For two seasons, Quantico has juggled twin timelines — one following how recruits at the FBI and CIA train to become agents, and one taking place in the near future, when terrorists strike New York.
That latter, terrorism-centric story will end soon, says showrunner Josh Safran. Donald Trump’s victory on Election Day “affected everybody’s morale,” Safran tells EW, adding that the results of the presidential election motivated the writing staff to change the drama’s focus.
“We always had a plan to transition away from terrorism [around] midseason, because we ourselves were feeling like we didn’t want to put that out into the world anymore,” he explains. “[The day after Election Day], we shut down talking about the episode we were on and just talked globally about [the show]. It was already kind of in line with current events, unfortunately, and we just made sure [to ask], ‘How do we make sure this is a show that reflects how the world could and should be, and maybe not the way that it is?'”
The shift won’t be happening because terrorism is no longer an issue, of course, but as a reaction to national mood. “In an odd way, The West Wing was popular in a time when we needed hope, and Quantico has been less hopeful in a time when we had hope,” he says. “In a time of next-to-no hope, it’s important to reflect hope. We were planning that anyway, but we’re making sure to push that even futher.”
But if a terrorist plot will no longer provide the backbone of the drama’s tension in the future, what will? Safran teases that for now, the writers are considering how much they’ll focus on Claire Haas (Marcia Cross), the vice president who, in Sunday’s episode, became president after the president resigned in light of the first lady’s death. “We have a female president when the world doesn’t, and we want to talk about that, especially as our female president was not elected and got the position because the president stepped down,” he adds. “Now, we have the place to talk about how a woman couldn’t be elected, and knew this was her only way [to the top]. Whether that story happens or not is something we talked about.”
Most importantly, Safran adds, the show will continue emphasizing its multicultural cast and perspectives. “With a show as inclusive as Quantico and that takes place in the world of politics, to ignore that we’re living politically in a world that wants to push out that inclusion is really difficult for all of us,” he says. “Moving forward, you will see [the transition away from terrorism]. We had always planned for it to happen around the halfway point, but in light of recent events, I wish it would happen sooner.”
Quantico airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.