'And we left everything you don't,' new showrunner Michael Seitzman says
Say ciao to a revamped Quantico.
New showrunner Michael Seitzman (Code Black) has transformed the terrorism drama into a global spy thriller, and season 3 begins with Alex (Priyanka Chopra) living in Italy — the first of many changes Seitzman implemented to reinvent the show. “I wanted to make something that had evolved to another level,” he tells EW. “I really like the show, so I wanted to be very respectful to it. At the same time, it’s a third season, and you want it to evolve in the third season.”
That meant starting with a three-year time jump, which allowed Seitzman to hit reset on the core characters. “If you only have the backstory for the other two seasons, then you’re only writing the show for people who’ve been watching it for two years,” he says. “But if you can create a backstory for every character that is fresh and brand-new to everyone, then everyone gets to discover it at the same time.”
Not only that, but Quantico‘s look and score have also changed, in favor of giving the show a more classic spy-genre feel. Seitzman says he aimed for a “warmer” tone — he cites Three Days of The Condor and The Parallax View as inspirations — that minimizes the use of large screens and high-tech gadgets featured in other spy dramas.
As for what happened in those three years, well, some of Quantico‘s major players have departed the show — returning series regulars from season 2 include only Chopra, Jack McLaughlin (Ryan), Johanna Braddy (Shelby), Blair Underwood (Owen), and Russell Tovey (Harry) — and the remaining characters’ relationships have shifted over the years, beginning with Alex and Ryan. “They’re wrapped up really neatly at the end of last season in a way that’s satisfying for the audience,” Seitzman says. “The problem is that storytelling is more often than not about conflict, so it’s about frustrating the audience. Everyone can’t be happy all the time.”
Instead, Alex’s journey this season will find her grappling with which life she wants to live: one of constant action in the face of threats, or one of stasis and perceived peace. “The question that’s asked of her is, ‘Who are you?’” Seitzman says. “If this season has a theme, it’s often about her figuring that out. Is she the girl who’s able to escape, to pull open the ripcord and land safely with a parachute? Or is she someone who got on the plane to begin with?”
Good thing she’ll have Oscar winner Marlee Matlin’s Jocelyn as an ally, as the ex-FBI agent joins Alex’s team in the premiere. Though she’s deaf, she provides valuable insight, Seitzman says: “She has a superpower, which is that she’s a great observer. She’s a character who was a gift that kept on giving.”
But if Alex’s emotional journey provides the through-line for the season’s 13 episodes, each episode tells a separate story in a much more procedural format, Seitzman says. That means audiences — both loyal fans and new viewers — can jump in anytime. “We recognized that there were very valid frustrations that the audience had had that we could remedy by really creating a reboot of the show and holding on to the things that we thought were incredibly valuable to the show, and shedding certain choices that were more challenging for the audience,” he says. “I feel like we kept everything you love, and we left everything you don’t.”
Quantico returns Thursday, April 26, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.