Quantico midseason premiere: Josh Safran on a 'broken Alex'
Don’t expect to see Alex (Priyanka Chopra) relaxing now that she’s no longer on the run. Three months after the second bombing in New York, life has only gotten worse for the well-coiffed FBI agent, who’s reeling from losing colleagues in the attack. “You’re seeing a broken Alex in the future,” EP Joshua Safran says. “[She] is on the defensive and maybe not all there in her mind.”
As for the Academy-based present? The story picks up the week after New Year’s — no time jump there! — and Alex is intent on diving back into her studies. Along with her fellow NATs, she’s looking toward her future as an agent, with no idea what’s waiting for her months down the line. Safran shared more intel with EW about the rest of the season and the “OMG moments” to come:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re still in production. Where are you in the season right now?
JOSH SAFRAN: We’re deciding, like, who’s going to live and who’s going to die. [Laughs] It’s the worst thing. I’ve been putting it off for so long, because I don’t want to make the decision, but we have to. Like, the running joke from now on is we just need to lock ourselves in a room and play with all the characters and try to decide what’s going to happen. The problem is they’re all such amazing characters, you don’t want anyone to die.
You know, you could just not kill anyone off.
That never works! And by the way, it’s not like we haven’t talked about it, but like, in the modern age of serialized network storytelling, that is very difficult. I mean, the bar was raised so long ago by that 24 season 1 finale for stories like this.
Looking ahead, what’s going on with Alex right now in the Quantico timeline?
She is trying to put thoughts of Ryan away and really double down on her learning, because they’re halfway through. … [The NATs] are going to start actually figuring out what is the best division for them, where will they end up location-wise, where they’re going to be spending the rest of their careers. So I think Alex is like, “Let’s all just focus on getting the right placement, the careers that we want in the FBI.”
How does that tie into what’s happening in New York? Will the storylines share themes?
Because we do the time jump in New York, you’re seeing the hopeful Alex in the present, and you’re seeing a broken Alex in the future. There’s a really great tension in the differences between Quantico Alex and New York Alex more so than ever before. She’s not on the run anymore, she has a different point of view than everyone else, and that puts her at odds with all of her closest people yet again in a new way, while you’re watching these friendships get even deeper at Quantico.
The midseason finale ended with the bombing at the command center. Do you have any OMG moments coming up you can tease?
God, yes. If anything, I think there are more OMG moments in the [second] half of the season than the first, but I think the difference is the show is clearer. Alex can actually sit and figure things out, so because of that, we are able to sit with her and process with her. And the Quantico side is also clearer … As for OMG moments, I mean, there’s a huge twist that happens at the end of [the midseason premiere] that sets up the motor for the entire back 11 [episodes]. That motor is very clean, but because it’s so clean, the twists are very large.
And by that, you mean … ?
I don’t want to give too much away! I just mean you understand what’s happening at all times, so when the twists come, they are surprising but they don’t change the track that’s been laid. You’ll see when you see it. You’ll know what I mean.
We talked about how Alex in the Quantico timeline butts heads with the “new” NATs, but what are the other conflicts coming up?
Alex will not only butt heads with the upper NATs, but she also will clearly have some conflict with Liam. She has unresolved issues with Ryan, [and] Nimah has issues with her. Nimah and Raina have not finished their story about how they’re going to move forward in the world together, and Miranda finds herself entwined with the trainees in a whole new way that goes to a pretty shocking place. And that’s a story that includes everybody. I would say, as a tease, episode 15 is a very different episode for us. It’s a real heartbreaker.
With all of this going on, what are you most excited for people to see?
I really love the new NATs. All of them are such great actors and the characters are so fun and so clearly drawn, and they fit in in a way as if they’ve always been there. The cast, they always open their arms so wide when anyone new shows up. These three, it’s as if they’ve always been there, so I’m very excited for their stories, [for] why they might be terrorists or involved with the terrorists, and their connections to our cast.
Now, lastly, is Priyanka’s hair … shorter? Frizzier?
Yes. So three months later, [she has] new hair, because it’s gone through some stuff. She’s not on the run anymore and she can actually get a haircut. But also, the Alex that you meet in the future is very different than the Alex that we’ve seen before. It’s an Alex who is on the defensive and maybe not all there in her mind. And Priyanka, she’s very hands-on with that stuff, so that came from her. She was like, “You can’t just have my character change. It has to be reflected in how I look and how I feel.” She’s very connected to Alex.
Quantico returns Sunday, March 6, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.