The premise of Quantico is fascinating. The show centers on a group of recruits who report to FBI Quantico Base for training. While we learn more about them, the action flashes forward to a horrendous terrorist attack on Grand Central Station in New York City. Is one of the recruits actually a sleeper agent?
Of course, on Quantico, everyone has something to hide, as we discover in the series premiere, “Run.” The main character is Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) and she is one tough cookie. I’d definitely want her in my corner!
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Lies and More Lies
We start off with Alex Parrish in Oakland, California, nine months before the terror attack. She pulls up the corner of the rug in her bedroom and removes a plastic packet. While her mother thinks that Alex is taking a train, she is actually taking a plane. She is sitting across the aisle from a handsome young guy named Ryan Booth. Alex tells Booth she is headed to Chile. Ryan is heading back from the Philippines. I am going out on a limb here and saying that everyone is lying about everything.
Alex and Ryan hook up in his car at the airport. Who says romance is dead? When Ryan asks to get her phone number, or name, she claims that she can tell him five things about himself, and if she gets one wrong, she will answer his questions. She is eerily observant, down to Ryan growing up in a house full of women because his stubble grows in different directions.
Next up is a montage of the recruits leaving their hometowns. Shelby Wyatt takes a last look around her house in Augusta, Georgia. Simon Asher meets up with a strange man in New York City for a kiss selfie. Nimah Amin faces prejudice as she drives in Ohio and the gas station clerk tells her the bathroom isn’t working. She removes something from the toilet tank and takes it with her.
As the group of recruits is being sworn in at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Ryan and Alex spot each other. Game on, folks! Assistant Director of the Training Division Miranda Shaw lays out what the recruits can expect during orientation. Shaw states that the program is “the toughest boot camp, hardest grad school rolled into one.” Now, that sounds like a piece of cake. The trainees will get a uniform, credentials and a red-handled gun.
Ryan and the nerdy Simon are roommates, as are Alex and Shelby. One recruit, known as Elder Eric, is a Mormon from Salt Lake City. He gets to bunk with Caleb Haas, who is fascinated by Eric’s goody two-shoes lifestyle. When Alex and Ryan run into each other in front of the other new recruits, she lets it be known that they had sex. Ryan didn’t think that she would want everyone to know. Clearly, Alex pulls no punches. I like this woman already.
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Your First Mission…
For their first assignment, the group must each take a folder that contains personal information about another recruit, with one item removed from the transcript. They must discover what the missing piece of the puzzle is within 24 hours.
Nimah chooses Simon’s folder, while Ryan takes Alex’s packet. Caleb takes Joseph Smith’s folder (also known as Elder Eric). Simon gets Shelby’s folder and wastes no time digging in. Shelby is impressive on the shooting range and often hunted with her father.
Meanwhile, Miranda reminds Special Agent Liam O’Connor to get his act together. He has a bit of a problem with alcohol. They are no longer a couple, and Miranda is his boss. Liam isn’t particularly happy to be there, but he apparently got into some trouble and Miranda brought him in so he could collect his pension and retire in a dignified manner. Miranda lost her family to the job, and she wants to break the glass ceiling. She warns him that she can toss him away if he doesn’t follow the straight and narrow. Let me tell you, Miranda means business.
Alex takes a different approach to her assignment and sneaks into Ryan’s room to go through his stuff. Shelby complains to Nimah that Caleb is a total “golden boy.” She is surprised that the Director wrote Caleb’s recommendation, which is really weird because Caleb stinks at any physical challenge and at the firing range.
When the recruits turn in their guns, Elder Eric asks Caleb what he has on him. Caleb asks how he ever passed a background check. The other recruits tell Eric to ignore Caleb, but Eric seems terrified.
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To Tell the Truth
Now it is on to the interview, where the recruits will question their target to see if the information they have found is indeed true. Liam is also utilizing a polygraph test. Wow … that is sort of evil, but also genius.
Simon gets to interview Shelby first. We learn that her parents died in a plane crash when she was 16 years old. Shelby always carries a piece of metal from the plane that her parents were taking on September 11.
Nimah gets to question Simon next. She asks if he is a virgin, which is apparently true. She finally gets to the big reveal: he is a conservative Jew who traveled in secret to Gaza to live with the Palestinians.
Ryan is pretty cocky and announces that Alex won’t lie, so he doesn’t need to use the polygraph. Ryan zeroes in on Alex’s father. It turns out that she saw her mother, Sita, shoot her father in self-defense.
Caleb continues to taunt Eric as they head to the interrogation room. This is not going to end well. Eric barricades them in the room and shoots the polygraph technician. Caleb tells Eric that he never found anything in his background and that he was bluffing, hoping to get Eric to reveal his secret. As the others try to get in the room, Eric shoots himself.
The Missing Piece
Miranda finds out that Eric slept with a 14-year-old Malawian girl while on his mission trip. He took her to get an abortion after getting her pregnant and she died. Miranda is furious with Liam as they blame each other for vetting Eric.
Caleb is upset after his experience with Eric. He tells the others that he only got in because both of his parents are agents. Well, that explains a lot. Shelby and Simon attempt to comfort Caleb. After a briefing, Assistant Director Shaw wants to have a chat with Caleb. He is out.
A shaken Simon knocks on Nimah’s door to ask if he can make her some coffee. She says she will be right out. Actually, Nimah is a twin, and they are taking turns portraying Nimah.
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Sharing the Past
Alex seeks out Special Agent O’Connor and confesses that her mother didn’t shoot her father — she did. Her father was also a special agent, although she and her mother knew nothing about that part of his life. Alex lied to her mother to go to Quantico. She wants answers about her father.
Ryan is undercover, and his assignment is to get close to Alex. Ryan reports to O’Connor, and he isn’t happy about his assignment.
Rising from the Rubble
Alex wakes up in the rubble of decimated buildings at the Grand Central Terminal in New York City nine months later. She seems confused as she looks around the dust and smoke-filled air. She sees some figures and calls for help. They are FBI agents, who order her to not move. She is removed from the area by the agents.
The attack was timed to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. Agent Jimenez, of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, asks Alex for help. She is the closest survivor they have found at the site and thus is their best witness. While Alex can’t remember anything, Jimenez tells her that they got a tip just before the explosion that it was perpetrated by one of their one agents. In specific, someone that Alex was with at Quantico. Even worse, Jimenez believes that the person was already a terrorist when they arrived for training at Quantico. What can Alex remember about her fellow recruits?
As she discusses their first few days of training, she sees a piece of paper that Jimenez has tossed onto the floor by mistake. It says, “Keep stalling.” Jimenez talks to Assistant Director Liam O’Connor. He wants to have a chance to talk to Alex, but Jimenez questions whether this is a good idea because of what happened between them at the academy.
Jimenez accuses Alex of being the bomber. She was far away from where she would have been had she actually been on perimeter detail, and she doesn’t have any scratches on her. Also, her gun has been fired three times, but there is no record of it. When agents go into her apartment, they find bomb-making equipment and schematics of Grand Central. They also find Agent Booth on the ground, and he has been shot.
Alex is arrested and sees O’Connor. He explains that the bullet in Ryan came from her gun and that she is charged with committing a terrorist act. O’Connor refuses to help her, and she is loaded into a police van. The identity of the driver is a bit of a surprise — Agent Miranda Shaw. Miranda knows Alex is being framed and advises her to research all the other recruits. She slips Alex a key and an FBI uniform. As the van flips after a chase, Miranda screams for Alex to “run!”
I loved this first episode of Quantico. It has intriguing characters and an interesting mystery. I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season unfolds.
Quantico airs Sundays at 10pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)