Quantico – Aquiline
By: Emily Cross
When we pick up with Alex (Priyanka Chopra), she’s having nightmares about Simon’s (Tate Ellington) death. It’s a heartbreaking to see Simon on our screens again and it lets us into the minds of Alex and the rest of the FBI agents that loved and lost Simon.
Alex and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) meet with Shelby (Johanna Braddy) and Nimah (Yasmine Al Massri) to discuss the situation of Harry Doyle. They have confirmed that he is in fact MI6, but Alex and Ryan haven’t told him the whole story of why they are at The Farm. They know he is on their tail and have to come up with something quick. Shelby and Nimah task Alex and Ryan to come up with a good cover story, something that plays on the target’s emotions. Alex and Ryan also brief their handlers on the other recruits: Leigh (Heléne Yorke) is too soft to be AIC, video chatting with her kids often. Dayana (Pearl Thusi) hasn’t done anything suspicious, but they don’t rule her out completely. Shelby asks if anyone is forging new bonds because that could mean that they are training together in secret. Harry (Russell Tovey) and Sebastian (David Lim) have been spending a lot of time together. Ryan also mentions that Léon (Aarón Díaz) is keeping a weird schedule and hasn’t slept at the house the last few nights…and that’s because he’s been with Shelby! Ryan, Alex and Nimah don’t know this, but it seems like Shelby is enjoying spending time in motels with Leon.
Owen (Blair Underwood) asks Lydia (Tracy Ifeachor) to look into the names that he found. He suspects they are CIA aliases, but needs Lydia’s security clearance to run them through the database to be sure.
Throughout the episode, Alex is repeatedly asked to submit her statement to the media office- a/k/a/ have a cover story for the time she is spending training on the Farm.
This week’s lesson is all about drones. The CIA is required to make the decision on whether or not a drone strike is carried out. This decision carries emotional weight: the agents have to live with the consequences of their decision. “It’s not always our actions, but their aftermath, that haunts us.” CIA protocols dictate that seven criteria must be satisfied for a drone strike to be authorized. The class is split up into seven teams to assess the criteria for a 2011 target: legal basis, imminent threat, non-combatant casualties, on the ground capture, weather, retaliatory strike and only option. Leon hasn’t prepared for the class so Sebastian helps him out. Ryan also warns Sebastian to be careful of the “Artful Dodger,” a cute nickname for Harry. Sebastian tells Ryan about Harry’s close experience with suicide and Ryan has the vital piece of info they need to create a good cover story.
Shelby and Nimah are working on finding more information on Harry when Shelby ignores a call from Caleb (Graham Rogers), which makes Nimah suspicious. Before she can snoop more, they get a message from Ryan so they get to work on helping craft a cover story.
Back in the classroom, all teams authorized a strike. But, of course, there’s a twist. The target they had been researching went underground and was never captured. The CIA has new intel on the target so the recruits will be going to a drone command center at Langley and making the actual decision to strike. They have twenty-two minutes to make the call.
Nimah and Shelby find intel of an apparent suicide three years earlier and alert Ryan. He catches Harry in a hallway and crafts a pretty solid story: he and Alex are FBI agents investigating foul play in the suicide of a recruit. Harry seems to buy it, but ultimately can see through Ryan’s bluff. He says the suicide of a friend was something he made up and Sebastian unfortunately overhears that part.
Back to the mission, most of the teams authorize the strike. The only detractors are Alex, Leigh and Sebastian who hold back because they don’t believe they have enough information. Ryan takes Alex aside and tries to persuade her to see the bigger picture. He thinks she is holding back because it has been one year since Simon sacrificed himself and she can’t help but see him in this situation.
Nimah and Shelby are waiting on pins and needles to see if the cover story worked. It reminds Nimah of waiting to swap out with Raina when they were working undercover together. She misses her sister and thinks of her especially on the anniversary of Simon’s death. Nimah has also worked out that Shelby is avoiding Caleb because has been secretly seeing Léon and has Léon’s number saved under Caleb’s name.
Leigh and Sebastian are convinced to change their no votes to yes, but Alex is still holding out. Even though both Harry and Ryan voted yes they trust Alex’s instincts enough to stand by her. But, despite the fact that the recruits didn’t come to a consensus, Owen orders the strike anyways.
Nimah questions Shelby on why she is involved with Léon. Shelby, in a touching moment, explains that she can escape into the person that Leon thinks she is. Nimah sees an opportunity: Shelby could go undercover to get more information on Leon.
After the lesson, Leigh questions whether or not she can live with the decisions the CIA requires.
In a conversation with Ryan, Harry says that he won’t stand in the way of whatever Alex and Ryan are doing at the CIA as a professional courtesy. That doesn’t mean that he won’t continue to try to find out what they’re up to, but he’s not totally against them.
Lydia tells Owen that the names he gave her weren’t CIA aliases, but he knows she’s lying. Lydia begs Owen to drop this witch hunt because the information won’t change the fact that his field career is over.
Alex and Ryan share a sweet moment in which they both acknowledge that they dealt with the residual pain of Simon’s death in the wrong ways. They get a chance to make up for that when they meet Shelby and Nimah at Simon’s grave to honor him with a Hebrew prayer. It’s an emotional moment and it’s nice to see that the events of the first season aren’t forgotten.
1 YEAR LATER
All of the action during the terrorist attack this week happens inside the perimeter. Raina (Yasmine Al Massri) is back from exchanging the Federal Hall hostages for Boyer, but the terrorists are still holding a seemingly important group of people including Harry, Sebastian, Dayana, Léon and Leigh. They work together with Raina to try to figure out how they’re all connected and why the terrorists want them. It’s interesting to see the CIA recruits give up or not give up information about themselves. Harry freely admits that he is an MI6 agent who trained with the CIA, which none of the others knew about. Dayana says that she and Sebastian do contract work for the government from time to time. Leigh claims she is an event planner and Léon says he is a photographer, which begs the question – are they lying or did they burn out of CIA training?
In another effort to find a connection, Harry asks everyone where they’ve been since The Farm. Most of them have been somewhere in Indonesia, but that’s the only connection that they find. Sebastian doesn’t want to reveal any information about himself and takes issue with Harry leading. He becomes angry that Harry never told any of them that he was an MI6 agent. Everyone else starts to argue and tear each other apart, but Leigh points out that that isn’t helping. Sebastian finally reveals something: he’s there with his wife as a guest, which Harry seems to find very interesting. Leigh mentions Surabaya and the terrorists unexpectedly haul her off.
Leigh comes back into the room, saying that the terrorists questioned her about where she had been in the last year. Before she can say anymore, her collar activates and chokes her to a very bloody death, shocking everyone else in the room. Dayana admits to Raina that she was in Surabaya and that she doesn’t want to die. The terrorists take both of the women in different directions.
When Raina gets into a room alone with the terrorists, she takes off her hijab and reveals that she is actually Nimah and working with the terrorists! Raina is tied up in the next room and it’s unclear if she knows what’s going on or when they were switched out.
Also inside the perimeter, Alex and Lydia struggle to trust each other and some interesting information comes to light. Lydia tells Alex that the satellite phone contains a code for a safe in Federal Hall. The safe contains encrypted hard drives that each member state of the summit brought to New York as a show of faith. The drive contains years of classified intel that would be deadly if in the wrong hands. The terrorists have the drives, but needed Eric Boyer (or another hacker) in order to decrypt them. Lydia wants to get the drives before the terrorists decrypt them. On the way, Alex and Lydia run into a terrorist who questions their involvement. Lydia easily takes the terrorist out, leading Alex to trust her.
In a slower scene, some interesting and important information is dropped. Clearly this is the first time Lydia and Alex have seen each other since The Farm. It turns out that Lydia had a hand in throwing Alex out of training at some point, but Ryan was able to continue on. Also, apparently Owen is now in federal prison, presumably because of something Alex did.
Soon, Lydia’s collar tightens and she is dying. Alex uses her gun to shoot the electronics on the back of the collar, freeing and saving Lydia. Not long after, they get into the room with the hard drives and Lydia uses the code from the sat phone to open the safe. Alex wants to destroy the hard drives, but Lydia wants to hold on to them for leverage. As they fight, a remote control for the collar falls out of Lydia’s pocket. She’s been manipulating Alex this whole time. It turns out that she is working for the CIA to get the hard drives, whatever it takes. After a brutal fight, Lydia ties Alex up. Alex promises that the next time she sees Lydia, she will kill her but Lydia seems to think that won’t ever happen.