The midseason finale, which was supposed to provide clarity and answers, instead doubled down on the mystery and misdirection that has been Quantico’s signature.
At the academy, everyone is full of holiday cheer – Christmas decorations cover the walls and they’re drinking beer for breakfast and getting ready to see their families over the three-day weekend. Except Shelby, Alex, Natalie and Nimah all lied about going home with the intention of spending the weekend alone at Quantico.
Before they were let out for break, the NATs were given cold case files (or, as the bureau calls them, “Pending Inactive” files). So, for a few hours, the girls get drunk on cheap wine, talk about boys and try to solve nearly impossible cases. They’re interrupted when Caleb shows up in a tux to drag Shelby to the Haas New Year party. The small family celebration turned out to be a 200-person black tie affair and he needs emotional back up. Shelby agrees to go, but only if Natalie and Alex come along.
At the Haas residence, Alex meets Hannah Wyland (Eliza Coupe), an agent with Alex’s dream job and a “dream husband”, who turns out to be Ryan Booth. When Alex confronts him, he explains that Hannah is his ex-wife, but they work well together and still pretend to be married when they’re undercover. It seems that despite his promise to not contact Alex after leaving the academy, Ryan hasn’t been able to let go of her. He kisses her in the bathroom and when she flees, Hannah corners her and tells Alex that she broke Ryan’s heart and needs to give him time to heal. Again, Alex flees and runs into Liam who offers to take her back to Quantico. They get back to the academy, but Alex isn’t ready to go in and asks Liam to take her somewhere.
Elsewhere during the New Year’s festivities, Caleb introduces Shelby to his mother, Senator Claire Haas (Marcia Cross). Shelby is, of course, a hit with the Senator, but Caleb is distracted when he finds out his parents are getting back together. Claire and Clayton Haas have been on the outs for a long time – they don’t live together and barely speak – but Claire is on the shortlist for the vice president and the presidential candidate is big on family values. Caleb pulls his parents and Shelby into the kitchen and reveals Claire’s ulterior motives. Clayton is clearly hurt that their reunion was solely for political purposes, and Shelby, confused and disappointed by Caleb’s actions, bolts before midnight.
Caleb finds her at Quantico where Shelby tells him: “You are willing to blow things up just to get people to see your truth, instead of helping them find it for themselves.” He told his father why his mother took him back, he forced Shelby to learn about her “sister”, and he had been about to join a suicide bombing expedition before his father raided the cult he was in – all in the name of truth. She tells Caleb that she loves him, but that he’ll hurt her in the future and ends things between them.
Following that, Caleb (undercover as “Mark Raymond”), asks to see the “four largest security boxes” at a bank close to Grand Central Station – the bank that later becomes Command Center for the FBI following the Grand Central Bombing.
In the post-attack timeline, Alex is still in FBI custody where Liam and Miranda are pretending to interrogate her. They only have four hours left to find the second bomb (or the real bomber) before the FBI has to bring Alex to federal prison when Elias shows up at Command Center. He claims that someone pushed him into traffic that morning as he was leaving his office and (not-so) subtly gets Team Alex to suspect Simon.
Natalie, Nimah and Alex go to find Simon, but instead find an empty apartment covered in blueprints, photos and plans for a bomb. Thanks to a keycard on his computer, they track him to a room in the hotel where the Democratic National Convention is going to be held that day. Simon is sitting in a chair with his hand taped to a detonator. He says someone drugged him and he woke up there with no idea who is responsible.
Elias goes overboard in his attempts to place blame on Simon, and everyone quickly realizes the plot holes in his story. Simon threatens to take his finger off the trigger, so Elias confesses: someone called him and threatened to expose evidence he had falsified when he was a trial attorney, unless he helped frame Alex. But that wasn’t enough for the mystery bomber – they called Elias yet again and told him to bring the detonator to the hotel. Not wanting to end up taking the fall, he took it upon himself to frame Simon as well.
Thanks to the piece of braided copper wiring they found in an earlier episode (which can withstand extreme temperatures), Simon and Alex reason that the bomb must be in the boiler room and Liam and Miranda find it with seven minutes left on the timer. Now that the bomb has been found, Elias realizes that his arrest is imminent. Instead of allowing that to happen, Elias falls out of the hotel window to his death. There isn’t much time to dwell on this since there’s still a bomb ticking, but the bomb squad is able disable it with one second remaining. Alex tells Simon it’s safe to release the trigger but as soon as he does, they hear an explosion down the street.
When Alex, Nimah, Simon, and Natalie rush out of the hotel and towards the sound, they see Command Center – aka the bank that Caleb (disguised as Mark Raymond) seemed to be casing – blown to pieces.
Although creator Josh Safran promised the midseason finale would be a “game changer”, it didn’t quite live up to this expectation. Instead, it simply spun the ‘Who We Suspect This Week’ wheel, and landed on a different member of Team Alex. Most of “Inside” is focused on Elias and Simon, only to redirect to Caleb in its final moments. Until this revelation is fleshed out, the episode only raises questions and confusion.
Is Caleb responsible for the Grand Central attack and/or the Command Center explosion? Was he the one blackmailing Elias into helping? And most importantly, who was inside Command Center when it exploded?
We’ll have to wait until March to find out.
Quantico returns Sunday, March 6th at 10pm with new episodes.