Plus: EP Josh Safran talks why they didn't kill off anyone after the shooting at the Academy

By Shirley Li
Updated March 27, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Philippe Bosse/ABC


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WARNING: The following contains spoilers from “Turn,” Sunday’s episode of Quantico. Read at your own risk!

This week’s episode brought the violence to the Quantico timeline — a turning point that, according to showrunner Josh Safran says, marks the beginning of where the NATs eventually wound up in the New York timeline. Because of the shooting, Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis) is forced to keep Liam (Josh Hopkins) around longer, until she learns that the act of terrorism was caused by her son, Charlie (J. Mallory-McCree), a devastating realization that ends up putting him in danger all over again. Alex (Priyanka Chopra) ended her relationship with Ryan (Jake McLaughlin), only to find herself failing to carry out the terrorist’s terms in the future. And even Shelby (Johanna Braddy) learned a jaw-dropping secret this week: Her parents, it turns out, have been alive all this time.

With loose ends being tied up and new twists ensnaring everyone, it seems harder than ever to figure out just how things will play out before the end of the season. To help out, Safran breaks down the hour’s biggest moments:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This week, we saw another piece of the terrorist plot, but it’s hard to understand where it’s all going. How do you and the writers come up with the tasks for Alex? What’s it like playing mastermind?

JOSH SAFRAN: We know how all the pieces fit together. The day we decided what the end of the puzzle was — and by that, I don’t mean who the terrorist is, I mean the end game — once we landed on that, we had a board of all the different pieces, and they actually ended up lining up very well episodically. That was all in one day. It was like, “Here’s the puzzle, the big picture. Now let’s break it up into little pieces.” It was super freeing and super fun.

What can you say about what the terrorist’s motive is at this point? Clearly, he/she/they didn’t want to kill Claire (Marcia Cross).

It becomes clear at the end of episode 16 [next week]. The last scene of episode 16 explains why Claire has been made involved without her knowledge.

Also of note: Hannah Wyland (Eliza Coupe), who returns to stop Alex at every turn this week. We end the episode on her — how will she play into next episode? And she gets so many monologues; what is it like writing for Eliza?

Episode 16 starts one hour later, and they’ve told her everything. How she responds is in a pure Hannah fashion, I’ll just say that … The second [Eliza] was cast, I just knew that character. I knew I wanted Hannah to be a different agent than I had seen, and I also knew from Eliza’s work that she is capable of delivering a very long monologue. That isn’t to say that any of our other actors can’t, but, like, she would go on riffs in Happy Endings, so I had that in my head. In many ways, her character in Happy Endings went into my brain and came out as Hannah Wyland. Writing those scenes can take three minutes. I just love it.

In the Quantico timeline, the shooting at the Academy sends everyone reeling. How is this big event going to tie into the New York timeline, the future?

It ties into the timeline in an emotional fashion for all of the characters, and it also ties into the twins because the cell house they end up going into is connected to this [terrorist] cell. They’re both the Islamic Front. It isn’t that this cell is responsible for the terror events [in New York], so it’s indirect, but it touches on everybody.

Did you ever consider having Liam die, or Drew die, or anyone from the shooting?

We talked about it very briefly, but then we talked to our consultant about this. You’re talking about a terror event at a place where the number one thing is to stop terror events, so even though [the terrorists] got the plans, it was a suicide mission. There was no way they were going to get any further than that. We did plan to have somebody die, but it was just one layer too many, one mystery too many, so once we eliminated that, we talked to the consultant further about how you might be able to breach the property, but that’s as far as it’s going to go. People wouldn’t die.

What about Charlie, then? Was there ever a thought that he could die by the end of the episode?

Yes, and he’s severely wounded … It is not the story of someone getting resurrected. You will not be seeing Charlie again. He is symbolically dead.

Does that mean we’re done with the story of Nimah and Raina working for Miranda?

You will see the fallout [of the story]. If you’ll recall, Miranda was the one who said, “I don’t trust my son,” and everyone else around her said, “You’re wrong to not trust him.” She finally fell for that, so I think she just has a lot of complicated feelings, because her gut told her she was, and she even says that in this episode. For Miranda, there’s a lot more for her to work through than simply having lost her son.

Just before Charlie is shot, that scene also has Nimah talking about how being Muslim doesn’t mean being a terrorist. What was your thinking behind writing that scene?

I think it’s just important and inherent in Nimah and Raina’s characters that we wanted to look at the facts. Even just from the genesis of this show, nobody is one thing, and you look deeper into everybody and see that we are all human and we are all in this together, and how we go about that may differ, but we are all together. That’s why Raina says to him, “You are not a Muslim. I am a Muslim.” Sadly, in more and more recent events, that’s something that actually still has to be said, to not attribute one thing to one people. You can’t paint everybody with one brush. It’s just not right.

Looking ahead, what else can you tell me about next week’s episode? I’m assuming Caleb will tell Will about Mark Raymond?

Yes, everyone has reached a turning point and from episode 15 forward, the road that they’re on will be the road they’re on for the rest of the season. Shelby has now discovered the truth about her parents and they’re going to go down that story, and see it to its end, whatever that is. Mark Raymond is being revealed to somebody, and that happens to be Will, and we are on that journey to learn everything about that story and move on through that story as well. Miranda lost this very important part of herself, which is her son, and has had to cast out on her assumptions and thoughts on the way, so we’ll see that through the end as well.

By the way, will we ever see the three “new” NATs in the future?

The problem with recurring characters is that you know you have them for a bit, but they also could audition for pilots, so we didn’t include them initially in the future, because this is a show that has to connect to itself. That was initially what happened, but as the season goes on, we began to realize unlike in season 1A, it’s actually fun to hold on to the mystery of where they might be in the future or if they might be in the future, and I think you’ll start to get some answers, because we started to have some fun with that.

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

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