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October 16, 2015 at 11:37 PM EDT

Things went south awfully quickly on Quantico tonight for Alex, whose lost her spot at the top of the class when she began acting more like, as Shelby put it, the Terminator than her own self — and then failed to work with her team on a hostage crisis drill. She’s been plagued with the thought that she killed her father, an FBI hero, and nothing shook her until Ryan and Miranda talked her into staying at the Academy. (Sorry, Liam.)

Speaking of which, Miranda did quite a lot of talking NATs into staying this week, as she paid a visit to Nimah and revealed that she needs the twins to help her make sure what happened to her son never happens again. Below, Quantico showrunner Josh Safran discusses the key moments from episode 4 and looks ahead to the season now that the show has nabbed a full season order:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This was a big episode for Alex, who froze up during a drill because of what she learned about her father’s heroic history. What was it like going over that with Priyanka?

JOSH SAFRAN: Priyanka and I talked a lot about Alex between when the pilot was picked up and the series started, just in terms of what her journey would be, so this was not a surprise to her when she got the script… We had talked about how it wasn’t a one-time thing and that’s it, and that when she got the information, it would be opening up a lot of things again for Alex. And Priyanka and I talked about it more, and she was super game, as she always is, to dive into that darker water. And I think what she did was fantastic. It’s a rough episode for Alex, but I think she comes out of the other side with a newfound sense of self and a new way to look at her past. What Miranda says to her she really does take to heart, and she is going to not let this get in the way of her career, of moving forward. Now whether or not that’s something Liam likes is a different story.

He’s quite obsessed with getting her kicked out at this point. Is that just because he knows she’s been affected by her dad, or is there something else going on that’s made him so aggressive toward her?

It is definitely tied to her father, and it will become clear why in the very next episode. I told you last week, we don’t drag certain things out, we do want to come to a resolution on stories. 

Something I really liked seeing in this episode was how it dove deeper into Alex and Shelby’s friendship. What went into your thinking as far as developing that relationship between these two women?

You know, as the series progresses, there’s more and more core relationships that form… But yes, it is very important for us to tell a story of friendship whether it’s men and women, gay and straight, Jewish and Muslim, like, we’re looking at all of those dynamics. So for Alex and Shelby, you know, as roommates and as friends, we just really loved the idea of these two people from two different parts of the world, all these things that don’t touch upon each other, but they actually at their core are both very driven, successful, smart, and kind humans that find each other. The idea of Quantico in a nutshell is it pulls people in from all of these different places and puts them in one room, where they all want the same thing, which is to protect America, so their relationship is emblematic of that, and we spend a lot of time with them. They’re friends at Quantico, and in the future, something has happened. The story continues. 

Just to clarify, now that Alex has told Shelby her secret about her shooting her father, was Shelby telling the truth when she told Alex the person she’s been calling and emailing is her half-sister?

I’m not going to answer that question! [Laughs] But you’re definitely in the Quantico mindset, where nothing is the truth. I think that there is definitely more to Shelby’s family history than we have previously heard.

What about Miranda and the twins? Is Miranda too emotionally affected by her son’s situation to think clearly about this plan she’s cooked up, and where will this go?

I think that [her son] definitely threw her for a loop. A lot of people in positions of protection, whether it’s cops or FBI agents, anyone in that arena has that struggle, that what you’re actually dealing with at a daily level impacts you greatly, because your whole job is to notice those signs and to shake those trees and figure out what it is before it happens… It’s not that she’s too emotionally affected by it. It’s that anyone would be. And I think she’s just a little bit more so because she didn’t see it, and it’s her job, but at the same time, she very much wants to make sure that what happened to her never happens to anybody.

And how about Simon and Elias? They had a confrontation in this episode in which Simon answers a lot of Elias’ questions. Is Elias going to do something else other than continue to tease Simon now?

That story also comes to a new place in the next episode. And so, yes, Elias definitely is taking things to the place that he says he’s going to. There just might be some turns in the road before he gets it where he wants to get it. That’s a story I don’t want to spoil [laughs] but yes, that’s not going to disappear immediately.

What can you tease about next week’s episode?

It’s our sexiest episode yet! The trainees get a night off, but they don’t really get a night off, and that’s the twist of the story. So it’s about what you do when you think you’re going to get time alone, but then you realize you’re not alone, and it’s just a lot of things that boil to the surface while they’re trying to complete a task. You really get to know even more about the characters’ psyches, and it’s just nice to see them in their civilian clothes for a change. The uniforms are amazing, but it was fun for everybody to get dressed up. You’ll see them in their natural habitats.

Finally, you were the second series this season to score a full season order. How did you feel when you heard the news?

When the call came, we were just setting up for a table read of episode 8, so all of the actors were in one room. That would never normally happen, so when I was still on the call, I got to run into the room and tell everybody. Everybody was just so happy. It was really great to know that the stories will continue, and there will be some crazy new twists ahead. 

Are you finding it daunting to know that you have all these new episodes to write?

No, actually. I mean, I know this is going to sound terrible, but I really did believe that this show was a full season show, so we were planning it as such. I think if you plan for 13, you’re hedging your bets and you’re not all in as a creative thinker. I think all of the writers would agree to that. So if anything, it’s not daunting, it’s exciting. Weirdly, it feels like we can relax instead of being on edge. It just means I don’t get to go on vacation for Christmas, but that’s fine. That’s totally a great sacrifice.

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

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