Quantico – LCFlutter
By: Emily Cross
This episode was action-packed and chock-full of classic “Quantico” moral quandaries. It seems we’re getting closer to figuring out what the AIC is up to and how Alex (Priyanka Chopra) and the rest of the gang get to where they are on the day of the terrorist attack. Let’s jump right in!
Shelby (Johanna Braddy) and Alex arrive at the safe house at the same time, thinking they’re early. However, Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis), Nimah (Yasmine Al Massri) and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) are already there discussing “operational details” relevant to Ryan’s mission. Since it’s been six weeks and they are no closer to infiltrating the AIC, Miranda tells the agents that their only choice now is to breach the source: Owen (Blair Underwood). The FBI provides them with blueprints of the houses at The Farm, including Owen’s. There is a false wall in his house covering a secret room in which Miranda believes he is hiding something very important. Alex is getting close to Owen so she volunteers to find out what he is hiding and why. After Miranda, Nimah and Ryan leave, Alex wonders if she and Shelby are being shut out. Shelby reminds her that she is the best agent for this mission.
The CIA recruits bond with each other at the local bar. Harry (Russell Tovey), ever the pot-stirrer, suggests a darts game: you must hit the bullseye and every time you don’t, you must answer a highly personal, deeply embarrassing question. A lot of exposition is dropped in this scene: Dayana (Pearl Thusi) was born in Zimbabwe, was adopted when she was nine and doesn’t know where her birth family is. Leon (Aaron Diaz) admits he “made a friend” when Dayana accuses him of not spending a lot of time in his own bed. Alex won’t admit that she and Ryan ever slept together at the FBI, but tells the recruits that if it did happen it wasn’t that memorable. Sebastian (David Lim) gets Harry to talk about his friend that committed suicide: his name was Elliot, Harry loved him, but Elliot didn’t love him back. Sebastian keeps asking questions and pushes too hard, ending the game.
Ryan goes to the bar to get another round of drinks and runs into Owen. He mentions that Harry’s elicitation exercise and Owen cryptically replies, “There’s nothing to elicit out of me.” Alex notices Ryan’s interest in Owen and warns him that if they both start poking around Owen, he could get suspicious.
Owen interrogates Ryan under bright lights about what he said at the bar. He thinks Ryan was trying to elicit something out of him and wants to know what. It’s tense until it is all revealed as a classroom exercise. Owen is just demonstrating how to interrogate a suspect using enhanced interrogation techniques. The recruits are learning how to survive, evade and resist these techniques because they will encounter them in the field.
Nimah once again warns Shelby about Leon. Shelby has to develop a detailed cover personality if she is going to get any usable information out of him. Shelby wonders how she is supposed to create and cultivate a parallel life while also running Alex, but Nimah suggests Shelby’s work with Leon become an official part of the mission. However, this means that she can’t be Alex’s handler anymore.
Back in the classroom, Owen and Lydia (Tracy Ifeachor) practice the enhanced interrogation techniques on the recruits: playing loud music, sensory deprivation, extreme temperatures and forced stress positions. After the exercise, Alex tries to gain an invitation to Owen’s house, but he rebuffs her.
Next in the classroom, Owen tells them the next exercise in this lesson: him. Their job is to get him to reveal the alias he used in the field. The exercise doesn’t end until he breaks. Lydia supervises the recruits, only to make sure they don’t get hurt. For 15 hours, the recruits have been playing loud music, kept the temperature at 90 degrees and deprived Owen of food, water and sleep. Harry goes in first, thinking he can get Owen to think rationally, but he is not successful.
The recruits discuss what to try next: Alex is in favor of waiting it out and Ryan argues for using the techniques Owen taught them. Ryan wins out and ten hours later Owen still hasn’t cracked. The recruits bring in a tub of ice water and begin to prep Owen for another tactic. He resists and manages to kick the tub across the room. Dayana suggests putting rocks in the bottom to keep it weighted down. Ryan takes notice of this. After they get the tub locked down, they begin to dunk Owen’s head under the water in a brutal technique that has some of the recruits, including Harry and Alex, wary. When that tactic doesn’t work, the recruits argue again about the next move. Harry suggests that they should try something that Owen won’t see coming. Sebastian believes they should humiliate and shame him into telling the truth. They don’t come to a consensus and decide to take a break. Alex decides she is going to take this opportunity to case Owen’s house while everyone else is occupied.
Ryan talks to Dayana, suspecting that she was older than she says when she left Zimbabwe. Dayana nearly admits that she saw torture when she was in Zimbabwe, saying that her life then was “complicated” and she doesn’t want to revisit it. She is concerned about who the CIA is turning her into, but Ryan reassures her that you can do bad things and not lose who you are.
Lydia visits Owen in the interrogation chamber, making sure he is still physically okay. He is still angry with her for not giving up the names in last week’s episode. She tells him that even though he thinks she doesn’t care that she does so she goes to get him a change of clothes. Alex easily gets into Owen’s house and finds the hidden room. Inside are a laptop and six phones, but she can’t find out anything else because Lydia is on her way. Harry sees Lydia and Alex from next door and distracts Lydia so that Alex can jump from the second story window. Of course Harry demands to know what Alex is up to and she admits she will need his help with what she just found.
In another round of arguing amongst the recruits, Sebastian and Harry come to blows over their differences. The recruits break them apart and Ryan asks Dayana what she would do. She suggests hurting someone Owen cares about: Lydia. Alex goes into the interrogation room to try to persuade Owen to stop the exercise. He won’t though, telling her that the recruits need to know what it feels like to truly hurt someone. When they’re being tortured in the field, they need to know what it feels like to be on the other side. The rest of the recruits come in to the room with Lydia. They tie her to a chair and waterboard her. Alex and Harry are the lone detractors, but they can’t stop what’s happening. After a few moments, Owen can’t take seeing his daughter tortured and gives up his alias.
After the exercise is over, Alex confronts Ryan. She can’t believe that he tortured someone, but he believes that if the AIC is still recruiting then he is more likely to be tapped because of what he did. Alex is worried that the experience is changing Ryan and the cracks begin to show in this relationship. We know that one year later they are no longer together so this is clearly only the beginning of the “Ralex” drama.
Sebastian confronts Harry, telling him to get off his back. Sebastian thinks that it’s driving Harry crazy that he can’t have Sebastian. Harry retorts, saying that Sebastian has never been allowed to get what he wants and he tortures himself everyday by not being who he is. There is a moment where it looks like the two might kiss, but Sebastian walks away.
In a powerful moment in Owen’s house, Lydia tells her father that she is disappointed in him. She thinks he is weak because he caved in so soon and because he has put her through worse before. She questions his ability to teach and we are left wondering if Lydia could be involved with the AIC.
Back in the safe house, Alex tells Shelby what she found in Owen’s house. Shelby is worried that the computer and cell phones won’t be there the next time Alex gets in. She wishes Alex had taken the risk, but Alex believes that Shelby would have done the same. Shelby tells Alex she will think of a new plan, but stays behind with Nimah and Ryan – literally shutting the door on Alex. Nimah and Shelby develop a cover persona for Shelby, making it clear that Shelby has chosen Leon over Alex without even telling Alex. This will definitely cause some backlash in the future.
In a quick montage, we see a couple of the recruits reacting to the events of the week. Dayana pours boiling water over her hand and doesn’t react. Harry doesn’t get a chance to answer a call from Alex when Sebastian jumps on him in bed and kisses him. Harry hardly has a moment to react when Sebastian runs away in shame.
Owen and Alex run into each other at the bar. Owen admires Alex’s conviction and says that he hopes he would do the same thing if he had been in her shoes. The CIA used to respect how smart the enemy was and Owen misses that time. He and Alex decide to stay for a burger and bond more. There are definite parallels between their relationship and Alex’s relationship with Liam last season.
In a chilling visual, Ryan wakes up in the woods next to a car with a ringing cell phone (one of the ones Alex saw in Owen’s house?). He answers it and a voice tells him he’s been selected and to tell no one.
ONE YEAR LATER
Alex dislocates her shoulder to get free of the restraints Lydia put her in. The satellite phone rings, but Alex can’t get to it in time to answer. In true Alex fashion, she quickly puts her shoulder back in place before running out of the room as the alarms sound. On the run, Alex uses the phone to try to contact Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis), who doesn’t pick up. Alex calls Shelby, who answers, but the phone is very low on battery and cuts out halfway through the conversation. Alex manages to give Shelby the first six digits of one of the sat phones, which they don’t know is Miranda’s.
Shortly after, the terrorists catch Alex and lock her up in an empty room. They put another captive in with her, a man named Mike (Tom Kemnitz Jr.) who is trying to get the information Alex knows about the drives. He seems to be innocent, but Alex doesn’t believe him.
The terrorists enter the room with torture instruments, but Alex makes it clear that won’t work. They shoot Mike in the head and bring in Dayana, who encourages Alex to stay strong. When the terrorists threaten to torture Dayana, Alex breaks. She tells the terrorists that Lydia has the drives, is still in the perimeter and has her cell phone. If the terrorists turn off the jamming signal for even a second, they can find her. But when the terrorists leave the room, Alex stops crying and she looks determined. Clearly, she has a plan. Soon, Sebastian, Harry and Leon barge through the door to rescue Alex and Dayana. They decide to go back to the bunker for medical supplies to help Dayana. Alex says she’s done playing nice.
In the FBI, Miranda sees all the activity in the office and learns that Shelby got a call from Alex, where she got six digits of a number the terrorists have been communicating with. The FBI are running all numbers that start with those digits and checking which ones have been used since the crisis began. Now Miranda knows they are close to finding her and cautiously puts her sat phone in her purse.
Miranda’s boyfriend Paul (Aaron Lazar) visits her and she kisses him, in full view of the rest of the office. The camera pans over to her purse, which does not contain the satellite phone anymore. She slipped it into his bag and when Shelby finds it, Paul is implicated.
In the final scene, we get a lot of information. Shelby asks Miranda about Paul being involved with the terrorists and Miranda laments that love makes you blind. On a television, they learn that the President is stepping down and Claire Haas (Marcia Cross) will be sworn in as replacement. (Side note, if this means the return of Marcia Cross, I am all in. She was one of the best guest stars last season.) The two women also learn that all of the cell phones inside the perimeter give a signal for one second. This is from Alex’s suggestion to the terrorists and her plan has worked. The FBI now can find out exactly who is in the perimeter and where they are.