Quantico terrorist: Showrunner Josh Safran breaks down the odds
Showrunner Josh Safran helps break down the odds of each character being the culprit. (Hint: It's not Alex.)
For all its twists and turns (and super attractive FBI agents and recruits), Quantico boils down to one question: Who’s the terrorist?
As we’re told in the premiere, someone in the FBI’s class of NATs (new agent trainees) masterminded the explosion that opened the thriller. And though each one of them have secrets they’d rather keep from coming out in the open, one of them is pushed to bomb Grand Central Station and pin the act on Alex (Priyanka Chopra). “The truth of the matter is in the pilot, they’re all suspects,” showrunner Josh Safran tells EW. “It’s important to note that you’ll meet other NATs as the season progresses. We look at it much like Lost in that you’re meeting new people from different rows of the plane as the series progresses, so you’re meeting new trainees, and the trainees are just as much suspects as anyone you meet in the pilot.”
With the season moving forward, EW asked Safran to tease what’s coming for each of the characters introduced in the premiere to help us deduce their odds of being the terrorist:
Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra)
Chances she’s the terrorist: 99/1. Zero, actually. At first, there seemed to be a very, very slim chance Alex could have been involved in the attack, but Safran says she’s definitely not the one the FBI should be chasing. “It’s safe to say that Alex is not the terrorist, even though I know Priyanka has been very dutiful in saying, ‘You never know,’ ” he says, laughing. “But I can tell people watching the show now that Alex is not the terrorist. The show is not even trying to guide you into thinking that she might be.”
What’s next: Still, many of the characters around Alex are convinced she’s up to no good. “You’ll see who thinks she is [the terrorist] and who thinks she isn’t,” Safran adds — and those opinions will help determine who’s more likely to have bombed New York. Among the suspects are …
Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy)
Chances she’s the terrorist: 10/1. The blonde badass “American sniper” could have more secrets up her blue henley sleeve. She seems friendly with Alex and the recruits, and certainly has the backstory to convince everyone of her devotion to the country, but she’s also nowhere to be found in the flash-forward to New York. Sure, she and a whole bunch of recruits we met in the pilot don’t show up in the New York timeline, but she’s the one to keep a close eye on, because …
What’s next: “You’re going to learn a little bit about a lie that Shelby told in the pilot,” Safran says. “You may not know it’s a lie yet, though.” Well then, it looks like it’s time to play FBI agent ourselves. Step one: Scour Shelby’s scenes for that lie that could lead to, who knows, a terrorist attack?
Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin)
Chances he’s the terrorist: 25/1. He’s a shifty character, considering he’s an undercover FBI agent working for Liam (Josh Hopkins), investigating a recruit. But a terrorist mastermind wouldn’t be so easy to figure out, as Alex does to him in the premiere, right? Besides, he’s lying in a pool of blood by the end of the premiere — if he’s behind the attack, he probably wouldn’t want to be caught with his life on the line by the FBI.
What’s next: Ryan seems innocent for now, but he does get very close with Alex (beyond their tryst in his car) and though he’s a character who seems to be reassuring, that could just be a well-crafted façade. “He’s one of the least likely suspects, but it doesn’t mean that his odds will not change,” Safran says. “It’s clear that Ryan thinks Alex isn’t the terrorist, but maybe he thinks that because he is and he wants her to feel secure.”
Nimah and Raina Amin (Yasmine al Massri)
Chances they’re the terrorists: 40/1. Yes, they’re two characters, but at this point, we don’t know much about their differences, though Safran promises we’ll find out soon enough. For now, their big secret — the fact that they’re twins — is juicy, but we’re not convinced that’s enough to point to them being the ones behind the attack. Plus, they’re working for Miranda, and if Miranda doesn’t know who the terrorist is, we can assume that the Amin sisters are in the same boat, right? Then again, that depends on …
What’s next: According to Safran, “Miranda has recruited the twins for a specific purpose.” What that purpose is remains unclear, but as Safran told EW after the premiere, viewers “will learn very quickly who’s better, who’s faster, who’s softer.” Those differences will certainly matter.
Simon Asher (Tate Ellington)
Chances he’s the terrorist: 15/1. Quantico’s resident coffee nerd and former accountant seems too friendly to want to attack the U.S., and besides, the FBI knows the “real reason” behind why he went to Gaza. Still, it could all be a lie — just like that photo of him kissing his “date” he places in his room — so behind those smiles, there could be a sociopath ready to take down Grand Central.
What’s next: “Simon has many aspects,” Safran teases. “Simon’s modeled after the time-honored tradition of sort of the person who you can’t really tell who they are, because they’re so many different things at once, like a John le Carré character.” Simon as world-weary British spy George Smiley? We’re not seeing it just yet.
Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers)
Chances he’s the terrorist: 10/1. It’s always the one you least suspect, and there are many reasons not to suspect Caleb. After all, he’s no longer in the FBI by the end of the premiere. But he does face plenty of pressure from his family of former FBI agents, so the gold-plated golden boy may just break down enough to want to hurt his country.
What’s next: “I think Caleb’s complications are always going to be his family and living up to them, and their shadows are going to continue to cast very strongly on him wherever he goes,” Safran confirms. “I think the only person who truly understands what it’s like to live in the shadow of your parents is Shelby, so the two of them will find more common ground with each other than they would have expected to.” Hmm … maybe they could be accomplices?
Liam O’Connor (Josh Hopkins)
Chances he’s the terrorist: 20/1. Liam just comes off as a suspicious character — he had some close connection with Alex, which could have driven him to frame her, and has a fraught history with Miranda and the FBI.
What’s next: Safran tells EW that Liam’s not the one to watch for now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t turn later. Besides, Liam is convinced of Alex’s guilt, though maybe he’s intent on pursuing her so he’d have someone to frame. It’d be very convenient, if our final suspect below didn’t get in the way …
Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis)
Chances she’s the terrorist: 50/1. If Miranda’s the terrorist, why would she help Alex escape? Wouldn’t she want someone arrested in her place? Unless, she’s playing a super long game in which she both protects Alex and traps her into something far worse. So far, it doesn’t seem that way.
What’s next: As Safran noted, Miranda’s working on something secret with the Amin twins, but it’s not clear yet what that could be. If it does involve a terrorist attack, then Miranda may just be fond of Alex and wanted to help her escape. Still, as Safran tells EW, “Miranda, Liam, and Ryan, they’re in a safe spot.” At least in the premiere.
Quantico airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.