Quantico: Inside – All Coming Together (Review)

Quantico: Inside has it all coming together for the midseason finale. The zooming in on Simon, Elias Harper being the wild card in the deck of suspects and a new suspect is provided via the flashback sequences over the “old” New Years celebrations brings things to a head.

RICK COSNETT

Quantico: Inside has it all coming together for the midseason finale. The zooming in on Simon, Elias Harper being the wild card in the deck of suspects and a new suspect is provided via the flashback sequences over the “old” New Years celebrations all combines to bring things to a head.

What the episode does not do, is give us the terrorist responsible for the Grand Central explosion and now the final bomb(s). We see the end of a “major” character, although latter peripheral who was upgraded would be more correct. It could well be that Harper did plant the first one, but…not likely.

Warning: If you have not watched the episode stop reading now…

Perhaps the most annoying thing about this Quantico winter break episode was the overkill direction given to poor Rick Cosnett, as Elias, when he appeared bloodied and “panicked” looking for Alex in command center. 

Last week, unless one was getting snacks from the kitchen or making a cup of tea, Harper was clearly seen slapping a hanky over Simon’s face whilst dragging him behind his door.  The point being that we know Elias is not a good guy. So when he shows up, looking bruised and battered (telling all and sundry that he was pushed in front of a car) we know something is rotten in New York.

Unfortunately, the actor then has to continually telegraph that his character is lying with a catalogue of “tells” like lengthy sidelong glances and avoiding eye contact.  His performance could be said to be taken from The Guide to Obvious Lying for Dummies. The actions of Harper literally scream, “I am lying!”

Later, when Harper allows himself to fall backward from  a window high enough from the street to guarantee his landing will resemble a huge smudge, Cosnett must have sighed with relief.  Director Thor Freudenthal deserves a huge slap on the wrist for that one.

There are a few other annoying things, not least of which the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Zeppo” riff.  In the Joss Whedon episode (written by Joss and directed by James Westmore Jr) Xander has a standoff moment over a bomb. When faced with certain death, Buffy’s guy pal says “I like the quiet,” and quiet is pointed out (stressed actually), as Simon holds a dead man’s switch in the hotel room.

Simon: “Blow it all up just so you can get some damn quiet…”
“You wanted them to find me. That’s why you brought them here before this bomb went off. So you better start telling the truth, or it is gonna get real, real quiet.”

Another thing that has to be mentioned is the fact that three trained FBI agents within arm’s reach of Harper allow him to fall to his death.  A real “what the fudge” moment. Granted it is shocking when Elias self-destructs rather than go to jail, but seriously?

MARCIA CROSS, GRAHAM ROGERS, JOHANNA BRADDY
Marcia Cross as the senator mommy…

In the flashback sequences, and later in present day, the appearance of Brie Van De Kamp, aka, Marcia Cross as Caleb’s senator mother was almost as shocking.  Cross has the ability to look colder than ice and quite fierce with it and her appearance in this episode is no exception. 

Away from this intrusion of an escapee from Wisteria Lane, Caleb (Graham Rogers) puts himself back into suspect status again.  Shelby (Johanna Braddy) comes out with her “cryptic” clue which feels like an over-obvious pay “attention to this one” hint:

“…you are willing to blow things up just to get people to see your truth..”

Like Cosnett with all his tells this screams out to the viewer that it must be Caleb.

But…

Consider this, since creator Joshua Safran has built his show upon the shifting sands of relationships, who does Alex meet at the flashback New Years party?  Ryan’s ex… This woman, who takes the time to tell Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) off is a former counter terrorist.  Add to the partial equation that the woman does not seem too friendly, apart from a pseudo ersatz display of bonhomie towards Alex initially and she makes a reasonable suspect.

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, ELIZA COUPE
Alex and the Ex…

Still, keeping with the overkill philosophy employed thus far, it is apparent that the real terrorist is Caleb Haas. The repeated reminders of his brainwashing at the hands of “The Cult” are not too dissimilar to your old college professor smacking the blackboard and bellowing “this will be on the test!”

(Or conversely metaphorically screaming at the viewer, “THIS IS AN IMPORTANT PLOT POINT!”)

Quantico may have left its more fanciful “dating game” approach behind and decided to become a proper mystery, full of paranoid government agents who are taught to suspect everyone, but it still has issues.  There can be, however, no doubt that something is pleasing the great public.

It could well be the gorgeous cast. The storyline is interesting but with all the flashbacks things can get lost. (I am still confused about the whole “Charlie/Miranda” plot thread.)  Plot threads aside, the introduction of a new suspect each week is going to run out of steam pretty quickly.

Hopefully on future episodes of Quantico directors will refrain from asking their actors to overact. Things are all coming together, although we still don’t know who is behind all the framing and the bombs, or the truth that Alex learns about Shelby’s late parents.  The series airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see who is forced to overact next…

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…

Quantico: Found – Dark Web to the Rescue

YASMINE AL MASSRI, PRIYANKA CHOPRA, JAKE MCLAUGHLIN, JOHANNA BRADDY, TATE ELLINGTON, JACOB ARTIST

In Quantico this week, Found sees Alex pulling out all the stops and turning to the dark web  in a self rescue attempt. After learning that the FBI put out a shoot to kill order, Parish holds on to Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy).  This episode attempts to tie up a lot of loose threads as well as intertwining the multiple threads that creator Joshua Safran has woven throughout the series thus far. 

At the start of the episode, the government agency has upped the ante by having the media castigate Alex. Newspapers have her picture on the front page and have coined the name “Jihadi Jane.” A mockup of what looks suspiciously like a FOX news desk has a news personality calling for “Jane” to be caught and punished.

It is easy to get behind Alex in her struggle to prove her innocence.  By the time the end credits roll, there is one more member of the “Parish is innocent” brigade marking up a total of four FBI agents (if indeed Simon is still with the bureau, that was a bit shakily explained last week), Miranda, Ryan, Simon and now Shelby.

In Found, as in each episode, the plot jumps backward and forward with the show following the NAT’s progress and tries to marry up the backstory with the intense journey the Alex faces now.  Caleb and Shelby finally “happen.”  Clearly, however, the act of coitus seems to mean little to Haas, who deserts Wyatt after their session to miss the bus back to the academy.

The trainees are sent  out into the field in their latest assignment, ironically it is all about going undercover, and each NAT is given a legend to portray and must convince Liam O’Connor and Miranda Shaw. After succeeding, they are sent to a DYKSTRA convention and tasked to get a meeting with the company’s CEO.

Just before the trainees are to enter the latest test, they are forced to switch identities. Caleb haunts Shelby, he is under the impression that she turned him in for illegally using the FBI gun range, making her fail repeatedly. Nimah and her twin have to do double duty as Miranda forces them to approach the task “for real.” Each twin changing over on an hourly basis.

Nimah wins the meeting with the CEO and Ryan, Alex and another NAT all win by getting the invite to meet the company head as well. Booth and Parrish celebrate by continuing their role play and presumably they have a repeat of their pre-Quantico car fling.

Simon is uncovered by Elias, he meets Mark the “boyfriend” that Asher has been using to bolster his claim to be gay.  After the test, Simon confesses to Harper that he is dangerous, a charge made by Elias at the convention.  Apparently Asher did some pretty awful things working for Israeli intelligence.

MAXWELL EDDY, TATE ELLINGTON

This is presumably the beginning of Simon’s fall from grace and “dismissal” from Quantico.      Another thing revealed in the flashback sequences has Miranda tasking Booth with learning what O’Connor has against Parish. Later on, she picks her former lover’s brain over drinks and learns that Alex has “something over the bureau.”

Shaw then tells Ryan to drop his investigations. In the present, Shaw has obviously changed her mind as she helped Parrish to escape.  The “Unknown” from the dark web reveal that Alex had ties with terrorism via friendships she made during her “missing year.”

After reaching out to the “dark web” (who put Parrish  “on trial” before airing a live interview) Alex raises questions over the FBI’s version of events and goes into hiding with the subversive group’s help.   The two who help Parrish  also provide her with fake identification and offers of further help.

At long last Quantico has stepped away from the overt  “terrorist  under every  bed” drill  and is now headed toward a more personal vendetta against the new FBI agent.  The show does still have that sense of terrorism paranoia  (that the most tangible threat to the great US of A is from within rather than without) but at least the frantic flag waving has calmed down a bit.

Audiences who watch this crime/mystery who possible tuned in to watch USA network’s Mr Robot, or indeed just reads the news (re:Anonymous or WikiLeaks, et al) will notice something far more disturbing than the creator’s theme of bombers hiding behind the neighbor’s bushes.

The dark web is something that exists, although it is specifically the haven of hackers and those nefarious types who want to drain your bank account, and requires a special type of software to access, apparently. Either way, hacking is the theme behind the USA series, a cracking show, and it is a trifle unsettling to see this “world” pop up on another television show.

Scary internet realities aside, the flashbacks are starting to “catch up” to now. The present has seen some huge changes. Shelby actively dislikes, or hates, Alex because of something she learned about Wyatt’s family. Simon is out of the bureau (Or is he?) Miranda is no longer  in charge, Liam is.  Vasquez and Booth are an item and Nimah is nowhere to be seen.

JOSH HOPKINS, AUNJANUE ELLIS

Thus far, especially after this episode, clues are beginning to point to Caleb as the terrorist who set Alex up. Look back at the man’s time as a NAT. Prior to his pushing a fellow trainee to kill himself and another member of Quantico staff, the man was rubbish…At everything. Even with the backstory of his parents “buying” his way in, or his sister’s intervention to make him an analyst. Haas was “too bad” to be true.

His behavior with Shelby shows a deficit of emotional connection apart from the physical. Caleb Haas is suspect number one with Liam O’Connor being all too ready to throw Alex to the wolves, initially, and then into the firing squad. One gets the impression that with Liam, it all ties back to Parrish’s father.

Chopra continues to do well in her role as wrongly accused terrorist and her character keeps proving just how clever she is. The whole “Hunchback of Notre Dame” riff with Parrish’s dark web rescuers using the local Mosque as “Sanctuary,” in order to keep the authorities from storming the place and capturing Alex, was a nice touch.

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC and is slowly but surely upping its game.  While the series still has a way to go, it starting to come together. Tune in and see who is setting Alex Parrish up.

Quantico: Kill – Turning up the Heat (Preview)

 

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, JAKE MCLAUGHLIN

Last week’s episode had a lot of tension between the NAT’s after their psychiatric section  of training and it seems that the discomfort and stress have carried over to their next bit of training.  While Kill increases the stakes for Alex in the present, the past also shows that the new FBI trainee put herself under a lot of pressure.

Most of Parrish’s issues have to do with that file on her father but it also appears that Liam O’Connor, for reasons unknown, wants Alex out of the FBI training program. This news makes it almost a certainty that he could be behind the frame up of Alex. So Parrish in the past is being pushed by others as well as by her urge to “win.”

Back at Quantico during the training flashbacks, the NAT’s are undergoing hostage training. There are two  scenarios and in each one, aggression, grudges and competition rear their ugly heads between several of the trainees. Some unlikely pairings also prove to be interesting as Simon and Nimah partner up with Elias Harper as their analyst.

Shelby and Natalie are put together  and Booth is partnered  with Alex. There are issues. Parrish has problems during the hostage taking exercise and O’Connor is pushing for her to leave the academy. The viewer learns about Ryan (Jake McLaughlin), his being “undercover”  and why he was  assigned to Alex.

It is still not clear just why Elias Harper is so fascinated with Simon Asher (Tate Ellington). There is the feeling that the analyst may be displeased with Simon’s using the gay card to get into Quantico as it appears that Asher not homosexual at all. A lot of things about this intense trainee  do not add up, as Harper points out, Simon has “fronts” like the coffee he makes but never drinks.  

In the present we see that things have changed between old friends at the academy and as more betrayals are brought to light, the news comes out that Alex’s status as a suspect at large has been updated.

Things have escalated to where all law enforcement agencies are told to treat Parrish as armed and dangerous. It is still not clear who is attempting to set Alex up, but this episode reveals who can be trusted so far.

Quantico is picking up steam and starting to come together that little bit better. Show creator Joshua Safran is starting to tie all those annoying threads together. While the pacing of the flash backs and flash forwards is still a bit off, things are becoming clearer. More hints are dropped as to who just might be  behind the frame up of Alex. 

The Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers) and Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddystoryline is still a tad confusing as she seems to be enamored of the annoying analyst (who has never been as bad as Wyatt makes him out to be) and one questions why.  These two have not spent a lot of time together. The show implies that they have but the viewer has never seen it.

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see where the show is now heading. Viewers will learn some truths about Alex (Priyanka Chopra). There are some good hints as to who is behind the whole  Parrish terrorist plot and a line is being drawn between the “good guys” and the bad. Some, like Natalie, Simon and Shelby, feel like an odd combination of both.