One NAT makes a major sacrifice to save the academy and everyone in it
Credit: Jonathan Wenk/ABC
S1 E22
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It was The Recruit all along! (If you consider plot points from a 2003 movie spoilers, then just skip to the next paragraph…or be better about watching movies.) Alex was the Colin Farrell character, straight down to wondering about her father’s FBI career; and Liam was Al Pacino, the evil bad guy in charge. My analogy starts to fall apart when I have to compare Ryan to someone…maybe Bridget Moynahan?

Anyway, it’s all over, and Liam was indeed the bad guy, and I have a lot of thoughts about that, so let’s get to it.

The season 1 finale of Quantico begins with quick cuts of How Liam Became Evil: He meets with Miranda at a bar about a job at Quantico, he bugs all the NATs rooms and watches them like a creep, he pretends to be drunk that one time so he can get close to Alex, he blackmails Elias into drugging her before the Grand Central blast, and then he personally shoots Ryan and places Alex’s body in the rubble (how did no one get videos of this!?). He’s been a busy bad man.

In the present, Miranda — lying on Liam’s floor with a couple bullet wounds in her shoulder — asks him why he’s doing this. “I thought you’d enjoy watching it all burn down to the ground with me.” He’s the portrait of evil here, but let’s jump quickly to our last academy flashback, where he was still just a slight creeper.

After the NATs take glammed-up FBI badge photos and throw away their ONE pair of clothes (gross), Liam tells them that it’s been 20 weeks since they started. They’re done save for the last Assignment of the Week: to get wasted with the academy faculty at The Old Settler.

Sure, this should be a great day for everyone, but instead, most of them are mopey. Alex and Ryan were happy — they were planning a two-week trip together before they had to report to NYC and DC, respectively. But then Liam spills the beans that Ryan turned down the DC offer and is instead going to Texas. Alex confronts Ryan about lying to her; he says that he wanted the graduation day to be about her, but she breaks up with him again anyway.

Shelby and Caleb are just as unhappy. She’s working with Clayton to take down her parents, and when her mother sends a letter, she’s able to arrange a meet-up in the U.S. But Caleb doesn’t think this is the right thing to do, so he goes to warn Laura Wyatt. Shelby is so angry that Caleb screwed up busting her mother (and that he got assigned a corner office in San Diego) that she tells Claire all about his recent Sistemics run-in. The result is that his parents don’t come to his graduation day at Quantico. Caleb may have forgiven Shelby in the future for this and for having an affair with his father, but I don’t think I’m ever going to. In that moment, she came off as evil as Liam.

Speaking of evil Liam, in the present the NYC bureau is aflutter trying to find Miranda. He rolls in and says it totally makes sense that it would be his former flame: She was passed over time and time again by the FBI. The bombings took out many FBI agents, which means she could cut off the head of the beast and build a new FBI in her image.

Alex is having a hard time believing this, but Liam’s insistent…and then he goes back to his car in the FBI parking lot to make sure she’s still tied up in his trunk. (For being a mastermind, he’s pretty dumb.) Miranda has gotten loose, and when Liam knocks her out again, he gets blood on his shirt. This is really bad for him because Ryan is in the parking lot, too. Liam knocks him out, and then things start to unravel for him.

NEXT: Don’t try to go up against 1-year-old FBI agents

Simon and Shelby have been going over Miranda’s timeline, and it doesn’t match up with The Voice calls. There’s no way it can be her, and since they know it has to be someone with high-level access and Liam is suddenly missing, they all start searching for him. Alex goes to Liam’s apartment to look for clues (he’s cleaned it out since Miranda found his “A” lair). His oft-talked-about-but-never-seen daughter, Louisa, shows up and says her dad is in D.C. Alex thinks this must mean that Liam is going back to Quantico.

The NATs rush there lightning fast for a five-hour drive and realize it’s graduation day, which means a lot of people are present for Liam’s bomb. Simon thinks he would have placed it in the dorms, where it would create maximum damage. Because they can’t evacuate the building — it would cause Liam to realize they’re onto him and hit detonate — they split up and look for him.

Alex finds Miranda and Ryan tied up. Alex kisses Ryan before running off to find Liam (if you didn’t watch this moment, trust me when I say it was LOL-worthy). Now that Alex is close, Liam starts speaking to her over the speakers. He says that he’s not ashamed of what he’s done, that he had to kill “the cancer that is the FBI” and Alex was the best scapegoat. She finds him, but a bit too late. He’s taken Ryan as his hostage again, and this time he has a gun to the back of his neck.

Like any true villain, Liam explains his motive and entire plan: He was tired of all of the questionable things he’s had to do at the FBI. Fresh out of Quantico, he was placed in Omaha — with Alex’s dad — where the FBI wanted to get a militia group to act quicker, so they handed them blueprints to their own building. After the attack, Alex’s father wanted to make the truth public, but no one in the FBI would let him.

Liam tries to make Alex feel bad about killing an American hero because the only reason he started drinking was because of the FBI’s involvement in Omaha, but Alex doesn’t let it bother her. When Liam pushes Ryan away and goes to shoot, Alex starts shooting first. AND as Ryan is falling out of Liam’s grasp, he somehow grabs the weapon out of his mentor’s hand and shoots him, as well. I had no idea Ryan was Matrix trained.

Ryan and Alex find the nuclear bomb on the next floor. Simon says he can remove the fuel core, which would reduce damage, but he’d still need to get it far enough away. While the group is arguing about where to take it, Simon sneaks out with it. They run after him, but he’s already driving away. He lied about the fuel core — the only way to stop the nuclear radiation is to have it go off underwater.

On the phone, Alex and Raina talk to Simon up until the last minute. It’s an emotional scene, and I’m embarrassed to say I did tear up a bit. Alex, Raina, Ryan, Shelby, Nimah, and Caleb can only stand by and cry as well. Simon says goodbye and then drives off a bridge, saving them all.

NEXT: A mini cliffhanger

The next we see the group, they’re at Simon’s funeral. Miranda has been promoted, Ryan briefed Congress, and Shelby is back in the FBI. The only person to come out poorly is Alex, who didn’t get her badge back.

Claire Haas shows up for Simon’s funeral, and Alex wants to have a little chat with the new vice president. See, when her medical records were released post-election, they didn’t show any indication of a blood pressure problem. Alex deduces — and says to Claire — that that must mean that the VP candidate was colluding with Liam to fake a terrorist attack in which Alex would be caught with the nuke in Ryan’s truck. It would boost Claire’s election and give Liam the ability to clean house in the FBI. But when Claire called Alex a hero on TV, it made Liam mad enough that he stole the nuke and enacted the plan we saw.

I’m a bit hazy on how this makes sense, but what’s new? She won’t admit to it, though she doesn’t deny it either. And her son, Caleb, is right behind her listening to the whole thing. LOL. Claire, maybe the next time you talk about secret nuclear plans, check your back?

After burying Simon and threatening a VP, Alex goes back to her mother’s house in California, and she and Ryan take the trip they skipped after graduation. Life is normal for her…for two months. Then she gets stopped on a morning run by a man named Conrad Grayson Matthew Keyes, who works for the CIA. He says they want to make her an offer, but she has to decide before she gets out of the car. Ryan calls her at that moment, and she has to decide: Ryan or the CIA.

I think we all know what she’s going to choose. It’s perfect really because the only way this show could have played out more like The Recruit was if she’d been in the CIA. Now she can be.

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And I’m okay with a show named after an FBI training facility now being about the CIA, but I have one giant lingering question from season 1:Where the hell are Brandon and Iris in the future!?

Be sure to tell me your lingering questions and thoughts from Quantico season 1 in the comments, or find me on Twitter @realdalener.

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