Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

A compelling mystery series, “Quantico,” debuted its fifth episode of its first season last Sunday evening, Oct. 25 at 10 p.m. This is Joshua Safran’s brand new show on ABC. Safran, who produced the CW’s “Gossip Girl” and NBC’s “Smash,” created the series that follows the story of Alex Parrish, played by Priyanka Chopra, who is part of an ethnically diverse class of FBI trainees competing with each other to survive at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. We discover that one of the class’ students is a sleeper agent who engineers a major terror attack on the U.S., while we cling to “Quantico’s” passenger seat, grip the door handle, and implement our investigating skills learned from many years of “Law & Order” to uncover the true identity of the attacker from our couches at home.

Although as an audience we find rather obvious borrowings from other TV series, the eclectic mix and repackaging of strengths in “Quantico” justifies Safran’s methods. The “Homeland”-esque tone of the show intersects with the production formula of Shonda Rhimes. A diverse casting ensemble, the early sexual tensions of Meredith Grey and McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy,” a “How to Get Away with Murder” mentor-mentee dynamic represented in flashbacks, and the heavy family baggage of “Scandal” are joined together by Safran to generate a compelling terrorism drama with constant plot twists that keep us asking questions and wanting more.

The writing is mostly well done, with worries only for the character dimensions getting lost with dialogue functioning solely to let the audience in on clues. The story’s plot is complex, the many threads attempting to interweave without becoming tangled. The story begins with the attack and then backtracks to let viewers in on what happened, while simultaneously moving onward to follow the investigation. The density of the show mirrors that of “True Detective,” where viewers have to really pay attention to digest each detail, but if the work is put in, the reward proves to be sweet (hopefully).

The cast is easy on the eyes, an attractive blend of character types, which include tough Southern belle Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy), devout Muslim with a secret Nimah Amin (Yasmine Al Massri), conservative gay recruit Simon Asher (Tate Ellington) and main character Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra.) Chopra, an Indian actress and singer who has starred in 50 plus Bollywood films, makes her American TV debut in the series. Her performance brings Alex’s character to life in a convincing way, as has the rest of the cast’s acting with their characters. Not to mention bad ass Miranda and Liam, the trainees’ no-nonsense mentors played by Aunjanue Ellis and Jake McLaughlin, who keep the plot points moving with their touching advice scenes and hard hitting leadership.

The acting is generally good, each character with his/her own completely unique story line, portraying it as vividly as possible given the plot’s layers. The actors and actresses on set are responsible for showing the multiple faces of their characters. With the flash-forward-flash-backward, two stories being told simultaneously tactic, the acting has to be impeccable in order for the audience to keep their characters straight.

While “Quantico” may seem like a puzzle now, the pieces should begin assembling soon. The series introduced the audience to all of the characters as FBI trainees in Quantico early on in the series. In each new episode, the class is introduced one by one as their present day versions, through Alex Parrish, framed for the terror attack, who is determined to find who is responsible for framing her. We are given a wide range of suspects that intrigue us as viewers of the enigma in front of us.

We get action, drama and mystery wrapped up and tied tight in a suspenseful riddle. The story line seems to have been carefully thought out, and so I don’t imagine it flopping. My hope and prediction is that in the next two episodes, we’ll get more answers and the present day action will begin to take prominence. I’ll admit that I’m confused, but mostly intrigued, by the intricate story lines Safran is giving us bits and pieces of. We’ve devoured the appetizer sampler and are ready for our entrees.

Megan Monachino is a fourth-year student majoring in English writing with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at MM783809@wcupa.edu.

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