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?
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.
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.
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…