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Quantico postmortem: Alex gets a clue — but will it be enough to stop the terrorist?

Plus: EP Josh Safran talks what the Mark Raymond twist means for Caleb and Will

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Even Hannah (Eliza Coupe) couldn’t talk her way into succeeding. When she and Alex (Priyanka Chopra) tried to outsmart the terrorist (or rather, “The Voice”), the terrorist managed to create chaos at a campaign stop for Claire Haas (Marcia Cross) anyway — and even removed Hannah from Alex’s team. Luckily, Simon (Tate Ellington) helped Alex find a concrete clue by the end of the hour, which could help the pair stop the plot before they finish the final mission. 

Over in the Quantico timeline, the NATs struggled with a lose-lose hijacking scenario that left Shelby (Johanna Braddy) reeling, but not for the reasons Alex first assumed, while Miranda’s (Aunjanue Ellis) devastating attempt to save her son resulted in her resignation from the Academy. Showrunner Josh Safran teases what comes next:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does having this clue affect Alex’s mindset going forward? She’s been hesitant to try anything since Natalie’s death.

JOSH SAFRAN: I think it definitely puts her more at an advantage, which you’ll see in the next episode. She starts to take decisive actions without fear of incrimination. She begins to become a Hannah in her own way.

And what about Ryan? He’s being positioned as a major road block for her.

He will stop at nothing because she’s up to something, and he’s going to figure it out… [He’s still in love with her] in every way, but he doesn’t know what’s happening with her, and he’s very confused about why she’s acting the way she’s acting ’cause it’s not the woman that he knows, but little does he know that she is the woman he knows, she just can’t bring him into it, she made the promise to Hannah. And even if she didn’t make a promise to Hannah, she wouldn’t have anyway, this guy got shot for her already. She doesn’t want to put his life into any more danger.

The terrorists say this next mission will be Alex’s last. What does that mean, exactly?

This will be the final mission that Alex must do for The Voice, and if she does it, she risks not hearing from them again and therefore not being able to track them down, so the question is, will she or will she not do the final mission she is tasked for, and what exactly is that mission? 

Hannah is taken away at the end of the episode. Will we be seeing her again?

No, this is [Eliza’s] last episode for this season, but hopefully we’ll see her again at some point. 

If Eliza Coupe didn’t land a pilot, would she have had a larger role?

No, we knew when we made the deal [that her role was] for a certain number of episodes, but we loved her, and we would have had her stay on for more.

In the Quantico timeline, we saw how Shelby’s handling the revelation that her parents are still alive, but we don’t catch up with her in the future. What can you tell us about future Shelby?

I can tell you that you will see future Shelby again. It’s not like Shelby’s dead somewhere, and we’re just waiting to find out, but all I can say is that when we last saw Shelby in the future, she left the FBI and had gone back to run her family’s company, because she had felt sort of disgraced by the affair [with Clayton Haas] coming out in the public. We’re just meant to assume that is what she’s doing. 

We saw Simon again in the Quantico timeline. What should we take away from the fact that Raina’s been keeping this secret relationship with him?

I wouldn’t say “relationship.” They’re spending time together, and they’re furthering conversations. Raina, as we know, is very empathetic. She tries to understand people even though she doesn’t agree with them. She’s been spending time with Simon, and I think that it’s just a nice little detail to know about. It will rear its head later.

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How did you come up with the idea for the extreme exercise on the plane?

[The Academy in real life has] a mockup of a plane, and they do hijack scenarios. I walked through that plane and they talked to me about how they did it and I always knew I wanted to use it… [The lose-lose exercise itself] is something we came up with. They learn about lose-lose scenarios through a lecture, but we decided to do it as a practical.

And it parallels the lose-lose feel of the future timeline.

Yeah, Alex is up against something she doesn’t know and can’t figure out, that she doesn’t understand. 

We also learned more about Caleb’s Mark Raymong mission, and what Will’s been doing with the pictures of the NATs. Just to clarify, Caleb will be using Will for Clayton?

All that’s meant to say is that all along, if you were unsure of what Caleb was doing with Systemics, you should now understand that whatever he is doing, he is doing with his father. 

And it’s neither good nor bad at this point…

We can’t tell, but the Systemics story wraps up very soon. It will be fully done within the next couple of episodes.

How does Miranda’s exit from Quantico affect the NATs?

When people leave Quantico, they leave, so Miranda is gone. I think it’s really hard for all the NATs, but especially for Nimah and Raina. Miranda has been their mentor, she’s been guiding them, she’s the whole reason that they were recruited, and what’s going to happen to them now is sort of a question mark.

Liam replaces her — or rather, himself — with Ryan. Why Ryan, other than to bring Jake McLaughlin back to the Quantico scenes?

I mean, of course there’s a piece of that, but really what it’s about is if you’re gonna shake up a class that far in, you want to use someone they’re familiar with. It’s more fun to have Ryan. 

What can we look forward to in next week’s episode?

It’s a really fun episode. We get to meet Shelby’s parents and learn their side of the story. It’s funny, you shoot these things in advance that when I watched the cut of episode 17, even I gasped at the end. It’s a real OMG moment. 

An OMG moment similar to Natalie walking in with a bomb strapped to her waist?

I think it’s more similar to Natalie blowing up in terms of the impact on the story. I’m not saying that someone dies, but it is another huge turning point. 

Quantico airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.