Thursday, March 31, 2016

Quantico Roundtable: "Answer" and "Turn" (Whiter Than Snow) [Contributors: Jenn and Meredith]

(Photo credit: ABC)

"Answer" & "Turn"
Original Airdates: March 20 and 27, 2016

Because Mer and I love each other so much, instead of splitting our reviews for the last two weeks, we decided to combine our powers and discuss both episodes together. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we talk about the highs and lows of the past two weeks on Quantico.

So, “Answer” was a bit different in terms of pacing and subject matter for Quantico. How do you think the episode worked overall?

Mer: Not well. I found this one of the weakest episodes of the season. I understand that the show was trying something new — a more in-depth look at characters and relationships. But unfortunately, I didn’t find it successful. The pacing was off, the exposition was overdone, and there was nothing to pull the viewer in. I can barely remember what even happened in the flashbacks, and really the only part of the episode that interested me at all was the very end, when Simon shook off his melancholy and rejoined Alex. I generally like the dynamic between Alex and Simon, but for whatever reason it really only seems to click when they’re working together, and not at odds.

Jenn: I agree with Mer. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened in the flashbacks without looking up a recap of the episode first. While I appreciate the quieter, less drama-filled moments of this show, something about this episode felt off. Perhaps it was because both past and present stories were really slow, pacing-wise. Nevertheless, I think it needed a jolt of energy to the flashbacks, considering most of the present-day was spent in quiet, snowy fields.

What were your thoughts on the Simon/Alex dynamic in this episode?

Mer: I like Simon and Alex working together. I understand the need for a bit of a rift, but Simon’s descent into madness so to speak seemed rushed, like it mostly happened off-screen. And I felt like I was missing pieces of the puzzle. The episode felt like it dragged, with nothing to break up the dialogue. The best part was definitely the end — I am happy to see Alex and Simon working together again. I actually find them the two strongest team members, and they do really good work together.

Jenn: I agree somewhat. I think that the problem that Quantico is dealing with is the time jump. Although I appreciate what the writers are doing with not having to drag us through three months of those trials and conspiracy theories from Alex, this is a show that begs the audience to connect threads between the past and present constantly. So we spent the first part of the season connecting the past, and the present, and now we’re expected to connect the past, the midseason finale present, and the current present which is three months after THAT. The show’s consciously created a little rift in time in which apparently all of our characters have fallen apart, but it’s not working well for me that they’re trying to connect pre-command center characters to post-command center characters AND connect both versions of those people to the ones we saw in flashbacks. Nevertheless, I kind of like unhinged Simon. I think he makes sense, because out of all of the NATs, he’s the one who I don’t really have to stretch to imagine went a little crazy.

The relationship between Simon and Alex has always been compelling, but I liked that the first half of this season focused more on them, and that Simon ended this episode going to Alex and being by her side. It doesn’t feel right if he’s not, and I’m thankful that they had that intense conversation in the woods. However you feel about them individually or as partners, that was one crazy emotional scene and Priyanka Chopra and Tate Ellington knocked it out of the park.

Anything else about the episode you’d like to talk about?

Mer: I like the idea of trying new character dynamics — Ryan and Nimah could be interesting to explore as friends and co-workers... but they didn’t really do that? I wish they had. Really, I felt this was a ho-hum episode.

Jenn: Agreed 110% with what Mer said. Also, my interest level isn’t extremely high in any Miranda/Nimah tension in the present-day, so no thank you, show. Booth asked a question I didn’t really care about the answer to.

(Photo credit: ABC)

“Turn” saw a very different, more common Quantico episode than “Answer.” How did you feel about the tension between the terrorists in the flashbacks and the Claire Haas-related plot in the present?

Mer: I really, really enjoyed the flashbacks in this episode. Perhaps one of my favorite flashback episodes ever. So many things happening, most of which I was actually interested in! The present-day plot was more interesting to me in terms of the Hannah/Alex dynamic. And I don’t really care much about Claire Haas. But having Simon and Alex working together like old times was great. I think the flashbacks and present-day story are starting to feel more connected, the threads between them are starting to make more sense, which I like. Overall, I enjoyed this episode a lot and it was a nice, pleasant contrast to the previous episode.

Jenn: I don’t really care about Claire Haas either, but I love Hannah. Perhaps it’s because she’s played by Eliza Coupe and I feel like Hannah has a little bit of Jane Williams in her (R.I.P. Happy Endings), but I enjoy the wit and sass she brings to the show. And the flashbacks were actually interesting! (Minus the parts in which the show attempted to make us believe Miranda or Liam would die when we, you know, JUST SAW THEM in the present). I really think that this episode worked well with the integration of the upper-class NATs, too — probably the best since the episode in which they were all introduced.

There were some big surprises in this episode: between Shelby’s parents being alive (!!!) and Hannah being roped into the present-day terrorist plot (!!!), to Miranda’s son getting shot (!!!) what did you think was the most powerful “shocker” of all?

Mer: Miranda’s son! That whole scene was beautifully tense and so hard to watch. I had the thought while watching, as I often do now, that perhaps my reaction was somewhat more visceral and emotional than someone watching who is not a parent. But my heart BROKE for Miranda, the entire scene. Even the outside shots were beautifully done to add to the tension of it all. This scene was heartbreaking and suspenseful and surprising. I will say that I enjoyed all the shockers in this episode — the stuff with the Golden Retrievers is really intriguing me (especially male Golden Retriever — didn’t I text you that while watching, Jenn?) and I really enjoyed Hannah by the end of this episode. I haven’t liked her much until now, but having her as the next one brought into the fold is an interesting and bold move. All of it was really well done!

Jenn: Even though the scene was super tense with Miranda and her son and Raina, for me, knowing Miranda was alive took me out of the suspense of it all. It’s hard when a show does flashbacks to make me care about the characters if I know they’re alive in the present. But I basically knew that either the terrorist kid or her son would wind up shot, and I will agree that the scene was extremely well-acted all around.

Yes! You totally texted me about the Golden Retrievers! I really think that the scene in the woods between Caleb and Shelby was very well-acted too (great acting in this episode in general), and their whole side-story wasn’t what I was expecting. Also, I want to know more about Mark Raymond and what this means!

I loved that Hannah’s immersion into Alex’s world was more comedic and frantic than we’re used to. This show generally only allows for small interjections of humor in the flashbacks, so a character like Hannah who is so sassy and quippy is perfect to integrate into the present-day. I loved her reveal and the final few lines of the episode (Eliza Coupe’s delivery!) were on-point.

Slowly but surely, more and more of the NATs are becoming a part of Alex’s new crusade. Is this working for the show? Do you feel like it’s a retread of the first half of the season?

Mer: It is a retread, in a way, but it also works. I have always said the show works best as an ensemble endeavor, when they work together to move the story forward, and I still believe that. I’m interested to see where some of the new NATs from the flashbacks tie in to the present day story. The one thing I hope the show steers clear of is letting this become formulaic. I don’t want to watch every half season a new piece of the mystery that Alex latches onto first, only to be shunned, and then believed. That is something to avoid. But since this is the first season, for now it works just fine.

Jenn: The lack of new NATs in the present makes me think we’re probably still supposed to suspect one of them. And is it just me, or does that voice on the phone sound distinctly like a woman, every time?

I like the re-tread I think because it’s an ebb and flow of characters — we aren’t getting the exact same pairings every single time, especially now that all of our common NATs are scattered. Bringing in Hannah, I hope, means that the show will also bring in other flashback characters too.

I’m totally with you about the formula. I know she’s our lead character so she’s always right, but for once, I kind of wish Alex would be wrong. I’m worried the show will constantly return to a “Alex has a theory and is right, no one believes her, something BIG AND DRAMATIC HAPPENS, and one by one, everyone believes her again” formula they’ve stuck to.

I suppose we should talk about Booth and Alex, or Liam and Alex. Or maybe we could just talk about Caleb’s “Mark Raymond” sub-plot instead!

Mer: Yeah, Mark Raymond! That’s all I care about right now. What is this secret identity? But for why? What is happening? I need to know more. I may like Mark Raymond more than Caleb Haas. He’s cool.

Also Booth and Alex all the way.

Jenn: Why are we dredging back up this Liam/Alex thing? It’s icky. He’s icky. I’m not sure how I feel about Booth/Alex still, because they’re on their way to becoming one of the on-again, off-again couples on television that annoy me, but for now they’re okay. I understand why they’re separated and why it’s best that they are. Also, we know Booth will find out about Liam and Alex some day, and that’ll be yet another soapy and dramatic minefield to play in!


Any final thoughts?

Mer: I really like this episode. It was one of the stronger episodes, and it laid the groundwork for some interesting developments. I’m interested to see how the different storylines play out now. I hope that the show can find solid footing, because it has had some uneven outings recently.

Jenn: As usual, I agree with Mer.


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