This Quantico review contains spoilers.
Quantico: Season 1, Episode 5
Fresh off the news that ABC’s FBI thriller Quantico has been picked up for a full first season, we’re jumping into reviewing the series with episode 5 of season 1, “Found.”
The best way I can describe Quantico is Grey’s Anatomy set at the FBI (but with just as many inappropriate sexytimes), jumping backwards and forwards in time like How to Get Away with Murder. But instead of one person murdered, it’s 130, with no Annalise Keating to get our rogue FBI agent off the hook.
Let’s make one thing clear: Alex Parrish is a Mary Sue: She shot her father to protect her mother… only to find out that he was a celebrated FBI hero… only to find out that he was actually a loose cannon who put his fellow agents and his family in danger. And she inherited some of his recklessness, yet remains untouchable as she manages to win nearly every training exercise at Quantico. Is it any surprise everyone suspects her of being a terrorist?
“Found” is all about the cultivation and maintenance of alternate identities:
Present: Alex meets up with The Unknown (think Anonymous) via the Dark Net and got them to broadcast a viral video in the hopes of proving her innocence.
Past: The agents are instructed to create incredibly detailed personas… then trade them and adopt each other’s fictions to pass at a corporate retreat.
This episode’s “winner” was Nimah and Raina, who doubly passed the training exercise: first by securing a meeting with the company’s CEO, but moreso by switching five times without anyone the wiser. These two are undoubtedly my favorite characters. Everyone else grappled with identity tonight, but they do it all the time.
Speaking of motivations, Miranda and Liam have a good, slightly drunken chat about why he’s having FBI agent-masquerading-as-trainee Ryan keep such a close watch on Alex. By the end of the episode, Miranda is on his side; we don’t know why, only that keeping tabs on Alex is a matter of national security. She’s got the dirt on several someones in the FBI, though at this point it must be information she’s obtained unwittingly. Perhaps her father left her some sort of puzzle piece?
Oh, and we find out Miranda and Liam used to be having an affair a la Ellis Gray and Richard Webber–that is, they were both married. But while Miranda was ready to ditch her husband, Liam needed more time. If you look deep enough, all of the betrayals on this show must be motivated by someone being on the wrong side of love. Miranda taunted Liam with that about Alex in episode 2, though we’re nowhere close to seeing where he falls in love with his trainee-slash-target.
You see the same game of sabotage with analyst Caleb and Shelby in the past. I’m not sure I buy these two having lots of hate sex; I have to believe that Shelby has more self-respect. And why is Caleb pretending to be someone named Mark Raymond? That cropped up in episode 2, but we don’t know much else aside from him conducting interviews under this persona.
The identity I most want to unpack is Simon’s. He must have been truly reckless to invite his fake boyfriend Max to the training exercise… unless it was all part of some larger plan to let analyst Elias “catch him” and then gain his trust. Watching Simon cry in the past was truly uncomfortable, seeing how smarmy he acts in the present. I don’t think we’ve made it to his center yet.
Now, while Alex didn’t win the training exercise as usual, playing other roles did allow her and Ryan a fascinating scene in which they lay out their fears–namely, that each is lying to the other–as their false selves.
A small facet of the “alternate identities” motif I appreciated was how the characters made up names that matched their ethnicities or backgrounds, and then had to switch. So, you had Shelby gender-swapping Ryan’s Sam into Samantha, and Nimah taking on the most American-sounding name. I couldn’t help but wonder if it were a nod to the BuzzFeed article about non-white actors playing characters with very white names, which calls out Chopra playing “Alex Parrish.”
Speaking of subversive moves, I’m impressed with the show emulating USA’s Mr. Robot by having Alex meet up with The Unknown. (What, fsociety was busy?) It was her best move so far, especially considering that the national media is throwing up photos of her in a swimsuit and calling her “Jihad Jane.” Now that was a move that was simultaneously creepy and brilliant, and–I hope–a jab at the network’s gross move of making Priyanka Chopra look way too sexual (kissing her FBI badge, for example) in every Quantico poster she’s in.
In the present, Alex has a new HQ, while Simon, Ryan, and Shelby are all her inside (wo)men at the FBI. I’ve got to crib EW’s idea of a suspect list for keeping track of everyone’s constantly-shifting alliances:
Alex Parrish: Not Guilty… and yet, she was affiliated with some potentially shady people in Pakistan, three of whom were killed by drones. She could certainly have motive, though a terrorist attack on Grand Central wouldn’t be the way to get even.
Ryan Booth: Not Guilty.
Simon Asher: Guilty. I’m still convinced he was playing Elias with his sob story. And if he weren’t, if he did such horrible things with the IDF that he needed to retreat into an alter ego to forget them… What’s to say he’s not a sleeper agent?
Shelby Wyatt: Not Guilty. They worked really hard to make Shelby seem in on the conspiracy in last week’s episode, yet here she’s turned to Alex’s side surprisingly quickly. To be fair, we have yet to find out the truth about her parents and her odd-hours phone calls.
Caleb Haas: Guilty. Here’s another guy who’s very slippery, and who keeps playing off his idiot persona as a cover for having some agenda. Plus, he was one of the few agents from Alex’s class on detail the morning of the explosion.
Liam O’Connor: Guilty. Or just really stupid and butthurt.
Nimah and Raina Amin: Not Guilty? Then again, we still don’t know what they’re up to–together or apart–since Quantico.
Miranda Shaw: Not Guilty.
Natalie Vasquez: Not Guilty.
Elias Harper: Not Guilty, but he definitely has a vendetta against Simon. So, depending what side Simon lands on, Elias could present a problem.