'Quantico' postmortem: Why the REAL terrorist had to be [SPOILER]
WARNING: The following contains spoilers from season 1 of Quantico. Read at your own risk!
Team Alex was wrong, the FBI was wrong, we were wrong: The Voice isn’t Drew.
It’s Liam. After 20 episodes of twists and turns and terrorist attacks, the man behind the curtain turned out to be one of the NATs’ mentors, whose experience as a seasoned agent — including coverups in Chicago and Omaha — somehow led him to manipulate a class of trainees into turning New York into a war zone.
With Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis) wounded and no one else at the FBI in the know, could Liam get away with it all by the end of the season? How did he pull off these theatrics, and why did he target this class? EW asked showrunner Josh Safran to break down the penultimate hour:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get to Liam, is Miranda okay?
JOSH SAFRAN: You’ll find out in the next episode. The bloodshed is not over.
Why didn’t she bring along any agents? Did she not have anyone she trusted left at the FBI?
No, I think Miranda is a very capable agent. Liam is supposed to be in D.C., which is where she believed he was, but it turns out that he was there [in New York]. Also, we talked to Aunjanue about the fact that Miranda wouldn’t put anybody in jeopardy unless she was totally sure that it was [Liam].
So you pulled off a fake-out last week with Drew and the identity of the Voice. Now, is Liam definitely, truly the Voice?
You’ve said before we’ll learn the why and the how in the finale, but for now, why did Liam make sense from the beginning to be the Voice, the terrorist?
All I can say right now is that I knew it was Liam from the very beginning and if you look, it really was clear in every speech that he gave them. And the Omaha and the Chicago stuff might have seemed arbitrary a little bit, but it wasn’t, [and] trying to get Alex thrown out and then trying to change his tune there, that’s all dealt with next week, so you’ll see. Some people have been like, “I’ll be pissed if it’s none of the trainees,” because the pitch said one of the trainees, but the truth is I couldn’t give it away. Liam had Elias call in the tip, and that tip was meant to frame Alex, that’s all… [Liam] is a guy who feels very justified [in his actions], and you’ll hear why in the next episode.
Why didn’t you go with a NAT being the terrorist? Did you ever consider switching from Liam as you broke the episodes?
We did. We talked about it a lot, but the reality is when you hear the why, it’s more about how this is a cautionary tale of who you could be. All the secrets we carry with us, if we don’t deal with them, that’s who you could turn into. So we just felt that thematically, that was the story we wanted to tell.
When did Josh Hopkins find out he was playing the terrorist the entire time, and how did he react?
I ended up telling him I think when we were shooting episode 18. He‘s such a great guy, he totally got it. It made sense to him, and he really relished playing the final episodes with that knowledge.
Was there a reason you waited on looping him in?
Honestly, it’s multiple reasons. One is you never know if for some reason something’s going to happen that’ll make you change everything. We were pretty sure [Liam would be the Voice], but also, we knew other people were going to appear to be involved or maybe even be involved by the finale, that it wouldn’t have been fair to only tell him. And I am of the belief, and I think Josh would agree with this, that [knowing the truth] changes the performance in a certain way. You can subconsciously lean into it. It’s one thing when you’re doing a movie or a play, you just have to carry it for three months, but for nine months [with TV], there’s going to be a day or two where you’re going to go, “Wait, if I’m the terrorist, how would I play this scene?” We really didn’t want it to be in the front of his mind.
Right, you don’t want him to be obviously twisting his mustache every episode.
Correct, and also, there are moments in the present timeline where maybe he hadn’t yet dreamed up [everything with the terrorist plot]. It’s tricky.
On that note, how long has Liam been planning this? Or will we be finding that out soon enough?
The first five minutes of the finale are the how, and the rest of the finale is the why.
Just to clarify, what was going on exactly with Drew last episode? He was definitely not in on what Alex would be planting in Ryan’s laptop, right? He was saying everything the Voice told him to say?
So yes, Drew was told by the Voice to do things, and his family was threatened. Liam, as Drew on the phone, gives the real answer in that episode, which is when he says to Alex, “I gave you a chance to not have it be you again and to have it be Ryan [involved in carrying out another task].” The Voice said to the real Drew, “I’m going to hurt your family if you don’t do this thing, and you have a choice, you can do it to Alex or to Ryan.” [Drew] is like, “I hate Ryan, so between the two of them, I’ll choose Ryan.” Drew made a moral decision that isn’t a 100 percent on the up and up … The Voice is a test of your moral fiber.
Over on the Quantico side, Shelby fails to capture her parents. Will the story of her hunt for her parents continue to play a major role in the future timeline or even going forward into season 2?
If Shelby survives the finale, it will be a part of her character.
And as for the rest of her mission this week with Clayton, this is all to tie her story in the two timelines together, right? To show how she ends up with Clayton?
Yes, it’s the beginning of her story [in the future timeline], where basically she’s like, “I hate Caleb and I want to make sure I never see him again, and also I want to get my parents.” By the way, you’ll hear from Clayton again but you won’t see him. That’s pretty much the end of that story. It’s been set up.
Will we also be getting everyone else’s connecting threads between the timelines? For example, the last we see of Ryan here is him rejecting Liam’s offer to work in D.C., and then in the pilot, we pick up with him wounded in Alex’s apartment. Will we find out how Ryan got from point A to point B, and will we fill in similar blanks for every character as well before the end of the finale?
I’d like to say yes. There are a couple of things [missing], like, for instance, you will not see Iris or Brandon in the future, but you know they graduated and they’re FBI agents. You will see what happened to make Alex and Ryan stop talking to each other. I think we close most of the loops. The only loop we didn’t close, which I meant to close and was actually in the finale but we ended up cutting it in the scripts because we felt like it was clear, was how Ryan and Vasquez saw each other again. When Vasquez left in the Quantico timeline, she was told she could come back and make up her time, and so you won’t see the beginning of that, but you’re left to assume that she did that, got assigned to Ryan’s office, and they got close.
Viewers will just have to connect the dots on their own. Is there anything else you want to warn viewers heading into the finale?
I think I’m just really proud of the finale, I think it came together really well. Again, I was worried that people would be like, “Oh, it’s Liam? I wish it was one of the NATs.” But, maybe because I always knew it was him, I feel [his reveal] really brings the whole season together. And then the last 30 seconds of the finale launches [the show] into season 2, and I’m curious to see what people are gonna think. Bring some tissues, that’s all I’ll say.
Quantico airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.