Granted, Quantico has never pretended to spoon-feed its audience — this is the FBI, comprende? And this week is no different. With a bedazzling bundle of plot-twisting revelations and zigzagging time jumps all coming a mile a minute, “Over” is indeed a bit of an information overload, but the surprising answers we finally get — about Alex’s dad, for example — make every minute worth it.
At the end of “Go,” Natalie surprisingly allows an injured Booth and Alex to escape. Not to say their chances are very good, when the FBI narrows down their citywide manhunt to a six-block radius in Astoria. The pair takes refuge in a suburban home that just “happens” to be abandoned. Ryan talks Alex through how to extract a bullet from his stomach, which was agonizing to watch, extremely intriguing, and acted out melodramatically.
Just when Alex declares hopelessly, “Everybody who’s helped us is either in custody or dead,” an anonymous hacker leaks all the top-secret files of the Grand Central investigation. To make things even more embarrassing for the Feds, all this happens while Deputy Director Clayton is on live TV. 1-0, for Alex. Go team go!
In Quantico, Raina and Nimah discover the ups and downs of untwining from their shared identity. At least everyone can now differentiate between the two because Nimah goes bareheaded while Raina keeps her hijab. That’s about all the perks there are, though. Only one twin can appear in public at a time (sounds a lot like The Prestige to me, not that I’m complaining about two Christian Bales) and, wonder of wonders, Raina’s always the one left behind. To make matters worse, the conservative twin’s romantic hopes take a skydive when it becomes apparent that everything Simon found attractive about her “…was actually Nimah.” Simon plays it clueless though, and his quickly shut down attempt to ask out Nimah leaves the trio in a tangle of strained awkwardness.
Fast-forward to the present. Two members of the Unknown, Mia and Duncan, arrive to transport the fugitives to safety, but Alex refuses to leave before they help retrieve data that could potentially exonerate her. “Being free,” she argues hotly, “isn’t the same as having freedom.”
The episode does a neat job of juxtaposing the young agent’s dilemma with her deputy director’s situation. As top-secret documents about the case go viral, Clayton orders Caleb to scrub his email and Shelby’s phone, ostensibly to protect Caleb’s mother’s chance at running for VP. Obviously though, Haas senior just wants to cover up his affair with Shelby, so poor Haas junior gets the thankless job of reading through his ex-girlfriend’s romantic correspondence with dad… to save mom. Talk about a dysfunctional family.
Back at Quantico, the NATs learn that “there is no such thing as a solo agent” when their personalized assignments that turn out to be all connected. This week’s lesson takes them on a field trip to FBI headquarters, where they are sent on a simulated mission to identify terrorist suspects camouflaging in the public.
Unlike the twins, Ryan finds that having his cover blown isn’t such a bad thing after all. Finally free to be honest about his affections for Alex, the two begin the long road to rebuilding trust. In light of the trials they’ll be facing down the road — I bet nobody told Alex that she’d be doing field surgery on her boyfriend — we know they need it. While at headquarters, Ryan and Alex decide that it’s the perfect time to snoop around for info about her dad. They discover that her mother was once interrogated for terrorist activity, but before they can look further into the file, the NATs are sent out to find the suspects.
Star student as always, Alex tackles the terrorist like a pro quarterback but the spectacular display of football prowess is all for naught. There’s nothing in his bag. A disappointed team returns to HQ only to discover that the saboteur had slipped a bomb into Alex’s backpack (and stolen back the dad file). He was a decoy and Alex is the terrorist. Hm, planted bomb, FBI framing Alex… where have we heard that before?
Emboldened by the file, Alex confronts Liam about her father, and encounters some hard truths to swallow. It turns out that back in 1993, Liam and her father were among a group of agents who failed to prevent a bomb attack at Omaha that left 204 people dead. Alex can’t get over the fact that these officers buried the evidence in order to save their careers, but Liam counters that these officers, now all top FBI agents, spent their whole lives to make up for it.
Meanwhile, Caleb and Shelby’s picture perfect relationship shows signs of fissure when Caleb accidentally reveals the existence of Shelby’s half-sister to the FBI. (Who wouldn’t get suspicious when your girlfriend sends millions of dollars every month to the Middle East?) Shelby is outraged by his betrayal, but Caleb manages to justify his actions by explaining how his father rescued him from a cult when he was seventeen, then cleared this from his records in order to protect him.
Their make-up (or rather, make out) session makes for a pretty neat transition back to the present, where Caleb isn’t so sure if wants to reciprocate the favour anymore. It doesn’t help that the ex sides with his father even after Clayton’s put her in cuffs. (Shelby was exposed last episode for working undercover for Alex). While it’s obvious by now that Clayton is pure jerkface, Shelby still seems pretty infatuated with him; “Your dad has character. It takes a lot of courage to in order to hurt someone you love in order to do what’s right.”
Not sure if I’d vouch for Clayton’s character, but I’d definitely agree on the latter. Once again, Alex plays a stark contrast to Clayton. Inspired by a stray piece of wire that was not used in the Grand Central bombing, Alex realizes that there’s another deadlier bomb! After tricking Ryan into leaving with the Unknown for medical treatment, our noble heroine goes straight to FBI headquarters in order to warn the authorities, and in doing so, triggers her own arrest.
Will Alex be tortured? Sneak a peek at Episode 9 right here.
Despite the oft-repeated reminder that not everything you see on TV is true, sometimes fiction can get frighteningly real. With the world still reeling from the recent Paris attacks, this week’s episode of Quantico has been the season’s most resonant and impactful yet.