While Quantico gets points for diversity, unfortunately, its attempt at being mysterious, or a thriller, don’t catapult the program to make it stand out amongst the fall premieres.
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide Depiction, mentions of 9/11, and post Terrorist attack image on Grand Central Terminal
Characters & Story
We begin 9 months from the events of the present in which Grand Central Terminal lies in ruins, and Alex (Priyanka Chopra) is just beginning her training to become an FBI agent at an FBI academy at Quantico. But, while you’d think this backstory of her being trained is just about building the legend, it actually isn’t. For, after the terrorist attack on Grand Central, the only living thing found is Alex. Thus making her a prime suspect, alongside her fellow enrollees at Quantico.
So, for most of the episode, we focus on Special Agent Liam O’Connor (John Hopkins) issuing a test of strength and dexterity among his recruits. Of which includes Alex; Nimah (Yasmine Al Massri), a Muslim woman who wears a hijab and is quite skilled in deception and investigation; Shelby (Johanna Braddy), a blonde who is a rifle and gun expert; Simon (Tate Ellington) a gay Jewish recruit; and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin), who meets Alex before entering the academy, and has a few secrets to hide.
Which is also one of the strong focuses of the episode: What is everyone hiding? Something Alex has to learn quickly for, unless she wants to go down as a terrorist, she must learn who amongst the recruits mentioned, and the other 40 some odd agents, maybe the one who pinned this terrorist attack on her.
It is rather hard to not have a strong interest in a show as diverse as this. After all, how many shows have an Indian female lead, a woman like Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis) as one of the top visible agents, and a slew of women of different kinds? I mean, we have Nimah who is a practicing Muslim woman, who is mysterious, intriguing, and while they do hint to her possibly being dangerous, it seems more so to play into viewer’s possible prejudice more than anything. Then, with Shelby, while a blonde who loves guns isn’t anything new, Fox News has a huge amount of them, there is something about her which seems like more than meets the eye, and not just because of her sob story either. But, alongside the diverse group of women, we then have Simon. Someone who is Jewish, gay, a possible former Zionist, and could very well, in his interactions with Nimah, open up some sort of dialog when it comes to the topics of Israel and Palestine relations.
As a whole, though, one of the main things which interest me is the idea of watching each agent, as part of their training, investigate one another and us learn their dirty little secrets. Plus, with there being 40 some odd agents to possibly sift through, it means constantly changing storylines and different backgrounds to explore. Which, if handled right, could make it so, despite the opening being a tad bit weak in terms of the “Who done it?” factor, the ante might be able to be turnt up a notch.
As noted in the overview, while there maybe much to praise when it comes to the diversity of the cast, and what that may potentially bring to the story, unfortunately, the possibilities don’t make what is given good enough. For example, this whole “Who is the terrorist?” angle feels rushed. For with no one, besides Nimah, really made to seem suspect, it doesn’t lead you to really start making theories on who it maybe. Plus, when it comes down to this whole elimination storyline, in which we see one candidate exit through suicide, again it just feels like you are supposed to care, and maybe root for someone, but something feels so generic. Which seems very strange for, as noted, what is featured aren’t characters which are the norm for this genre. Making me honestly feel that while Nimah’s culture is in play, and surely Simon, Alex’s, and Shelby’s will join her, what we are given is something like an unsalted nut covered in some sort of flavor. Like, the dullest, lacking of flavor nut possible, covered in exotic chocolate, caramel, or what have you. Making you think, from appearances, “Oh I am in for a treat!” which is true at first. However, once you get used to the taste, and the dullness of the core makes it so the outer layer is all you really care about, all you are left with is just a disappointment.
Overall: Stick Around
While I do feel the color of the characters’ skin, and hints of culture, is the main thing going for this series right now, I could perhaps be wrong for looking at it this way. Though, I must say, I do feel that Alex, among many of the characters, do seem like your usual, white hetero cis type, who don’t venture into new territory or angles. Which is the main reason why this isn’t being labeled “Watch It.” For it gets you excited with the possibilities, yet ends up sort of disappointing you by the time the pilot ends. Though with the mysteries of the characters big secret there, as well as who is pinning this terrorist attack on Alex, perhaps the first impression doesn’t speak for what the series may hold as a whole.
Well, at least one could hope so.