ABC’s new mystery thriller/soap opera ‘Quantico’ may be one of the few primetime series on the network without Shonda Rhimes’ sticky fingers all over it, but given the results it might as well. The show plays directly into the Rhimes formula. Whether you consider this a good or bad thing will depend entirely on your viewing habits.
Ostensibly, ‘Quantico’ is about a new recruit to the FBI Academy who gets drawn into investigating a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Really, that part takes up about a quarter of the screen time. The other three-quarters are about the loves lives and various personal entanglements within a group of ridiculously attractive twenty-somethings who look like they all just stepped off the set of a CW show.
The pilot episode, called ‘Run’, flits back and forth between two time periods. In the cold open, we witness the aftermath of Grand Central Station in New York getting blown up. (The visual effects are passible.) Newbie FBI agent Alex Parrish (Bollywood star and beauty queen Priyanka Chopra), who was supposed to be monitoring the perimeter of the nearby Democratic National Convention, wakes up in the rubble and is immediately brought to the nearest field office to be debriefed.
We then flash back to the first week at the Academy for a very diverse batch of recruits. Among them are Alex, a studmuffin former Marine she had a quickie with before their first day, a pampered rich girl, a gay hipster, a Muslim woman, an uptight Mormon and an arrogant fratboy douchebag. For their first test, they’re each assigned a folder with a fellow classmate’s personal file, missing just one piece of information. The assignment is to investigate the person, discover his or her secret, and confirm the finding in a polygraph interrogation afterward. Naturally, this process winds up unearthing some disturbing information that even the instructors weren’t aware of.
Back to the flash-forward, Alex is told that the FBI believes the bombing was an inside job perpetrated by someone in her very class. Any one of her classmates could be behind it. The agent in charge wants her to walk him through everything that happened in the Academy.
No surprise, all of the recruits have deep, dark secrets clouding their past (or their present). The rich girl’s parents died in 9/11. The hipster may be a Palestinian sympathizer. The Muslim girl has an identical twin sister and they’ve been switching out between classes and pretending to be the same person. When Alex was a child, she shot and killed her abusive father (who it turns out may have been an FBI agent). The goodie-goodie Mormon, who’d been sweating through his magic underwear ever since the assignment was announced, goes nuts and shoots an instructor then kills himself. Years earlier, when he was doing missionary work in the Third World, he got a 14-year-old girl pregnant and she died when he took her to get a back-alley abortion.
Eventually, Alex realizes that the agent debriefing her has been stalling because she’s the top suspect. She’s taken into custody as soon as a tac team finds explosives in her apartment along with the dead body of the studly Marine. Nobody listens when Alex insists that she’s been framed. However, during her prisoner transport, one of her former instructors busts her out and tells her to run.
Obviously, future episodes will focus on Alex trying to clear her name in between more flashbacks to her days in the Academy.
Episode Verdict / Grade: C+
The show is very soapy, and all of the plot twists are quite easy to guess in advance. It didn’t do much for me. I don’t plan to watch again.