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TV Series Review

And Alex doesn't know who she can trust—even Shelby.

See what I did there? I just yanked that thought from the middle of the review. If the only thing you knew about ABC's Quantico was what you were reading right now, that sentence would make absolutely no sense hanging off by itself like that … but even so, you might be asking yourself, Who is Alex, and why can't Shelby be trusted? Even if you do watch Quantico (and we should really have a talk about that later), perhaps you're suspicious: What? Shelby? She's totally trustworthy! Well, except for that affair with Caleb's dad, but she surely didn't have anything to do with the terrorist attack, right?

Such is the beauty and frustration of the trendy time-shifting television show—wherein you sorta know the beginning of the end when you're in the beginning of the beginning, making both the end and the beginning utterly disorienting. ABC hopes that the resulting confusion, when confronted by our universal human desire to find some sort of solution to the riddle, will keep you compulsively tuning in.

To back up a bit: Quantico does indeed focus on a character named Alex: She is an FBI recruit who is, along with a bevy of telegenic peers, training at the FBI Academy in Quantico. Eight months later, she's been wrongly accused of setting off a terrorist attack, and many of her one-time telegenic peers are either actively hunting her down or secretly helping her clear her name.

Shelby, Alex's best friend, appears to fit in the latter category. At least for the moment. So does Ryan Booth, an FBI agent and one-time lover of Alex who now shares his personal space with Natalie Vasquez, Alex's Quantico nemesis. Natalie, naturally, seems in league with the nefarious Caleb Haas, a training flunky who, oddly, seems largely in charge of the terrorist investigation. Then there's Simon, the IT expert who isn't gay but pretends he is; and Miranda Shaw, the FBI instructor whose kid seems intent on perpetrating a terrorist act of his own.

And we haven't even yet talked about Nimah and Raina, twins who decided to enter Quantico as one person. (Just like The Parent Trap, only with national security ramifications.)

As the weeks drag on, we can expect secrets to be revealed and allegiances to shift. And for Alex to never quite know who she can trust. Even … well, you know.

It's all very strange and confusing, though the most mystifying thing about the whole situation is how much critics like this show. According to Rotten Tomatoes, it's holding down an 83% "freshness" rating at the time of this review—suggesting that the time-shifting trope is still an "innovation" in the cultural zeitgeist, rather than a "gimmick."

Because, really, when you strip away these back-and-forth leaps along the linear narrative, Quantico is less prestige TV and more Pretty Little Liars—only with higher security clearance and lower self-awareness.

Professional objectives take a backseat to personal soap operas. The FBI Academy comes off as a randy summer camp, wherein the campers can get "busy" with whomever they want without any counselors making things difficult. Indeed, the onscreen sex can be, as we noted on our blog, quite graphic and super-casual. And these "kids" don't stop having sex with one another just because a bomb blew up much of New York's Grand Central Station, either. Most every agent (and the show itself) is clearly more preoccupied with who's sleeping with whom than whether someone might be part of a sleeper cell.

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Episode Reviews

"God" - 11-1-2015



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Priyanka Chopra as Alex Parrish; Josh Hopkins as Liam O'Connor; Jake McLaughlin as Ryan Booth; Aunjanue Ellis as Miranda Shaw; Yasmine Al Massri as Nimah and Raina Amin; Johanna Braddy as Shelby Wyatt; Tate Ellington as Simon Asher; Graham Rogers as Caleb Haas; Anabelle Acosta as Natalie Vasquez; Rick Cosnett as Elias Harper






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Paul Asay

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