ABC's much-anticipated Quantico premiered last night, generating instant comparisons to ABC's breakout show of last season, How To Get Away With Murder, with its flashback/forward method of revealing clues to a season long mystery.
Set at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, it follows a group of sexy recruits as they try to navigate personal relationships while trying to graduate one of the most difficult training courses in the world.
Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra stars as recruit Alex Parrish, with fellow trainees Tate Ellington as the (allegedly) gay Simon, Brian J. Smith as Mormon Eric, Graham Rogers as the aloof golden boy Caleb, Johanna Braddy as southern gal Shelby, Yasmine Al Masri as Muslim trainee Nimah, and Jake McLaughlin as the bland Ryan.
The first episode intercut training scenes with scenes set nine months in the future, at the site of a terrorist attack. Alex survived the explosion, and is questioned about her time at Quantico, as investigators try to determine which of her friends might be responsible.
There are plenty of twists and turns, especially when the recruits have to investigate a redacted secret in the file of a fellow recruit, and announce their findings in front of their classmates, using a lie detector and their own questioning skills.
Here are a few of the most interesting moments.
The Strange Case Of Simon Asher
Okay, what the hell is up with this guy?
We meet Simon (Tate Ellington) on the streets of NYC, as he meets up with a total stranger to pose for a kissing photo, which he then prominently displays at Quantico, pretending they're a happy couple.
Things get even more bizarre during the lie detector interview, when Nimah reveals his redacted secret.
Nimah: "You're gay"
Simon: "That's not a secret"
Nimah: "It wasn't in your file"
Simon: "Because that would be discrimination"
Nimah: "And would it have been discrimination if it said you were a virgin? Because when I spoke to your last four boyfriends, that's what they said."
Agent O'Connor immediately stops her and informs her that wasn't the secret, and she's obviously not taking the interview seriously. Meanwhile, everyone starts laughing hysterically, because "Gay Virgin."
Simon thinks he's out of the woods, and starts removing the lie detector hookups, but Nimah is not finished.
Nimah: "Simon Asher, you're a conservative Jew from a strict Zionist family, but four years ago you traveled to Gaza to live with the Palestinians, and to this day you never told anyone. Yes or no?"
In a flash forward, Alex insists "he only went to Gaza to be better informed," and is told "That's what he told you. We know the real reason."
I guess that's one of the secrets we'll learn as the season progresses, as well as the mystery of his sexuality. Why the pretend boyfriend? Why his refusal to put out? Does he not believe in sex before marriage? Or is it something else?
Could he be faking gay for some reason? Quantico creator Joshua Safran revealed “He’s got a complicated relationship, I think, with his sexuality—and himself."
I guess we'll find out what that means soon enough. Rick Cosnett debuts in Episode Two as gay FBI analyst Elias Harper, and Safran says “Elias is not just there to be a thorn in Simon’s side. But there is a gay man who’s beginning to pick up on the subtle signals Simon [is giving off].”
Hello I Must Be Going
We should have known it was too good to be true when Brian J. Smith (who has dazzled in everything from Sense8 to Stargate Universe to a Tony-nominated turn in Broadway's The Glass Menagerie) joined the cast, especially since he was only credited for one episode. Yes, that should have been a clue.
We'd never make it as FBI trainees.
Sadly, Brian as Elder Eric doesn't survive the first episode.
Caleb is assigned to discover Eric's secret, and mercilessly goads him, insinuating that his "deep dark secret"is going to be revealed to everyone, and he "should have stayed in Salt Lake City."
Eric becomes increasingly unhinged, and when it's finally his turn in the interview room, he completely flips out, barring the door, shooting the lie detector operator, and threatening to shoot Caleb.
Caleb breaks down in tears, telling him that he actually had no information on Eric's history, and was just bluffing hoping that Eric would reveal the secret himself. Mission accomplished, asshat.
Eric blows his own brains out, and it's revealed that while he was in Malawi, he got a 14-yesr-old girl pregnant, and when he took her to get an abortion, she died on the table. Well, that is a hell of a secret.
But really, show, getting rid of Brian J. Smith in the first episode? Not cool.
One of the more intriguing characters may actually turn out to be Caleb, who starts out as a premiere jackass, arrogant and cold, tossing off sarcastic comments and attitude.
But after Eric kills himself, the truth is revealed about Caleb, that he's a washout. He barely passed his entrance exam, is only in the program because his parents are agents, and failed almost every training exercise. He's a bundle of insecurities, and his sudden vulnerability is quite fetching.
He has a heart-to-heart with Simon and Shelby, who offer to be his friend, because they know "what it feels like to be discounted."
Unfortunately, by the end of the show, Caleb has been summoned to the director's office, and leaves the program. He's listed for the entire season, though, so he'll obviously be back in some capacity.
Wait ... what?
Nimah is twins.
So what did you think? Is Quantico going to be your new Sunday night night must-see?