Quantico Series Premiere Review: 'Run'

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   Hey guys, my name is Alan, and I'll be doing the reviews for Quantico this season unless it gets pulled from the schedule or is just painful to watch. Both are not likely based on the pilot and its ratings so far. This is not a spoiler-free zone, so be careful when reading.

Quantico, much like the Shondaland shows, is unapologetically absurd with a relentless pace that throws twists at every turn to keep the audience at the edge of their seats. It might not have been very "cohesive" , but the pilot was a thoroughly exhilarating and fun hour. The 911-like opening scene hooks viewers from the start with Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) face down in the wreckage and rubble. A la How to Get Away With Murder, it flashes back to nine months before in Oakland, California where Alex leaves home and her Mom. One minute into pilot, the lies and secrets start when Alex's Mom has no idea that her daughter is flying off to join the FBI. They continue when Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin) and Alex exchange false backstories aboard the plane. Chopra does a good job at expressing charisma during her exchanges with Ryan which keeps the scene moving. Often in pilots, the burden of exposition drags the hour, but Quantico manages a brisk pace through the plot.

After, we are introduced to four (or kinda five?) other recruits in a montage, and I thought it was interesting how Quantico elaborates and develops on each of these short character introductions later in the pilot. Back with Alex and Ryan, they have car sex in an empty parking lot close to the airport (where are they ever empty?). There was definitely some irony when Alex dissects/rejects Ryan, saying he was "slippery" and "untrustworthy" despite the fact that she, herself, had plenty to hide. She was definitely surprised and caught off guard when she saw Ryan among the recruits at Quantico. Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis), the Assistant Director, initiates the recruits, and she is committed to the FBI and defending the country from unknown threats. As they get settled in, the recruits begin to become acquainted with each other.

The recruits' first task is to dig up a missing piece of information or secret of another fellow recruit. It was a nice way to build up the backgrounds of the main characters. Plus, it was fun to see the them scrambling to uncover the secrets, like some Easter Egg Hunt. It seems that the recruits are not the only ones with secrets and shady backgrounds. Liam O' Connor (Josh Hopkins) and Miranda apparently have history, and something had gotten Liam into trouble. During training, we learn that "Golden Boy" Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers) is unqualified to be at Quantico other than his parents, and Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy) has had a lot of experience with those guns back in Georgia. Eric Packer (Brian Smith) who is supposed to be a clean-cut Mormon begins to crack under the taunts from Caleb and somehow manages to sneak a gun out.

A part of what makes Quantico so fun is how it subtly telegraphs the future twists by leaving several clues. One of these clues was how Nimah (Yasmine Al Massri) has a single room, and when Simon (Tate Ellington) walked in on her, how she slightly overreacted. The explanation given makes sense, so the details don't mean much on the first watch. The twist involving Nimah really surprised me even though there were several clues that made so much more sense after the reveal. I especially liked the subtle differences in behavior and mood between scenes. There was a softer Nimah and a Mean-ah as Simon puts it. Shelby's secret is that her parent died on a plane because of 911, and that is why she carries around that piece of metal. Simon's secret was that he lived in Gaza to stay with Palestinians without telling anyone. Now the most interesting of all was Alex's. Her secret was revealed to be that her drunken father was killed by her mother in an act of self defense, but this is Quantico, so there's more to the story. Liam's knows this, and he quickly shuts down the polygraph when a quick flash of red appears.

In an act of desperation, Eric tries to keep his secret from being revealed by pulling out the gun he kept and shot the stenographer, and then he subsequently shot himself, freeing himself from his secret. His secret was that he got a Malawian teenager pregnant and forced her to get an abortion which resulted in her death. Caleb obviously feels some blame, and in a bonding moment, Simon and Shelby comfort him over the tragedy. But his blunder cost him his place at Quantico. Now, that twist with Nimah being two twins was, I'll admit, pretty cool. Miranda has a hand in this which leads to many possibilities. Alex goes to Liam for help in uncovering the truth about her father and tells him that it was her that killed him, but Liam seems very suspicious by ordering Booth to follow Alex.

Back or I should say forward to nine months later, the FBI finds Alex in the center of what was once the Grand Central Terminal in NYC who is then taken in to cooperate with the FBI to find the party responsible for the terrorist attacks. The FBI believes that the mastermind was a sleeper agent who is among the new recruits, and they require Alex's assistance in remembering what happened at Quantico. This continues for a while, but she is kept there so they can stall while they search for evidence to incriminate her. The FBI find explosives in her apartment and Ryan Booth on the floor bleeding, and they arrest her. On the FBI transport, Miranda helps Alex escape, so she can find the real terrorist. And the pilot ends on Alex strutting in the streets of New York and a shot of the city's skyline tarnished by smoke.

I found Priyanka Chopva's acting to be pretty solid and consistent throughout the pilot except for when she was arrested. She seemed out of character, and the way she spoke her lines was odd and grating. Quantico has burned through a lot of plot in its first episode, and there are so many plot threads that are to be explored. But the problem is if it is sustainable in the long run because of the central mystery. Everyone has secrets in this show which leaves us hungry for more. Also, I would like to see more development of character interactions, but in the first episode, there was a good start. The plausibility of the show can be unreliable, but I find that Quantico is really a show where you can't think too much and just go along for the ride. I found the Eric Packer storyline somewhat convoluted where he managed to sneak his secret and a gun past FBI. The title 'Run' fit the underlying theme of the episode and the show where all the characters are running from their pasts, their secrets. Eventually it'll catch up to them, but that's the fun part for us. Alex runs from the FBI, and Eric runs from his past. He just got tired of running, and his secret caught up to him.

Random Observations, Theories, and Stuff

  • Assistant Director Liam? I wonder how that happened. 
  • In the flashbacks with Alex's mother and father, her father mentions that she has kids which means that Alex has siblings, right? Complicated siblings sound like something this soapy show would and should explore in the future.
  • What was up with Simon's photo with the random guy? I'm thinking that Simon might not actually be gay.
  • Caleb didn't really get much this week. All we know is that he's a spoiled guy. I think he'll be back, judging from the promo.
  • I found Quantico to be a lot like How To Get Away With Murder, but Quantico seems to actually know what to do with most of its characters. But, HTGAWM has Viola Davis, so I guess it evens out.
  • Pick of the Week: Liam O' Connor- Judging from the pilot, my suspect is Liam right now. He has some weird obsession with Alex, and his exchange with Alex when she was getting arrested was fishy.
How did you guys like Quantico? Leave some comments below!

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