Quantico: Mommy Issues (S1 E3 RECAP)

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So much secrecy and deception, and 95% of it won’t have anything to do with the bombing. But let’s have fun and throw out as many wacky theories as we can each time the show lobs some goofy hint our way.

We knew Alex’s mom was hiding something in Episode 1 when he saw her smoking cigarettes – a sure sign on television of villainy, deception, neurosis, and/or (on FOX News) secret Muslim tendencies. Episode 3 opens with a SWAT team bearing down on Momma Parish, and boy los Federales look like jackbooted thugs grabbing a barefoot depressive out of her bedroom.


Flashback time. The team is doing an exercise in the pool. Point? Show off nubile well-toned bodies, and also Alex cuts her finger. THIS WILL BE VERY IMPORTANT as will anything they suddenly close in on and/or immediately rewind to.

The FBI's synchronized swim team is the envy of all the covert intelligence-gathering agencies.

The FBI’s synchronized swim team is the envy of all the covert intelligence-gathering agencies.

Flashforward, and Booth is back on the job, having recovered from his near death experience (or was it?). Alex is still on the loose. Is this still Day One? Booth couldn’t have been shot almost to death, had surgery, woken up, spoken to Alex on the phone, been released, and gone back to work on the same day. Or was his whole bullet thing a fake-out? Or maybe he’s really RoboAgent. Time stamps would be helpful, but what is even the point of seeing him come back to the job? Ever get the feeling this show is using the time jumps as pure gimmickry to make a not very clever mystery look more interesting than it is?

Back to the past: In the girl’s locker room, Alex and Shelby talk about Shelby’s secret late night calls, which is a much more interesting conversation when they are both in their underwear than it would be if they were fully clothed. Nimah or Rainia, whichever one is the big bossy-pants, is not happy about Vasquez, who was mean to her or her sister in the swim exercise. On the boys’ side of the gym, Not-Gay Gay Simon is complaining to Booth that Elias is a stalker. Also, the alleged reason he finds Elias’ attention so irksome is that he has a “boyfriend,” a known untruth, making him the lyingest liar from Liarville. Why is Simon afraid to come out as straight?

If this ain't enough to turn him gay, ain't nothing will.

If this ain’t enough to turn him gay, ain’t nothing will.

Liam gives Alex her father’s file. But is she woman enough to actually look at it? Booth is somewhere nearby, lurking and listening.

Analysts and agents are brought together again at a session led by Miranda. She’s ordering them to “get real” and write scathingly honest profiles on each other because FBI School is some combination of high school, Survivor, and the type of work retreat where it’s a whole weak of embarrassing ice-breakers and exercises, a.k.a. WHY I AM NO LONGER IN SOCIAL SERVICES.

Speaking of high school, this is the level of banter going on between Shelby and Caleb:

Caleb: I’m an open book.

Shelby: I know, I read it. American Psycho.


Much more talky-talk like this happens around the profile assignment. Let’s move on.

Apres le bomb: Jacob from Lost is playing Deputy Director Clayton, a.k.a. the character they forgot to give a first name to in the credits. To many of us, Mark Pellegrino will always be Rita’s ex-husband on Dexter, or that guy on Supernatural, or that other guy in Almost Human, or some other important-for-a-while-but-not-leading-or-even-regular character in something else.

"Revolution," "The Tomorrow People," "The Returned"... I'm not saying this guy is a show killer, but I'm willing to pay money to keep from appearing on "Orphan Black."

“Revolution,” “The Tomorrow People,” “The Returned”… I’m not saying this guy is a show killer, but I’m willing to pay money to keep him from appearing on “Orphan Black.”

Clayton is not happy that Alex is still on the loose, and he’s going to have to explain to the American people (for whom he works) how a Quantico recruit turned out to be a terrorist. He blames Liam.

But Liam is ON it. He tells Clayton he’s got Alex’s mother and he’s going to make her talk. Because who knows you better than the mother you didn’t live with for 10 critical years of your adolescence and young adulthood?


Alex seems to be emerging from the icy waters of the Hudson River in Riverdale. Riverdale, for those of you unfamiliar with the environs of New York City, is actually in the Bronx but pretends it’s not, but geographically it is, which means she’s safe because no one ever goes there. Also, there are better ways to get there than swimming, but she appears to be wet and she’s climbing up from the river bank. There’s a not quite washed-out address written on her hand, which leads her to the door of Simon’s fantastically well appointed home. And now all New Yorkers with a real estate fetish (which is all New Yorkers) will commence with the heavy breathing.

Simon’s not wearing pretend glasses anymore, and he doesn’t immediately offer her coffee so even his love o’ the blessed bean was probably fake. But she was sent there by Booth, who called in advance to tell Simon she was coming, so now we’ll have to unwrap the past to figure out why Booth would have thought trusting duplicitous Simon would be a good idea.

We don’t get the whole story because on this show we never do, but we do find out Simon got kicked out of Quantico, maybe unfairly or maybe for being an asshat. There was something referenced by Alex, but not seen yet in flashback, about his “handling” a bomb in training, which led to everybody seeing the “real” Simon. He now works for a “tech startup,” which means he’s the guy in the story who will do the “cyber” stuff, like figuring out how they framed Alex based on the evidence because CSI may be gone, but its influence on television will live on forever.

Over at the FBI, Liam is having a chat with Alex’s mom, Sita. Liam’s past with her husband is referenced. (Did we know he had a past with him before? We did by osmosis if we’ve ever watched television before.)

Liam says that everything about what he and Mike did is “on the record” so there’s no need for Sita to rehash, which means the audience won’t know ever or ‘til the second half of the episode or later in the season. We already knew Sita sent Alex to India for ten years after her father’s death, but Sita admits to Liam that Alex was “missing” one of those years. Where was she? Nobody asked, or maybe Sita’s making the whole thing up because she’s a smoker.

Let’s return now to the Academy daze and that profiling exercise. Turns out Miranda boiled down the nastiest excerpts from what they wrote about each other, then posted them because something-something again about “facing the truth.” Bet you didn’t know the FBI ran its training like some psychobabble 1980s cult all about the authencity, did you? Now Miranda wants each of them to give her the names of three ANTS what need to be cut from the program because they are untrustworthy and/or weak. If they don’t submit names, she’ll cut ten herself and one of them could be you!


How many of you guessed that was a character test and the point was to stand together and say no to the whole thing? Pat yourselves on the back and sign up for FBI school because the only recruit in this class who figured it out was Miss Alex Parrish, once again showing common sense, principles, and the leadership skills that will make her first in her class. Simon, on the other hand, ran to Miranda with names of those he thought should be ousted and he got a reprimand for it. So if you thought the FBI expected you to blindly follow orders from your superiors, you are a terrible person. Remember: you are expected to stand by your coworkers “when they need you the most,” even if you really feel they are incompetent. Oh, and don’t trust the higher-ups.

In 2016, Miranda, still under guard at the “Command Center,” sees Sita heading toward a bathroom and tells her guard she has to go. She manages to block the guard from the door long enough to tell Sita not to lose faith in her daughter. Sita’s reaction is, “Oh my God, aren’t you the FBI agent whose own son….” But she doesn’t get to finish the thought because they’ll be milking this cow for several more episodes.

Meantime, Simon tells Alex they’ll have to go to his office so he can “check the databases” because tech guys never work from home and don’t have log-ons, and databases are by definition “bases” which means they are physically stored someplace like maybe in a giant freezing cold “computer room” to house the ginormous servormigig, and television shows really need tech consultants under age of 60.

Alex cleverly disguises herself by wearing a hoody, which is better than traveling underwater. There’s nobody at Simon’s office because it’s still Day One. So how did they get from Riverdale to Manhattan? If Grand Central blowed up, the subways and light rail wouldn’t be running and traffic would be a bitch. Also it’s not like a state of emergency wouldn’t have been declared and people wouldn’t have been told to stay inside because New York just suffered the worst attack since 9/11 and this time even the people in charge were saying it’s an inside job. So did they use the teleporter or what?

Turns out Simon didn’t just have to look at databases. He has all sorts of cool stuff at his office like fingerprinting kits, microscopes and chemical analysis equipment, and such like. It might not have sounded so dumb if he’d just explained that was why they needed to go there, and also if he gave some reasonable explanation of why that stuff was there – like maybe after getting dumped by Quantico he went into the private evidence testing business. How hard was that to write?

But back to the important story points. Alex’s fingerprints on the bomb materials don’t have the scar she got when she cut her finger during the swim exercise, so they must have been from before that happened, which means somebody planned to frame her for a very long time. Also, if the prints don’t fit, we must acquit. Plus, Alex has some bit of bomb-making wire she grabbed from her unguarded apartment before her girl fight with Vasquez. Presumably Simon will be able to apply his big brain and knowledge of things that go boom and learn something from that.


Then, because we can never trust Simon, he alerts los federales to Alex’s presence, but claims he did it to protect her and tells her where the gun is and to rough him up for the security cameras (which conveniently don’t have sound so they can discuss it). She is happy to oblige. Also, for a guy what was kicked out of the Academy, he has a pretty good sense of what will happen next and tells her they’ll interrogate him and he’ll have to tell them things, but then they’ll release him so they can meet back at his place, which they won’t be watching just like they weren’t watching her apartment.

Back in the past, Rainimah (because we don’t care enough to keep track) tells off Vasquez. Shelby and Caleb have a moment in the dorms when they let down their guard and are nice to each other. Liam continues to look shady after a chat with Miranda. Booth and Simon have a bro exchange after having had an earlier maybe-we-will-kill-each-other moment. Then, Booth lets Alex cry on his shoulder as she talks about reading her father’s FBI profile and how he was a hero, and she killed him.

Spoiler Alert: Dad's not really dead and masterminded this entire conspiracy to get back at her mother for burning the pot roast that one time.

Spoiler Alert: Dad’s not really dead and masterminded this entire conspiracy to get back at her mother for burning the pot roast that one time.

Flashforward to what is still Day One. Sita is making a statement to the press because this is presumably what the aforementioned American people want to hear. She’s talking about the red flags she ignored, begging Alex to turn herself in, and generally not just throwing her daughter under the bus, but actually driving the bus. Thanks a lot, mom!

Some months before that we see Miranda visiting her son, who maybe was going to shoot or blow up a school or something that was hinted at but not yet fully explained and thanks to Miranda he is in the hoosegow. He is NOT happy to see her. But the maybe-not-so-good news is he’s going to be out soon on parole. Would that be soon enough to plan and carry out the bombing? Could he be the super-genius bomber who is really the “terrorist?” He certainly has that hollow-eyed look down. So this really was all about mommy issues? It’s as good a theory as any, and I’ll stick to it ‘til something else comes along.

Also back in the Academy daze, Nimah leaves Raina to continue her training as a singleton. It’s clear which one did the leaving because there was a signed note – and if you were secretly sharing a room with your twin sister and you left her a note, wouldn’t you sign your name to it so she’d know whom it was from? Now we’ll finally be able to figure out which one was the nice one who likes Simon and whether that was the same one who could do more push-ups. Some people playing the guessing game will say that angry Nimah is the terrorist because you can have a bad Muslim woman in a hijab, but only if you also have a good one for balance, but I say nope. Will Raina have to spend the rest of her career answering to her sister’s name?


Flashforward to Day One, and Alex is back at Simon’s where she has pasted up a wall o’ photos because every show involving an investigation since Season One of Homeland MUST use a wall because it’s the law. She’s trying to focus, which isn’t so easy when you’re watching your Mom renouncing you on television and you can’t just switch channels because it’s on all of them.

Simon gets back from interrogation ready to help her or betray her or both. He takes a call from his boss, who is guess who? Jacob from Lost, a.k.a. Assistant Director Clayton, who refers to Simon as Agent Asher – killing my theory that he works for the Mossad – or maybe not, because anything is possible. Clayton tells him to go slowly with her. How deep is this crazy rabbit hole?

So what do we know? Despite all of Miranda’s stuff about “telling the truth” and needing to trust your brothers and sisters in the agency, it appears that Liam, Miranda and No-name Clayton are all running completely different games that may or may not have anything to do with the bombing, also at least three FBI agents know exactly where Alex is while the rest of the agency is frantically searching for her, and nobody is thinking of we the taxpayers. Plus, shouldn’t they be focused on finding the real bomber UNLESS the truth about Alex, which drove her father to drink and he was hinting at telling her when he was killed, is that she really is part of some wacky breeding experiment to create a super-agent so they are letting her lead them to the real bomber because that is what she was born to do?

Tune in to the show next week for more meaningless bits and pieces. Then come back here where we can try to fit the puzzle together as a team! (And I won’t even make you tell me your most embarrassing secret.)

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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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