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Quantico - Run (Series Premiere) - Review: "Who's the terrorist?"

The new ABC series Quantico premiered last Sunday. In what is probably one of the best new fall shows, we saw how a group of FBI recruits arrived at the training base in Quantico. In flashforwards, it is revealed that one of them is a terrorist who's responsible for the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11.

The pilot starts off by showing how each recruit arrives at Quantico. Alex Parrish lies to her mother about where she's going and takes a plane instead of the train. On the plane she meets Ryan Booth and the two later have sex in his car. Before parting ways, Alex says Ryan is not her type and reveals that she knows quite a lot about him just from his behavior. Elsewhere, fellow recruit Simon Asher takes a picture from him kissing another man. Meanwhile, Nimah Anwar changes cars at a rest stop and Shelby Wyatt leaves behind an enormous house in Augusta, Georgia. Lastly, Eric Packer is greeted by members of his church before heading to Quantico. Alex, Ryan, Shelby, Nimah, Simon and Eric along with fellow trainee Caleb Haas all arrive at the training base. They are welcomed by FBI Special Agent Liam O'Connor and Assistant Director Miranda Shaw. They receive temporary credentials, gender-neutral uniforms and their first task. They must pick a fellow recruit and find out which piece of information has been redacted from their personal file. In the meantime, they also head to the shooting range.

The assignment and subsequent interrogations reveal quite a bit about every character. Along with things we learn later in the episode, this is what we know about each character:
-During Alex' interrogation, Ryan deduces that her mother shot her drunk father in self-defense. However, Alex later confides in Liam that she was the one to pull the trigger. She later found out that her father was an FBI agent and asks Liam to look into him.
-Shelby is carrying a piece of metal with her which turns out to be a part of a plane. In fact, it was one of the planes that flew into the Twin Towers on 9/11, which killed both her parents.
-Simon is not only gay, but he is also a conservate Jew from a staunch Zionist family. However, a few years ago he traveled to Gaza to live with the Palestinians.
-Golden boy Caleb has only been admitted to the FBI training because both of his parents are FBI agents.
-Nimah actually has a twin sister called Raina and on Miranda's orders, the two share one spot at the training base.
-Ryan is not really a recruit, he is an undercover agent who is spying on Alex and reports to his superior Liam.
-Eric has been on a religious mission to Malawi, where he got a girl pregnant and took her to get an illegal abortion. However, the girl died during the abortion. Eric wants to prevent his secret from ever coming out and before Caleb can start interrogating Eric, the latter commits suicide.

All of this happened in flashbacks, as the present timeline starts with Alex waking up from an explosion at Grand Central Terminal in New York. Alex is taken to some sort of crisis centrum where she's interrogated. The FBI thinks one of the recruits is responsible for the attack and it becomes clear that they suspect Alex. Evidence for this is found in her apartment, where the FBI also finds an unconscious Ryan. Alex is arrested and while she makes desperate attempts to convince Liam of her innocence, he won't bite. She is taken away and is escorted to prison, but fortunately the driver of the van is Miranda. Miranda knows Alex didn't do this and sets her free to find out who's really behind all this.

This was an excellent pilot! If you've read my preview of this episode then you already know how positive I am. I won't repeat everything in too much detail, but the twists were a major contributor to the pilot's high quality. These characters have all sorts of secrets that others don't know about. It makes you question what the character's motivations are. I think the show's format works really well. We have the training part at Quantico where we continue to learn more about these characters and there is the aftermath of the terrorist attack. Alex is now on the run and has to figure out who can be trusted and who can't. Seeing both parts of the story makes for an interesting narrative. Additionally, the acting in this pilot was great. Priyanka Chopra shone as Alex in both the training storyline and the terrorist attack story, while Aunjanue Ellis showed us a very powerful Miranda. Also of note in this episode is the performance by Brian J. Smith as Eric Packer. It was just for one episode, but Smith was excellent in the scene where his character commits suicide.

There's a ton of questions I have after watching this episode (even though I watched it like 4-5 times already) that hopefully will be answered as the season progresses. For now, these are the most important ones:
-Why did Liam send Ryan to spy on Alex? Does Miranda know about this?
-Why has Simon spent a few years living with the Palestinians?
-Why did Miranda recruit Nimah and Raina? Why is she letting them share one spot at in class?
-In the flashforwards, it is revealed that Liam is now Assistant Director, while Miranda said she's tied to a desk. What happened between the two and how did this shift of power take place?
-Also in the flashforwards, it is said something happened between Liam and Alex at the Academy. What could that have been?
-What truth did Liam find out about Alex' father that she didn't like?
-How did Miranda know for certain that Alex wasn't the terrorist?

Perhaps the biggest question is: who's the terrorist? Which of the 50 recruits is actually not a recruit, but instead responsible for the biggest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11? In my reviews, I am going to try to include a terrorist wall every week. I will list every suspect and give a ranking of 1 to 5 stars, with 1 being "Very unlikely to be the terrorist", 2 being "Unlikely to be the terrorist", 3 being "On the fence", 4 being "Possible to be the terrorist and 5 being "Prime suspect to be the terrorist". Of course, I will also include a brief explanation of my ranking and some plausible theories. So here we go for the pilot episode:
-Alex: 2/5
I can't imagine she is really the terrorist. As she said herself, what possible grievances could she have against the US? On the other hand, she has lived in India for a few years, so maybe something happened there that could lead her to becoming a terrorist. However, that's too far-fetched for now.
-Shelby: 2/5
Her parents were killed in 9/11 so she knows what it's like to lose someone in a terrorist attack. Would she do the same to others? I don't think she would. It's more likely she wants revenge against the terrorists who killed her parents.
-Simon: 4/5
There's something shady about a Jew who lived with the Palestinians. Maybe because the two are kind of enemies? Perhaps he went to live with them because they planned a terrorist attack together? Plus, is he really gay?. For now, Simon gets the highest ranking on the suspect list.
-Nimah: 2/5
It would be too cliché if the only character wearing a hijab is the terrorist, right? On the other hand, I am not 100% sure if Nimah and Raina are really Muslims. Also, two people organizing a terrorist attack is better than one, right? But then again, Miranda recruited the two of them so there must be some sort of plan with them.
-Caleb: 3/5
The terrorist is said to have infiltrated the training base from the very beginning. After what happened to Eric, Caleb is sent away. However, I am certain he will return one way or another. On one hand, he looks inept to be a terrorist, but could that not be his perfect alibi? Also, almost being sent away from Quantico could have been part of his plan.
-Eric: 1/5
Dead guys can't be responsible for a terrorist attack nine months in the future, right? Only if he worked together with others that could be possible. Still, I don't think Eric was the terrorist. Certainly, his death could not have been faked. If there's no indication in upcoming episodes that he is in fact the terrorist, I will keep him off this wall in the future.
-Ryan: 2/5
Ryan is not really a recruit, is he? He is also kind of lying unconscious in Alex' apartment. Of course, he could have planted himself there after the terrorist attack. I have no idea why he is spying on Alex, but for now, I don't think Ryan is the terrorist.
-Liam: 3/5
Everybody says it's a recruit that's responsible for the terrorist attack. Could it actually be Special Agent O'Connor? There's certainly his interest in Alex, so maybe he sent Ryan undercover so he could frame her. He also apparently worked his way up to Assistant Director in nine months, taking Miranda's old position. I definitely don't trust the guy, but if the terrorist is really one of the recruits, it can't be him.
-Miranda: 2/5
Again, she's not a recruit so she might not be the one responsible for the attack. She also helped Alex escape after her arrest, and why would she do that if she was the real culprit? Then again, maybe that's part of her plan. Also, for some reason she has lost her job to Liam.

What did you think of the pilot episode of Quantico? Did all the twists surprise or shock you? Do you already have an idea as to who the terrorist might be? I would love to hear your opinions and theories in the comments below.

Here's a promo for episode 2, airing this Sunday at 10/9c:

About the Author - Daniel van der Veer
Daniel van der Veer is a Dutch university student studying Psychology. On SpoilerTV he is a reviewer of NCIS, The 100, Madam Secretary and Quantico. He also enjoys LOST, Arrow, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, Nikita, The Blacklist, Scorpion and How To Get Away With Murder.
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