Quantico: Kill (Your Television) (S1 E4 RECAP)

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If Quantico were just 10% more terrible, it would be great. For now it continues to ride the thin edge between hate-watchable and Ambien. I blame Josh Safron, the showrunner. His previous two-season camporama, Smash, was a total trainwreck, but Quantico is just a bus full of beautiful people stuck in traffic.

It’s not the constant seasaw timeshifts that make Quantico difficult to get into, or the lack of relatable characters, or even the utter ridiculousness of everything. It’s the totally awkward way characters blurt out IMPORTANT information. In the academy scenes, we watch swimming, shooting, and running exhibitions, followed by Miranda at the podium, explaining important life lessons. It’s like someone else’s summer camp home movies, if they went to a camp for runway models. Both timelines are filled with clunky dialogue dropping reveals and hints. The main means by which we “discover” anything is by being told in the present about something that happened in the past, with a hint that we’ll actually get to see that thing we now already know about in the future. It’s like getting the punch line before you’ve heard the joke.

So instead of going back and forth on this week’s recap, let’s unpack the plot and follow the evidence – as they used to say on a much better show. What clues will lead us toward discovering the “real” terrorist? Probably none, since Quantico will likely pull something out of a hat that has nothing to do with what we “learn” about the recruits and their handlers, but let’s head down the rabbit hole anyway.

Nine months ago at the FBI Academy:

Girls! Girls! Girls! There’s tension between Shelby and Alex. They haven’t hung up a blanket as a room divider yet, but that may be happening soon. Shelby is all, “I wanna sleep late!” But Alex is all, “Let’s do some target practice, and fifty push-ups, and study so I don’t have to think about my tragic past.” Plus, each of them has SECRETS, and shouldn’t roommates who just met in training know EVERYTHING about each other?

Because Quantico is a hotbed of high school gossip, Shelby finds out Alex’s big secret – that she killed her father. How? Booth accidentally spills the beans because if you tell one person, you might as well announce it on the public address system. Thanks a lot, Booth!

Shelby admits to Alex that those early morning phone calls are to her half-sister. They were a secret because she lied to the FBI about having contact with her. Does Alex ask why she lied about something so seemingly innocuous in the first place? Nope. Is Shelby still lying? Uh, probably – given that those conversations are in Arabic and have a definite romantic flavor.

We also learn through awkward dialogue that later in the academy timeline, Alex will find out something juicy about Shelby’s parents and Shelby will not react well to her knowing this. What exactly does she learn? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Vasquez is an annoying mean girl, and she was showing off her fake scar, which conveniently is totally hidden by her hair, so the only way anyone can see it is if she pulls back her hair and shoves it in their face, which she actually does.

Simon is a suspiciously good marksman, because he does everything both well and suspiciously. Can we all agree on Mossad agent and move on? Elias confronts him again, telling him that the West Bank organization he says he worked for never heard of him. Also, he doesn’t even drink coffee and what’s up with those ungay stolen glances at Rai-Nimah? His answers to Elias’ three questions support the Mossad theory: Simon says he’s a patriot, but doesn’t say he’s an American. He says he’s “most definitely” Jewish. And his answer to “Are you even gay” is the biggest giveaway: “No, but my boyfriend is.”

If only Elias had asked him, “But is he your for realz boyfriend or some rando you got to pose for a photo?” Elias suggests Simon is faking the gay because it was a “sure way” to get into Quantico, which in the show’s world was so anxious to affirmative action a gay that they forgot to do a background check. Is that more insulting to the FBI or to the gays…or to the audience?

Elias tells Simon he can come clean with him or he’ll take what he has to Miranda and Liam. It makes perfect sense you would tell the guy whom you just accused of being a duplicitous and dangerous traitor that you know about him and are going to go to the authorities.

Speaking of Rai-Nimah, Miranda tracks the real Nimah to a hotel and tells her to come back because she needs both of them. Nimah wants to know why she needs both of them. Miranda finally fesses up in a monologue because why show us in a double-flashback when you can save on the budget and just tell us.

What’s Miranda’s big secret? Her troubled son was recruited by jihadists through the internet. Only she doesn’t use the word “jihadist” or even refer to their religion, and Nimah describes them as “extremists” because the show doesn’t want to offend anyone (except possibly Jews, but not really because Simon will turn out to be totally on our side). Her son was going to prove himself by blowing up his fancy private school, which is full of children of politicians. Miranda wants to get the evil-doers who turned him. But why does she need BOTH Nimah and Raina, and why the ridiculous charade? That part is not actually explained, but might be a couple of episodes from now.

We get another reminder that her son is about to be paroled and is therefore, as they say on better spy shows, in play.

Caleb turns out to be a great analyst and has completely dropped the douche-baggery, but what about his secret identity per his Facebook profile – the one where he wears nerdy glasses and reads books? Nothing new on that.

Liam tells Booth that his “mission” is almost done. All he has to do now is convince Alex to quit the academy because “the agency” has decided she isn’t fit to work there. So why don’t they just throw her out? Blah, blah, blah, moar words, and Booth is going to be fired if he keeps asking questions. But Booth is secretly recording this on his phone and Miranda is listening. Booth and Miranda then confront Alex, who was having doubts about herself after finding out her father was a hero. Miranda tells her that her father was also a violent drunk with a spotty record so stop your boo-hooing and you’ll be fine.

Booth may have been wearing a regular FBI ID tag in that scene. We see the tag and see Alex looking at the tag, but it’s not referenced, so maybe she knows or maybe not. Our forensic reconstruction of the tag proved inconclusive.

Zoom and enhance!!

Zoom and enhance!!

And now onto the Day Two, Apres Le Bomb:

A thing actually happens! Simon is still hanging with Alex when he gets a text from Clayton that the hostage team was on its way. At the same time, Liam tells Booth that they’re about to get Alex so they all go to watch this, situation room-style, on the TV. Booth texts Simon to warn him, but then Booth looks over his shoulder and sees Clayton texting Simon, so then Booth texts, “Hey whadup? I thought we were bros?” Not exactly, but wouldn’t it have been better if he had?

The Nigerian prince did it!!

Why is the text icon an envelope? The mysteries never end.

Also, we learn that after getting kicked out of Quantico, Simon got “instated” into the FBI by Clayton himself to work deep cover because the FBI wanted to investigate the tech company he works for.

Vasquez is still jealous of Alex and pissed off that her boyfriend Booth was at Alex’s the morning of the bombing. Why is he with this terrible person? And does he know about the fake scar?

Simon decides to get Alex out before the troops land. Why the change of heart? Who knows why he does anything, but he doesn’t tell her he betrayed her or that they’re about to be raided. Also, why didn’t the FBI just come that night when she was sleeping at his house? And wouldn’t the agents have been approaching on ALL sides and not leave the backyard wide open?

He and Alex go to Williamsburg to see his friend the bomb expert from the “IDF” (Isreali Defense Force) to find out more about the wire from the bomb. Are the subways running again now that’s it’s been two days since the bombing that took out many subway lines, or did they teleport? Does she travel in the trunk of his car because you’ve got to cross a couple of bridges to get from Riverdale in da Bronx to Williamsburg in the heart of hipster Brooklyn and you’d think they’d have police searching cars given there’s a dangerous terrorist on the loose whose photo has now been released?

Simon’s friend is a Hassid. In real life, which the show bears no resemblance to, the Hassids in Williamsburg belong to a blatantly anti-Zionist sect, and also ultra-religious people don’t even serve in the IDF. Simon explains to Alex that his friend doesn’t speak English so he’ll do the translating. His friend thought Simon might have something to do with the bombing. Simon mistranslates that. Good on the show for at least attempting a foreign language, but Tate Ellington’s accent was the most goyishe thing since Michelle Bachman used a soft “ch” for chutzbuh. What’s the big reveal here? Turns out the wire comes from Shelby’s company.

Naturally, Simon and Alex then break into Shelby’s mansion, which has the worst security system ever and no live-in help. What are they looking for exactly? Clues! Shelby comes home unexpectedly and is faster on the draw then Alex, but Booth comes in and makes Shelby drop her gun. The FBI is on the way, so Booth and Simon both run away so they won’t get arrested. What is Alex going to do with Shelby exactly? There’s a struggle and a girlfight, which may be a weekly feature. Shelby manages to cuff Alex’s wrist to hers, but then Alex manages to take charge and drag her outside to Shelby’s conveniently parked car or maybe someone else’s unlocked vehicle because people in New York always find a space right in front of their house and never lock their cars. When the FBI approaches the house, Alex and Shelby are on the floor of the back seat. Alex punches Shelby to knock her out to keep her from yelling, and nobody is looking at the cars. Of course, the FBI does a quick search and abruptly leaves with no one watching the house, so Alex can drag Shelby back in and cuff her to a banister because the streets are also completely empty so no one will see notice anything. She tells Shelby she’ll keep her hostage until she explains how a wire made by her company wound up in the bomb.

"The safe word is 'Shonda Rhimes.'"

“The safe word is ‘Shonda Rhimes.'”

Okay, who’s ‘shipping Shelby and Alex? Post-academy Shelby is glammed up, but in a ladies of The L Word kind of way. Wouldn’t it be great if it turned out that Simon was fake gay, but Shelby was fake straight?

Meantime, Clayton is announcing they can’t let Alex keep running around making a monkey out of the FBI, so shoot to kill because that’s totally the way we do things in America! Based on the promo, it looks like next week more secrets will be revealed, which is totally different than what happens every week. Your crackpot theories are welcome here. One of them is bound to be THE TRUTH.

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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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