Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Quantico 1x05 "Found" (I Once Was Lost) [Contributor: Meredith]

Original Airdate: October 25, 2015

The key to any good story is in the relationships. Whether you’re writing a novel, creating a television show, or putting together the next big Blockbuster hit, relationships drive the narrative. Action, comedy, suspense, drama –– it doesn’t matter the genre. If a story doesn’t have strong, interesting, layered relationships that pull the audience in and make them care, it’s going to fall flat.

What Quantico did this week was prove that it understands this, and can deliver on it in spades. While the relationships –– romantic, adversarial, friendly –– have been touched upon, hinted at, and set up prior to this week’s episode, action and suspense has largely driven the plot thus far. Not so this week, where the action took a back seat to the relationship-building. A number of relationships moved forward in major ways, both in the flashbacks and in present day, and at least one major character mystery was (seemingly) revealed. Of course, one should know by now that on this show nothing can be taken at face value when it's tagline is "trust no one."


In the flashbacks, the NATs are tasked with creating false identities and infiltrating a convention, where they need to attempt to gain audience with the company’s CEO. This is all secondary, of course, to the real drama: Simon gets his fake boyfriend Max to come to the event, in order to convince Elias (and others) that he is –– in fact –– gay and he does –– in fact –– have a boyfriend. This fails spectacularly when Elias speaks directly to Max and learns that he has only met Simon once before.

Meanwhile, the twins have to up their game and switch off every hour, in order to prove that they can play the same person convincingly. They succeed, and end up winning the entire assignment. Elsewhere at the party, Male Golden Retriever has it out for Female Golden Retriever, metaphorically pulling her pigtails until she gives up and they have hate sex in an abandoned ballroom. Despite Caleb leaving Shelby in bed, making her miss the bus back to campus after the event, the two are apparently continuing their trysts the next day in Shelby’s car.

Also at the party, Miranda ends up supposedly finding out why O’Connor has it out for Alex, but we –– the audience –– don’t find out what that reason is. O’Connor and Miranda also allude again to a past romantic dalliance that may be complicating both their judgment.

And finally, finally, Alex and Ryan give in to the stifling unresolved sexual tension between them, and make very good use of the hotel room they conveniently find themselves in, alone, together. It seems like smooth sailing for our favorite smoldering duo, as they openly flirt and smile giddily at each other back on campus. But Ryan is still keeping a major secret from Alex, and who knows how she’ll react when she finds out he’s been tasked with shadowing her for O’Connor.

At the end of the flashback scenes, Simon opens up to Elias, admitting that he was a soldier with the Israeli Defense Force, and in that role he was sent to Gaza where he not only witnessed, but had to do unspeakable things. When he returned, the only way to move forward, he explains, was to reinvent himself. Thus the lies. A tentative bond is formed between the two men, but the real surprise is when Nimah lets her guard down and asks Simon to take a walk. Is there another romance budding? The potential unlikely coupling of a Jew, and former IDF soldier, and a devout Muslim woman, is one of the most intriguing things the show has done so far.


In present day, Alex reaches out to the show’s version of Anonymous –– helpfully called The Unknown –– in order to get her side of the story to the public. She manages to convince them of her innocence just by being impassioned and a bit standoffish. The FBI tracks her to a mosque, making it difficult for them to storm inside to find her. The mosque attendees also help her escape undetected by filing out in traditional dress, with the women’s faces covered. Alex manages to get away, leaving Shelby behind. Ryan and Simon, meanwhile, are concerned that Shelby is about to give them up to O’Connor. But in a surprising move she doesn’t, and she tells the men that she now, too, believes in Alex’s innocence. Upon examining a list of their classmates who were near Grand Central at the time of the bombing, it seems that the next likely suspect is Caleb (a.k.a. Male Golden Retriever.) Female Golden Retriever is not happy at this development as he was not supposed to be in New York.

One of the things the show did really well this week was address the elephant in the room: Alex’s skin color. So far, it’s been something that simmered under the surface, never addressed head-on. But as the episode opens with a montage of the media assigning Alex nicknames like Bomb Bae, Terror Babe, and Jihadi Jane, it seems that it’s time to acknowledge the truth. And Alex herself does so, telling the world that “they framed the brown girl.” Bravo, Alex, and Quantico writers, for no longer skirting the issue. As Alex rightfully and realistically points out, in this country, she was an easy and believable scapegoat.

Not everything in this week’s episode was praiseworthy, however. In particular, Alex’s scenes with the two operatives from The Unknown were hurried and underdeveloped. She didn’t actually say anything to prove her innocence, and their unconditional support of her at the end of the episode (“if you ever need anything, we’ll be there”) seems unearned. Of course the audience is supposed to believe in Alex, and we do, but it doesn’t make sense for strangers to believe in her too without any solid evidence or reason to do so.

I’m also not sure that the FBI would have actually let a bunch of Muslim women just walk past them when looking for a suspect. I’m sure they have ways to sensitively and respectfully check their identities. They couldn’t have asked all the women to gather in a room with female FBI agents in order to make sure that their terror suspect wasn’t hiding among them? I understand bad publicity, and O’Connor makes sure we get that by literally saying “this is a PR nightmare,” but when searching for the perpetrator of the “biggest attack since 9/11,” this seems just too sloppy to me.

Nonetheless, despite a few missteps, Quantico continues to entertain, finally answering some burning questions, while creating new ones as well. As a shipper, I’m thrilled to see some resolution to the sizzling UST between Ryan and Alex, but I’m a savvy enough viewer to know that we’re in for a bumpy ride, and I can’t wait.


The cast once again delivers solid performances, notably Yasmine Elmasri as Nimah and Raina, and Rick Cosnett as Elias. I’m loving the chemistry between Cosnett and Tate Ellington (Simon), even if it seems that this relationship is destined to only be a friendly one. Ellington and Elmasri also have fantastic chemistry, and their slow-developing friendship (and maybe more?) is one of the more fascinating dynamics on the show.

While a bit tropey, it was lots of fun getting to see the NATs dressed in fancy clothes, letting loose and having fun at a party. To enjoy this show, sometimes the viewer needs to suspend belief for a bit, and allow themselves to appreciate the less realistic aspects of it. I think what needs to happen next, though, is that our heroine needs to really show the audience why we should believe that she’s innocent. Until now, we’ve been taking her word for it. It’s time to see some evidence.

My favorite part of the flashbacks is the burgeoning relationships (Ryan/Alex, Nimah/Simon, Golden Retrievers), and the friendships (Alex/Shelby, and now Simon/Elias). And my favorite part of present day is quickly becoming how the NATs are coming together again, to rally around Alex and help one of their own. The team dynamic and camaraderie is the best part of the show.

Last week’s episode was full of action, both in the past and present, and it was counterbalanced well by this week’s focus on character and relationships. The show would benefit from episodes that have both action and relationship development in equal doses, but that’s understandably a lot to accomplish in 42 minutes. “Found” was a necessary reprieve from the go-go-go, and I’m very pleased with the forward momentum we saw in the character interactions.

Quantico maintains its title as my favorite new show of the season, and I’m looking forward to continuing to unravel its mysteries.

Odds and Ends:
  • The initial fight between the Golden Retrievers and the removal of clothing was a bit awkward, no? It was made better by the heat level of the scene that followed, but I was cringing a bit during the lead-up. 
  • Is anyone else super loving the sweet, almost innocent build of the Simon/Nimah relationship? I’m hooked. 
  • While the episode seemed to try to cast suspicion off of Simon and onto Caleb, I’m still not sure that we know everything there is to know about Mr. Asher’s secrets. 
  • I’m a bit disappointed that Simon isn’t gay. I was looking forward to the Simon/Elias ship.
  • MAJOR kudos to Rick Cosnett for his takedown of Simon’s cover as a gay man. Just like the show addressed Alex’s race head on, so too did they address how offensive it was of Simon to try to co-opt the struggle of a gay man. Cosnett is the episode’s MVP for passionately delivering that speech. 
  • Previews. Shower sex. Mer is dead.


  1. I have to admit, I'm confused by Nimah/Raina deciding to 'pursue' Simon because as far as they know, he's gay? Do they suspect he's lying as well?

    1. I think so! Yes. I think she feels a connection to him, and noticed that he was interested in her early on. I can't remember specific examples but I do think the twins have made comments suggesting they suspect he isn't actually gay.

    2. I think it was even in the pilot that when Nimah/Raina was interrogating, she made some sort of comment about him being a virgin and talking to his "boyfriend."

      Plus, Raina always mentions how interested Simon is in Nimah, so I think they both definitely don't believe he's gay and that he's lying about that or are at least highly suspicious that he's being honest.

  2. that mosque scene was so good tho! totes reminded me of 24 s2 where Bauer n Kate Warner were trying to look for their suspect outside the mosque.. FBI got to have some loopholes and guess this is one of 'em...the writers nailed their homework I guess.. again, this is just my opinion!!

  3. It's Raina who likes Simon, not Nimah.