The first half of the penultimate episode of QUANTICO’s second season was quite a rush. Providing perhaps the most exciting premise and setpiece of the season, the fractured and down and out team have to rally to save a lot of American lives from the wrath of the evil Collaborators. They succeed about halfway through, and the rest of the episode kind of just hangs around until the very end.
We pick up with the team split apart and in dire straights. Everyone is basically waiting to be arrested for treason at any second. Ryan, Raina, Shelby, Owen et all are all in hiding while Alex is still embedded in undercover among the Collaborators. Shelby frantically texts Clay to no response. Raina is trying to get information out of Felix to no avail. Ryan is still stewing over Owen and Alex’s new collaboration, clearly jealous. Raina calls him out on it which is totally satisfying. (SIDENOTE: Guess Ryan is completely over the girl he was dating getting blown up very very recently). And to top all this off Rourke is serving his first week as president after President Clair Haas was impeached. And the executive orders are flying like crazy. We hear a newscast announce that it is the most any president has ever signed so quickly. Among Rourke’s executive orders is a Muslim Registry. Sounding familiar?
In the bunker, Owen gets an alert on the computer that the cache has gone offline. He can’t really rally the troops at this alarming information and so of course Alex has to come out from undercover to save the day as usual. Alex posits that if the cache is offline then the Collaborators are right on the verge of an attack. It can be coming any minute! They are going to need serious help. Cue Miranda Shaw, current head of the FBI, Matthew Keyes former head of the CIA, and hacker/coder from earlier this season Will Olsen entering the bunker. They are there to help the team comb through the large list of Rourke’s executive orders to try and discover the bigger picture motivating the upcoming Collaborator’s attack.
What they discover is a pretty huge plot. The Collaborators are planning to remotely hijack planes, enacting the biggest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11, then frame innocent Muslims who are flying on those planes (and who are on Rourke’s registry) for the attack. This will rally support for Rourke’s Muslim registry. Will notes that the only way they could remotely hijack planes is with a specific line of code on a phone on the plane. So now they have to act to find which planes, which passengers, and which phones the Collaborators are targeting. But how can they even leave the bunker if the FBI is combing the grounds looking for them? They need a diversion (see: sacrifice). Raina offers to do it. She gives herself up to the feds and it works. Ryan and Matthew Keyes stay back to run ops while Shelby, Owen, Alex, etc sneak away.
Miranda, Owen, and Will go to the FAA. Shelby is trying to track down Clay to get the code that will ground all the planes (and because, you know, she loves him or whatever). Alex goes back to Greypool headquarters to see what she can find from Alice Winters. She puts up a stink about how she is betraying basically everyone in her life (and all of America) and she’s not even aware of what she’s doing it for. Alice actually falls for it and tells her how they plan to commandeer all the planes. When Alex presses further to find out which planes, Alice doesn’t say. Alex goes for it; she knocks Alice out and sends pictures of the flights and passengers to Will. Her stint as a Collaborator is up.
Shelby gets to Clay, who is not dealing with his mother’s impeachment well. He’s drunk and stoned in a Virginia motel room when Shelby finds him. Oh, and his wife Maxine left him. Apparently she wasn’t so much into Clay as she was into the Haas last name, and now that name is pretty much mud among Americans. Shelby is heartbroken for him. He tries to kiss her but she pulls back at the last second. Clay is motivated however to find the code. He gives it to her and they are able to safely ground all the planes!
It is at this point where the episode slows. It feels like it happened a little too early. The climax of the team working together like a well-oiled machine to stop the terrorist attack should have come later in the episode. Now for the rest of the hour we just get things like Matthew Keyes having a heart-to-heart with Ryan. He tells him he understands Ryan is threatened by Alex’s natural talents and successes, but Keyes himself has a high profile wife and he is glad to basically be a stay at home dad. He tells Ryan there’s nothing wrong with taking the backseat in a partnership.
Later it seems like Ryan has mulled this over and come to terms with it. We actually see Alex and Ryan flirt for the first time in a long time! In another down moment, Ryan tells Alex that everyone is behind her. He says she’s a great leader and that she’s naturally able to see the bigger picture, while he is a great soldier. Sounds like he’s finally accepting their dynamic for what it is. She tells him he’s “still sexy.” How sweet.
So while the grounding of the planes and avoiding the terrorist plot is a win for the team, they are still in trouble. When the FBI shows up they think they’re being arrested, but realize they are being summoned to the White House by Rourke himself. There he puts them in front of the world (blowing their cover, smaaaart). He says they are heroes and uses their task force as an example of how America is served better when the intelligence community operates together. This is all a ploy to get support for his consolidation of power and his constitutional convention in exactly one hundred days. This is seriously risky. Owen and the team realize that having Rourke anywhere near the Constitution could spell an end for American democracy as we know and love it. They have to do something. They need to fight their government to save it. The episode ends with Alex asking “So who wants to be a terrorist?”
Though it gave us a climax a little to early, the episode was a solid one, with some surprises and a good cliffhanger for the season (series?) finale next week. I just hope the entire hour is entertaining.
Season 2, Episode 21 (S02E21)
Quantico airs Monday at 10PM on ABC
Paul is working as an undercover operative at The Tracking Board, investigating a rogue group from within, and is currently at the center of a conspiracy that nobody but he magically knows about.
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Paul Gulyas | Contributor