Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Quantico 1x06 "God" (Lovers and Liars)


"God"
Original Airdate: November 1, 2015

Here's the thing about this week's episode of Quantico, titled "God": there wasn't much substance to it. That's not to say that it was a bad episode, necessarily. A bad episode of Quantico is still better than nearly everything on television these days. But the episode was weak, substituting balancing plot and relationships by merely focusing on one of those two things. And usually, the lessons the NATS learn in the flashbacks directly correlate to what the team faces in the present-day. This week, while the recruits learned about surveillance, the only true tie to the present was that Caleb was following Shelby's movements by replaying the videos of the bombing and the moments right before.

Like I said — pretty weak. But there were important developments and revelations regarding three of this show's major pairings, and I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the importance of those. So let's dive in, shall we?



TWINNING

Let's begin with a discussion about one of my new favorite pairings on this show — Raina and Simon. (As an aside, can the show put little speech bubbles above the head of the twin who is on-screen? Because apart from scenes where it is evident, I can barely ever keep up and tell which one is which. And thank you to the person in the comments who corrected me when I named the wrong twin! See? I get confused.) 

As we saw in last week's episode, Nimah pointed out that Simon cared about Raina and was very, very likely not as gay as he claimed to be. This week's episode was a culmination of that, with Raina being more forward and flirtatious, encouraging Simon to open up to her about his sexuality and then share a kiss. This pairing is delightful to me for a few reasons. One, I have absolutely loved them since the pilot. I thought that their friendship was adorable and I love that Simon was always so earnest and vulnerable in earning Raina's and Nimah's affections whenever they were in his presence. He truly does care about her — er, technically them — and it shows. Secondly, this romance allows us to get the chance to explore more of their vulnerabilities as characters. These two aren't entirely put-together people. They have a lot of baggage between the two of them, as individuals, and they genuinely trust one another. There is no judgement or malice between the two. It's really quite beautiful. And there's a sense of gentleness, as exemplified in the kiss, and respect with which Simon treats Raina. Before their kiss, he tells her that she doesn't need to remove her hijab, but she wants to. And he lets her.

Here's the unfortunate part of "God": the Simon/Raina relationship kind of blows up when he walks into her room without knocking and comes face-to-face with Raina and Nimah switching places. He understandably freaks out and begins yelling, which prompts the twins to shut their dorm door and try to contain the situation. That only accidentally causes Simon to get knocked out when he hits his head while trying to escape the room. The end of the episode leaves us with Simon locked in a closet with Raina (or Nimah) sitting outside while he yells for them to let him out.

As quickly as love begins... it takes a downward spiral. Eesh.



LIE TO ME

Meanwhile, in the flashbacks, Booth and Alex's relationship is heating up, but they're trying (and failing) to keep it quiet from the other NATS. All cannot be sunshine and rainbows for too long on an ABC drama, however, and pretty soon, Alex discovers that Booth had been tasked with getting close to her in order to report back to O'Connor. I have to applaud Quantico on the decision to let Alex in on that secret a mere six episodes into the first season. Most shows would revel in drawing it out as long as possible. But I'm glad that Alex found out and that she found out because O'Connor talked about it while the NATS were doing surveillance. And honestly, I'm glad that the show had her respond in an emotional and believable way. While the trope of discovering that someone you were intimately acquainted with has spent your entire relationship lying to you is pretty stale, Quantico managed to deliver a great scene thanks to Priyanka Chopra's reactions and delivery.

Alex is mad. Alex is confused. Alex is heartbroken. And the way that she responds, by lashing out at Booth (rightfully so) was perfect. She cared about him and he betrayed her, just like nearly everyone else in her life has done up until this point, too. Just like people will do in the future. And Alex's anger subsiding at the end of the episode would have been absurd, but also true-to-trope. Thankfully, this show decided to have Alex take action and change her living situation so she wouldn't have to share space with Booth anymore.

She couldn't trust him or O'Connor, and it's a sad end* to their love story, because he obviously cared about her.

* It's definitely NOT the end of their love story though, and I look forward to seeing what happens to bring them back to each other in the flashbacks and present.



AND THEY CALL IT PUPPY LOVE


Out of all of the stories on this week's episode of Quantico, this one is probably the most heartbreaking. In the present-day, #TeamFreeAlex is working hard to try and keep her up-to-date on what the FBI knows. So when Caleb Haas returns, everyone is obviously skeptical and no one more than Alex. Thinking that he is plotting to erase footage of himself at the bombing site or trying to skew that footage to frame Alex, she enlists Simon to bug his computer, allowing her to see everything that he does.

In the flashbacks, Caleb and Shelby continue their trysts, but it's Caleb who is actually wanting something more. Shelby lies to him and tells him that she has evening plans with a guy. When Caleb finds out via Nathalie that this isn't true, he begins to treat her with the same sort of contempt and cold shoulder as he did in the episode prior. Shelby wants things uncomplicated and that's exactly what she has with Caleb — no feelings, no desire to date one another. You see, Shelby values her decision to become an agent above pretty much everything else in her life. She takes it seriously and SHE wants to be taken seriously. The only way people are going to respect a beautiful blonde agent who is a Southern belle is if she gives them reason to do so.

Caleb wants more, though, which is such a refreshing change of pace in a television show. Typically it's the woman who wants a commitment or at least the prospect of one. And for someone who talks as big of a game as Caleb does, to have him aching for more in his relationship is pretty great. But he doesn't want to lose Shelby because he doesn't see what they're doing as fooling around. So he agrees to whatever she wants, because he cares about her.

As it turns out, he has more than just care for her, though. In the present-day, Shelby and Alex are waiting to see what Caleb is looking for on the FBI's footage. While the two assumed that he wanted to delete an incriminating video of him, he was actually searching for something else — a video of his father and Shelby kissing in a hallway. I'm not shocked by too many things on television, in the day and age where spoilers abound, but this genuinely caused me to pause and do a double-take. It caused Alex to, as well.

That's when Shelby explains that she and Caleb's father innocently started talking, which led to walks and dinners and soon, they were having an affair. Alex is shocked but Caleb's reaction is more important. He's devastated. And my heart nearly broke when he tearfully told Shelby this:

What I know is that I loved you. And you rejected me. And for what? For him? [...] I spent my entire life thinking I wasn't as good as him. But you're the one person... the one person who made me feel like maybe I was. But I guess that was just a lie, huh?

What's really interesting to me about the way that Quantico is structured as a series is that we get all of these flashbacks and the present is, in a lot of ways, a flash-forward for us. It's an exercise in acting for all of the cast, really, because they're essentially playing two different characters — the characters who were naive, cynical, or "green" at Quantico, and those who are more layered and infinitely more complex (as well as jaded) in the present. As the series progresses, we are slowly unraveling the "in-between": all of the events that help build the bridge between the past and the present. It's a fascinating story structure and one that allows this show to focus on its characters first and foremost, which I appreciate.

I love this speech by Caleb and I love that we get the chance to see him so emotional and vulnerable. While sarcastic and biting Caleb is fun, this layered and complex character who is insecure and still tough, and hardened but still hurts enough to cry because of a broken heart is SO much more important to me. I absolutely loved this scene and I thought it was one of the best that Graham Rogers has done on the show, apart from the poolside scene in the pilot.

So while this week's "God" might not have been the strongest episode of Quantico to date, it set the stage for some more emotional revelations and moments next week between these characters and others on the show.

Additional fun:

  • ... Why was this episode titled "God"? Because everyone was essentially playing God while doing surveillance? Otherwise, that doesn't really make sense for an episode title.
  • For those who don't know, Mer has deemed Caleb and Shelby "the Golden Retrievers." So if you ever see mention of puppies in tweets or reviews... that is who we are talking about!
  • Blah, blah, blah, the team staked out Miranda's house and learned her son's deep and terrible secret. Also Liam O'Connor was there. Also O'Connor and Miranda's son are terrible. Her son more so.
  • One of the best parts about this show is the relationship between Raina (or Nimah) and Alex and Shelby.
  • In the present-day, Alex and Shelby discover that the twins were there the day of the bombing, so now it looks like the cycle of focusing one one NAT per week in the present continues! I hope this leads us back to Nathalie or Elias in future episodes because we're running out of characters with far too many episodes left in the season. Maybe Quantico will just start using nameless extras as suspects?
  • "Let me guess... secrets will be revealed. Lessons will be learned." That was SUCH a meta comment to make, Caleb. I love you all the more for it.
  • Shelby hooking up with Caleb's dad is gross on so many levels. I expected better from you and your short hair, Shelby Wyatt.
  • "It's so humiliating. It's like a soap opera." Again, so meta.
What did you all think of "God"? Let us know in the comments below! :)

3 comments:

  1. Love this review and the episode! I am huge fan of Simon and Raina too I did not expect them to kiss so soon but was happy they did. The title didn't go with the episode but the show titles end with the last word spoken I don't know why though.

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  2. Great review. I'm not a fan of Caleb, unfortunately, but your review of them was great. I do feel sorry for him. And I absolutely agree that the Shelby/father/son thing is so skeevy, I even tweeted about it. Gross!

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