Quantico: Lipstick – Rabbit in a Box (Review)

PRIYANKA CHOPRA

In Quantico “Lipstick” the new trainees learn all about surveillance and the “box formation.” The target is the rabbit and five agents make up the box.  The closest one following is the “trigger” and he, or she, controls the group.

The exercise is twofold; follow without getting caught and as the rabbit, learn to become invisible.  There is a third issue with this training.  As the school has used the nearby town as a training field, if a local spots a trainee as a “spy,” they will be washed out.

Ryan actually gets spotted by a local. The man warns him that he is being followed during the exercise – and it is Owen Hall the instructor. Ryan does not get washed out, however as the local was pretty low-key about the whole thing.

Alex is the first target and even though she is not aware that Harry was the trigger, she does evade the rest of the “box.” During the training portion of the episode. Ryan and Alex have different handlers for their undercover assignment.

Shelby Wyatt has been assigned to babysit Parrish and Nimah has been given Ryan to look after.  The two receive separate briefings.  As Alex heads to her debrief, Lydia has a word and tells the new trainee that she has faith in her.

Alex  breaks down under the pressure of the CIA training.  She complains to Shelby that it is the opposite of what they learned at Quantico.  While this is true to some extent, there were a number of students last season that had hidden agendas.

Ryan Booth, for one was undercover for much of the season. He was sent there to  keep an eye on Alex on Liam’s orders. This season both he and Parrish are undercover although it seems that they may be working to different targets.

In the present, the president’s wife has her head chopped off via machete, mercifully off camera, and Alex teams up with a badly injured New York cop. The same guy who recognized her before the hostage taking.

Raina and Ryan stick close together while the rest of the CIA agents are still hidden in plain sight with the other  hostages. Booth believes that the hostages being brought back are really terrorists in disguise.

Raina is taken out.  She marks a masked gunman and when she is brought back everyone has the same mark on their wrist. She is then cut with the machete.

The injured cop gets Alex to an underground NYPD bunker but forfeits his life in the process. (At least it seems that way, shots are heard after Parrish enters the bunker.)

She calls Miranda. Her instructions are to gather intel so the FBI and the police know how many exact terrorists there are inside. Miranda then, apparently, uses her satellite phone to tell one of the kidnappers that Alex is in the building.

The same individual has just discovered the broken window where last week’s “dead man” jumped to his death.

“Lipstick” ends with Miranda closing the antenna on her satellite phone after seemingly giving Alex up to the terrorists.

While it looks like Ms. Shaw is taking Liam O’Connor’s place as resident baddy, one only needs to recall the “school days” at The Farm.  Subterfuge and misdirection are the order of the day here.

Miranda may have an agent already in the building disguised as a terrorist.  There is obviously more going on here than just a takeover.  The prisoner release was a feint, according to Miranda, so there is still no real clear motive for the event.

There are a number of things that jar about the episode. Firstly, why would Parrish carry around an empty gun. Surely as a trained agent, she would have reloaded by now. Secondly, not many people have the “remote controlled” garrote around their neck.

Ryan has one but Raina clearly does not. What happened? Did the terrorists run out?

Once more this feels an awful lot like a repeat of season one. Granted the terrorism is a tad different as O’Connor is not masterminding the whole thing.  It will be interesting to see where show creator Joshua Safran goes from here. 

Quantico airs Sundays on NBC.

Cast:

Quantico Season Two Premiere: Kudove – Spook School (Review)

PRIYANKA CHOPRA

It seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. In Quantico, in order to follow the same template as season one, Alex and Ryan are both sent to spook school, aka The Farm.  The CIA training camp where both Booth and Parrish are going “undercover.”

The opening episode sticks with the time jumps. Last year the series moved between the academy and present day. Now, in “Quan2co” we are taken from The Farm to “one year later” and back again.  It is a little more confusing than the first time around.

There are a new cast of characters as well as some familiar faces. Shelby Wyatt makes an appearance or two as does Raina.  Once again it seems that Ryan and Alex are on rocky ground, she returns an engagement ring, and then action moves to a year earlier.

Booth and Parrish are reluctant counter intelligence trainees. Nether of them knew before hand about their mutual CIA connection.

One year later, Booth is attending a world summit; the G20, when the meeting of world leaders is taken hostage by terrorists. This time around Alex is present when a whole load of explosions rock the city in a circular pattern.

She moves to the summit venue as Ryan lies in order to get close to the US president. The goal of the terrorists is to have one of their own pardoned. If the president does not comply they will execute his wife.

Back at The Farm Ryan and Alex learn to lie and how to get information from  the other trainees. Alex gets close to the only other female candidate, Lydia.  Booth scores 100 percent at lying among other things and Léon comes a close second.

RUSSELL TOVEY
Harry Doyle

Harry Doyle, a candidate who sounds very English, seems to be a natural.

The group head off to jump from a plane and Alex saves Lydia’s life, with a little help from Ryan. Except Lydia was never in any real danger. It was a test  and Alex failed. Unlike the FBI academy training, the CIA does not, apparently, teach team work.

What is clear from the very first day is that the trainees cannot really trust anyone. Lydia, it seems, is Hall’s daughter. She is also a co-intructor.

At the summit, the president agrees to the terrorist’s demands to save his wife’s life. Alex tries to work out what is going on and gets into a knock down, drag out fight with one of the group.

The man she defeats turns out to be another familiar face from her past and he jumps out the window.

Raina acts as translator for the terrorists, who are speaking Swahili, and Ryan gets close to the president.  Even after the US leader gives the terrorist’s what they want, it looks like his first lady is still going to be killed.

Alex watches on in horror.

The episode ends with that machete swinging down toward the first lady’s neck as a group of CIA “Case Agents” look on.

Initially the whole thing looks pretty amped up from last year’s action. However with all those classmates in the summit venue something smells rotten in that little scenario.

Could it be an exercise of some sort?

For instance, why are there three boxes with terrorist gear in them outside the room?

Regardless of whether the president’s wife is in for the chop or not, this looks an awful lot like the first season.  Training and “after-training”  being shown as a “before and after” with personal issues cropping up for Alex and Ryan.

It is close enough to season one that one wonders what sort of training Parrish and Booth will undertake if Quantico gets a third season.  Hopefully this sameness will not continue as season two progresses. Thus far the whole thing feels a little “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

Although to be fair there is none of the cutesy business between trainees like there was last year.

PEARL THUSI
Alex’s tearful roomie…

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see what you think. Is season two,  like Yogi Berra used to say, “Deja vu all over again?”

Cast:

Quantico: Answer – One Man Enters, One Man Leaves (Recap/Review)

Quantico: Answer has a swings and roundabouts feel to it this week as one man leaves the training academy and another literally comes in out of the cold. Entering back into the madness of Alex trying to catch the ones responsible for the bombings and the deaths of Elias, Natalie and Duncan. At the end, Asher agrees to help, but can he really be trusted?

PRIYANKA CHOPRA

Quantico: Answer has a swings and roundabouts feel to it this week as one man leaves the training academy and another literally comes in out of the cold. Entering back into the madness of Alex trying to catch the ones responsible for the bombings and the deaths of Elias, Natalie and Duncan.  At the end,  Asher agrees to help, but can he really be trusted?

Back at Quantico, Parrish is bonding with Drew Perales (Lenny Platt), Raina and Nimah are drifting further apart and Raina mistrusts her sisters actions and motives and vice versa. Wyatt and Chang (Li Jun Li) continue to annoy each other and Caleb has formed an uneasy alliance with Will (Jay Armstrong Johnson).

At the academy the NATs question actors who play suspects who were never punished. The cases are unsolved and this is the candidates’ chance to see if they can  finish/solve these puzzles.  Meanwhile, Nimah impersonates  Raina and discovers a huge cache of weapons at a house in the suburbs. Haas is either working some sort of scam, or a bust on the side. Will Olsen catches Caleb “working” and he investigates.

Nimah meets a man in the house and he believe that she is Raina. As Nimah closes the door behind her, Raina sends a text to the man.

In the present, Miranda is trying to find out where Vasquez is and she approaches Ryan and  Nimah asking about the agent. So far, the only person who can answer that question  is Alex and she has gone to Vermont to meet with Simon.

Asher is in a bad place, before Parrish arrives, he places the barrel of a revolver in his mouth but is unable to pull the trigger.  Alex arrives.  They talk initially but their conversation soon turns into recriminations on Simon’s part and he tells Parrish to leave.

TATE ELLINGTON
TATE ELLINGTON

Grabbing a rife,  the former agent explains that he needs to hunt for food. Alex invites herself along. The two have a confrontation in the snow-covered woods. She reveals that Elias was telling the truth and that the people who killed him are now after her.  She also explains what happened to Natalie Vasquez (Annabelle Acosta). Simon offers to take Alex’s pain away and points the rifle at her.

At Quantico, Parrish asks Liam (Josh Hopkins) about the Chicago sting that went wrong and he reveals that a shipment of Panther Oracle  AR-15 combat rifles went missing when the operation went south.  O’Connor approved using the weapons in the operation and gave them to the cell. Alex tells Drew and it is revealed that his pregnant fiancee was killed by one of the missing weapons. He blows up at O’Connor in the middle of training. 

Before Perales erupts on the “stand” Wyatt and Cheng fall apart as a team when Shelby sabotages their testimony.  Afterward Cheng  angrily confronts her partner and tells Shelby  to never “screw” with her career again.

The moment Drew mentions the weapons Liam knows  that Alex has betrayed his trust and Perales ends up being washed out because of the information that Parrish passed on.  In the snowy woods, in the present, Simon seems ready to shoot Alex after she asks him to help her get justice by going after the people who have killed three of their number and countless civilians.

 LENNY PLATT, PRIYANKA CHOPRA
LENNY PLATT, PRIYANKA CHOPRA

Nimah and Ryan head up to Vermont to find Alex.  The twin explains what happened between Miranda and her and Nimah tells Ryan that they are all haunted by their actions and  beliefs.  The two agents arrive to collect Alex and she tells them that Simon is not the man he once was.

At the academy Shelby confides in Cheng about the half-sister scam and Cheng reveals that they left behind an aunt who, she believes, was put in prison after her family left Shanghai.  Alex questions Liam’s actions and they argue.

Olsen reveals that he knows of Caleb’s “alter-ego” Mark  Raymond, just after Haas calls him “Mr. Robot.” An apt comparison  although Will still seems more “Rain Man” than Eliot Anderson.  Miranda confronts Liam and reveals she knows he slept with Alex and she demands his resignation.

Simon sets his winter cottage alight and back at the academy Shelby calls Caleb/Mark and he is with the con-artist “half-sister” that Wyatt could not find. Olsen  takes a picture of the meeting with his cell phone. Booth calls Alex and the two mend things between them.

JOSH HOPKINS
JOSH HOPKINS

Asher arrives at Alex’s apartment offering help and somewhat suspiciously the burner phone that Parrish was given by the terrorists, rings.  Simon gives his medal of valor to Alex and when the phone rings, he plugs something into the device after telling her she can trust him.

The two main suspects are still Caleb and Simon although there is that female sounding voice on the scrambler.  Raina could be working with one of the two, although if she is in this  equation, Simon shoots to the number one spot of suspect.

Quantico has finally gotten serious. Gone are the “cutesy” physical attraction games that were so annoying and distracting at the beginning.  While these agents still look like they would be more at home on the pages of a glossy magazine or the catwalk the storyline, at least, has gotten grittier.

Priyanka Chopra let rip last week with some massive chops and the whole cast have clearly brought forward their ‘A’ game now that the series has gotten darker.  As usual, the show leaves the viewer fearing the next installment.

Drew, angrily firing his weapon at the range and Simon showing up to help Alex feel like forewarnings of more deceit and or death. While the episode was titled “Answer” the players are still quite some way from learning the one they all seek.

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC.

Quantico: Go – All About Sacrifice (Review)

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, YASMINE AL MASSRI, TATE ELLINGTON

In Quantico: Go, there are many revelations in the flashbacks to the academy.  Showing how Shelby meets Caleb’s dad, just how devious Liam O’Connor is and what the aftermath was of Simon discovering that Nimah was also Raina.  More is shown about Colby’s relationship with his father and more importantly, Vasquez’s scar, the one behind her ear, is fake as the NAT is seen replacing it while her lover is in the shower.

The theme, dealing with the training during the flashback sequences,  is one of sacrifice.  All of the trainees are at the mid-term point of their time at Quantico and exams must be passed.  One NAT is having problems, Vasquez’s squeeze, Brandon. Later, during the “classroom” exam, Fletcher turns out to be a “plant” who sets the other NAT’s up for their exam.

There are many things yet to be revealed from the flashbacks. Such as what happens to Simon that results with his leaving the academy in disgrace, or how Alex uncovers the truth (and what that is) about Shelby’s parent’s deaths. There is also nothing, as yet, on how Miranda Shaw is removed from her position.

In the present, Alex and Simon track down Raina and learn that the twins infiltrated a terrorist cell and that Nimah is trapped with the cell.  Vasquez, who discovered that her current lover Ryan is helping Alex, put a tracker on his jacket and then allows Shelby and Booth to lead O’Connor to Parrish.

Back at the academy, the test requires the group to “sacrifice” themselves. Simon, who is a  Jack of all trades type of guy, first attempt to unlock the door and then to disarm a bomb that Brandon left in the exam room. As he starts to make the device safe, the doors open and a lot of NATs run out.

RICK COSNETT, YASMINE AL MASSRI
Elias Harper (Rick Cosnett) freaking out…

The rest wait for the bomb to go off and later learn that because they stayed with Simon and chose to sacrifice themselves that they passed their mid-term exam, those who left, including Elias Harper, failed and will be sent home.

In the present, Alex and Ryan get away from O’Connor and Vasquez only to be stopped by the latter.  At the terrorist cell, Nimah and Raina flee as the terrorist leader begins shooting, one round catches Booth and after a tense moment, his girlfriend lets Parrish and a wounded Ryan go.

While Vasquez looks agitated, Booth’s jacket still has the tracker on it, so the agent may not really have had a change of heart at all.

There is still a lot left to be uncovered. For example, just what it is that Liam is so desperate for Alex not to find out. In the flashback sequences, after Parrish learns why Booth agreed to get close to her, she threatens O’Connor and he offers to give Ryan his badge back.

With Ryan now wounded and still wearing the tracker, it seems that Vasquez has set him up although why she opted to let Booth and Alex go is a mystery. As is the fake scar that Natalie places behind her ear, the same scar she was so eager to show off in an earlier episode.

The real bomber is still out there and Alex is now no closer to learning who that may be. Caleb is not such a hot suspect, but Vasquez is moving a bit closer to possible terrorist. The fake scar and allowing Alex to leave, points toward the agent hiding something and then hoping that police, who are still under the “shoot to kill” order take care of Parrish and her “former” lover.

O’Connor could also be behind the bombing after all  the man has secrets yet to be revealed and his displeasure at Alex definitely puts him top of the list in terms of framing the new agent.

Quantico is steadily improving its game. The show now has flashbacks that do much more than irritate and the storyline has less of a “The Dating Game” (or “Bachelorette”) feel and more of a tightened mystery. Although there are still a lot of relationships that are intertwining between the NAT’s and the new agents.

Simon still has a thing for one of the twins, Ryan still cares for Alex, Shelby has moved on from Caleb and is an affair  with Haas senior and Vasquez has been hurt by Booth’s helping Alex.  The series may have played too much on the sexual aspects of the show at the start, but it now seems that there was a method to Joshua Safran‘s madness.

Annabelle Acosta as Natalie Vasquez delivers as the least exposed NAT and later Special Agent on the show. A major player who is currently sleeping with Ryan (Jake McLaughlin)  she now seems a pretty good suspect that little is known about.  

ANABELLE ACOSTA
Vasquez sleeping with the enemy?

What is that fake scar about and was she really that jealous about Ryan helping Alex? Only time will reveal what is really going on with this woman.

The series airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see if it Vasquez or O’Connor who blew up Grand Central and which one is framing Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) or if not either of them, who is. 

 

Quantico: God – Sex, Lies and Secrets (Review)

Yasmine Al Massri

In Quantico; God this week,  the series culminates in a maelstrom of sex, lies and secrets that suddenly plunge the NATs into some game changing events. A new suspect is revealed and the viewer learns more about Miranda and Charlie.  The focus, for this episode, is more about the “ago” and less about the now and Alex’s struggle to prove her innocence.  Each flashback tells more of the backstory of each NAT.

Simon’s fall from grace, Nimah’s exposure as twins, Shelby and Caleb’s relationship, Parrish learning about Ryan’s assignment to “watch her” all either come to light, or are in danger of being revealed,  in God during the Quantico assignment tied into the present crisis.  DITU (a part of PRISM) where the FBI actively spy on US denizens,  with the legal excuse of sniffing out terrorists, is the flashback training segment in the center and it ties in nicely with Alex’s present situation.

In the “now” Caleb Haas is the guy watching all the various feeds looking to find Alex in the pre-Grand Central explosion. He is also searching for something else;  Shelby Wyatt, who is having an affair with his father and he catches them together.

Everything, back during the training flashbacks, falls apart with the speed of  a runaway mine train.  Intimate (sexual) relationships, which are forbidden between NATs, collapse or become exposed, or (in Shelby’s and Caleb’s case) interfere with someone else’s trysts.

The show this week is all about trust, lies, secrets, relationships and fear of same. Miranda’s issues with her son Charlie have been in the background for a number of episodes and now has become a major plot point in the show. Shaw changes the NATs assignment from watching each other to surveilling  her life. This is a last ditch effort to find out what her recently released from “Juvie” kid is up to.

The young man was primed to be a “school shooter;” names on a list, guns collected and ready to go, before his mother turned him in.  Now he is out of “prison” and Shaw has him back home but does not trust him, nor does he trust her.  More secrets are exposed when she tells Charlie that his note with the names was destroyed by her. Miranda tells her son that had she not gotten rid of the list, he would still be in jail.

Shadowing  Miranda’s house, Alex and Ryan come unstuck when Liam, who is “helping” his former lover out by talking to Charlie, finds Booth listening in and he angrily confronts the agent he tasked to watch Parrish. Liam’s outburst is heard by Alex, who  drives off in the surveillance van and switches rooms with Vasquez.

Present day sees Alex asking Simon to bug Caleb’s computer at the incident room. She learns about Wyatt’s affair with Haas’ father and she finds footage of Nimah before the bombing. As a result of both these separate events, Caleb is no longer a suspect but “Nimah” is.

Back at Quantico “past,” Simon discovers that Nimah is in fact twins and gets accidentally knocked out and locked in a closet until Miranda can be found.  Caleb inadvertently messes up Vasquez’s love life, although she begins the groundwork to get together with Booth.  Liam continues to lie to Alex.

In the present day, Vasquez learns that Ryan has not been talking to O’Connor on his cell phone and turns him into Liam. She tells the man she believes  Ryan is helping Alex. What she does not know is that Simon and Shelby are as well.

Unfortunately, when Shelby sees the footage that Caleb put in the trash file, she confronts him about the affair with his father.  This may cause more damage than Ryan’s being rumbled by his new lover. Once Haas gets over his immediate pain, he will wonder why Wyatt took that moment to apologize about the affair.

According to  ratings, Quantico is picking up speed with the preferred demographic (19 – 45) and watching the episodes on offer, it is easy to see why.  Disregarding the “not so hidden” cheerleading of an organization that now watches American citizen’s every move…legally, the series offers beefcake, gorgeous gals and plenty of sex. Granted the sex is more often implied rather than shown, but is is ever present.

Show creator Joshua Safran still spends a lot of time moving between relationships of the great looking class of 2015 and the show’s plot line of “Who Framed Jessica Rabbit (Alex Parrish).”  Gone, for the time being is the almost frantic patriotism that indicates, overtly so, that it is okay to spy on our fellow man. 

This week’s showing off of DITU is as disturbing as the “feel free to turn in your neighbor, or family member” “red under every bed”  paranoiac rant. The very fact that nothing about our lives is really our own in this day and age  of modern technology and the Internet is unsettling and almost enough to convince even the most optimistic viewer that the US is heading for Stalin’s Russia.

Despite the alarm bells that this show sets off (To be fair, Quantico is not the only show to promote spying on the public…legally.) the series is getting better.  The flashbacks, which felt so disjointed and intrusive at the start, now have a discernible pattern. The characters have also  gotten that bit more dimensional.

The series is finding its feet, oh so slowly, and it is to the credit of the actors and the writers that the viewing of each episode is becoming more about finding out who is so determined to pin the explosion on Alex.  This FBI tale is an odd bit of entertainment, parts procedural (which the show does very well) and parts “Blind Date” set in an environment filled  with a bevy of beautiful people.

Thus far, the list of suspects, apart from Alex (Priyanka Chopra) is fluctuating. The last to appear is Nimah, who should be way too obvious to be a real suspect…or is she? Nimah is, after all, twins, recruited by Shaw. One is much more “fundamentalist” than the other so could this be the ultimate truth? 

Watching the show from day one, however,  there is the nagging feeling that Liam O’Connor (Josh Hopkinsis behind all the framing of Alex, if not the explosions that leveled Grand Central.  Vasquez could also be a suspect, but her betrayal of Ryan may have much more to do with jealousy than anything else.

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and join the growing numbers of 19 – 45 year-old fans who apparently cannot get enough of the show…or Chopra…