Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Quantico 1x20 Review: "Drive" (Speeding Out of the Flashbacks)

Original Airdate: May 1, 2016

As we're quickly approaching the season finale of Quantico, loose ends are being tied up in both flashback and present-day storylines. And with such a twisty season already, the show is saving its biggest reveals and answers for last. In this week's episode, we learn who the terrorist might be (one, if there are multiple terrorists), and they send Alex on a wild chase (literally) that will propel us into the season finale. Let's talk about "Drive," and how exhausted I am with trying to keep up to this show.


Before we discuss "Drive," I'll recap the episode we missed last week, "Fast." Alex finds out about Drew's hidden medical condition just in time for the NATs to attend a career day. As it turns out, the four most promising NATs get to do a tactical exercise involving rappelling, which Alex and Drew nearly fail because of his hand. With Drew unwilling to admit his condition, Alex reports him to Booth and Liam, leading to Drew leaving Quantico. Elsewhere in the episode, Shelby tries to figure out exactly what Caleb is hiding, which causes her to become entwined with Caleb's undercover operation in Sistemics, and eventually leads her to a job offer with Creepy Dad Haas' office after graduation. Well, that was a fast-track to the affair, wasn't it? Meanwhile, Raina and Nimah are none-too-thrilled with their dismissive, gruff new handler and don't trust him. So they get a new handler, and things can only go well from there! In the present-day, Caleb is detoxing and Alex goes to the FBI office where she encounters Shelby Wyatt. GASP.

After a truly baffling sequence of Morse code, Shelby tells Alex that she's on her side. Then she says the thing we all knew — that "The Voice" is really just a mash-up of all of the NATs voices. Shelby is using her technical expertise and her company's resources within the FBI in order to try and determine the identity of the terrorist. Yay, the ladies are back together again!

By the end of the episode, Shelby and Alex manage to get The Voice on the phone just long enough to ping his or her location. They race to the church where they find Will, slowly dying. (Apparently he doesn't die, but it sure looks grave from the blood alone.) With his last breaths — for now — he tells Alex and Shelby that the terrorist had him and Simon build a nuclear bomb. Ruh-roh.


In both the flashbacks and present-day, I'm finding Ryan Booth to be extremely irritating. Worst of all, I'm finding Alex to become slowly insufferable the more time she spends with him (and the more time she spends pining over him). In this week's flashbacks, the NATs learn a valuable lesson about close-quarter fighting. Unlike what action movies would have us to believed, most fights the NATs will encounter in the field as agents will probably involve small spaces and they'll have to use those to their advantage. So Liam puts them in pairs into a box where they kick, fight, and punch. Alex and Booth are paired up, naturally (because why wouldn't they be?), and Iris notices that Alex has magically forgotten about Drew.

We remember Drew, right? The guy Alex was sorta dating.

Though she has the decency to look a tad guilty and affronted, that call-out doesn't prevent Alex from spending the remainder of the flashbacks making heart eyes at Booth. It would be cute if this was about ten episodes ago, but after all we've learned about Booth and his deception, it's kind of hard to root for him. Furthermore, it's hard to root for Alex when she spends the majority of the time in the flashbacks and the present letting her feelings for Booth cloud her better judgement. I don't like that Alex comes pretty undone whenever he's around (even if she does best him in the present-day scene), not because women can't be strong and a love interest but because the show seems unable to write Alex Parrish like that, I'm firmly in the "no-Ryan-no-thank-you" camp at the moment.

In addition to Ryan getting on my nerves in the flashbacks (because all of the sudden with Drew gone, he's no longer mopey and sullen and grouchy — Booth is flirting and joking again), he also grates on my nerves in the present, where he still refuses to believe that Alex is anything but a liar and probable murderer. And yes, while a lot of the things that happen around Alex seem hard to believe because the girl is like, a magnet for mayhem and psychopaths, I expected more from Booth I guess. Further stacking the deck against Alex (apart from the wild claims of another bomb and terrorist) is the fact that Natalie is missing and now presumed dead. And the woman who saw her last? Alex Parrish, of course! This sets Miranda, Nimah, and Booth on another course to target our heroine, and she barely escapes from them.

But "escapes" is a loose way of putting it...


In the present-day story, Alex suspects that Booth is the terrorist because Drew (hospitalized, of course because what other state do we usually meet our NATs in?) starts to plant seeds of doubt in Alex's mind. It seems that no matter where we go — whether flashback or present — someone is always telling Alex that she should not trust Booth. Not that I really blame her at this point anyway, since Booth is currently on a one-man crusade against her. And Drew says that Ryan was there the night that Simon and Will (who is alive, but in ICU, so yay!) were taken in the van and forced to build the bomb. Alex is in disbelief, of course, because what other emotional state does she have these days? Drew tells Alex that all the information and proof she needs is on Booth's computer. So he hands her a flash drive and instructs her to learn for herself. So Alex does. Or, at least, she tries to. But after a little fist-to-fist combat with Booth in his office after he discovers her breaking and entering (and in which Alex actually gets to practically use the close quarters combat lesson she learned at Quantico on him), Alex realizes two very crucial things. 1) Booth might be a jerk, but he's not a terrorist; 2) Drew most certainly is (... probably The Voice. We guess).

It's important to note that Quantico is a fan of ambiguity, but at this late in the game, I'm most decidedly not. It's heavily implied that Drew is one of the terrorists (probably The Voice), and it's also well-implied that he's got some help somewhere. The thing is... Drew is such a weak excuse for a terrorist. He's even a weaker excuse for someone with a vendetta of terrorist-level. Because that is what he was doing with the bomb and the flash drive — trying to frame Booth for it all. His threatening messages to Alex don't feel that threatening, and we know just enough about his backstory to infer his vendetta. But honestly, the problem is that we don't really CARE about Drew. He's the upper-level NAT we met late in the show's first season, and he's just kind of existed since then. Sure, he had a little fling with Alex and some tension with Booth/Liam, but those are really the only people he ever shared significant stories or screentime with.

So sure, when Drew tells Alex to drive Booth's van — containing the nuclear bomb — toward the center of the city, we know that he's now firmly moved from "meh" to "bad guy," but I honestly don't really care about his villainous trajectory because I don't really care about him. Had The Voice turned out to be Natalie, I would have felt much more satisfied. Heck, it should have been Liam. Dude's been doing sketchy things since the beginning!

There's a reason that I took a long time to write a review of this episode of Quantico, and it's because — frankly — it wasn't that great. I'm hopeful that the show will wrap up the loose ends we care about and not provide more dangling for us in the future (we still don't really know what caused that huge Raina/Nimah fallout in the present-day). But given the trajectory of "Drive," I'm a little worried.

Other stuff:
  • I really love Nimah and Raina's new look.
  • Just for once in this show, I would really love Alex NOT conveniently saving the day/every case/being the star student. I mean, I know she's the protagonist here but still a little mess-up every once in a while would be believable.
  • (That said, how amazing is Priyanka Chopra and her hair?!)
  • The Golden Retrievers have a huge falling out when Caleb tells Shelby that he's been writing the letters she received from her parents. Meanwhile, the show has set up an antagonistic relationship between Iris and Caleb, but that final scene propped the door open for a hint of something else, I think.


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