The NATs are ringing in the New Year with a bang (sorry)

Credit: ABC/Phillipe Bosse
S1 E11
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  • ABC

The midseason finale was supposed to give us answers. Instead, I’m more confused than ever. Simon was being framed just like Alex, Elias was being threatened into being a master manipulator, and Caleb might have been the terrorist all along? Up is down, and down is up. But maybe the biggest question of all from tonight’s episode: Why do women at Quantico have so many formal wear options in their closets??

This was one explosive holiday episode (sorry, I had to), so let’s talk about it!

The Academy

Apparently it’s mandatory at Quantico for everyone to decorate their dorms — even though they don’t get days off for Christmas. Instead they get a three-day weekend for New Year’s Eve. Everyone has plans to head home, except most of the women lied about having plans and realize this when they stumble upon one another in the dorm.

Before they were let out for break, the NATs were given cold case files…or as the bureau calls them, “Pending Inactive” files. So for fun, Natalie, Shelby, Alex, and Nimah get drunk and try to solve cases. This doesn’t last long before Caleb shows up in a tux. He says his small family New Year’s turned out to be a 200-person party. He wants Shelby to come along, but she says Natalie and Alex have to go along, too. (Nimah didn’t get invited because she went on a coffee run, which is pretty rude.)

Luckily these women have not only formal dresses, but also dress coats, heels, statement earrings, and fantastic lipstick options in their academy closets. Those are totally normal things to have during FBI training, right?

At the Haas household, Alex meets the woman of her/our dreams: Eliza Coupe. Coupe is playing Hannah Wyland, who has the job Alex wants and a “dream husband” named Ryan Booth. Uh oh. Ryan tells Alex that it’s actually his ex-wife, but they still pretend to be married when they’re on the job and undercover. Alex and Ryan share one of their patented bathroom kisses, but she’s still mad, so she leaves the party.

She’s waiting outside for an Uber that never comes (the one thing on this show we can all relate to) when Liam shows up. He convinces her to go back inside, but that was a terrible idea. It only gives time for Eliza/Hannah to tell Alex that she broke Ryan’s heart and she needs to give him time to heal. So Alex goes back outside to wait for that lost Uber driver, and Liam offers to drive her instead.

They get to the academy, but Alex isn’t ready to go in yet. She says she wants him to take her somewhere, and we get this gem:

“I’m your teacher.”

“I know. Teach me something.”

Gross. I guess we’re just ignoring the fact that he’s a good 15 years older than her? Okay then.

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While they’re probably getting it on, Shelby and Caleb are un-getting it on. Things are going great at the party because Caleb’s mom, Claire (played by Marcia Cross), loves Shelby. But Caleb is surprised to hear that his parents are getting back together — that is, until his mom’s assistant mentions that Claire’s on the shortlist for vice president. Caleb knows this must be why his mom is offering to take his dad back. So instead of having a conversation, he pulls his mom and dad and Shelby into the kitchen and exposes his mother’s secret. Clayton is clearly hurt that she wanted to restore their marriage only for political purposes.

Shelby reads into this situation that Caleb will always try to “blow up” everything in his life (foreshadowing?). She says she loves him but that she knows he’ll hurt her in the future, and she shuts the door in his face…literally.

Following that, we see Mark Raymond, a.k.a. an undercover Caleb, ask to see security deposit boxes at a very familiar-looking bank, a bank that will later become Command Center following the Grand Central bombing. Oh boy.

Academy Notes

  • When Nimah went to get coffee for the ladies, she found Miranda in her office. She notices that Miranda has bedding on the couch and guesses that she hasn’t gone home since the attack. Nimah asks about Charlie’s whereabouts, but Miranda insists he’s not kidnapped, that he’s “where he wants to be.” After giving a beautiful speech about how people will do all kinds of things when threatened, Nimah finally convinces Miranda to have faith in her son. Miranda heads home and finds a barely conscious Charlie waiting on the porch. Hopefully that faith didn’t come too late…
  • When meeting Caleb’s mom, Shelby mentions a photo from 9/11 of Claire and another agent running into the second tower. I’m incredibly nervous that they’re going to somehow make the Haas family responsible for that event and therefore killing Shelby’s parents. I really, really hope I’m wrong.
  • Why is Ben Carson at a Democratic VP nominee’s New Year’s Eve party!?

NEXT: Here we go again


With only four hours left for the gang to find the real bomber (before Alex has to show up at federal prison), Elias shows up at Command Center. Remember how Elias chloroformed Simon last week? Well, now he’s claiming that someone tried to put his life in danger, that someone pushed him into traffic. He subtly gets the gang to land on Simon as their suspect.

Alex — who apparently has zero concern that someone will see her in public — goes with Natalie and Nimah to find Simon. Instead of him, they find a very carefully framed apartment full of blueprints. Based on a keycard on his computer, they are able to track him to a room in the hotel where the Democratic National Convention is going to be held later that day. Simon is sitting in the room with his hand taped to a bomb trigger. He says someone drugged him and he woke up here — which sounds very familiar. You think Alex is feeling déjà vu?

Elias tries way too hard to throw blame on Simon, and the room quickly realizes the plot holes in his story and turn their guns on him. Simon threatens to let go of the trigger, so Elias fesses up: Someone called and said that if he didn’t help frame Alex, they would expose evidence he had falsified in past trials. And after he framed Alex, they called and asked him to bring this trigger to the hotel. Elias didn’t want to chance taking the fall, so he took it upon himself to frame Simon on top of Alex. This is an absolutely idiotic plan, but whatever, we’ll go with it.

Simon and Alex talk through where the bomb could be, and they decide on the boiler room. Liam and Miranda find it, and there are seven minutes and counting on the timer. With the bomb found and now realizing the situation he’s in, Elias resists arrest and falls out the hotel window instead.

But his former classmates don’t have time to dwell on his death — there’s a bomb ticking below them. The bomb team is able to disable it with one second left. Relieved, Simon releases the trigger. And a bomb goes off…at Command Center.

Was it Caleb? Were his mother and Shelby in there? Will this show only be able to continue if they keep bombing things? Lots of questions to think about, and of course, we still have our Suspects to run down. Until we have more info, I’m assuming the suspect(s) is/are responsible for both bombs.


Alex Parrish: No no no. Not Guilty.

Liam O’Connor: Not Guilty. For being the assistant director, he really is serving no purpose at the FBI post-attack.

Miranda Shaw: There are some holes in her future story line because we don’t know what’s going on with Charlie, but still Not Guilty.

Ryan Booth: Not Guilty. The only problem this guy has is too many women falling all over him.

Nimah Amin: Not Guilty.

Raina Amin: Her terrorist love story fell away this episode, so I’m putting her back as Not Guilty for now.

Shelby Wyatt: Not Guilty.

Simon Asher: Not Guilty. That would be way too elaborate of him to pull of being framed while still responsible.

Caleb Haas: Not Guilty?

Natalie Vasquez: Not Guilty.

Elias Harper: Guilty, but maybe not the terrorist, just easily manipulated.

Clayton Haas: Not Guilty.

Brandon Fletcher: Not Guilty. Seriously where is this guy??

Charlie Shaw: Not Guilty.

Claire Haas: Maybe Guilty? She had just told Shelby she was going to destroy her for what she did to her son/with her husband (eww).

Well, happy holidays, y’all — things just got way more complicated. Let’s chat below or on Twitter (@realdalener) about that crazy midseason finale, and I’ll see you back here next year.

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