‘Quantico’ review: Alex vs. …somebody

Season 1, Episode 2
AIR DATE: October 4, 2015

Last week, we told you that Quantico’s success depended on how much of its bullshit you were willing to put up with. If you had a rough time doing so last week, you might want to skip this week because the show has decided to go balls-out ridiculous.

Alex Parrish is now on the run following the devastating terrorist attack on New York City which left a little over 100 people dead. So, what does Alex do? Why, she cuts her hair, colors it, then changes clothing so as not to tip off the FBI who must have taken witness statements that she was wearing FBI-branded clothing and running around the surrounding area. Just kidding. She does none of that and then runs around the surrounding area, requesting to see video footage from local businesses and even calls up the FBI to taunt them. Also, she’s bleeding because she never bothered to stop long enough to clean up a cut. Then she has to roughly disable a sweet little coffee barista who notices she’s bleeding, which does everything but make me side with her.

“America” is the follow-up episode for ABC’s new drama Quantico and, of course, we get a whole lot of “new” — as in new characters, new information, new situations, new twists and turns, new plot threads. That’s all well and good but let’s try for some consistency. The new arc deals with the recruits’ first few weeks training within Quantinco, following the horrific suicide of Eric, the Mormon dude who ABC cynically got rid of because of the controversy of his Mormon practices being portrayed as…Mormon. But, anyway, it’s worth noting that the guy who drove him to suicide was welcome back to the team. Caleb reappears. He’s back. Also, he’s an FBI analyst now. Full commendation because suicidal “ticking timebombs” are a danger to the FBI because that’s how the FBI works. Look, the sooner you move on, the sooner we can get done with this episode.


Besides Caleb, we suddenly have two new characters. The first, Nathalie Vazquez (Anabelle Acosta), hates Alex and aims to one-up her at every single turn because they’re both women. At least, that’s what I’m gathering. Nathalie wasn’t here last week and besides the fact that “she’s a cop” and “the FBI likes cops” and that she’s here because “she wants to do more than cops can”, there’s not much else to say about her. That, and she has a thing for Ryan. We know this because Alex declares this in a later scene with Nathalie on a New York building rooftop. We’ve also got a goofy love triangle between Simon (the token gay dude who once visited Palestine) and new analyst Elias (RIck Cosnett) which is really uncomfortable to watch because it’s mostly comprised of Elias seemingly trying to get into Simon’s pants via stalking. (The line, “I like poking holes into things” just doesn’t help how creepy Elias is.) Either that or Elias is a spy for the FBI and suspects Simon in some sort of nefarious activity. You can’t really tell because the series just can’t decide what the hell it is. Its weird mixture of spy drama and Teen Beat soapiness melds like oil and vinegar. It just doesn’t work.

You can’t trust anyone. That’s the theme for the entire episode. We know this because it’s hammered home every five minutes with smug plotting designed to enlighten and titillate its audience, keeping them on the edge of their seats, guessing who’s doing what but, in all actuality, it serves to give you a throbbing headache: Nathalie’s got a scar behind her ear, Simon picks out the perfect pair of glasses but breaks them on purpose before putting them on, Shelby is in contact with somebody who speaks a Middle Eastern dialect, the “twins” (Nimah and Raina) are part of an FBI “experiment” being headed by Miranda. Then you have Alex who, aside from eye-fucking all male trainees, just wants the truth about her father and does her damndest to get it. This includes solving some really silly trainee exercises: when the trainees are given “reconstructed crime scenes” to unravel and solve, nobody wins the exercise — except Alex because she figured out that the “crime scenes” aren’t really crime scenes…they’re…reconstructed…? Isn’t this show clever?

Even worse is the cringe-inducing dialogue:

“Recruits…we’ve given you the haystacks…let’s see if you can find the needles!”

Which is frustratingly recalled later:

“I’m going to plaster your face all over the news! You won’t last a day!”
“A day is all I need!”
“What are you gonna do, Agent Parrish?”
“I’m going to find the needle!”

QUANTICO - "America" -- Alex is on the run and must outsmart Liam and his team to get into her apartment for anything that could help clear her name. Meanwhile, in a flashback to Quantico training, the NATS are tasked with finding a needle in a haystack while looking for potential threats to national security, on "Quantico" SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4 (10:01--11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric Liebowitz) ANABELLE ACOSTA

All of this begs the question — and this is a bit of an extension of last week’s question — “Is the FBI this goddamn stupid?” I mean, reading the summaries of the characters above and their odd, suspicious behavior, how is the FBI even an organization anymore? Are their exercises really this goofy? Did none of these people get vetted? And, if so, is the corruption in the FBI running this deep that the higher-ups are in cahoots with one of them? Is the whole thing just one big test? I’m fine when shows try to establish plot twists, jerking an audience’s chain, but I cannot help but think that Quantico is trying much too hard to be tricky — and much too soon.

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