Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Quantico 1x17 Review: "Care" (Everything You Thought You Knew) [Contributor: Meredith]

Original Airdate: April 10, 2016

Yes, Quantico. YES!

That was my reaction to the episode this week, as it showcased the very best of what this show has to offer. The flashbacks as well as the present day storylines were compelling, exciting, and moved the plot forward. As the NATs had to put themselves in the shoes of human traffickers, and Shelby came face to face with her parents for the first time in the flashbacks, Alex and Simon tricked Booth, came to an unsettling realization about the CIA, and one of their own was revealed as (seemingly) working with the terrorists. (Can I just say how much I love being — at least partially — right?)


In the flashbacks, the NATs are tasked with learning how human traffickers move people across borders without getting caught. But this task has a catch — the winners get their first choice of field placement and won’t get stuck somewhere like No-Name, Alaska (Liam’s words, not mine). The flashy, exciting, sought-after locales like Miami, New York, LA, Chicago, are all up for grabs here.

In addition to the task at hand, Alex finds out that Booth is back, this time in “counselor” capacity, and, of course, this throws her completely off her game despite Booth really not doing much of anything. Alex thinks that Ryan is bothered by her closeness with Drew — but as it turns out, it was really Drew himself who was bothered by it, causing him to request that they not work together on this assignment. Alex finagles them into becoming teammates without knowing this, and after they spend hours trekking through the wilderness together, the sexual tension (that Priyanka Chopra can manage with anyone, but really I wasn’t feeling so much between these two) culminates in, well, sexual release.

Meanwhile, the twins are out to prove to Liam that their twin project is worthwhile, and they succeed by winning the assignment. And Shelby comes face to face with her parents, thanks to Caleb. But it turns out her parents really suck and just wanted more money from her, so unbeknownst to her, Caleb buys them off and they leave, with Shelby thinking they’re all one big happy family and she’ll see them again soon in St. Kitts or some other tropical location.

There was a lot going on in the flashbacks this week, and everyone had a little bit of screentime. Each storyline moved forward a bit, and Shelby’s parents’ storyline seemed to both get some closure and hint at later developments. These scenes were fast-paced, but not too much, and there was a fun mix of drama and humor. We really got to see everyone play to their strengths, and, finally, it was nice to see Alex thrown off her game for a while and not emerge triumphant in the end. As I’ve mentioned, it really gets tiresome when Alex is always right and always the best.

Of course, the most compelling question at the end of the flashbacks was what exactly are Caleb and Will working on together — and what does it have to do with what happens in the present-day story?


The present-day scenes open with Simon seemingly betraying Alex to Ryan, but in fact he was planting a tracker on Booth so that the duo could know what was going on with him. This bit was kind of convoluted, but the end result is that Ryan and Nimah gain access to the CIA’s asset that The Voice has tasked Alex with bringing in and turning over. So Alex and Simon pose as their buds and head over to the CIA safe house before the other two can get there. Umm, okay CIA guys, but you have a highly important asset in your care and you don’t want to verify the FBI agents’ names? That seems highly irresponsible, yet convenient.

And then, surprise number one! The CIA asset is WILL! Yes, that Will! Flashback, adorable, socially awkward but brilliant Will. And he’s been held by the CIA for seven months, because, as we learn later — he hacked the NSA and has the country’s nuclear codes in his head or something. Well now we know why the terrorists want him. By the way, by the end of this episode (flashback and present-day) I’m fairly convinced that Will is not the victim we think he is.

Anyway, Alex uses what she learned in this week’s flashbacks about smuggling people to help her and Simon break Will free in a really fun and entertaining break-out/chase/decoy scene. I always enjoy when the flashbacks tie in nicely to the present day, so that was a big plus for me this week.

Of course, this entire thing just makes Alex look more guilty to Ryan. Though he can’t prove it to Liam because the FBI logs show that Alex was in the office all day. So now Ryan looks paranoid and Alex looks like the normal one. Nice role reversal.

Anyway, the episode ends with the handoff of Will to The Voice, which Alex is reluctant to do but noble Will is all for (if he’s involved, like I believe him to be, this makes sense). Of course, there’s a twist, and The Voice wants Simon now, too! Alex breaks down — and I believe it, because I actually adore the friendship between Simon and Alex, and Chopra and Ellington have sold this growing bond like it’s nobody’s business — but Simon assures her he’ll be okay. Then, Alex goes to hand her phone to the driver. The window rolls down, Alex looks shocked, and the driver of the car is none other than...


I need a minute here.


I love being right.

Anyway. The present-day scenes were just as strong as the flashbacks. Hijinks, action, emotion. It was all there. I really am not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best episodes of the season, in my opinion. The cast provided strong performances all around, with Tate Ellington’s Asher and Jay Armstrong Johnson’s Will really leading the way.


I’ve said this before, but the key to enjoying Quantico is suspending disbelief, a lot. Like, so many unbelievable things here. Crossing the border, with no passport, for one, involved a ton of “really?” moments. As did the aforementioned CIA agents not checking IDs and verifying the identities of the FBI agents coming to speak to their asset. Alex and Simon bringing Will back to her apartment after breaking him out was just dumb considering how suspicious Ryan is of Alex right now.

But part of the fun of this show is that it’s totally unrealistic. The action is fun, the storylines are twisty-turny, and if you can allow yourself to suspend that disbelief and not take the show seriously, it has the potential to be a very entertaining endeavor. Most of the time. With some bumps. But not this week. This week was totally un-bumpy.

Additional fun: 
  • Will and Iris getting totally naked at airport security to help them get deported so they can complete the border-crossing assignment was just good, plain fun.
  • I love that the twins rock. They are amazing, and I enjoy watching them succeed.
  • I find myself getting more and more invested in the Caleb/Shelby flashback storyline (with bonus Will/Caleb.) This is the most intriguing to me, right now. The Ryan/Alex back and forth is getting just a wee bit tiresome.
  • Okay, but am I the only one who still finds Liam super shady? 
  • Will started as this kinda quirky side character, and he has grown into one of the most interesting people on screen. Kudos to Jay Armstrong Johnson, who really is one of the strongest actors on the show.


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