Quantico: Going Nuclear (S1 E19 Recap)

quantico logoWondering what will happen on Quantico this week? Will it turn out we were wrong to suspect last week’s suspects, who we’ll find out are totally on Alex’s side? Will there be an opportunity for the NATs to display physical prowess in some ultra-cool training exercise that makes them look like video game action heroes? Will something happen that will cast doubt on someone else who will then be exonerated or dead by next week? Will Brandon show up for thirty seconds or less in the past timeline only? Hell yaz, because it’s another episode of Quantico and it doesn’t have to make sense.

We open with Caleb handcuffed to a radiator with ants crawling on his pale skin. Wait, no, it’s a hallucination, which should signal that his withdrawal symptoms are for real. So he’s not faking his addiction. He had asked Alex to chain him up, and she has no trouble nursing him through heroin withdrawal – which on this show plays as being not much worse than a twenty-four hour virus but with a lot less nausea. Hey if it’s that easy to kick, let’s all try it. Alex is fine with being a helper because, as she tells him, she cleaned her drunk dad up a lot before she put a bullet in him.

Then she goes off to work leaving the drug addict free to go out and score. He doesn’t want her to go, but she says it won’t look normal if she doesn’t, and what could possibly go wrong? As soon as she leaves he calls “someone” to report he couldn’t stop her.

In the past, the NATs are practicing their climbing skills on an amazingly elaborate set of climbing walls. Is this a field trip to Brooklyn Boulders or an example of more of our tax dollars being wasted at Quantico? Also why is Start Up still there? Didn’t she have a problem passing security clearance? Plus more tremors for Buzz Football, but only Alex ever sees them because no one else has her magical powers of observation – even though this is all happening pretty publicly and he falls on his climb.

Shelby who saved Will is going to report Caleb for being a cult member since it looks to her like he went back to the cult and that was why he was beating up on Will. It’s not like she can actually talk to the guy she’s been sleeping with and get the real story.

Raina, Nimah and Alex are all planning their post academy lives in exciting New York City where they’ll either be next door to Dare Devil in Hell’s Kitchen, or if they can afford it in Brooklyn, but God forbid Queens because the FBI is for hipsters. So will Nimah and Raina have to pretend to be one person ALL the time? That sounds more like a sitcom than a thriller. (They’re agents! Identical Agents and you’ll find, they laugh alike they talk alike … you can lose your mind.)

In the present, Vasquez’s mother shows up and asks Ryan if he knows where her daughter is. Ryan is beginning to put together Vasquez’s going missing with that night Alex came by his apartment crying, and then ran away. Caleb is on the phone with Alex, still trying to get her to come home when Alex spots OMIGOD Shelby sitting across from Miranda. Shelby, who is no longer in the FBI, is peddling some software for the security system. Alex barges in to say hello, and Shelby is being snotty because she blames Alex for survelling her and therefore exposing her affair with Clayton, which led to it being on her permanent record. Wait, shouldn’t she also be mad at Miranda for ordering the surveillance?

Shelby going undercover as Gwyneth Paltrow.

Shelby going undercover as Gwyneth Paltrow.

During the Academy Daze, it’s time for the Nats to meet their maybe new bosses who will put them through some preliminary challenges to see if they are up to snuff. Raina and Nimah get some short Jewy guy with a beard and glasses doing a low-rent impersonation of Mandy Patinkan as Saul Berensen, and I can say this because I’m a member of the tribe. So naturally Nimah doesn’t trust him and Raina is willing to give him a chance. He immediately tells them Miranda isn’t the boss of them anymore, and the real terrorists will probably put them to work “in the kitchen” or “the bedroom” so they should just make him a samwich and polish his guns (which is not a euphemism). Maybe they should drop a few names like Tashfeen Malik or Hassne Aitboulahcen and remind him that the Islamic state is an equally opportunity employer when it comes to the martyrdom.

Alex chats with an OPR guy. Fans of The Americans know all about the Office of Professional Responsibility which is is actual part of the Justice Department and acts as the internal affairs department for the FBI. Does Alex want to be a rat fink? Not clear, but she does ask about her responsibility to rat fink on Buzz Football, which the OPR guy tells her she has to do.

Brandon’s mandatory thirty seconds of screen time involves his chat with a lady from the counter terrorism unit. This is the same person, Shelby will talk to about Systematics, who blithely suggests she use her checkbook to infiltrate Systematics because sure the FBI is always encouraging recruits to just go out on their own secret missions.

Back to the future or present as the case may be, Caleb needs remote access to the server in order to see what Shelby is doing or keep her from doing something evil or whatever. So Alex has to cause a distraction which she does by telling Miranda the truth about Shelby’s parents being alive, and how they used to sell weapons to the Taliban, which is something the FBI missed figuring out despite its intensive vetting of everyone and if Alex knew this from Academy days wouldn’t this have come up as an issue much earlier in the timeline like when everyone was a suspect in the Grand Central bombing?

"Wait a sec, and you're just telling me about this NOW?"

“Wait a sec, and you’re just telling me about this NOW?”

Miranda stops whatever it is that Shelby was doing, but instead of carting Shelby off to jail she lets her sit and chat with Alex while she watches from another room. Alex doesn’t say, “What were you doing driving that car?” but sticks to stuff about her parents. Shelby says mean girl things about how everybody thinks Alex is a crazy loser, but her fingers are tapping out moss code saying something else entirely. So how is it if moss code is totally a thing that FBI is still doing, that Miranda misses this while watching the interview? Alex is writing down the code so we know that she gets Shelby’s message, which is: “I’m on your side.”

Back in Academy Daze, Buzz Football denies there’s any problem when Alex tells him he needs to tell his trainers what’s going on. Shelby tries to contact Clayton to tell him that Caleb was beating on Will and is back in the cult. She leaves a big not very discrete message on his voice mail, and then she shows up at the main Systematics Headquarters with a big fat check because she has unlimited resources. She spots Caleb in the hallway waiting to see the head man. He briefly tells her he is totally a spy and she needs to abort her secret mission so he can do his. Also his eye glasses are a secret recording and video device – which is something by the way that a lot of crazy people believe. Also the Systematics people had something to do with a bombing in Kentucky eight years before, and this is what Caleb is trying to prove. But Shelby doesn’t believe him because she knows what she saw.

In the present, Shelby is still taping away secret messages while speaking about other things – which is much harder even than rubbing your belly while tapping your head. She claims that her parents died six months ago in a small plane crash while trying to elude the authorities. But uh wait a second, if the authorities still thought they were dead in 911, how does that work?

Then Miranda comes back and says it’s all good we knew about Shelby’s parents after all, and everybody including Miranda is still mad at Alex and her stupid conspiracy theories. Wasn’t Miranda the one who freed Alex because she knew there was some rotten conspiracy that Alex needed to uncover?

Back in the past, Buzz Football and Alex are both being auditioned for The Great Race some elite unit and to get the gig they have to do some totally stupid and amazingly dangerous rappelling off of a tall building stunt tbecause apparently the FBI doesn’t like to have its agents take the elevator. Naturally, Buzz’s affliction kicks in and they both almost fall to their deaths but then it’s all good.

Alex is SO over him.

Alex is SO over him.

Alex, however, is pissed at him for almost killing both of them, and tells him that she’s going to report him. Then she goes to Ryan and rats him out, thus giving Buzz Football more motivation to bomb Grand Central, blow up a bunch of FBI biggies for not letting him play on their team, and frame Alex. But don’t worry folks. He’ll be completely cleared next week when we find out what he’s doing now and why his involvement is impossible.

Nimah is convinced that Saul Berenson-lite is corrupt because he left them alone in his office and she found money and drugs in a drawer. She calls Liam, who comes over and yells at both of them because it was a test and they failed and they have to trust their superiors. Then it turns out that Saul Berenson-lite is totally on their side and will be a great mentor and they all lived happily ever after.

Caleb tries to get not-David Miscavige (who is totally David Miscavige) to admit while speaking into his eyeglasses that Scientology Systematics was behind Kentucky and that they have Caleb’s friend Ross Edwards.

Over in 2016 at the FBI office, Shelby and Alex chat on the stairs away from the recording equipment. Shelby tells Alex she was forced to drive the car and pick up Simon and Will because the voice of doom called her and threatened to kill Caleb (who she totally still loves despite her tawdry affair with his dad). She’s also not mad at Alex over that publicly outing her affair with the VP-candidates dead husband anymore and ruining her FBI career. They are besties again! She also informs Alex of something fans figured out – the Voice of Doom is a blending of all their voices – plus the messages are coming through the server inside the building! OMIGOD they’re inside the house! She was selling this software to the FBI in order to infiltrate and track down where the messages are originating from. Caleb is working with her and was supposed to keep her away. So it definitely looks like the Voice of Doom has to be someone in the FBI – like maybe Miranda who’s acting more suspiciously every episode. 

Speaking of which, Nimah and Ryan got to tell Miranda about Vasquez and Alex maybe being connected or knowing something about that.

Back in the Daze of Ye Olde FBI Academie, Clayton comes to talk to Shelby and thanks her for alerting him that Caleb had rejoined the cult, but now they’ve deprogrammed him again and his family will take care of him. And would she like to work for him when she graduates? What a sleaze bucket!  Then daddy dearest tells Caleb that they cut a deal with the head of Systematics and they aren’t going to prosecute them for Kentucky or for murdering Ross Edwards, but they are going to take away their tax exempt status which will make them broke. Caleb is pissed because that isn’t the mission he signed up for. But what’s even worse is Caleb can never tell anyone the “truth” about what he did because if Systematics finds out how this happened then the whole deal is off, SO Shelby must never know and will always think of him as being the easily brainwashed “dangerous” character his father described.

We conclude as always with a present tense cliffhanger. Caleb is sleeping off his addiction at Alex’s apartment. Shelby and Alex have used the new successfully installed software to trace the Voice of Doom to a church in East Harlem where they find Will who looks sick and yells at them not to come too close. Then he tells him they forced him to build a nuke, and he collapses.

While there’s no point in discussing theories in a show where “anything can happen” feel free to pitch your own ideas about how you think the season should end in the comments below. I’m going with it was all a crazy dream and Alex wakes up on graduation day.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Quantico

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  • Deybee

    I hop what you say about the finale is true. Then in season 2, we can have Alex go through psychotherapy and give some suckerpunch style storyline.