We had such high hopes when Quantico premiered in September: Here was a show from an out creator (Joshua Safran) featuring two gay characters, FBI trainee Simon (Tate Ellington) and analyst Elias (Rick Cosnett).
We stuck with it through weeks of plotholes and time jumps—even when Simon revealed he wasn't really gay after all, just pretending to help create a new identity for himself.
We should have jumped ship then, but we still had Elias to keep us coming back. Elias was smart, funny, and definitely gay.
Unfortunately, he was much too quick to forgive Simon's lies, making his borderline stalking kind of creepy in retrospect.
The final straw (or so we thought) occurred the other week, when a bomb scare tested the recruits, and Elias was the only character to flee the scene, perpetuating the tired trope of the gay coward.
Related: We're Done With You, Quantico
Elias seems to depart the show after that incident, but not before a head-scratching moment with Simon.
He returned in a much smaller capacity a few episodes later as the counsel for Alex Parrish, who was suspected in the bombing. But he was very much in the background until last week, when the final scene showed him chloroforming Simon and dragging him away.
Which leads us to last night's mid-season finale. (Spoiler warning if you haven't watched it yet.)
Going completely off the rails, Quantico turned its only real gay character into a simpering basket case and terrorist who kills himself rather than face the music.
Elias and the gang find Simon sitting alone in a room with a bomb trigger taped to his hand. Through some convoluted nonsense, suspicion falls on Elias, who finally admits he was the one who helped frame Alex for the bombing at the beginning of the season. He also cops to kidnapping Simon and planting the bomb on him.
"A week ago I got a call from someone. They disguised their voice. Whoever it was had proof that I'd falsified evidence as a trial attorney on a few capital cases. They said they'd make sure I went to the jail for the rest of my life if I didn't do what they said.
Elias insists he didn't know anything about the original bomb or planting Alex at the scene of the explosion—he thought he was setting up Alex for an "attempted bombing." Oh, okay then.
He thought he was done with the sordid business until the terrorists called him to do one last job: "I was to bring that trigger to this hotel and wait for instructions."
Elias admits that he panicked, but thought he had a better way to fix everything.
Yeah, pretty much.
But Elias has finally learned about courage: "When they first called me I thought I had no choice. But that's not the truth," he says. "I was just too scared to make it. I'm not scared anymore."
Have a nice trip, Elias. See you next fall! Hopefully in a better show.
A guilt-ridden corrupt gay man can't handle facing the consequences for what he's done and flings himself backwards from a high rise window. Sound familiar?
With all of the criticism that Quantico has received about ripping off the format of the superior How To Get Away With Murder, you'd think they'd refrain from replicating the most controversial death of that show's first season.
So that's it for Elias.
So why was this denouement so infuriating? We've certainly had plenty of gay deaths before and plenty of gay villains, so why was this different?
Certainly a gay character doesn't have to be treated as special, and can be the bad guy, right?
It's the way Quantico gay-baited and manipulated viewers from the beginning that makes this ending appalling—the fact that fauxmosexual Simon is allowed to be sympathetic while the actual gay character is reduced to a mess of stereotypes. It echos back to old Hollywood, when gays were evil and certainly never allowed happy endings.
Speaking of happy endings, this disastrous and disappointing finish denied us the ability to fully appreciate the episode's positive aspects—namely the arrival of Desperate Housewives' Marcia Cross and Happy Endings' Eliza Coupe!
Thanks a lot, Quantico!
So what to make of the last eleven episodes? Since Elias can no longer speak, let's let fake-gay Simon have the last word.