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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Have A Secret And I Can't Keep It. I'm In Love With Quantico #Quantico #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek

I Have A Secret And I Can't Keep It. I'm In Love With Quantico #Quantico #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek

All picutres courtesy of ABC 

Quantico, Quantico, how much do I love thee. Let me count the ways. But before we do that and I give my grade and review/recap of the first three episodes of ABC's Quantico (#Quantico), let me do a little housekeeping and remind you that I have a new comedy out right now entitled Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend on Amazon Kindle. If you were one of the people that watched CW's Crazy Ex- Girlfriend last night, you might be interested in my book with a very similar subject.

Back to Quantico, and as a reminder for anyone who wanted to see my initial thoughts about this show I would point you to the #Premiere Week button up top in the title. Click it and scroll to the end where you can read a more in-depth summary of my first thoughts. However, to give a quick reminder of my feelings, this was one of my most anticipated shows of the fall. With it being so highly toted by ABC as their next potential hit and "Grey's Anatomy" but with FBI agents, I couldn't not have my interest a little piqued. And then they had Priyanka Chopra in the ads and oh boy! Oh boy! Gorgeous is too overused a word, but for the sake of saving my brain power for my novels, I'll settle by using it. I really couldn't wait to see this show. So, how did it fair?

That's Liam.

So far, so good. Priyanka Chopra heads an ensemble cast filled not only with other beautiful people, but gives us a great blend of diversity to end ABC's Sunday after the whiteness that is Blood And Oil. Priyanka plays agent-in-training Alex Parrish who, just like the other 30 or so recruits, has come to FBI's famed training ground of Quantico. If you've read just about any serial killer/FBI book in the last 30 years, you've heard the place mentioned. It's more famous than the actual headquarters of the bureau in D.C. (my mother had also been looking forward to this show for that very reason). As with most ensemble casts, our lead is joined by a bevy of other talented and potentially favorite characters/actors. Aunjanue Ellis plays the director in charge of training the recruits. Fans might recognize her from roles in Undercover Brother, The Help, Ray or NCIS: Los Angeles. She, along with Liam O'Connor (character name; he was also in Cougartown) who is the main course instructor, must narrow the field down to the people who can truly become agents.

Ryan Booth

The would-be agents are plenteous with few recognizable faces for the average viewer but a standout or two. You first have Ryan Booth who happens to sleep with Alex the morning she was to go to Quantico. A very small contingent of viewers may recognize him from the short-lived NBC show Believe about a year and a half back--it was a spring/summer show. He's supposed to be the overly physical butch one who appears as a semi-meat head amongst everyone else and that is taking into account the fact that they're all super smart. It is revealed at the end of the first episode that he's actually been an agent for quite some time and has been tasked by Liam to shadow Alex for reasons currently unknown. Did I forget to mention that everyone on this show has a secret? Yeah, hold on because if you haven't been watching this might get confusing, but it's pretty good TV.

Is Asher really gay? 
Next we have Simon Asher or just Asher. A supposed gay man, our introduction to him shows him engaging in fraud before stepping foot in Quantico. He pays a random gay man on the streets of New York to take a kissing photo with him which he later frames and tells everyone that it is a picture of him and his boyfriend. An amalgam of skinny, nerdy-persona lies, he also doesn't need to wear the fake glasses he proudly slogs around in. Stereotypically, he is not the most proficient in physical skills but is highly trained in technological pursuits. Of all the suspicious behavior on the campus both from teachers and students, he sticks out as the most suspicious which makes him an obvious red herring for the real culprit.

Mormon's on the right. Caleb plays witness to his murder. 
Then we have Caleb Haas. Also a not as physically gifted specimen like Booth, he shows little proficiency in anything . He has a brief encounter with another of the recruits in the first episode which ends tragically. One of the first tests was to choose a profile of a fellow recruit and figure out what wasn't in the profile that shaped their character. Matched with a Mormon recruit, Caleb prodded him to tell the truth and threatened to reveal a big dark secret about the religious boy that no one else knew. A bluff, as it turned out Mormon did have a dark secret involving his Mormon mission, a pregnant teen girl, an abortion that went horribly wrong and a death. How the FBI's initial background check missed such a huge red flag is beyond anyone, but it led to the boy shooting not only the lie detector test administrator but blowing his own brains out in front of Caleb. That experience, coupled with his lack of ability overall made him turn his sights to an analyst job where he'd safely sit behind a desk rather than be out in the field. And though I have my eye on him, he is not my prime suspect.

Shelby on the left, Nimah at center.

Then there is Nimah. A Muslim woman, she wears the traditional head garb and is never seen unclothed or scantily clothed by a man. This is initially why her fellow recruits believe she is given her own private room while everyone else has a roommate. However, it is revealed in episode two that her story is more complex than that as she is in cahoots with the director--that is, she and her twin sister are in cahoots. Conducting an experiment on her own, the director wants to see if any of the recruits or anyone else will identify Nimah as being two people rather than one. Like twins everywhere do at some point, they dress up as the other or as this possibly fictional "Nimah" character and go through the program hopefully never revealing their true identity, though one leaves in the third episode.

Picture couresty of ABC and spoilertv

Next is Natalie Vasquez. After the Mormon's suicide I guess the program had room for one more new recruit as Natalie didn't show up until the second episode. Already tight with Booth, she and Alex are pitted against each other as serious rivals both for being the top recruit and for Booth's heart. She is tough as nails (cliche) and fits in better with the guys than the girls (tomboy cliche). While her self-imposed competition with Alex is a neat side-story, I don't think she is ever meant to be a true suspect due to her late arrival.

And last but certainly not least, we have Shelby Wyatt. A small blonde from down south, she is not only Alex's roommate but has become her best friend outside of Booth. Supposedly, her parents died in the 9/11 attacks spurring her FBI career. She wants to stop any and all terrorist attacks from ever happening on US soil again, which is why she is prime suspect number one for me. Though she isn't shown to be top of the class in physicality or intellect (she's middling), she does have a high skill-level in weapons use as she was a rifle and pageant girl in her youth back before her parents pushed her into such things. She also comes from money. Her parents were extravagantly wealthy as evidenced by her palatial family estate down in Georgia. And though she has seemingly done nothing to make herself stand out as a suspect, I've had my eye on her from day one.

Suspect of what, you ask. Sorry, I didn't mention the big twist in this show. The show skips forward nine months from their first day to reveal that the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11 has just taken place in NYC and Alex Parrish just so happened to be there. Curiosities mount when she is not only found at the bomb site, but lying on top of the wreckage as if neatly placed there. And who is suspected to be the culprit? One of the very recruits she trained with at Quantico. It doesn't take long--half of the first episode--for fingers to start pointing at Alex as evidence starts to do the same. She discovers in the second and third episodes that not only has she been framed for the crime, but someone targeted her from the very first day. Booth was found shot and unconscious in Alex's apartment and she goes on the run to prove her innocence. All hell is breaking loose in the city as she tries to think of who she can turn to for help, and is remembering everything that happened while in the academy. All the sex, all the secrets, all the lies mix into frenzied, frothy goodness in this new multicultural whodunnit.

Why is my money and suspicion on the blonde girl? Because everything they've done so far has been to subvert the expected. I had mixed feelings about the Mormon guy killing himself (and on a Sunday night TV show no less) as I did come to know some Mormon missionaries who were very kind and only ever wanted a fair shot at being portrayed as decent people. However, I must commend the producers and writers for having the audacity to put a head-dress wearing Muslim woman on primetime TV. Making her the bad girl is too easy and could be construed as stereotyping and devilishly un-PC. While the teachers have their own agendas, I don't see either of them pulling this. The gay guy, who was revealed nine months later to now be working for a Tech start-up after being expelled from the program, only to be even later revealed as an FBI agent under deep cover and helping Alex in her escape and mystery-solving is also not a suspect because he comes off as too suspicious. Then you have Booth who is too distracted by the ladies though he could be a suspect. That leaves Caleb and Shelby. While my secondary theory involves them working a two-person job (they started off combative toward each other--the perfect cover), my gut feeling is that it is Shelby alone. I have many reasons, all of which I will not cover here but I will say that I wonder greatly about how she managed to procure a twisted metal piece of the plane on which her parents flew when they crashed into one of the twin towers. Also, I think the show has dropped subtle hints in costuming and other artistic choices that lead me to believe she is the villain, though she thinks she's doing something grand.

Study this picture. 

So much happened in the first three episodes that I didn't even touch on in nearly as much depth as I wanted. Alex is so good at what she does that she breaks Booth down in five easy answers just after they have sex as virtual strangers off a plane. What's her big and complicated background? She grew up with an abusive father. One night her mother and father got into a physical altercation in which Alex shot and killed him. Only after did she discover he was a special agent with the FBI. She came to the FBI to find out if what she saw was true and discovered not only that it was true but that he and her teacher Liam knew each other and her father was a hero who had saved countless lives. Even more intriguing, after killing her father her mother took credit for the murder in self-defense and sent her away to India to live with some relatives for ten years. But as revealed in the third episode, her mother and relatives only knew where she was for nine of those years. Where did she go in that tenth year?

My grade? Isn't it obvious? I am giving this series a B+ to A-. Why not a solid A? Well, I rarely ever give out solid A's to new series as they have to produce throughout a full season for such a rating. A few years back millions of people went crazy for ABC's FlashForward which came from David Goyer who had just assisted in writing The Dark Knight and was seen as being able to do no wrong. Well, a few weeks in he left the show and the series floundered quickly after that. In fact, the show started so promising but got so bad so quickly that for a full year afterward some TV articles called it the new "jumping the shark" and insisted that shows not "pull a FlashForward." Seeing as how it is currently one of the highest rated new shows on ABC and that it has apparently earned a full season order, I can only hope that it produces this same level of quality TV soap that mixes elements of the old Grey's Anatomy with the first two seasons of Alias back when I never wanted that show to end.

Should you be watching? Yes! Yes! Yes, you should. It's good. Again, if you're a TV snob and you can only watch TV shows where there's lots of silence or it's based on a book or everyone has to be sad all the time, then don't watch it. This is not True Detective or Game of Thrones. And it does push you to engage and remember every detail on Sundays at 10pm on ABC when a lot of people want something simple to give their brain that last bit of relaxation before work on Monday (again, I thought this could be better as a Tuesday show which is where they showed repeats for two weeks and still got good numbers). If you're watching Walking Dead at that time, fine, but DVR this and give it a shot too.

What do you think? Do you like shows with an over-arching mystery but that isn't a procedural/cop show? Have you watched the show? If so, who is your prime suspect at the moment? Leave your theories and thoughts below.

Check out my new comedy novel Yep, I'm Totally Stalking, My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for Halloween scares check #AFuriousWind, #DARKER, #BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is OUT NOW exclusively on Amazon. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right side.

Until next time, “don't blow... my cover. My cover. My cover. "

P.S. Their little theme song in the commercials is spot on. Oh, and for a hint of why I think it's Shelby, look at that picture with Priyanka Chopra running away in FBI garb, study it. Notice anything?

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P.P.S. During my search for pictures for this show, I ran across an EW article that mentioned how another ABC show Of Kings and Prophets was pulled from Sunday night to make way for Quantico which was originally set to air on, drumroll... Tuesdays. Didn't I say this felt like a Tuesday show? Don't get me wrong, I think it can definitely survive and thrive in that timeslot so long as it keeps this tone, but I wouldn't be surprised if it switched back to Tuesdays. I've always been told I should be a TV or film exec. Waiting for the chance.