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: Turn – Coming Together (Review)

In Quantico: Turn events at the academy seem to be coming together to make sense of present day occurrences. More details are revealed about Claire Haas in terms of personality; she has an almost scary intensity, and the Senator appears to have an agenda on gun control

 AUNJANUE ELLIS, J. MALLORY MCCREE, JAA SMITH-JOHNSON

In Quantico: Turn events at the academy seem to be coming together to make sense of present day occurrences. More details are revealed about Claire Haas in terms of personality; she has an almost scary intensity, and  the Senator appears to have an agenda on gun control.

Miranda’s son Charlie turns out to be part of the terrorist cell that “kidnapped” him and Shelby learns that her parents faked their deaths.

Or has she?

There is still the question of who Wyatt talks to on a regular basis. The conversations are always in Arabic and done in secret.  Were all these made to her half-sister, or were some to her parents?

The main plot of Alex being forced to  carry out the terrorist’s demands continues and she now has to get close to Claire Haas, a woman who is tipped to be the next vice president of the US and a scarily intense individual.

At Quantico the assignment is “hate crime” and as the NATs work their latest tasking, Chang and Olsen double-team Caleb to help Shelby.  At the same time Miranda learns that the cell Raina was infiltrating has moved out and the terrorists turn up at the main gate of the training facility.

The white van is full of armed men and women who kill the guards in a shoot out. The facility is placed on lockdown which prevents Raina and Charlie from entering Quantico.

Present day sees Alex get caught out trying to swap out the senator’s pills.  Parrish tells Hannah about the terrorist controlling her and that the medication will not harm Haas. Ryan’s ex-wife then relieves Parrish of her badge and gun, telling Alex that she is finished at the bureau. Wyland also takes the pills.

Hannah  promises that the next time they meet will be when the bureau arrests Alex.

Back at the academy, Shelby runs out prior to the lock down. Caleb and  Will go out to track her down. Liam leaves to “do his job” and Perales also slips out and will save O’Connor’s life.

The terrorist cell is stopped.

Charlie confesses his role in the day’s events and that he provided the information needed for the cell to get into training grounds.  Miranda goes home to speak with Raina and Charlie and the leader of the group brings things to a head.

The young black man is a muslim convert and after arguing theological dictum with Raina orders Charlie to shoot his mother.  Raina has called Nimah allowing the FBI to surround the house.  The cell leader is shot by Miranda, who later uses the same gun to shoot  Charlie after he freaks out.

Sidenote: It is unclear who actually shoots the cell leader. A shot is heard outside the house by Liam so presumably it had to be Miranda as Charlie could not have moved the gun from his mother’s head fast enough to shoot the man who also had his gun aimed at Charlie’s head; point blank.  

After she shoots Charlie, in the hopes that the sniper will not kill her son, the sniper adds his bullet to Miranda’s.  Present day sees Hannah Wyland turn up at Alex’s apartment after learning that Vasquez did not send the email asking for administrative leave and that she could find  no  trace of the agent anywhere.

Quantico has fallen back upon its original theme of  “a terrorist under every bush.”  There are a lot of threads in this drama with all of the main characters having secrets or implied secrets, or hidden agendas.   All of these characters are connected to or work for the FBI.

There are many questions left unanswered. Back at Quantico for instance;  who is Tom Raymond and, more importantly, why does Will have those pictures of fellow NATs in his sock drawer with red crosses over the faces and is he working some type of investigation with Chang.

Present day still has the issue of who the voice is on the other end of that phone and why the sudden character change in Hanna Wyland?

Marcia Cross as the vice presidential hopeful is terrifying and Eliza Coupe is spot on as the  snotty and aggressive ex-wife of Ryan Booth. Priyanka Chopra continues to provide an intense performance in a show that is starting to become a bit too convoluted. 

With so many plots and subplots the story is getting hard to track amidst all the noise of various secrets and questions being brought up every week. That said, things do make a bit more sense in terms of episodes earlier in the season.

It is now clear why Booth and Vasquez were dating when Alex was being chased down as a terrorist.  Equally apparent is the rift between Caleb and Shelby (Johanna Braddy). What is still to be answered is how and why Liam O’Connor is not at Quantico at the time of the initial explosion.

There are eight episodes left in this season and if the show does not get buried under the mountain of ever increasing subplots the viewer may yet learn who is on the other end of that phone.

On a sidenote, it is interesting to note that there are two popular shows on American television that deal with the FBI and multiple terrorist threats. Is someone trying to tell us something?  Or are television networks cashing in on the paranoia.

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC.

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: Clear – Melt Down (Review)

Quantico: Clear has the voice on the cell putting Alex, and Natalie, in the right spot to get information that the terrorists want.

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, LENNY PLATT

Quantico: Clear has the voice on the cell putting Alex, and Natalie, in the right spot to get information that the terrorists want. Parrish runs hard to catch the unknown assailant but her mission ends in a melt down when one friend is killed and another threatened.

This episode has the best backstory relationship with the current events in the series thus far.  With the flashback sequences of the NAT’s going through their new integrated training program new alliances are forged and the training itself is pertinent to the current episode.

Not all the Quantico training sequences were so clear cut.  With the emphasis on “turning” someone to become an informant, along with the “Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator” the trainees learn about how to influence a target. Trust, vulnerability and the fact that both sides want control make this quite appropriate while still maintaining a level of mystery.

Alex starts back at the bureau, but in a greatly reduced capacity as the new leader to the anti-terrorism group is Ryan Booth’s ex Hannah Wyland who has no love for Parrish.  Natalie and Alex are in the building when the latter gets a phone call from the terrorist as she  talks to Hannah (Eliza Coupe). The terrorist   tells Alex  to get a information from an internal server.

Sidenote: Fair enough, this is television and the medium moves quickly with a lot of set up done daily but…The scene where Alex gets Hannah’s thumbprint felt a little too “Shades of Blue” in the area of camera gaffes. The “thumbprint” left on the phone, had either already been “dusted” or Hannah Wyland’s hands are filthy…No wonder Booth left her.

The new class and Alex’s group are “bonding” very slowly back at Quantico and the message is that they need to learn about each other and work as a team; “leave the animosity behind.” Caleb and Shelby are working the “half-sister” scam and Iris Chang (Li Jun Li) pays attention and learns about the issue. Later, she will step in and offer Wyatt (Johanna Braddy) assistance. 

At Quantico, the upper class has introduced an eclectic group of “newbies” to the plot. Chang, Drew Perales (Lenny Platt), former pro football player and the somewhat odd, Will Olsen (Jay Armstrong Johnson) who, as one other trainee pointed out, has more in common with Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man than an FBI agent, are the most visible. 

Sidenote: Olsen is clearly either autistic or at the very least almost consumed with OCD type tendencies. Both these would make it seem that as an agent in the field Olsen would be a poor fit. It is interesting to note that the actor bears more than a passing resemblance to “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin, who plays the uber intelligent Chekov in the “reboot” of the franchise. Olsen even talks a little like Chekov sans the “w-ariable” Russian accent…

ANABELLE ACOSTA, STEPHEN TRACEY

The training sequences reveal that new allegiances are being formed and that Vasquez gets released from training to fight for custody of her daughter.  Apart from adding an emotional tag to the character, setting the viewer up for her upsetting death later in the episode, it serves as a reminder of the Alex v. Natalie competition that began in the early days of training.

In the present, Alex and Natalie team up to get the information and Vasquez inserts a worm that will track the terrorist and release her from the bomb strapped around her waist. Back at Quantico both Alex and Chang officially fail the “turning” exercise. The “targets” at the bar were all FBI agents who were there to “turn” the NATS.

Back at present day Natalie and Alex follow the signal to catch the terrorist and the two find a laptop with the information sent by the two agents earlier. Parrish’s phone starts to ring and then stops, this happens a few times and she moves outside the building to get a better signal.

As Alex answers her phone, the laptop flashes the same message  that she receives via her cell:

“You didn’t listen.”

The laptop explodes and Natalie Vasquez dies after shouting a warning to Alex.

During  the final flashback, where Miranda warns the NATs that those closest to them can hurt them the most, Natalie and Alex have a fond exchange before the former goes to get her daughter:

Vasquez to Alex: “You should know that no matter where I am,  I’ll  always be better than you.”

Alex: “I’ll catch up one day.”

Vasquez: “We’ll see.”

It is after this flashback that we see Parrish frantically banging on Ryan Booth’s door. In tears and hysterical, the newly re-instated agent is giving up. As Booth calls it in, Alex gets an image sent to her cell and it is of her and Booth in the apartment. She rushes out in the street to beg that her friends not be hurt.

There are several things brought to light in Quantico: Clear. Will Olsen (Chekov) clearly has  personal agenda. The rift between the twins Raina and Nimah has widened and it appears that at least one is not what she claims to be.  It also appears that trust is not something that Alex gives easily as she is seen checking Perales’ story online.

Show creator Joshua Safran has added an odd Saw-like quality to the plot as the unknown terrorist puts Alex through her paces.  One really does expect to see the ugly puppet on the  red trike at any moment.  

The body count is rising, as Safran has promised, and another colleague of Parrish’s is gone. Perhaps instead of Saw, Quantico borrowing a page from Scream and Alex is the Sidney Prescott of this piece. All her friends are dying while she survives.

It looks as though the terrorists  on the other end of the phone may be a man and a woman. The voice changer fluctuates between male and female in tone, although this could be an effect by the show’s makers to confuse the issue.

Quantico: Clear has managed to not just push Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) off her throne as one of the best FBI agents in the bureau but to hurl her off the top spot, crying and shaken to the core.

The series airs Sundays on ABC.  This is becoming an addictive experience and on one last note.  Would it not be interesting to learn that the “Adam and Eve” dark web team are the terrorists?  Just a thought…