TV pilots have a lot of work to do. They have to introduce all the characters. They have to establish the tone and set up all the plot points. And most of all — they have to do it in an entertaining, engaging way so that you’ll come back for episode 2. The second hour can take a break and ease into the story in a way the pilot couldn’t.
That is not what Quantico‘s “America” did. I didn’t think it was possible, but episode 2 somehow had even more information and table setting than the show’s premiere. It was a jam-packed hour that was…honestly…frustrating. But maybe that’s my feeling because I was thinking about how I was going to recap it.
Miranda probably used to love Liam → Liam loves Alex, but she doesn’t love him → Alex loves Ryan, but so does Nathalie, who we are to believe was at the academy since day 1.
A bulleted list?
• New girl can do 50 pushups.
• Twin No. 1 can do 10 pushups.
• Twin No. 2 can do 12 pushups.
Pre-academy: Simon picks out glasses.
Academy: Simon has to get new glasses.
Post-academy: Simon and his glasses are M.I.A.
See! The options are endless! Last week I organized it by character (and whether or not he/she was guilty, which I will do again this week), but in order to keep the flash-forwards and -backwards straight, this recap will go chronological. Here’s hoping it’s less confusing than the episode!
In a flashback, assuming that the Academy days are our present (you would think this show was about time travel), we see the candidates in one-on-one interviews. They’re all asked one question: “Why do you want to be an FBI agent?”
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Most of these interview aren’t that notable, but what is is what each candidate does following his or her interview: Simon picks out glasses, breaks one pair, and then tapes it back together to create the glasses he wears now. Shelby gets into the back of a town car and deletes an Arabic contact from her phone. And one of the Nimahs meets with Miranda right outside the door (confirming what most of you commenters caught last week that I didn’t — the AD created the twin plan).
The two interviews that are worth paying attention to are The New Girl’s and Alex’s. The New Girl (TNG henceforth) tells us she is a cop, and we see she has a scar behind her ear. You’ll need to remember this later. What Alex says in her interview isn’t as important as who’s watching her from behind the one-way mirror: Liam and Ryan. The trainer tells his operative, “That’s your mark.” And when Alex says she believes in the country and what it stands for, Liam just does his now-signature creepy smile.
NEXT: What happens at the academy…[pagebreak]
The Assignment of the Week this episode is How to Stop a Terrorist. Its parallels to the day of the big bomb are many, so we get rapid-fire flashbacks and -forwards (and maybe -sideways), but let’s stick to how the trainees learned it first.
SA O’Connor is explaining to his class that it’s not just special agents who help stop terrorist attacks, but also analysts. In walk the analysts-in-training — and guess who’s with them? Caleb Haas. He later tells Shelby that his sister (yet another SA in his family) took pity on him when he was kicked out of training and got him into analyst school.
Along with Caleb comes
Eddie Thawne a hot analyst named Elias (Rick Cosnett), who takes an immediate interest in Simon. But all Simon cares about is making white tea with Nimah/Raina.
The analysts are paired with the special agents to uncover three staged terrorist threats. They’re shown three rooms; each has clues for the potential threat. After they’ve combed over the rooms, they’re then told the hatched plots for the three test-case terrorists. The analysts and agents have to decide which threat is imminent.
Everyone fails the test, except Alex. She realized SA O’Connor had placed a clue in each room that showed he was not giving them reliable information … or something like that. Basically this whole Assignment of the Week was to showcase that Alex is a genius and TNG Nathalie hates her.
Other things we learned from academy days:
- Simon wears fake glasses, and Elias, who is either interested in him romantically or for other purposes, knows it. Simon caught on and swapped them for prescription glasses.
- Miranda tells Nimah and Raina they need to start acting more alike. They’re some type of secret experiment she’s trying to pull off — and Liam has figured it out.
- But Miranda knows Liam’s secret…kind of. She knows Ryan is undercover, but she thinks the executive assistant director sent him, not Liam.
- With lusty eyes, Liam tells Alex her father was in the FBI, but he doesn’t have any more information yet.
- There’s a no-hookup rule at the academy. (I have a feeling this will be broken numerous times.)
- Miranda stopped some type of attack at a school, but the man behind bars is almost up for parole.
- Liam and Ryan have furtive meetings in the woods to discuss Ryan’s investigation into Alex. Liam still won’t tell him what the plan is, but Ryan says something about how “it’s Chicago all over again.” What happened in Chicago?
- Caleb has a fake (?) social media account under the name Mark Raymond, which he uses to look at white huskies. Naturally.
- Nathalie’s scar is a sticker.
- Shelby answers her cell phone and says, “I told you not to call me for a while,” in Arabic.
Does anyone in this academy NOT have a dark secret?
NEXT: A woman on the run…[pagebreak]
Fast-forward to the day of the Grand Central bomb, we see Miranda once again yelling at Alex to run. But apparently before she fled the scene, she was able to grab a walkie-talkie. She starts pleading with Liam on it to believe her. She says she left her apartment at 5 a.m. and no one was there, so someone must have shot Agent Booth and planted the bomb-making stuff after she left. You know, the typical “I’m framed” cry for help.
Liam just asks for her walkie signal to be triangulated (can they do that??) and goes to interrogate Miranda, who is now in custody. Miranda says she helped Alex escape because they both know she didn’t do it. And then she throws out this gem: “When you look at her, what do you see? The recruit you fell in love with or the terrorist who rejected you?” A lot must have happened in the nine months since we first met these folks.
Ol’ TNG is at Alex’s apartment recovering evidence when she tells O’Connor that Alex must have a second storage space for all of her big bomb-making equipment. This stuff in her apartment is just for practice.
And at this point it might not surprise me if Alex DID have bomb-making equipment because she’s basically Wile E. Coyote come to life: She stashes her walkie on a delivery guy for a restaurant across from her apartment; she holes up there while watching their security feed to see who came and went from her apartment (only Agent Booth); when the FBI finds the walkie on the delivery man, they send the team across the street to the restaurant; and when the team vacates her apartment, she sneaks in to check out the scene herself and grab some things. So elaborate!
However, Alex spends too much time grabbing C-4 and clothing because TNG comes back and finds her. A well-matched fight ensues before Alex locks herself in the bathroom. And like a terrible Narnia in her own apartment, the bathroom vanity opens up to another apartment — one that’s full of the big bomb-making supplies.
She sees a tiny piece of copper on the floor, grabs it, and then heads up to the roof, where TNG follows her once again. A rooftop chase ends with Alex almost surrendering — she says, “Why would I shoot the man we both love?” — before she gets the upper-hand, handcuffs TNG Nathalie to a rooftop, and flees.
Ryan wakes up safe and sound in the hospital. The nurse gives him his phone —she says it’s blowing up — so he scrolls through the missed calls. There’s one unknown call, which he dials back. And surprise! It’s Alex.
She wants to know why he was at her apartment. He says that he was in town to work the convention, and they hadn’t seen each other since…and he trails off before saying he wanted to apologize for what happened at Quantico. What happened at Quantico? Did she find out he was spying on her? Did he cheat on her with TNG? So many options! But back to today: He says someone opened the door to her apartment but it was too dark to see who it was.
He promises to help keep the FBI off her trail, but he has to make it seem like he thinks she’s guilty — which makes absolutely no sense, but Alex seems okay with it. So he tells Liam she was his shooter and suddenly FBI Special Agent Alex Parrish’s picture is all over the news.
Phew. Did you get all that? Now let’s talk about who’s guilty and who’s not…
Alex: Things are stacked too high against her for it to be true. Not Guilty.
Liam O’Connor: Definitely Guilty of something.
Miranda Shaw: She seems more shady this episode, but I still trust her. Not Guilty.
Ryan Booth: He’s too clueless about everyone’s plans. Not Guilty.
Nimah and Raina: Not Guilty.
Shelby Wyatt: Not Guilty.
Simon Asher: Not Guilty, but expect this to change very soon.
Caleb Haas: Hmm. Still Not Guilty until we see more about this “Mark Raymond” situation.
TNG (Nathalie Vazquez): GUILTY. Or just annoying?
Elias Harper: He’s too suspicious. Guilty.