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: 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.

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/so19gdzlfv_fxvwq9cecwu4bnja3kyxd/embed?t=45