ABC’s ‘Quantico’ has the makings of a big hit, if you’re willing to take the ride

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

ABC’s ‘Quantico’ has the makings of a big hit, if you’re willing to take the ride.

What are the things that make a ‘whodunit’ interesting? Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma and Alia Bhatt seem to have proven the adage ‘heroines cannot be friends’ wrong as they tweeted their support for Priyanka Chopra ahead of the premiere of her debut American TV series, Quantico.In the first episode, we meet Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra), a cool and collected woman on her way, she says, to participate in Doctor’s Without Borders. Padukone, 29, who will be seen with Chopra in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, tweeted: “Loads and loads of love @priyankachopra! #Quantico.” The 33-year-old Mary Kom star in turn praised Padukone’s upcoming film Tamasha, writing: “Thank you so much @deepikapadukone Tamasha looks awesome. Still, let’s give ABC and Quantico’s creator Josh Safran a Five Star — of the Cadbury variety — for effort since Chopra is the first South Asian actress to headline an American show.

Can’t wait” Quantico revolves around a group of young Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recruits, who are training at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. “Enjoy the butterflies @priyankachopra for #Quantico is about to explode for us. Hell, they even have encouraged it, with promos saying “Quantico is being called Grey’s Academy and How To Get Away With Treason.” Is anyone actually calling it that? Smith) bit the dust in front of the entire class after thinking Caleb (Graham Rogers) had discovered a shameful secret he hadn’t shared with the FBI. Priyanka Chopra’s debut international show, Quantico, gave us all this and much more in the pilot episode, telecast on Star World on Monday morning. Fellow recruit Nimah (Yasmine al Massri) was revealed to be a pair of twin sisters, Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) has actually been working undercover for Liam (Josh Hopkins) to spy on Alex (Priyanka Chopra), and Caleb got kicked out of the new class of recruits for his involvement in Eric’s death.

It had a heavy dose of drama, and a sprinkling of riveting sequences that left us wanting more (even though they gave us enough plot twists for a season, all packed in just the pilot episode). Yes, she sounds like the annoying Indian who adds a twang to their English because they flew over Dallas or had a five-hour stopover at New York’s JFK. Actress Bipasha Basu shared a picture of billboards with promotions for Chopra’s show, and captioned the pictures: “Shine like a Diamond. #Quantico! Quantico boss Josh Safran tells EW it won’t be this twisty all the time — at least, not every episode will pile on the revelations in every scene. “We’re not going to reveal that Nimah and Raina are triplets in episode 3,” he says. “I’m hoping the audience comes to see that those 180s that happened at the end of the pilot are not just shocking twists, but a road map for where these characters are going and moving forward … The writers and I talked about it as a snapshot that keeps widening out more and more, and then suddenly, the more people that are in the snapshot, the more you begin to realize how they’re connected.” Now that the first snapshot’s been unveiled to viewers, it’s time to look at what to expect as the season continues.

Their first assignment is simple: Take a fellow recruit’s file, investigate to find the one fact that’s been removed, and then get him or her to confirm it during an interrogation. Safran spoke to EW about Eric’s death, the twins, and two new arrivals to the show: JOSHUA SAFRAN: From the get-go with the pilot, the show was structured so that you would understand that every one of the recruits has secrets that are buried so deep that even the FBI couldn’t find them or see them. These secrets may or may not be important because fast-forward nine months, and one of these recruits (maybe more?) will pull off the biggest terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11.

The FBI has sort of opened their gates a little wider after their frustration with the government shutdown, so maybe some people slipped in that would’ve been red-flagged at a different point, but I always knew that I wanted a character whose secret was so far buried, that it was so dark that they had no choice but to come out. So don’t get too attached to anyone because he/she could turn out to be evil. (But at least we get a heads up unlike with Ward and the Agents of Shield switcheroo.) The pilot jumps back and forth between the early Quantico days and the day of the attack.

Shelby Wyatt is a rich orphan from Georgia who is apparently a bad-ass gunslinger, Simon Asher is a gay man from New York City but he could just be faking it (or that is what we could understand from his introduction scene), Nimah Anwar is a Muslim woman (or women as we later came to know) from Ohio who deals with a racist store owner in her own introduction scene. And since Aunjanue Ellis, who plays Assistant Director Miranda Shaw, recommended keeping a chart of who we think is guilty week to week, that’s how I will recap. Brian’s a regular on Sense8 so it wasn’t suddenly like, “Oh, I’m going to kill Eric!” I went out to Brian specifically because I had worked with him on Gossip Girl and I thought he would be a great actor. We also have Ryan Booth, the guy Alex made out with in his car just hours before landing in Quantico (unknowingly of course that he too is an FBI trainee).

In that dense Caucasian fog that envelopes its television shows, Taraji P Henson and this year’s Emmy-winner Viola Davis are among those who have made huge strides for black actors. There is also Eric Parker, a very serious Mormon and his roommate Caleb Haas, who is bad at physical training, shooting and more or less everything that has anything to do with being an FBI agent but is still there. There’s a Georgia-born southern girl named Shelby (Johanna Braddy) who is dismissed by many of her fellow trainees at first — until they learn she’s an awesome shot. Played by Priyanka Chopra, Alex comes to Quantico from Oakland, California, where she lived with her mother, whom she lied to about taking a train instead of a plane.

It’s so hard for a non-white actor to get noticed in Los Angeles that we ignored the detail that Kapoor, Nagra and Kaur have played leading roles in cinema, but are not considered worthy of anything more than minor parts by American producers. In this case, though, it’s not a question of “Who killed a person?” but “Who killed all these people?” Later, we learn that investigators — led by Anthony Ruivivar, who is thankfully back on our TV screens — believe Alex is the one responsible for the worst U.S. terrorist attack since 9/11. No doubt it helps that American producers want to cash in on Indian audiences, but still, that doesn’t mean Chopra hasn’t had to work hard for this win. The investigation into the bombing is what will drive the season, with the flashbacks to the agents’ training some 11 months prior motivated by Alex’s quest to piece together who would set her up. We cut back to the present, and Alex learns that the FBI agents do not want information from her but are merely stalling the process long enough to be able to arrest her.

And it was turned up again when Alex’s former mentor helps her break out of a police van that’s taking her to prison, from where, she’s told by her former teacher, she’ll never return. Watching the FBI do its thing in Quantico, one has to conclude that if the real FBI is anything like this on screen version, then it’s a wonder America is still standing. Never mind the fact that this intelligence agency has no idea that two people are passing off as one person (was it Christopher Nolan’s Prestige or Vijay Krishna Acharya’s Dhoom 3 that inspired Safran?).

Yes, she isn’t all Raj Koothrapali (The Big Bang Theory) or Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (The Simpsons), who speak English in an Indian accent that we Indians too have difficulty relating to. As they escort her away in handcuffs, she sees O’Conner — who is now being called “Assistant Director” — and pleads with him, but he doesn’t help at all. You meet her instantly in episode 2, and she becomes sort of a thorn in the side of all of the other recruits, because she’s very determined to be the best. Alex definitely has some secrets, or at the very least her father does, but everything else pointing to her being the terrorist seems a little too convenient.

We first meet Simon (Tate Ellington) when he’s kissing a stranger on the street for the sake of a selfie, which he then frames and puts on display in his room at Quantico. There’s so much recycling in Quantico, beginning with its use of an old Massive Attack number and moving on to familiar tropes, that the show doesn’t feel new. I think that’s an important thing to say, which is that the series takes place in two time periods at the same time, and those time periods run parallel and forwards. You may find yourself wondering if Abbas-Mustan were consultants on the project, because no one else is as committed to making cats cradles with plot lines.

Quantico is also delightfully disconnected with reality and filled with over-the-top dialoguebaazi, which makes it all the more reminiscent of Bollywood. In order to prove his right to be there, he wants to succeed with the interrogation portion of week one, so he grabs the file for “Elder Eric” (Brian J. Caleb is good at Mormon nicknames (“Joseph Smith,” “Romney”), but he’s terrible at discovering dirt on his fellow recruit, so instead he just taunts Eric with the unknown secret to disastrous results… see next page. They’ll fill those grey t-shirts out much better, smoulder each time the camera focuses on them and have just as few expressions as the existing men on the show.

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