a lot more time to set itself up. The implications are that none of this scenario is real and all part of the agent’s training. Although apparently this is not the case…Who knows? What does not help is that several of the story lines fail to mesh convincingly and some scenes feel tacked on in an attempt to make the characters feel more real.
For example, Johanna Braddy’s character Shelby Wyatt commiserates with Caleb, the candidate who made the late Eric Packer’s life a misery until he killed himself. In the scene, he asks why Wyatt is being so nice to him as all he has done is treat her horribly. At no time in the pilot do we see Caleb being horrid to anyone apart from Eric.
The scene is meant to show Shelby’s compassion but feels added on to round out her character. Perhaps the biggest clanger is the change of Chopra’s character. After having sex with Booth at the airport carpark, she shows that her mind is almost Holmes-ian in its ability to analyze clues on the spot. Yet later when she is asked to help to investigate the explosion she flounders from minute one.
While the scenario of the terrorist explosion and Parrish being the scapegoat are, apparently, meant to be “real” versus some classroom exercise, it feels disjointed and false. This is another example of a television show premiering with too little time spent on-screen setting up the audience for the verse they are presenting.
Quantico may well turn out to be a winner for ABC. Certainly the cast are attractive enough, as well as more than capable performers, but this one may take some time to find its footing. Thus far the series feels more like a template and somewhat less than a “unique” offering. Perhaps as the series moves forward things will become clearer. The series airs Sundays on ABC.