Quantico – Mockingbird
By: Emily Cross
At the start of the episode, we see a couple that lives in Brookwell, VA and is forced to evacuate their home after an explosion nearby.
At The Farm, Clay (Hunter Parrish) briefs Owen (Blair Underwood) on the newest breach: someone accessed the Cache to find the emergency response protocols for all state officials in Virginia. Owen responds that there is nothing to do until the AIC acts. There is obviously tension here, with Clay sensing Owen’s natural leadership and resistance to instruction. Owen is very comfortable being in charge, but he’s not here. Owen briefs Clay on each member of the team, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Some highlights: Alex (Priyanka Chopra) always has to be the hero in a situation, Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) is a good soldier but Alex is his weakness, Dayana’s (Pearl Thusi) dark past never went away, Nimah (Yasmine Al Massri) is strong-willed and weighed down by her sins and Shelby (Johanna Braddy) is too invested in what other people think of her.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team are chilling at The Gold Leaf. Alex looks like she wants to flirt with someone when Ryan gets in the way. After he reassures her that even though they let bad guys go sometimes, they’re in it for the long haul, Ryan gets a text from a blocked number. The text is presumably from Sasha (Karolina Wydra), the reporter from last week, and presumes to call Ryan out. He agrees to meet with her. After Shelby catches Alex making eyes at the guy from before, she calls Alex out on being too wrapped up in Ryan. Even though they aren’t together, they are still connected.
When the team gets to the Bunker, they find footage of Owen’s assessment playing on the screen. Clay tells them they need to get things out into the open. He thinks the team needs to face how they are perceived in order to work together moving forward. Clay then briefs the team on the situation in Brookwell: an explosion at a local chemical storage plant. He gives Nimah the grunt work of monitoring social media as real-time data and instructs the rest of the team to figure out what the collaborators might want from this situation. After some unsuccessful leads, Owen figures out that the explosion was faked, presumably by Russian hackers. Brainstorming, the team realizes that there is something in that town that the collaborators want and needed to evacuate everyone to find it.
The team’s next step is to trace the story through the Internet to find the trolls responsible. Only then can they figure out who orchestrated the whole thing. In this scene, Clay gives us a crash course in how fake news is disseminated. Hackers create URLs that are one or two letters different than real news sites and spread the stories from there. When people read them, they think they are reading actual stories from CNN or the New York Times.
Shelby follows a few of these URLs to find that they can be traced to a server warehouse near the Chesapeake. She posits that the troll farm must be nearby. When Clay asks her how she learned how to dig deep into servers, she responds that her “photojournalist boyfriend” taught her. She later confesses to Alex that she doesn’t know why she lied to Clay and pretended she was still dating Leon (Aaron Diaz) and Alex warns her that Leon isn’t in a good place. If only she knew…
Alex and Ryan have an awkward moment after figuring out that the troll farm might be near Richmond. Looks like things aren’t going to get easier for these two!
Dayana traces several hundred Twitter accounts to the same IP address and attempts to give the information to Owen. Clay intercepts, making his position known. He warns Owen to find a role on the team other than leader.
On a random visit back to the dorms, Shelby runs into Nimah, who was sent there by Clay. She encourages Nimah to speak up to Clay and reminds her that she belongs on the team.
Clay puts all the pieces together and congratulates the team on their good work. They’ve traced the hackers to a troll farm based in Norfolk. However, they can exactly just go in as FBI and CIA agents and start asking questions so Alex has an idea. She brings Harry (Russell Tovey) in because he went undercover with Russian trolls as part of an MI-6 mission and can get them in the door to ask the right questions. Everyone agrees to let Harry help, just this once.
Before the mission starts, Ryan meets Sasha at the Gold Leaf (her suggestion…). She threatens to reveal his work with the CIA, which he doesn’t confirm, but he stands his ground.
When Harry and Alex arrive at the troll farm, they are greeted by some unsavory characters. After they ask too many questions, one of the hackers pulls a gun to Harry’s head, but Harry and Alex manage to convince him that they are who they say they are (which they aren’t…). This makes me question how the hell Alex is still going undercover. She practically a household name and face at this point, having been at the center of two national terrorist conspiracies, not to mention she gets recognized everywhere she goes. Why send her in when Dayana or Shelby could have done just as well?
Rant aside, Alex and Harry get the information they need and get out. The hackers were hired by Greypool, a private American military company and security group. The next step is to find out what Greypool is after and Nimah’s on track, even if Clay won’t take her calls.
So, the team heads to Brookwell. It’s safe to assume that Greypool is blending in with the emergency response teams already on site so the team does the same. Harry and Dayana pretend to be environmental scientists from William and Mary to figure out what parts of town the crews haven’t covered. They relay this information to Alex, Shelby and Ryan, who are the boots on the ground attempting to get to whatever Greypool is looking for before they find it. Before they set off, they run across a local sheriff. Shelby stays behind to talk to the sheriff, using her cover story, while Alex and Ryan start their search. They quickly find a few EPA agents going into a house that’s already been cleared, leading them to believe that they are not EPA.
In the van, Owen tells Clay that respect has to be earned and that it’s not a given. Then, Nimah busts in, telling them that she figured out that Greypool is looking for a person, not a thing.
When Alex and Ryan enter the cleared house, they find just that: a woman hiding in the basement. It takes a bit of convincing, but she agrees to go with them. The only problem? They need a way out, so Harry and Dayana are on the way.
Meanwhile, Nimah rescues Shelby from the sheriff who was about to run her (fake) credentials.
While they are waiting, Alex and Ryan ask the woman why she’s so important. Her name is Malory Haynes (Adrienne Warren) and she used to write fake news for Senator Lewis Baynard’s re-election campaign. One story got out of control and led to the deaths of eleven people so Senator Baynard’s people have been trying to get rid of any connection between him and the fake news, including Malory.
Harry and Dayana finally arrive at the house, pretending they are the owners and tell the Greypool people to get out. They distract them while Alex, Ryan and Malory use the rear exit. However, they make too much noise and the Greypool people catch on. After a short gunfight, all of the team members make it back to the van and get out quickly. However, Sasha is in town (presumably reporting on the evacuation) and spots Ryan in the passenger seat of the van. They make eye contact, and Ryan knows he’s screwed.
Back at the Bunker, the team breaks down their success. Shelby is happy they have another face for their board and assumes it is Senator Baynard, but Nimah isn’t so sure. There’s no proof it was Baynard and politicians clean up each other’s messes all the time. Clay doesn’t believe her, but Nimah fights back, reminding him that they’re on the same side.
At the dorms, Shelby reminds Nimah that she did a lot of good on this mission and reassures her that she belongs on the team. Nimah doesn’t seem convinced and confesses that she misses Raina. She also feels guilty that she didn’t get punished for the mistakes that she made, and feels out of place on the team. Shelby gives her a good pep talk, reminding her to focus on the good things she’s done and let go of her mistakes.
Clay tells Owen that Nimah was right, Baynard isn’t a collaborator and they have an important conversation about their places on the team. Owen believes that Clay has a lot to learn, but Clay counters that he possesses the experience working with the type of people they are going after and that is valuable experience. They agree to work together and Owen agrees to let Clay learn how to do his job. That behind them, Clay asks for some advice. He knows that the team won’t take it well when they learn that once again, they have to let the bad guy go for now. Owen advises him to lie to the team and let them believe in their success.
Over a drink, Harry laments to Alex that (once again) he will be left out in the cold. She wants him to join the team, but she’s not authorized to offer that and she knows Harry is too independent to garner an invitation himself. She drops some truth on him and tells him that he’s been closed off for far too long and it’s time to let someone in. She went through a similar thing when her dad died, but when she met all of her FBI buddies (RIP Simon) that helped her see that these connections were important. She implores him to let them in, and promises to not leave him if he chooses to stay. Harry leaves, but we get the sense that a door has opened.
Ryan once again meets Sasha at The Gold Leaf and gives her some intel in return for not printing the story about him and the CIA. He also promises that it won’t be the last time if Sasha does right by him. What is Ryan getting himself into?
In The Farm classroom, Clay and Owen inform Malory that they can’t keep her safe and she will have to disappear, for a long time. She obviously doesn’t take it well, but really doesn’t have another choice. Dayana overhears them telling her this, which can’t be a good thing.
In the Bunker, Clay informs the team of their massive success (even if some of it is a lie). He also gives them the next collaborator: Henry Roarke, the Speaker of the House. Nimah was right and Clay admits it. The team heads to The Gold Leaf to celebrate their win, where Alex and Ryan also have a conversation about their relationship and admit that they both want each other to be happy, even if that means seeing other people. Shelby and Clay also have a conversation, where she admits that she made her boyfriend up and that she cares what Clay thinks about her. He admits that he doesn’t hate her, even though he wants to. Could Shelby be falling for yet another Haas? Later on Harry shows up! Clay finally confirms him as a member of the team and the whole team plays a round of Harry’s truth-or-bullseye game from earlier in the season.
During the darts game, Ryan gets a call from Sasha, thanking him for giving her the intel on Sean Gregory. They set up a dinner date and it looks like Ryan might be dating sooner than Alex.
Shelby decides to call Leon spur-of-the-moment and gets his voicemail. If only she knew what was going on with him…and that he might be dead? The last image is of someone in a bathtub with slit wrists and we are led to assume it is Leon.