Quantico: Jihadi Jane

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This week our NATs and ANTs learn a very special lesson about faking it and competition, which turns out to be just as important as those previous lessons about being authentic and teamwork. Once again, this recap will go over each time period separately to avoid motion sickness.

Academy Days

Did you know the NATs aren’t allowed off campus? No wonder by week five everyone is stir crazy. Not too worry, they’re going to get a night off, sort of, and it’ll be every NAT for him or herself as they compete to climb the corporate ladder using a fake identity, which is pretty much how it’s done in real life, except the NATs have to do it in one evening.

"This sounds oddly familiar."

“This sounds oddly familiar.”

But first (as always), some things happen that will be important later: Miranda tells Booth she’s going to find out what Liam is up to. Alex mentions those ten years in Mumbai. Simon almost kills someone in a training exercise, and Rai-Nimah (probably Raina) is very impressed and wants to know where he learned to fight like that. He tells her, “Hebrew school.” By which this humble recapper suspects he means the Shin Bet, which probably has a Quantico-like school where lessons would be in Hebrew, so it’s not really a lie.

Elias teases Simon about his fictional boyfriend, Max. Elias uses big words and speaks in complete sentences, and unlike most of the cast, he actually sounds like he knows what the words mean! However, he continues to approach Simon, giving him the opportunity to strangle him, cut him into tiny pieces, and neatly dispose of his body. Not that Simon would do that. He’s more likely to slip some slow-acting but untraceable poison into his system, or to discredit him in some way that gets him kicked out, or to arrange for Elias to meet with an unfortunate and somewhat freakish accident. Anybody as smart as Elias would know not to let Simon know what he knows.

The agents work on creating fake identities, and then everyone gets driven to some corporate retreat that they’ll be crashing, because, sure, nobody will notice an extra hundred people or so that don’t work there and nobody’s ever heard of. Winners are those who work the fake self so good they get to meet the CEO. To make it interesting, they won’t be using the identities they worked so hard on earlier. They’ll be using the one of the person next to them, and no way is it creepy, illegal, or unconstitutional for a law enforcement agency to send dozens of agents-in-training to undercover-crash an event and manipulate a bunch of allegedly law-abiding Joes and Janes.

The FBI must have some sweet budget to get everybody rooms at the swanky hotel, not to mention all that formal evening wear, plus hair and make-up. Or did they tell the NATS to pack a tailored suit or designer dress when they gave them the official clothing and supply checklist? Plus good shoes.

Shelby and Simon start dancing. Not to go with the stereotypes, but Simon dances like no gayboy ever. Shelby dances like a black girl making fun of how white girls dance. Simon tells Shelby that he invited his boyfriend to meet him at the hotel and he’s going to introduce Max to everyone. Even Shelby finds this bring your boyfriend to work thing a little strange. Also, doesn’t everyone remember how Simon is the 30-year-old virgin?

"Look at all the men here I could not have sex with."

“Look at all the men here I could not have sex with.”

Then Elias and Caleb show up because Liam decided to send some analysts to “observe.” Of course, Elias is there to continue his Simon surveillance, and he’s very interested in the Max situation.

Caleb is there to sabotage Shelby because he believes Shelby ratted him out for his continual unauthorized target practice. It’s not clear whether she did or didn’t, and she’ll continue to be untrustworthy in the other timeline. Please raise your hand if you believe that one day Caleb’s marksmanship is going to be really important.

Up in Rai-Nimah’s room, the twins are arguing about which one gets to go out in the pretty dress. Miranda is there, and we finally get an explanation for the whole twin thing. They are both always going to do everything together, so one can constantly report back in real time to the FBI. Therefore, at the party every hour on the hour they have to change places and will only have a few seconds to pass along the information. Also, if they don’t “win” and get to the CEO, they are both out of Quantico.

That’s the plan? Really? Because while this could possibly work at a party where everyone is drinking and you have a convenient hotel room on premise, how would it work in any other situation, ever? How would it work if your contact takes you on a more-than-one-hour road trip or you’re meeting in a place where there’s no bathroom to hide in?

Miranda leaves the twins and goes to the hotel bar to have a drink with Liam. We learn this is where they used to tryst when they were married to other people. She plies him with alcohol to get answers about the “off the books” stop-Alex operation. Here comes another one of those big reveals where a character is about to learn something, but they’ll cut away before the audience finds out what it is.

Meantime, Elias goes up to Simon’s room where Max is hanging out while Simon is downstairs. Elias flirts his way inside the room in less than a minute. Getting inside Max might have taken slightly longer. He also gets Max’s story, including that Simon and Max met for the picture by Grand Central Station. Coincidence? Later, an angry Elias confronts Simon about the whole faking-the-gay thing and how in addition to just plain being offensive, Simon is DANGEROUS and really hurt poor innocent cute Max, and Elias is SO going to talk to Miranda.

To be fair, Max did get to have sex with the super-hot Elias, so it wasn’t a totally negative experience.

Speaking of sex: Shelby and Caleb have one of those scenes where they go from fighting to taking off their clothes and screwing. Despite both these people being pretty, their chemistry is in the negative numbers. Maybe I was right about Shelby faking the straight.

The fine line between "sexual chemistry" and "smiling politely" isn't actually that fine.

The fine line between “sexual chemistry” and “smiling politely” isn’t actually that fine.

Who wins the corporate competition? Alex, Booth, Random NAT who could turn out to be the stealth terrorist, and the twins. Where’s Vasquez this week? Completely invisible in both timelines despite her being super-competitive. Seriously show, couldn’t you CGI her in or something?

Alex and Booth have sex, this time with no clothes on and standing up, but Booth still hasn’t told her the truth.

Rai-Nimah does not have sex with anyone else or each other, but Nimah teases Raina about Simon. Raina tells her that he doesn’t like “people like us,” by which she means what exactly? Muslims? Women? Twins?

This movie set the twins movement back at least 30 years.

This movie set the twins movement back at least 30 years.

The next day back in the academy, Simon goes to talk to Elias. He comes “clean” with some new lies. He tells Elias he was in the IDF in Gaza and not a volunteer with the Palestinians. He tells him he “did terrible things” he couldn’t live with. (If you thought the Mormons were mad about showing the magic underwear, wait for the fallout from this.) He claims the only way he could go on was by creating a new identity. He admits he doesn’t need glasses, doesn’t like coffee, and, wait for it, he’s, he’s, omigod, omigod, he can’t even say it! Here it comes: He’s … NOT … gay.

Or did he say he’s not NOT gay, which could mean the opposite?

Does this make sense in any way? Why would pretending to like coffee, or cock for that matter, help you live with yourself? At week five with so many more revelations to come, let’s hope this isn’t the truth that sticks. I’m still going with Israeli super-spy because it’s way cooler.

For some reason, Elias buys this particular brand of horse manure, or maybe he finally realizes that Simon could snap his neck like a toothpick and it would be a good idea to play along. Either way, it sure looks like he’s just gone from being this really smart analyst to the tragic gay friend who is still besotted with Simon. He even tells him to keep the glasses because they look good on him, and you know how gay men are all about the pretty. Then Simon asks Rai-Nimah, who is probably Raina, if she wants to go for a walk, and she totally does.

Miranda tells Booth that what Liam is doing regarding Alex is in the interest of national security, but of course she doesn’t tell him how. And just to remind us that everyone is faking something, Caleb takes another look at his “Mark Raymond” Facebook page. Does he know it’s against the rules to have a fake name Facebook account?

10 Months Later/Day 2 or 3 apres le bomb

Media! Some member of the chattering classes is on the television talking about Alex because all these spy shows now have televisions on at all times, which only works on The Americans or Deutschland 83 or other set in the 1980s when people actually watched television all the time. Alex’s picture is on the cover of The New York Post – a print newspaper that still exists in print. The headline calls her Jihadi Jane, which is the best line not said by Elias. Would it have been too much to ask for one of the pictures of Alex NOT to look like it came off a magazine cover, or is “no bad photos” a clause in Priyanka’s contract?

Alex is still holding Shelby hostage in Shelby’s house, which is the perfect hiding place because the FBI already looked there and would never think of coming back. Alex and Shelby are yelling at each other about who looks guiltier. Alex finally tells Shelby to be quiet, and a nation rejoices. If only Alex had taken the much less annoying Elias hostage – assuming he hasn’t met with an unfortunate accident or gotten framed. He would say catty but entertaining things that were truthful and insightful, and he could offer good legal advice, plus grooming tips – because the gay.

Then, Alex decides she needs to tell her story to the world, so she goes to the “dark web.” This is even cheesier than Homeland’s recent visits to Hackerland. Alex is all, “Oh my god! Not the dark web!” Which on the show is a place where you can go and just tap out a message like: “Hi! I am the most wanted terrorist in the world, but I am innocent. Can I tell my story?” In no time you will hear back: “Sure! Just send us a recent photo and you’re in.” And the people replying will not be some guy in a bathrobe in his basement, or a government agency that can get there as easily as you, or a group of foreign grifters who want your moneez. They will be an attractive duo from an outfit known as The Unknowns because the writers were afraid to call them Anonymous as that might piss off the wrong people.

Alex tells Shelby to take her picture and throws a phone at her, which I thought would lead to Shelby trying some funny business with the phone, but there is no payoff to this. Alex just doesn’t know that selfies are a thing.

She arranges to meet The Unknowns in a non-virtual location because going outside and dragging a handcuffed Shelby around is NO problem, and besides it’s not like there’s some magical way they could do everything remotely.

The Unknowns want to “try” her before they put her on the intertubes, and so Alex has to explain some stuff about that lost year, stuff that actually makes her sound, if not guilty, certainly at least a little bit suspicious. It’s now we learn she spent time traveling around, but not to the usual gap year destinations. She went to Pakistan and Iran. And ten of the people she met – including a possible Pakistani intelligence agent – died. Three of them in drone strikes, WHICH if you add up the total number of people killed in drone strikes seems highly unlikely unless it was the same drone strike. But none of that, Alex points out, makes her guilty. It does make her an easy person to blame, especially on account of her being brown and all.

The Unknowns “transmit her message on the internet.” What this means is not explained, probably because whomever wrote the episode doesn’t understand how the internet is different from the television. Suddenly she is everywhere, and despite this being the DARK WEB, Liam says it will take five minutes to trace her location.

So these geniuses couldn’t just have made a video with her at Shelby’s and then uploaded it?

“Oh, look! A single female terrorist 2 miles away wants to meet me!”

Turns out the super secret location was in the basement of a mosque, which is more proof that Alex is a (possibly evil) genius because sending snipers in is going to look very bad, and it’s Ramadan. When the FBI gets there, a whole bunch of women in long dresses with headscarves and veils leave, allowing Alex to slip by the many law enforcement people. Even though they know she’s among them, they don’t stop everyone and have women officers look at each one because they are so afraid of bad PR and accusations of profiling after, let us repeat once again, THE WORST TERRORIST ATTACK ON U.S. SOIL SINCE 911.

"Remember, our orders from Hillary Clinton's personal email server says to stand down if we might inconvenience even a single Muslim!"

“Remember, our orders from Hillary Clinton’s personal email server says to stand down if we might inconvenience even a single Muslim!”

Shelby is found in the mosque basement and brought to headquarters, where Booth reminds Simon she can rat them out, in case Simon forgot that bit of essential, very important information. But Shelby doesn’t because she’s now on Team Alex, or maybe that’s what she wants them to think. Simon has gotten a list of all the agents from their class who were near Grand Central the day before the bombing. There were tons of them, but for some reason it’s Caleb’s name that really stands out for Shelby, so looks like next week we may get to see him in the apres le bomb timeline.

Where are the twins in the present? Here’s my wildcard prediction: Raina gets killed in “the bombing” incident that gets Simon kicked out of the academy, but there are two of them, so we still get to see Nimah in the “after” timeline.

 

"That sounds oddly familiar."

“That sounds oddly familiar.”

As for Alex, The Unknowns get her to a hotel. She’s still in the niqab they brought with them unless they left some woman in the basement of the mosque in her underwear. The three of them looking for a room after reports of the mosque raid wouldn’t look at all strange or suspicious! The way The Unknowns left, it looks like they’ll be turning up again, which wouldn’t be terrible. In future seasons (if any) they could help Alex with her cases because anonymous unknown hackers are all about helping the FBI. They could team up for a spin-off with Elias as a rogue FBI analyst because the spin-off thing worked out so well for the original Lone Gunmen.

Questions, comments, and your own wildcard theories welcome.

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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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