Quantico: Cover – Trust No One (Review)

JOHANNA BRADDY, PRIYANKA CHOPRA

Quantico with its new episode Cover proves that the verse is getting a little more convoluted and that Alex should trust no one, even her mother has turned against her. The flashbacks are, it seems, starting to “catch-up” although the whole “terrorist under every bed” schtick is getting old. As Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers) says in the locker room scene:

“Hey, really cool spy training. What’s next? How fast you can close a sandwich in a ziplock bag?”

Last week saw Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) learn that her apartment was full of incriminating evidence and she barely escaped being caught. She is still on the run and turns to Simon Asher  (Tate Ellington) who is no longer with the bureau, having “washed out” of training, for help. 

The flashbacks show the NAT’s training during the psyche portion of the syllabus.  The emphasis is on each trainee learning what their fellow NAT’s weaknesses are. After an exercise where they must list each “down side” the trainees are told by Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis) to chose three NATs to be kicked out, or Miranda will choose 10.

Simon votes someone out, the only class member to do so (although the entire class sans two were getting ready to do the same) and is formally reprimanded by Shaw as a result. This is apparently the first step to Asher being “kicked out” although, as we learn later, Asher is not really out of the program, nor was he, apparently, ever really in it.

Quantico may be tightening up its storyline, oh so slowly, but it still requires a huge suspension of disbelief, all these pretty people all deciding to become FBI agents and most, apparently, with ulterior motives for joining.

It was hard enough to swallow an ex-marine undercover agent keeping an eye on Alex Parrish but now there are two. Booth (Jake McLaughlin) getting shot obviously necessitated the use of Asher, but wait… How can he be undercover when he got booted from the program? 

There appears to be too many devils hiding behind every rock in this show. Between the paranoiac rants of a bomber under every bed, turning on your neighbor, or family, and the total amount of “undercover agents” all out to get new agent Parrish this one is a tough sell.

The show may eventually find its feet though. This episode, with the new and improved “narrative” at the open by Chopra about her character, feels smoother and better paced. This could be down to the writers’ vision coming closer to fruition or the series could now be coming together, i.e. flashbacks now equalling more clarity versus an excuse to see the pretty kids playing at FBI training.

Quantico still suffers from too much information and plot devices in too short a time.  With all the “game changing” twists thrown at the viewer it is difficult to maintain too much interest in the characters on offer. Each one has some sort of secret.

“Poor little rich girl” Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy) electronically transfers a million dollars toward the end of Cover. Viewers also learn that Ms. “Heartless” Vazquez has a husband (ex?) that is keeping her away from their daughter while she is training.  We also find that Simon Asher is also an undercover agent, along with Ryan Booth. 

At this rate, it is beginning to look like the only NAT who is not some sort of experiment (Nimah and Raina played by Yasmine Al Massri), or an undercover agent for some reason, is Alex Parrish whose job is to be a scapegoat for some terrorist activity. In this episode it is shown that she has been targeted since she arrived at Quantico. 

Mother Parrish tells Liam O’Connor, who she knows already, that Alex went missing for a year…

Thus far Quantico, despite a high rating in IMDb, is still struggling to convince or to overcome its breakneck pace of divulging “secrets” and plot twists. Like the pilot, the episodes are too short for all the information that the show’s creator Joshua Safran is shotgunning at the audience. 

There are glimmers of possible greatness, over and above the cheesecake factor of the entire cast, performances that shine and actors that are struggling to get over a sense of truth with their character.  While this new series is not everyone’s cup of tea, it may eventually get to point where it starts to entertain instead of merely frustrate.

Priyanka Chopra is the brightest spark in this show (followed closely by Johanna Braddy) and her first move to break into the American market may be hindered by an obtuse plot line and too many pretty co-stars.  Quantico airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in for the eye candy and the multitudinous plot threads being machine-gunned at the viewer.

‘Quantico’ ABC and the New Elite FBI (Preview)

PRIYANKA CHOPRA
Nothing breeds imitation more than success and Quantico seems to prove that. The newest ABC offering shows us a group of new elite FBI agents with one “special” agent being targeted after graduation as suspect in a terrorist act. This new series has a “coincidental” plot point that it shares with at least one existing series.

ABC Family have Stitchers a popular show about to start filming its second season and while it is not allowed to point out any specific similarities at this juncture (which would be seen as pre-airing spoilers), after the show airs on September 27, all will be revealed. That is, if the viewer is aware of both programs, if they are not; here is a tip: Someone close is not who they appear to be. Further discussion will be available with the review after the first episode airs.

Despite the one glaringly obvious “borrow” in the series’ plot, the story of a group of recruits entering the FBI training academy (shades of Silence of the Lambs here) is entertaining enough. The cast is stellar and why shouldn’t it be with a former Miss India and Miss World as star and more than enough stunningly gorgeous performers to make the viewer drool.

In case the wildly talented Priyanka Chopra (The Miss World star of the show) is not the viewer’s cup of tea, there is the delectable Johanna Braddy (Paranormal Activity 3, Video Game High School) and Jake McLaughlin (Safe House, In the Valley of Elah) not to mention Aunjanue Ellis for those whose palate goes for the slightly (only a little mind) more mature entertainers.

AUNJANUE ELLIS
AUNJANUE ELLIS

Although, as the clip below promises, there is much more here than the academy training program. As seen by the wreckage that Special Agent Alex Parrish (Chopra) is laying in, things have moved past the training program and into the real world of explosions, terrorists and finger pointing. Of course those of a certain age, viewers old enough to remember The FBI television show with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. will be a bit surprised at just who the modern and politically correct organization are recruiting.

Never mind that almost all the new potential agents have a background of money and privilege, although not each class member falls in this category, but there are enough to make it noticeable. One of the trainees is apparently, and openly gay plus two of the new recruits are from muslim backgrounds. It is interesting to note that show never questions the gayness of the one class member while it highlights the Mormon in the group. While it is unclear what message this is sending it does come across as rather odd.

Considering how little time is spent on each agent in the training program, they do come across as likable, however the character’s are only slightly above two dimensional stereotypes. Rather interestingly, in terms of characterization, only two could be deemed middle class average. Parrish and former Marine Ryan Booth (McLaughlin) are two who do not come from families above upper middle class.

Parrish’s character is interesting. Just how much is revealed in this premiere episode via a class project. This assignment is designed to not only show the candidates what will be expected of them as agents but also serves as an initial paring down exercise. Herein lies the first plot hole of the episode, which is connected with another portion of the trainees day to day regimen. (Clue:Red.)

Suffice to say, after the series creator Joshua Safran spends a lot of time pumping up the agency as an elite “best of the best” organization, an oversight, or lack or procedural control, allows something to happen that stretches viewer’s belief to breaking point.

GRAHAM ROGERS, BRIAN J. SMITH, JACK MCLAUGHLIN
Plot holes aside, and ignoring the other “reality” issue of another candidate in the FBI training program, Quantico is entertaining and does leave one wanting to see what happens next. Even if the next episode just clears up the sudden left turn of the series’ premiere episode.

Perhaps Quantico could have benefited from a two hour, or even a 90 minute, premiere. Things shift suddenly and although the use of flashbacks is effective, there are many occurrences and shifting of roles that are not explained enough to be satisfying or to clear the confusion.

In terms of acting, however, this is a top notch effort by all. Chopra proves that those earlier pageant crowns do not define her as an actor. This performer has got massive chops in that department as do McLaughlin, Braddy, Ellis and Yasmine Al Massri (as Nimah Anwar).

The episode’s score has a “Resident Evil” feel to it, in other words the soundtrack by Joel J Richard (who has scored a huge amount of shows) has a science fiction taste and texture to it. The music fits, however, and moves things on nicely.

Quantico may turn out to be a solid hit for ABC. This is, after all, the network that just gave us The Whispers which was brilliant. The series airs Sunday on ABC, tune in and see what you think, if for no other reason than to see Priyanka Chopra make her move on the American market.

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