Quantico: The Big Blow Up (S1 E11 RECAP)

quantico logoHey kids, it’s winter finale time, and the promos promise the real-bomber will be revealed. But does that mean really really for reals?

Let’s start with one of those “serious” dramatic voiceovers by the only cast member capable of even semi-heavy lifting in the acting arena. Simon is asking the audience a question: “Have you ever felt like blowing it all up?” And we do hear a boom, but that’s on the television news and it refers to the original Grand Central blast, not the one we’ve been told is coming. It’s now one week since that happened though it may feel a lot longer to the audience. The Democratic National Convention is about to restart. Alex Parrish – the bomber (like she did it all herself) is about to be sentenced.

How does that work? Sure justice is swift, but wouldn’t the government want literally weeks to question her? Wouldn’t accepting the deal include gathering information on every single contact and affiliation she had? What about the internet video? Wouldn’t EVERYONE be talking conspiracy, false flag, and all those fun things they always talk about even when things are much clearer? Then again, we’re talking about Quantico, which takes place in an alternate universe much different from our own where the FBI has already declared victory, and only a handful of agents are even looking for the second bomb.

Why the rush to judgement? Quantico wants to establish a second ticking time bomb (besides the second ticking time bomb) and that bomb is Alex’s pending sentencing. She’s going to prison FOREVER if they don’t find the real bomber in the next four hours. And the ONLY people who she’s innocent are a few of her classmates (one of whom could be the real bomber) plus Liam and Miranda, so if anything happened to them….

And then we’re back at the Academy before a New Year’s Eve three day weekend, with time off for good behavior for the NATS. Alex, Shelby, Vasquez, and Nimah have all lied about going home or other places, but are all staying behind on the campus. Miranda, not wanting to be in her empty house thinking of the “monster” she raised who is out there somewhere, is camped out in her office. There’s a “homework” assignment because there’s always an assignment. The NATS have all been given impossible to solve “pending inactives,” FBI jargon for cold cases because we are told, the FBI never gives up, they just keeps cycling things over and over – like television.

Four women who couldn't get a date New Year's Eve.

Four women who couldn’t get dates New Year’s Eve.

Alex proposes that those who stayed behind get drunk and do their homework together. Good times!

Over in the present, Elias shows up at the Command Center with the agent who’s been tailing him (because everyone who was in the class is being tailed). Has it been established that Elias was the man in the hat who grabbed Simon last week? Apparently, this is the consensus amongst viewers, so Elias is lying. Elias’s story is that someone tried to push him into traffic and he ran to the Command Center because he didn’t feel safe. Then there’s something about Simon – who seems to be a suspect in the second bombing even though he’s not only NOT in custody but doesn’t have a tail on him because whatever. Oren has been hit by a car, making Simon seem even guiltier. Alex grabs an FBI jacket and a cap and leaves her cell because no one will notice she’s gone, and she seems to be in charge of the investigation.

Off everyone goes to Simon’s, including Elias who’s not an FBI agent. Why is Elias with them? It must be for reasons so obvious that no one even thinks to mention them. The place has been littered with all sorts of indications of nefarious planning – blueprints, bomb making materials, etc. Could it have been staged? Alex thinks so and she ought to know.

One of these does not belong.

One of these does not belong.

Then after a quick shot of Quantico with full fall foliage that would have been long gone by December because the show isn’t even trying, we’re back to New Year’s Eve and more girl-bonding over cases and boys.

Obligatory locker room scene really should include Bollywood type production number and/or porn.

Obligatory locker room scene really should include Bollywood type production number and/or porn.

Alex keeps calling Ryan who’s not picking up, so Vasquez sets her phone up with a number block and she tries again. Ryan answers because everyone picks up blocked caller calls, right? There’s a woman’s voice in the background, so Alex hangs up. Nimah goes off to look for coffee and winds up finding Miranda and hanging out with her. Caleb shows up in a tux, and Vasquez, Alex and Shelby all go to a party at the Hass house.

Party!

Present: A key card for the hotel that is the convention site, is found with Simon’s things, so off they go to investigate, including Alex because all brown girls look a like or she’s Super Girl, and they bust into a room where Simon is sitting in a chair with what looks like a bomb trigger taped to his hand. He tells them he got grabbed by “someone,” woke up there like that, and is afraid to move. Also he’s starting to sweat and is afraid his hand might slip and cause a boom-boom. And YES Elias is still there for the ride along. Vasquez with her gun on the guy with the bomb trigger talks about finding his “workshop.” He says he’s being framed same as Alex was. Camera pans to Elias who is standing there looking shady.

Simon says, "HELP."

Simon says, “HELP.”

Elias speaks up and says Simon came to him yesterday and asked about “flight manifests” and was going to run. Attorney client privilege much? Simon admits that of course he was going to run. He didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison for designing a bomb that was never actually built and wouldn’t have gone off. Not even Alex believes him. She wants to know where the second bomb is. He tells her only the person who planted it would know, and again we see a close up of sweaty Elias shifting his eyes.

Past: It’s party time at the Hass’s big New Year’s Bash. Alex immediately meets an attractive blonde named Hannah who has her “dream job” in “anti-terrorism” and a big fat wedding ring. Anyone want to guess who her husband is? If you guessed Ryan Booth you could write for the show. Only Ryan is really her ex-husband, and they’re just working undercover together at the Hass party because why wouldn’t you have two FBI agents working undercover at a New Year’s Eve party being given by a senator and the number two guy at the FBI?

"Yeah, but have you ever done it with him in the front seat of a car?"

“Nice ring, but have you ever done it with him in the front seat of a car?”

Awkward moment when Shelby meets senator and desparate housewife Claire Hass. Not awkward because we know Shelby will soon be shtupping her spouse, but awkward because of some really bad dialogue and fictional history. Claire mentions Shelby’s parents, and Shelby mentions the famous photo of Claire running into the second tower. Just to clarify: Within 16 minutes of the first plane hitting the North Tower, both buildings were being evacuated. NOBODY besides rescue workers was rushing in or would have been allowed to. The sequence of events happened in quick enough succession that even if a grand-standing politician had wanted to get there quickly, there was no way he or she would have been able to or would have been anything but in the way. Did the writers not bother reading a wikipedia page before writing this crap? It’s one thing to throw in fall foliage after shots of bare trees, and another to screw with events within the actual memory of a sizable number of viewers. Rant over.

After we desecrate history, I'll share some family secrets, kay?

After we desecrate history, I’ll share some family secrets, kay?

Present: Speaking of acts of courage, Simon reminds everyone of that time Elias ran out of the room when there was a bomb scare, and says he’d do anything to save his own skin. Suddenly Alex is on team Simon, turning her gun on Elias. Vasquez and Nimah aren’t convinced yet, but when Simon threatens to pull the trigger, Elias jumps on him to stop him and confesses. Not only have they made Elias a coward and a terrorist collaborator, but now they’ve also made him a sleazy lawyer. He claims that a week before someone called him threatening to expose shannigans in a couple of his cases. This was enough to get him involved in the plot to frame Alex. He claims he wasn’t the one who kidnapped her, and he thought he was just setting her up for the attempt, that there wouldn’t be a real bomb. He says his last task was to bring the trigger to the hotel and wait for instructions, but he thought of “a better way” which apparently involved framing Simon, and somehow bringing everyone to the hotel to stop the bombing. He claims he doesn’t know where the bomb is, but everyone thinks it’s somewhere in the hotel.

More soap opera in the past: Claire shares something about the cult stuff with Shelby, something that implies both an FBI sting and family rift around these events.

Present:The team is still with Simon while Miranda and Liam search for the bomb. The dogs can’t smell it. Simon figures it might be in the boiler room, and it is! They start to difuse it. Elias jumps out a window rather than face the consequences of his actions.

Past: Ryan kisses Alex. Alex freaks out and tries to leave. Liam of all people, tells her she shouldn’t blame Ryan for what happened. Caleb finds out his mother is on the short-list for VP, and in front of his father says that his mother only wants to get back together for politics. During her New Year’s toast, Clayton stands around looking uncomfortable. Then Hannah confronts Alex about breaking Ryan’s heart.

Present: The evacuation continues while the bomb squad works. Miranda is still hanging out in the building as are the team with Simon because even though in real-life bomb situations the only personnel risking their lives are the ones who absolutely need to, on Quantico courage is staying together until the boom because that’s the t in team.

Shelby at the command center runs into Claire, who now knows via Caleb’s big mouth about the affair. (Why aren’t these cowards running toward the bomb?) Claire is pissed, but not because of Clayton. She’s mad at Shelby for breaking Caleb’s heart.

Past: New Year’s countdown. Shelby sneaks away because she’s mad at Caleb for messing in his parents’ marriage. Alex tries to sneak away because she’s feeling bad about Ryan. She runs into Liam again, and winds up getting a ride with him.

Present:Speaking of countdowns, they defuse the bomb in the boiler room seconds before it would go off. Alex gets the call and tells Simon he can let the trigger go. He does and a couple of seconds later there’s an explosion, so it looks like the boiler room bomb was a decoy. Oops.But what got blown up?

Past: Liam and Alex discuss the cold case assignment which seems to be a metaphor for something. Then she asks him to take her someplace or anyplace, which is definitely a metaphor for sexytimes, which she suddenly wants to have with him to take her mind off Ryan, and/or blow up that potential relationship up forever (since the episode is all about blowing stuff up) and/or daddy issues. Caleb goes to the academy to find Shelby who breaks up with him because she realizes he will always blow things up like he just did with his parents, or the way he forced her to confront being conned by her sister, or that time he almost blew himself up with the cult which she figured out based on a google search and what Claire told her. Miranda finally goes home and discovers a badly beaten Charlie on her front porch.

Still in the past, apparently after New Year’s day because the banks are open, but people are still saying Happy New Year, Caleb as Mark Raymond walks into a bank. They think he’s a bigshot because a man at the bank greets him personally and by name, even though they haven’t met before. The man says he was supposed to have been there weeks, and it’s nice to finally meet him. Mark Raymond is coming to look at safety deposit boxes to see which will meet his needs. The bank is on the first floor of the building that just got blown up, which is the same building where the Command Center is and where they were taking the evacuees.

Just don't ask me to play a game of solitaire.

Just don’t ask me to play a game of solitaire.

So is Caleb the real Charlie – a mole recruited by his cult? Yet, another example of the someone who in our universe would never have passed a first round of basic screening?  Is the bombing really Shelby’s fault for breaking up with him, thus pushing him over the edge? Or maybe he’s a brainwashed Manchurian candidate who doesn’t even know what he did and will die tragically in the final finale, probably after killing Shelby if she’s not already dead? All the backstory love life stuff begins to look more relevant if the bombing happens BECAUSE of a personal relationship gone bad, but we won’t begin to have the answers till March when Quantico returns. Meanwhile your comments, theories, speculations and general snark are greatly encouraged in the comments below.

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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