This week’s episode, which shares a title with the series, opens in the present, where Alex has been returned to FBI custody after pleading guilty to the Grand Central bombing, in order to throw the people framing her off. Now that all agents are firmly on Team Alex, Liam directs them to comb through their former classmates and narrow down a list of suspects.
At Quantico (and in the past), the NATs are engaging in hand-to-hand combat training and dealing with their anger towards Simon after he turned in Dr. Langdon for doctoring evidence. The agents-in-training resort to middle school bullying tactics, stealing Simon’s towel while he’s in the shower and refusing to partner with him for their next assignment in order to demonstrate their displeasure. The new assignment requires the NATs to go through applicant folders to determine who will be a part of the new incoming class. Inspired by the vetting process, Nimah takes it upon herself to get more information about Simon’s background and she’s not the only one investigating a fellow classmate. After Alex begins to suspect that the scar on Nathalie’s neck is fake, she enlists Ryan to help her find out about the NATs’ past and Caleb begins looking into Shelby, after his father warns him that her stepsister isn’t who she claims to be.
In the present, Alex is again investigating her allies. Liam and Miranda convince her to run surveillance on the other members of Team Alex in addition to their other old classmates. Despite their sacrifices for Alex, it seems that they are still suspects in the Grand Central attack. Through their surveillance, they watch as Shelby breaks up with Deputy Director Clayton, Raina visits the leader of the cell her and Nimah infiltrated in hospital and Simon meets with Orin, a “man [who] makes bombs” – all of which are now in official FBI transcripts, likely tainting their records and careers.
Back in the past, Miranda calls an emergency hearing to determine if one of the NATs is fit for duty, after new information emerges. Shelby, Nathalie and Simon all believe they are the ones being kicked out of the Academy, but it’s Nathalie that is called for questioning. As Miranda interrogates her in front of her classmates, Nathalie reveals that her old boyfriend emotionally abused her and once she got pregnant and had his child, she faked physical abuse (scars and bruises that can be seen) in order to get custody of her daughter. Miranda excuses herself to deliberate and Nimah, incensed that Simon is not the one being dismissed, begins listing all of the information she discovered, insisting that he is a “war criminal”. She calls him out for his involvement with the Israeli Defense Forces, and he initially claims he was only a translator, but later concedes he was involved in the torture and murder of innocents. He would lure women so his superior, who, knowingly to Simon, had gone rouge, could question them about the whereabouts of their husbands. The revelations keep on coming as Ryan finally tells the NATs that he isn’t a trainee but an agent who was assigned to Quantico.
Miranda returns to declare Nathalie fit for duty, but ends up expelling Simon from the academy, not for his military duty, but for assaulting Ryan on his third day at Quantico and thus harming a fellow “trainee.” As he packs his belongings and prepares to leave, Caleb helps Shelby address her concerns about her stepsister. Turns out Clayton was right, and the woman claiming to be Shelby’s sister was running a long-con, extorting her for millions of dollars over the last fifteen years.
At the New York FBI base in the present, the members of Team Alex have discovered that they are being tracked and are still suspects, but their outrage is interrupted by Simon’s return to the base and his declaration: “I’m the one who planned Grand Central.” However, although he planned the bombing, he didn’t carry it out. In his spare time at Quantico, Simon designed a simultaneous bombing of a NYC mosque and synagogue – after a bomb threat that would have evacuated any civilians within. The plans included a few intentional flaws, which had been fixed and co-opted for the Grand Central attack. With that out of the way, Simon and the rest of Alex’s classmates condemn her for putting them under surveillance despite their sacrifices for her and walk out. Alex meets Simon at his home later that evening and makes a heartfelt, in-person plea for him to keep helping her. He turns her down and after she leaves, goes to enter his house, where Elias chloroforms him.
‘Quantico’ is a fast paced, information heavy hour that effectively propels us forward and into next week’s midseason finale, which creator Josh Safran described as a “game changer”. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Safran stated that although next week’s episode is only the end of season 1A, the return for season 1B in March is “basically season 2”. I look forward to seeing how the fall finale will change the characters, their relationships and the course of the series.
Quantico airs Sundays at 10pm on ABC.