By Shirley Li
May 08, 2017 at 11:00 PM EDT
Credit: Giovanni Rufino/ABC; Inset: Patrick Randak/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
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The clock’s ticking for Alex (Priyanka Chopra) and her allies. She and the (unofficial) task force thwarted Roarke’s (Dennis Boutsikaris) plans this week, only to have him use them for a photo op, stay in office, and move forward with his plans to hold a Constitutional Convention that would rewrite the laws.

Luckily, Alex doesn’t want the team to give up, even if it means becoming, well, terrorists themselves. Below, Quantico showrunner Josh Safran breaks down the penultimate episode and previews the second season finale.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Roarke talks about how he’s signed more executive orders than any other president in his first week, manipulates the media, and wants to rewrite laws. I have to ask: How much did current headlines affect your writing of his character?
JOSH SAFRAN: We’re obviously just riffing a little bit from the headlines in some ways, but our Roarke is more educated. He has worked in the government for three decades. We looked at the current administration, and we are definitely playing with referencing that a bit, but he is different in that way.

Roarke’s ultimate plan is to hold a Constitutional Convention. Alex says they’ll tackle this when it happens in 100 days. Are we going to see a time jump in the finale?
Yes. The opening of the finale is just like last year’s finale, which encompassed the 22 episodes briefly. We’re jumping through 100 days in the first five minutes of it.

How did you come up with the idea for the collaborators’ ultimate goal to rewrite the law?
Well, when we first started the season, it was always going to be about the hard drive and surveillance information falling into the wrong hands and that being used by the group of collaborators to create mass chaos, but we didn’t have the idea for the ultimate plan for the Constitution until the midseason mark. We were missing that thing, so it wasn’t like we had something else planned… When Jordon [Nardino, a writer] first pitched the Constitution thing, I thought it was far fetched, but actually there was an article a couple of weeks ago that talked about how it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for this administration. So then we were like, “Maybe it’s possible. Just ’cause it never happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen.” … So we invented, which you’ll see in the finale, what we think the Consitutional Convention would look like today.

Did you arrive at the idea to have the terrorists hijack planes through apps the same way?
No, I believe that that is very much in the realm of possibility. I’m very proud of that plot. I believe it’s like a blockbuster movie plot from the ’80s or ’90s.

Alex says at the end of the episode that they’ll have to be terrorists to make things work. How did Priyanka react to having that line, and what went into writing it?
Believe it or not, she felt like she had said it before. We had to go back, and we realized she had said something similar. We always knew that was going to be the end point of the season, because the whole thing is them having to do bad to do good, so the ultimate bad is to be a terrorist. It’s the idea of these people realizing they have to resort to terrorism to do what they needed, and Alex was like, “How dare you do that?” By the end of the season, Alex even understands that this is how bad things have gotten, and we have actually been thrown into the thing we normally hunt, in a way. So I always knew it was going to be that. The last line was probably the easiest line to write all season, because it was in the making for a long time.

We don’t see the aftermath of that speech. Does anyone disagree with Alex over her plan?
The team is all together. They’re all in. Nobody objects. When the finale opens, we jump through those 100 days quickly, and everyone’s on board.

What can you tease about Raina’s next moves in her quest to save Nimah?
She wants to get to the end of this to get her sister free. In [the season finale], everything they’re fighting for is not for everything, but they’re fighting for Nimah and Raina to get released. If they can fix this, if they can solve this, that’s the hope, but it doesn’t mean it won’t take a sacrifice or two along the way.

As for Clay and Shelby, will we see Maxine again?
Yes we will. A lot transpires in the 100 days, in a way.

In this episode, Miranda, Will, and other season 1 characters returned. Is there anybody else you can tease who’ll pop up in the finale?
Yes. One of the major players from season 1 plays a major role in the finale, who hasn’t been seen all year.

Next week is the season finale. What were your goals for the season 2 finale? You wanted to make sure it could operate as a series finale, right?
Yeah, it does function as a series finale should it need to, so the goal there was to tell, if we were only going to have 44 episodes, just to really tell a 44-episode story, including a beginning and a middle and an end. It’s like a closed loop, so the goal there was to make a statement about current politics in America and also take the character of Alex through a natural evolution. I’m not gonna say she ends up in the best place in the finale, but she ends up in the most logical place… I actually think it’s an incredibly strong finale, and I hope you’ll agree.

Quantico airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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