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Quantico postmortem: Josh Safran talks Caleb's 'Mark Raymond' mission

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Phillippe Bosse/ABC

Despite their chilly surroundings, things got heated between Alex (Priyanka Chopra) and Simon (Tate Ellington) this week, but in the end, Alex’s visit convinced Simon to return to New York and help her track down — and take down — the terrorist(s). Meanwhile, Caleb’s strange mission as Mark Raymond took a turn into Shelby’s non-half-sister’s ordeal, Nimah confronted Raina about her mysterious outings, and Liam’s past — with both Alex and Drew — caught up to him.

Below, Quantico executive producer Josh Safran breaks down the twists:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come up with the idea to have Simon not only alone in the cabin, but with the habit of pointing a gun at himself every morning?

JOSH SAFRAN: We just talked about what would happen to somebody who felt responsible for multiple things in his life that he looked back on in a negative way. He’s haunted from his military service because war is hell on everybody, and he is too empathetic to a fault… In talking to people who had severe PTSD and talking to our consultants about people after 9/11 and things like that, [we asked] where people with Simon’s constitution could go, and then we started pitching the story from there. It felt right for Simon to be at the edge of a cliff.

Where did you shoot that portion of the episode?

That was outside of Montreal and strangely enough, we shot at that location for a park for people to jog through in episode 3, and I saw that house and I was like, “Oh, that’s going to come back one day, I know it.” When we came up with this plot, I was like, “Go find that house,” and they found that house!

It’s not a cabin, believe it or not. It’s actually like a logging station, so they cut wood and trees, and inside it’s just one little room, a place you go to warm yourself up while you’re cutting logs. It was super cold. Poor Priyanka and Tate walking outside, it was one of the coldest days.

At the end of the episode, Simon decides to help Alex. What does it mean for Simon to be in play for this plot and how does this affect Alex’s state of mind?

I think it’s good for Alex to have an ally for a change. Vasquez was, but that was under duress. Simon’s actually here of his own volition, and it’s an emotional place for Alex. I also think that Simon and Alex is a love story, but it’s a platonic love story. They really are probably the closest of all of the characters in some strange way.

Alex and Shelby’s friendship is very deep and bonded, her relationship with Ryan is also very understood and specific, but her and Simon carry some primal connection. It’s like they really are protective of each other and they free each other and they understand each other, probably because out of everybody, Simon’s made similar hard choices as Alex has, that involve life or death. So I think having this ally and somebody who really understands is just going to change things for Alex in a good way. Even if she’s dealing with this horrible situation, she at least has somebody she can talk to who will understand. For what it will do to Simon, I can’t say, but of course, it’s not gonna be easy.

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The FBI still doesn’t know Natalie’s dead. To clarify, will this storyline be revisited, or is it tied off at this point?

That story is not tied off at all.

Also to clarify, in the Quantico timeline, what is Drew’s status by the end? Is he done at the Academy?

As far as Liam is concerned, he is. The question that we pick up in [the next episode] is that Alex says to Drew, “That’s what Liam says, but he can’t do anything without Miranda’s approval.” That sets him off on how much he wants to be there and what he is willing to fight for.

What about Liam? I’m assuming he hands in his resignation in the morning?

[The next episode] picks up the next morning. [You find out] in the opening minutes.

What’s his mindset after dealing with Alex and Miranda? Is he angry with them or do you think he had a sense that this was coming?

I think Liam is somebody who has made mistakes and actually has owned up to them more often than not. He, probably more than most people are willing to admit, is actually okay with what is going to come his way because he is going to be honest about it. I can’t say too much more. [This episode] to [next week’s] is in some ways a two-parter, meaning there’s a lot more. It’s a direct pickup.

Moving on to Raina, we talked before about how Raina is doing this on her own because she thinks she can handle it. What can you tell me about what’s going on with the twins? Is she getting in too deep?

Yes, absolutely. I think Nimah would also get in too deep. The struggle you see between the sisters is that it’s the flip side of where we started in the season, when Nimah wanted to be there and Raina didn’t. Now, Raina actually wants to be there, and thinks she can do it better than Nimah, and I don’t know if that’s actually true. I think what the sisters have to come to understand is they actually aren’t the same people, and they possess something the other lacks and vice versa. They’re really going to have to learn how to grow together. [The next episode] ends the story but then sets it up in a totally new way that we ride out for the rest of the season.

There were clear parallels between the twins’ story and Caleb’s sneaking around this week. Is it accurate, now, to call Caleb a con artist? What is he?

I definitely can’t answer anything on that, but I will say the Mark Raymond story becomes exceptionally clear and everything will be revealed in the next two episodes. 

What about Will? What can you tease about what’s going on with him and the faces of the NATs he keeps crossing out?

Is he crossing people off or is he looking for somebody? I can say that the answer to that, which will dovetail nicely with the Mark Raymond story, will come in episode 16.

For now, what else can you say about next week’s episode?

Episode 15 really is the culmination of several of our storylines. It involves an event at Quantico that changes everybody’s trajectory forever. I kind of think of that as the spot in the season where everything comes together and the place that everyone shoots off of from that episode will line them up tragically or not with where we find them in the future, in the beginning of the season. If episodes were stops on a subway line, this is sort of Times Square, where the trains all come together and move off in different places again.

I think every single story has a major turning point, some of them in a much larger way than you would think. There are major repercussions for one of the characters. Something as large as the issues Alex is struggling with in the future, someone is struggling with in the present.

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

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