Monday, April 18, 2016

Quantico 1x18 Review: "Soon" (Not Soon Enough)

Original Airdate: April 17, 2016

One of the reasons I loved The Blacklist was because James Spader's character, Raymond Reddington, was always about ten steps ahead of the FBI. He was cunning and crafty and absolutely delightful because — whatever the circumstance — he was always right. But whenever a character is too right for too long, audiences start to lose interest. Perfect characters are not interesting. And characters who always have the answer aren't either. Quantico stumbled this week in some areas with "Soon," but what I will commend it on is the plot twist that Alex is not a step ahead of everyone anymore. In fact, if the end of the episode is any indication, she may be getting played without realizing it. But in spite of that, I had some problems with Alex this week and her behavior. Let's dive into the world of the FBI recruits, where this week, everyone's pasts come back to haunt them.


In the flashbacks, the NATs are learning a lesson about clearance. Because of agents' pasts, not everyone will be cleared for active duty, nor will they be cleared for field assignments. Because in spite of the fact that it feels like we know literally every single secret these NATs have (this is really turning into a Pretty Little Liars situation), the truth is that they are still hiding things from one another. So the assignment is pretty simple and actually, you know, useful for their future careers (probably because this exercise wasn't designed by Liam). The NATs pair up and fill out forms, each learning more about their partner in the process. The trainees are confident in their honesty and attention to detail, but when the forms are processed, there's a problem: some people have their forms flagged and clearance pending further investigation.

Among those flagged? Drew, Iris, Raina, and Shelby (and a bunch of faceless extras, but we don't really care about them). It is the job of the remaining NATs to determine why the trainees were flagged and whether or not they pose an actual threat. A paraphrase from Caleb Haas' creepy dad: just because there is smoke doesn't necessarily mean there is fire. Raina's devout faith and sign of a petition against the Iraq War is what lands her on the list. Iris is flagged because of her dealings with businessmen overseas. Drew is flagged for something that he said during his NFL deposition. And Shelby is... well, Shelby isn't sure why she is flagged because Caleb filled out her form.

But it doesn't matter why Shelby believes she's flagged, just that two things happen as a result: 1) she becomes paranoid and scared, and 2) she listens to Iris' seed of doubt. Iris hasn't trusted Caleb ever, bu if it was possible to trust him even less, she did so in this episode upon discovery that Will was being roped into a Sistemics infiltration. Unsurprisingly, this revelation led Iris to jump to conclusions, confront Shelby with her own version of the "truth," and compromise Will's safety. Shelby doesn't get the chance to confront Caleb directly about her application, which is problematic.

I enjoy seeing the friction between the NATs escalate, as they uncover more things about one another. And what worked in the flashbacks was the idea that perceptions can draw people apart and compromise missions, but they can also bring people together. It's not often that the latter happens, but it does sometimes.


Drew and Alex break up (were they technically even dating?), because Drew realizes that Alex and Booth still probably have feelings toward one another. I will say that this episode brought an Alex Parrish to the forefront who I did not care for — a jealous, self-centered ex-girlfriend. When Drew's application is flagged, Alex immediately suspects Booth had something to do with it. This is now two weeks in a row that Alex accused Booth of letting his feelings cloud his judgement, and I have to say that it's pretty bold and brash of Alex to do this continually. You're not the only person in the universe, Alex, and not everyone thinks about you all the time! Of course, Alex's blame is misplaced, but I doubt she learned a lesson, which is the most frustrating part of all. For all of her misdeeds, Alex still often acts like a blameless victim and Ryan puts her in her place during the episode (also proving that he is not that petty to ruin Drew's career because he is with Alex). Drew sees what is happening and decides to remove himself from the equation, which leads to Alex storming off because, you know, that's the mature thing to do.

But where there is division, there is also compromise — a fact that Raina and Nimah learn. When Raina is almost denied clearance, the twins realize that they cannot go on pretending to be each other. They aren't really doing any good — all they are doing is mimicking one another, not embodying one another. So the two women decide to compromise and create a new character: a woman who is religious but not extremely so (the loose hijab is the compromise; and Nimah vows to wear long sleeves outside of the FBI to make Raina happy), and who combines traits that both Nimah and Raina value. In essence, rather than try to emulate one another, the twins are going to both become this new female character. It is a pretty brilliant plan and yet, we know from the present-day scenes, something happens in the course of this mission to ruin the twins' relationship.

Speaking of more division: Miranda is officially kicked out of her position, and though she blames Caleb Haas' creepy dad, it turns out that Liam is the one (we assume) who voted against keeping her around. When blackmailing him doesn't work, Miranda delivers a good but weird and impassioned speech to Alex about not letting men undermine her. I'm all for feminist speeches, but this one felt oddly placed with very little build-up to it.


... sort of. If you know us at all around here, you know that Mer and I enjoy referring to Caleb and Shelby as the "Golden Retrievers," and in "Soon," Alex finally meets Caleb in the present-day. Unsurprisingly, his wonderful mother keeps him locked in a room in her mansion, where she provides him with drugs. Mother of the year, that one. Caleb is traumatized by watching his father die, and keeps reliving the experience every single day. Because of her campaign, Claire keeps Caleb locked away like a prisoner. But with the terrorist still on the loose, Alex believes "Mark Raymond" (or, who she soon discovers is actually Caleb) is the key to unlocking some important mysteries. Unfortunately for Alex  as is customary in this show — discovering a "key" doesn't mean she is any closer to unmasking the terrorist.

In fact, it now appears that Caleb isn't as much of a victim as he pretended to be. When Alex leaves the Haas residence, Caleb says he wants to come with her and help her. But a phone conversation reveals that Caleb gaining Alex's trust is part of a larger scheme. Is he teaming up with Shelby after all? What's his endgame? And will Alex ever figure out what is going on?

This week's Quantico wasn't great — in terms of characters and plot, it was a solid "meh." But I'm hopeful that this episode will launch us into the final few and we'll finally be able to tie up some of the loose ends that this show has been dangling for months. I hope we get there soon. I really do.

Other stuff:
  • "Stop saying 'penetrating.'"
  • "I'm watching you." "I love when you do."
  • Caleb's parents are pretty much the only people who speak at Quantico, aren't they?
  • Claire Haas is the actual worst. She's literally giving her child drugs. But it's okay, because she's weaning him off of them. Mhmm.
  • Quantico, you cannot keep doing this thing where you try to make me fear for the lives of the characters in the flashbacks when we know they are alive and well in the present-day, because you LITERALLY JUST SHOWED THEM.
  • "It's a man's world. In a man's world, men get away with murder." Ooooookay, Miranda.
What did you all think of this week's episode? Who is the terrorist? Hit up the comments below and let me know!


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