The group tries to stop the collaborators before they can stir up unrest with a major protest
Credit: Giovanni Rufino/ABC
S2 E18
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Quantico has always been political — I mean, it’s a show about terrorism! But in the past few weeks, the show has made its first foray into the events of right here, right now. And while it’s refreshing to see an eager attempt at realism — because, let’s be honest, a whopping zero percent of what happened through the first season and a half hung its hat on reality — it’s also a polarizing about face. And it’s one that, as this episode proves through Rourke’s character development as a hopeful oligarch, is here to stay.

Let’s get to it.

Our week opens with Alex making good on her promise, as she always does, to whip Owen into shape. She’s putting him through a series of exhausting drills in the pool, hoping to retrain his body to overpower his fractured mind, but Owen is frustrated. Luckily for Owen, Alex is never frustrated! Just committed!

After a conversation between Shelby and Raina (whom she thinks is Nimah) and Ryan and Sasha (whom he clearly doesn’t trust, as he places a bug on her dresser before leaving), we get to the episode’s impetus: The cache has been accessed multiple times overnight. The collaborators are trying to stage a riot in one of five potential U.S. cities. Their aim is to make it seem like America is more divided than ever (remember what I said about realism?). The group needs to figure out what city the collaborators will pick and then head there to stop the riot before it happens.

After weighing pipeline protestors in North Dakota and Black Lives Matter supporters in Detroit, the group settles on Cleveland as the apparent target. Everyone springs into actions except Clay. He’s dismayed by how much the AIC appears to be outpacing his team, and he heads for the White House to try to disband the program. In his stead (and Owen’s insecurity) Alex takes charge of the operation. She, Shelby, and Nimah/Raina will head to Cleveland, use their FBI badges to get involved, and work to shut down any planned violence.

Sadly, but also scarily, Miranda is in charge of the FBI outpost in Cleveland. Since the G20 Summit was covered up, she isn’t in jail and instead is trying to get back in the Bureau’s good graces. (Good f—ing luck, Miranda!) She basically tells the women to buzz off, but that has, literally, never stopped any of them. The cause for civil tension is an almost-hung jury in a case that deals with gun laws President Haas passed, so the women hunt down the jurors to figure out who is swaying them one way or the other.

Because nothing is ever as is seems — but also, like, exactly what it seems — it’s not the jurors who have been placed under AIC control; it’s the judge. Unfortunately, no one can stop the plot in motion. Instead, someone can just save the day. (And it’s not Alex!)

To tell you who this week’s white knight is, we must back up. When Clay arrives at the White House to meet with POTUS, Caleb is in his mom’s office. Caleb basically calls him a scaredy-cat and tells him he has to switch tactics. Before they get into fist-to-fist combat, Caleb tells him mom he thinks he should be in charge of the crew.

When Clay leaves, he calls Felix and sets a meeting with Rourke. He wants to work together, he tells the Speaker of the House. Rourke wants to know what they could possibly work together on — as do I — and reminds Clay of their differences. In doing so, he reveals that he isn’t really a Republican. Instead, he’s a supporter of loading elected leaders with power. (He also adds that he can’t support Claire’s presidency because she wasn’t actually elected.) At the end, he suggests that Clay come work with him to show the American people that the two sides are finally coming together.

This illustrates to Clay that Rourke is gunning to take over Capitol Hill — a suspicion that is confirmed when the Speaker lands in Cleveland mere minutes after the jury passes a guilty verdict — but Clay has headed off the scandal. Rather than let Rourke give a rousing speech on the courthouse steps, President Haas is waiting in the wings and takes over. She, with a speech written by Clay, inspires the masses. Rourke’s blood is boiling. Back in his office that evening, he tells Felix that in return for scheduling a meeting that got him so badly beaten, he must now spy on Clay. If Felix doesn’t find anything good, Rourke says, he’ll disband Felix’s green card and throw him out of the country.

Back at the bunker, Owen’s instincts serve him right. He catches Sebastian spying on his computer, and the two fight until Owen knocks him out. When he comes around, Ryan, who is now with Owen, questions Sebastian — who, it turns out, isn’t totally a bad guy! He has also been spying on the AIC and wanted to see if that’s what Owen and Co. were up to. He says he feels confident in their mission now, slides them a few more collaborator names, and asks that they let him go (the way he let Harry go, which is revealed in a flashback). On the way out, he promises to keep feeding them information if they do the same for him.

And where has Ryan been this week, you ask? With Sasha! She found the bug he planted earlier that morning, and in return, she planted something on him: her keys. I’m not sure what she’s after, but I know she’s onto the Evil Family Tree that the team at the bunker is hunting. By the end of the day, they come to a head with the plotting. Sasha promises the lead she is chasing will help Ryan, but she also tells him he can’t come with. As she opens her car door, telling him to go get wine for later tonight, her car explodes. The lead she was chasing — Peter Theo — has, clearly, backfired.

With this information, and the developments of the day, the team finally has all of the collaborators on their board. President Haas is pleased and tells them all to keep up their hard work. And with that, there’s only one more Haas development of the week to discuss: Caleb returns to the fold. He’s at the Farm, which Shelby discovers when she happily happens upon Clay cooking in the communal kitchen. Caleb escorts her out and confirms what I had hoped would never be confirmed. He tells her that she has to stop making Clay fall for her, and that if she doesn’t stay away, he’ll get involved.

Another dangerous liaison is developing at the Gold Leaf. Alex and Owen are catching up over burgers when Alex tells him that he is the only guy that Alex trusts. He’s never lied to her, she adds. With a twinkle in his eye he says, “Alex Parrish, if we’re being honest with each other, I never really liked you at all.” Alex erupts in laughter, because everyone likes her, duh, and my stomach sinks. Can this be headed anywhere good?

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