Shelby reunites with her parents — and they're as terrible as you'd imagine parents who faked their own deaths would be
Credit: Phillippe Bosse/ABC
S1 E17
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Lily van der Woodsen wasn’t the most maternal character to grace our TVs, but she’s practically June Cleaver compared to Laura Wyatt. After abandoning their daughter for 15 years by faking their own deaths, Shelby’s parents only reconnect with her to ask for money. Laura Wyatt (played to perfection by Kelly Rutherford) is a monster; Glenn, played by Kevin Kilner, has a terrible Southern accent and no remorse about weaponizing the Taliban. I guess it comes as no surprise that people who faked their deaths on 9/11 would be bad people? But poor Shelby. Maybe this is what leads her to be a member of The Voice…

…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the past. Ryan is officially introduced as Liam’s No. 2 at Quantico. Miranda is out on probation still, so the twins’ future at the academy is in jeopardy. Liam says because they were Miranda’s pet project, there may not be a place for them as a unit. Nimah and Raina are on the same page these days, so they want to fight it. (But if anyone says “match” one more time on this show, I’m going to find a way to get them kicked out myself.)

Luckily, the Lesson of the Week gives them the perfect opportunity to prove themselves. With only four weeks left, the NATs will soon be given their assignments and sent to one of the 56 field offices. While the NATs are looking at these cities as prospective places to live (I did not appreciate the jabs at the Dakotas — it’s beautiful there), Liam instead wants them to focus on the high rates of human trafficking in those areas. The NATs hop on a plane to Montreal for their assignment, which is to work with the Canadian government to see how these crimes are committed. But — twist! — they actually have to hand in all their passports and find a way to sneak across the border in teams of two; any team that makes it back will get special consideration on their city placement, and the first team back gets to decide their own assignment.

When Alex realizes she isn’t paired with Drew, she makes him partner with her anyway. They attempt to get through customs by saying she’s an FBI agent and Drew’s in her custody. But Will and Iris just tried that plan and got booted. It frustrates Alex that she’s off her game — because, you know, one mistake is not okay if you are Alex Parrish — so she goes to yell at Ryan for pulling her away from Drew for the assignment. Ryan swears that’s not what happened. She and Drew give up on the airport plan and decide to walk across the border in the snow. They camp in a cabin, Drew tells Alex he was the one who split them up because she’s too distracting to be around, and they warm themselves with a fireplace and sex. It’s about time.

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Although they did finally give us the *sexy times* we were all waiting for, Alex and Drew gave up way too easily on the airport route…at least based on the success of the other NATs there. After Will and Iris failed with the FBI/prisoner routine, they try to use fake passports and get caught again. Then they realize their only option is to get themselves deported, so they strip down completely at security and run around. That’ll do it.

NEXT: How to Get Away With Border-Jumping

Raina, who went on the trip without her sister, has the best advantage (and they want to use that to prove their worth to Liam). Nimah hops on a flight to Canada with her passport. Raina gets through with it and then puts the passport in a woman’s pocket, which Nimah grabs on the way out so she can get through as well. The plan works, and the FBI reinstates the twin-twist training. I’m glad they’re not going to be booted from the FBI, but I must point out that I REALLY hope there’s no way this would have worked in real life. If the Canadian customs computers don’t register when the same passport is scanned within a span of 20 minutes, we’ve got some serious issues, y’all.

But whatever. In addition to Drew/Alex sex, this trip also gave us the opportunity to meet Shelby’s parents. She wasn’t sure she wanted to talk to them, but Caleb sets up a meeting anyway because he knows she’ll always have questions if she lets the opportunity pass. (They can’t return to the U.S., but Canada is totally fine. I love how this whole episode treats Canada as if it’s some remote island with zero security/technology.) They meet them at a hotel, and we Shelby finally gets the answers she’s been wanting:

Her parents were on a United flight at Logan airport on Sept. 11, 2001 — just not Flight 175. They were still waiting on the tarmac when the flight before them crashed into the second tower. They had friends in the intelligence community help them piece together that it was Bin Laden, and that was bad news for them because, long story short, they sold weapon systems software to the Afghani government in the late ‘90s and it ended up in the hands of the Taliban. Laura and Glenn knew the U.S. government would hold them accountable, so they paid to have the flight manifest changed and disappeared forever. (It’s taking some serious suspension of disbelief here, but okay, I’ll go with it.)

When Shelby asks why her parents never sent for her, her mom says it was better for her to mourn her parents than to have to live this on-the-run lifestyle. They kept in touch with her through Samar, though, and they want to stay in touch now. The happy family decides to get dinner, but Caleb is suspicious. He leaves Shelby’s phone behind — on a call with his own phone — while they go to get ready for dinner. Shelby is beaming; she’s so happy to have her parents back in her life. She even calls it a miracle. But, through the phone, Caleb hears her parents saying how “she’ll do anything if she thinks it means seeing us again.”

Caleb goes back to the parents’ room and confronts them for only coming to see Shelby for the money. He wants them to confess, but Laura is a sneaky, sneaky lady and says Shelby will never forgive Caleb for destroying her miracle. So instead he makes an offer: He’ll give them $5 million of his own if they agree that this is the last time they’ll ever contact her. And if they do, he’ll turn them in as war criminals.

(A hitch in the Caleb-bribing-Shelby’s-parents plan is that he’s now down $5 million. He was going to use that to help Will into the Sistemics cult. But Will says no problem! He can use his own money and make it untraceable. WHO JUST HAS $5 MILLION TO THROW AWAY!? Maybe I should reconsider my career and join the FBI because all these NATs seem to be loaded.)

When Shelby meets Caleb at the restaurant, he says her parents had a security scare and had to leave but they’ll stay in touch. For now, he got them a private jet so they can get back to America sans passport and complete the assignment. She’s so happy — this is not going to end well for either of them, which leads me to think this has something to do with her icy persona in the present timeline.

NEXT: Speaking of the present…

Simon meets with Ryan to tell him that Alex is asking him to track down a hidden CIA asset named #2281 for her. Simon says Ryan is his only hope for stopping Alex’s crazy train. And Ryan is all aboard (and he’s getting kind of whiny about it if I’m being honest), so he reports all this back to “Interim Deputy Director” Liam O’Connor. After giving Hannah’s job to Ryan, Liam offers to help get him a meeting with the CIA asset, who is being held in Buchanan, N.Y.

Thanks to Simon bugging Ryan, he and Alex know these details; they plan to get to the CIA safe house ahead of Ryan and his new bestie Nimah, extract the asset, and interrogate #2281 before handing him or her over to The Voice…the terrorist group, not the NBC singing show. If you’ll remember from last week, this is the last task Alex has to do, so once they find out what The Voice wants from the asset, they’ll be able to take them down.

What the two didn’t plan for is that the asset would be Will. He’s been in CIA custody for more than seven months, since before the attacks. But there’s no time for chitchat because they have to break him out of a super-secure CIA safe house.

Don’t worry. The CIA is no match for these baby FBI agents: Will “escapes” by cold-cocking Simon and giving Alex chase…or so the agents think. Will and Alex get into a white van; the CIA can’t follow fast enough because Simon’s car is blocking them in. And just when the agency men think they’ve caught Will, they realize they followed the wrong guy. See, Simon knocked out the power just before they arrived so that the streets would be swarming with identical electrical company vans.

After Alex explains the whole story to Will, he’s still not sure what The Voice could want from him. All he did was crack the NSA encryption software and memorize, like, everything. Alex doesn’t want to turn that brain over to The Voice, but Will says it’s the only way. He’ll help her take them down from the inside. “Think of me as your personal Trojan horse,” he says.

Alex, Will, and Simon meet at the coordinates The Voice sent for drop-off. When a van pulls up, The Voice calls and tells Alex she’s done, but Simon’s not. He has to go with Will. Alex tries to stop him, but he goes willingly, as well. And the kicker: Alex has to turn over her phone to the driver of the van…who is Shelby.

My first instinct was that Shelby is being forced to do this just like Alex, but she did not have a “help me, I’m being threatened” face AND her parents are war criminals.

What do you think? Could you buy Shelby as a member of The Voice? Or maybe even Will? That could have all been a ruse just to get their leader out of CIA custody. Or maybe it’s Ryan because he’s been IN A MOOD. Or Miranda…because where has she gone? Or Charlie? Is he still alive? I have to stop with the questions; they might never end.

Throw your craziest conspiracies below, or talk to me on Twitter @realdalener.

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