Quantico recap: JMPALM
Shelby Wyatt and President Haas go head-to-head while Alex rejoins the hostages
Was “JMPALM” the best episode of this season? No, but a whole heck of a lot happened… which will probably be important to know down the road, so let’s talk about it.
Back at the Farm, Harry is getting desperate. His handler is pressuring him to gain intel on the AIC, but he’s worried that he’s gotten close to the wrong recruit. Lucky for him, he follows Alex on her morning jog and overhears her tense conversation with Ryan. He’s surprised to hear Ryan call her out for also having a super-secret cell and begins plotting immediately.
Someone else with something up his sleeve? León. He’s whipping up breakfast for Shelby/”Jane” and after encouraging her to take her time showering, he starts poking around and doesn’t like what he finds. Almost every drawer is empty and on the bottom of every household item is a price tag — oh, and there’s a gun in the closet!
He heads to class where Harry is berating Alex for lying to him and Owen is teaching the students all about recruiting assets. At the end of his lessen, he says, verbatim, the text that Alex received on her burner phone this morning: “Your patience will be rewarded.” While we’re left to wonder what that means (I’d actually been wondering at this point if Alex’s burner phone is even real) Nimah calls Ryan. It’s time to end Alex’s time at the Farm, she tells him. She’s too big a liability.
Turns out Harry and Nimah have similar visions for their little agents. Our MI6 charmer wants Alex to get Ryan thrown out as well. It’s only a matter of time before Ryan does it to you, he reasons.
The challenge this week is to do some serious digging on the Venezuelan ambassador. As Owen Hall is presenting the case for why, Alex spies a resignation letter drafted to Director Keyes on Owen’s iPad while Harry bounces to the other side of the room to try and pit Ryan against Alex.
Alex and Harry, pretending to be a married American couple, and Ryan and Sebastian, pretending to be investors hoping to expand into the Latin American market take turns trying to get access to the Ambassdor. The investor team strikes out quickly, but Harry and Alex have no moral issue taking a slightly more under-hand approach: They find the Ambassador’s husband and tell him his husband has taken their daughter and fled the country. It works.
The attack is interesting because of what it elicits in the recruits. Dayana and León were in charge of holding the daughter hostage, but Dayana can’t do it and helps the young girl flee. (Now who is too weak, Dayana?) And Alex and Harry have no problem being the bad guys — even to Ryan, it seems. Alex takes down a security guard and she leaves the embassy with Ryan handcuffed to the guard.
And it’s sad because we know their demise is inevitable — remember how this season started? With Alex returning her diamond-sparkler to Ryan, we don’t have to pretend like this is how Ryan and Alex break up any longer than necessary. The only person who got played at the Embassy was Harry, and now he’ll have to explain to his handler why he’s on the outs with Ryan and Alex.
While the mission may have been a success, Owen Hall isn’t happy with Ryan. He shows him the security tape from inside the consulate of Ryan and Alex fighting. “Who are you, and what are you really doing here?” he presses his recruit. Ryan responds, telling him about how Alex was jealous that both she and Ryan had been recruited to the AIC and that she was trying to get him kicked out. Ryan promises Owen he was just trying to protect everything Owen had been working for. Owen looks very, very confused.
NEXT: The AIC leader is revealed and things in the present heat up…
After Ryan leaves, Owen confronts Alex and asks for her phone. “This is how they contact you?” Alex is surprised to learn that Owen isn’t involved. He threatens to have her arrested if she doesn’t tell him everything immediately.
Elsewhere, León is at Shelby/”Jane’s” apartment. He told her he would meet her for dinner; instead, he pops into her house to meet with Nimah. “I will work for you,” he tells her, upset by what the AIC is asking of him. He also asks that this be kept a secret from his fake girlfriend because, duh.
And the rest of the AIC recruits, minus Alex, have been called to a nearby garage and their leader is revealed when Lydia Hall strides in. Lydia tells them that they’re the new CIA. “It’s the people who do what we do who are the real CIA,” she promises. “Welcome to the other side.”
Things are equally ominous in the present-tense: Miranda and Alex are driving back into the crisis zone while trading threats of who will pay for what past sins. But Miranda promises her they are going to save the hostages from the air strike.
Except, damnit, you should never trust a terrorist! When they get downtown, Miranda reveals that she actually wants to go get those computer drives from Lydia Hall instead. Thankfully, Nimah shows up and has a gun pointed at Miranda to hold her in place. After telling Alex that Ryan is not a terrorist, she tells Miranda that she led her astray by sending her undercover with the wrong people.
Back at headquarters, Shelby is surprised when the newly minted President Claire Haas walks through her office door. “We need to talk,” she tells Shelby. Their conversation starts with a discussion of glass ceilings and becoming president and having had to run against a man who was half as qualified and it all feels very, um, intentional. (Also, like salt in an open wound.)
Somehow that leads into her telling Shelby that she needs help calling off the air strike — except, as Shelby points out, Claire Haas is the Commander-in-Chief and she can call off whatever she wants! “I can’t, because I helped create the rogue group inside the CIA,” she admits.
So Claire didn’t really create the faction, she created a budget plan that eventually allowed for someone else to fund this faction. She just learned about its nefarious intentions when Shelby’s report crossed her desk so, womp, womp, even less of a twist. Shelby responds by offering another pep talk on why President Haas can call off the air strike, despite what her cabinet thinks!
But the air strike begins to launch. Shelby is in the situation room with Claire Haas and the military. Thirty seconds until impact… 15 seconds… “Call it off!” the president instructs. Shelby can’t believe it and quickly gets on the phone with Alex. With Nimah holding Miranda hostage and the aircrafts turning back, she slips back inside the perimeter.