Quantico showrunner talks [spoiler]'s exit, Caleb's return
Warning: The following contains spoilers from the latest episode of Quantico.
The prodigal Haas brother has returned: Caleb (Graham Rogers) resurfaced after a long time away — in Mexico, natch — to deliver his signature pop culture zingers and to be a thorn in Clay’s (Hunter Parrish) side. He chose a great time to come back: Clay faced his toughest day with the task force, as the team came up against a seemingly impossible task: figure out where the collaborators were likely to incite an attack, and stop them before they can carry it out.
Luckily, Alex (Priyanka Chopra), Shelby (Johanna Braddy), and Raina-as-Nimah (Yasmine al Massri) managed to uncover the real plot in time to help Claire (Marcia Cross) prevent another blow against her presidency, while Sebastian (David Lim) arrived at the task force’s offices and revealed what he’s been up to this whole time. But not everything went smoothly this week; Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) watched Sasha (Karolina Wydra) die, and we finally learned what happened to Harry (Russell Tovey) in Central Park.
Below, showrunner Josh Safran talks Caleb’s return, Sebastian’s appearance (and subsequent exit), and the special guest from season 1 that didn’t make it into the episode.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like for Graham to come back as Caleb, and for him to bounce off of Hunter’s Clay?
JOSH SAFRAN: They’re friends in real life, so they’ve hung out a bunch, and they’ve always joked about playing brothers because of how much they look alike, so for them, it was super easy. They just fell into it super quickly, and they kind of have a similar dynamic. Hunter is cerebral; he ruminates over things and takes everything seriously — in a really good way, not a self-important way — and Graham just goes by the seat of his pants. He also cares about his craft and takes it seriously, but his energy is a lot like Caleb’s; he’s just very loose. So it was really funny to watch not just Hunter and Graham but also Caleb and Clay even after they yelled “Cut!”
What can we expect from Caleb next week? He’s been getting on Clay and Shelby’s nerves, but what about the rest of the team?
In [episode 19], Caleb decides that now that he knows about the team, he is a member of the team and not only a member, but somebody who has the right to suggest things and expect them to be done. It’s really fun to see him steal the reins in 19 and run with them.
We also saw Miranda again. Why did you keep her out of play for so long?
It was always our goal to give her a period of adjustment to go through. We thought it was better to keep her as a reveal because we realized she went into that [G20] plan with her eyes open. Even though it didn’t go exactly according to plan, she understands that, while the [former] recruits are still new at seeing that. Like, Nimah had very far to go; she had to reconcile with everything that happened, she had to forgive herself, and she had to forgive other people. Miranda didn’t have that many steps to go through, so to have kept Aunjanue in those episodes and watching her be like, “I was right” for five episodes would have been a disservice to her, so we let the audience wonder what happened to her. Now, moving forward gives us a chance to launch into a new story for her.
The last character to return was Sebastian, whose flashback showed that he let Harry go, and that he isn’t actually the assassin who’s been targeting the ones from the G20 summit. We know Harry won’t be back, but what else can we expect from Sebastian going forward?
Unfortunately, that’s going to be the last time you see him. We did want him back, but he went on to a show on CBS, and David is not a regular on our show. In our minds, he’s still alive and out there, and frankly, it’s for the best because his story is tied with Harry’s the most, and I would hate to have him back and not have Russell to play against.
We made a choice to leave [their story] open-ended because we definitely want to revisit it. I read online someone was saying the way Russell was written out was sort of abrupt, and I’m like, it really was a secure choice, because we really wanted to say, “This character’s not done, this loop is not closed.” So even if the show were to get canceled and that was the end, where Harry’s journey ended emotionally felt right.
Sasha died after digging too deep into the conspiracy, and Ryan witnessed her car explode. How will this affect him going forward?
With Sasha, Ryan learned how to deal with mistrust and actually roll with it. It’s steps on the path to Ryan growing. Even though it didn’t look that way, that’s what you’re going to see from him. It’s not like she was the love of his life and he’ll be pining after her for episodes, but he realizes that whoever killed her means business. He really did like her and was affected by it, but it was about his emotional growth more than anything else.
Did you consider any other ways to write her out of the story?
No. From the second the character was invented, we knew she was going to die, and she was always going to blow up in her car. To be totally honest, León was supposed to blow up in his car, and we could not make that work financially [for the episode in which he died]. Also, we knew the people responsible would always want to make it look like an accident, which is what they did with León, so we wanted something different.
The task force finally has all the names of the collaborators, but “Peter Theo” stood out because he sounds a lot like someone in real life who happens to be a major businessman and tech investor involved in politics. What can you tell me about him?
Yes, all of the collaborators are loosely based on real-life people. They’re all analogues, but Peter Theo is the only one that’s really clear. And while he was just introduced, he’s incredibly important to the climax of the season, so he’s going to have a lot to do with what’s about to happen.
Finally, on a separate note, the opening sequence involved Alex putting Owen through the ringer. Did Blair Underwood pull off all those sequences himself?
Oh, Blair loves the pool, he loves swimming. He did everything himself with absolutely no stunt doubles. We actually cut that sequence where he had to dive and pick up kettlebells, but he was doing everything. He had the time of his life.
Unfortunately, what didn’t end up happening was Alex was going to take him through Quantico, and she was going to run him through the paces there of everything you saw in the pilot, but it was the week of one of the big snowstorms, so we had to change it. [The sequence] was going to start with the firing range in Quantico, then doing laps outside on the exterior track, and then going inside to the pool, but we had to lose that stuff, which sucks because they were going to be in their Henleys. She was going to have brought him a Henley, and we couldn’t do it.
So you’re telling me we could have seen the return of the Henleys this week?
All I can say is you will see a Henley in an upcoming episode!
Quantico airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.