Quantico isn’t the best new show on television this fall (although the competition is depressingly thin) but it has an addictive, soapy quality to it that could maintain an audience if it were only able to obtain it, stuck in a late night death spot on Sunday’s. Lead by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra as the highly intelligent Alex Parrish with a mysterious past, the cast is mainly relying on fragments of characteristics to work with in the pilot to make their roles seem like there’s any substance to them.
Playing with the same flashforward style as How to Get Away with Murder, we’re introduced to Alex after a terrorist attack has taken place, with her knocked unconscious by presumably the blast. She’s quickly taken in by the FBI and told to recount her months spent in recruits training in order to narrow down who could possibly be behind the attack.
The show isn’t anything remotely new but there’s something watchable about it and after an hour I’m willing to at least give it another episode or two. Here are some of the things that did and didn’t work in the series premiere.
The Weaker Elements
- This isn’t exactly the most realistic series on television and that’s fine, but if we’re going to stay invested in the flashbacks (which right now are the sequences that work best) they’re going to have to build challenges on realistic tasks. I can’t help but roll my eyes at the idea that the FBI would let Brian J. Smith’s trainee in without an extensive background check, or that they’d overlook him taking a gun from the shooting range. It makes them look ineffective and while the standoff between him and Graham Rogers’s Caleb worked in terms of a heightened reality scene for television, it didn’t make much sense once the scene had ended.
- The writing is pretty lackluster, and characters like Alex and Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin) are ones we’ve seen before. There’s a double agent storyline going on with Booth but if the two characters are destined for some sort of romance, the writing should likely step it up so that it’s not so forced as it was in episode one.
- They’re running through the plot rather quickly, and I wonder how any of it is going to slow down and/or stall enough to keep the momentum going for the season’s run. Shows such as Homeland had Claire Danes and How to Get Away With Murder has the powerhouse that is Viola Davis to pick up the slack when the series itself got convoluted or ridiculous.
The Good Stuff
- The show doesn’t have Danes or Davis, but it does have Chopra, who could just as easily be a similar breakout star. She’s got a ton of charisma and has great chemistry with all of the actors she works off of. She’s given a lot to work with for the first episode, playing tough as nails as well as desperately out of her league in the closing moments. She plays the flirt as well as self-assured field agent who could believably kick someone’s ass. She’s secretive as well as being a vulnerable character whose dark past we’re shown in the pilot, rather than it being dragged out. She’s a good, solid character with an alluring actress, if the show isn’t great, she at the very least is.
- The supporting cast has some other gems as well in Johanna Braddy’s Shelby, Tate Ellington’s Simon and Yasmine Al Massri’s Nimah. They’re all given enough to do where we’re invested, and while they’re not all as interesting as Alex, they’re engaging and have an immediate onscreen rapport. I’m just as interested in what happens to them as Alex. (Booth, not so much.)
- There’s a refreshing amount of diversity which makes the death slot all the more annoying. It’s a fun, soapy drama with interesting and attractive leads and a storyline that will (permitting whoever is actually watching) have people returning each week to see what happens next.
Quantico is far from perfect television, but it’s entertaining. We’ll have to wait and see if the show finds a way to balance out it’s faults with what makes it enjoyable to watch.