It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve gotten our weekend dose of conspiracy theories and twists and turns that will make your head spin, and let’s say the October 16, 2016 episode of ABC’s Quantico, “Stescalade,” delivered. At the beginning of season two episode three, we return to present day where a group of people are still being held by Citizen’s Liberation Front. Along with those people in the room, we are trying to figure out what the heck is going on. You see Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) talking to Miranda Shaw, played by the talented Aunjanue Ellis, on the phone essentially talking strategy about what Alex needs to do for the well-being of those who are captured, but also to get to the bottom of this mystery. We see Alex turn up the notch on the badass meter when she wears the garb the terrorists are wearing so she can go incognito in her pursuit.
Back to the Farm, and we see the roles that Shelby (Johanna Braddy) and Nimah (Yasmine Al Massri) play as Alex’s and Ryan’s handlers, respectively. Miranda meets up with Shelby and Nimah at a café and sits at a table in the corner, and Miranda lays down the hammer in her own kind of subtle, yet effective way. She selected them as their handlers, not necessarily because they are the most qualified but because they know each of them personally. Miranda encouraged them to use that advantage to push them to be better agents on the Farm. By the way, we have a new recruit on the Farm who previously worked as a wedding planner and let’s say, she’s … thorough. I’m sure her character and role in all this will unfold in future episodes.
As with every Quantico episode, there is some kind of moral or lesson recruits are required to learn, which is supposed to be hammered in their head during training but, of course, gets put to use in the present day when shenanigans ensue. This week’s story is assessment: how to always be aware of your surroundings.
Recruits went through some exercises to make the point. Recruits had 30 seconds to go inside a bar and basically make any observation they could. Velez was put in a closet for a little over four minutes and was asked about all that he saw inside. After he came out of the closet, we learned he is a tad claustrophobic and really couldn’t answer any questions about what he observed. His claustrophobia stems from his time in a Mexican prison that was primarily influenced by the drug cartels looking to pump info out of prison mates.
Eventually, recruits were put in a van with masks put on their heads (little creepy, not going to lie, but I totally get it) and dropped in the woods where they had to find their way back to the Farm. Mind you, they weren’t supposed to use any technology although Harry (Russell Tovey) cheated and did, but that’s a separate issue.
While on this adventure in the woods, Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) and Alex split up, because they are on assignment and they’re trying to get the dirt on these recruits and decide who they need to bug.
Ryan eventually pairs up with Dayana (Pearl Thusi) and he’s slowly peeling back her complicated layers, but in that process unveils her strengths and realizes she is one not be underestimated. On the other hand, Alex is paired up with Velez (Aaron Diaz). Alex probes Velez, not stealthily might I add, to get intel. You can see Velez getting defensive and suspicious all at the same time, but his time at a Mexican prison built those walls up (insert political pun here).
Eventually when they get back to the Farm, two things happen. First, recruits learned they pseudo failed the point of the exercise. There were 23 cameras and 2 drones watching them and they didn’t realize it. Hence, the whole lesson that you always need to be aware of your surroundings. Keep up, recruits! Second, when Alex and Ryan went back to their secret place and met with Nimah and Shelby about who they think they should be watching out for, Alex kind of dominates and pushes Ryan to agree that Velez is a good guy. When each of them talk to their handlers, you see Nimah and Shelby each bring a little oomph and question their choices. Shelby straight-up called Alex out and said, “Alex, you’re a sucker for a cute guy who cries,” and cites Drew and Liam as examples. Nimah cleverly insinuated Ryan went along with Alex’s choice. Why is this development important? As their relationship evolves in this season, we see this ultimately is a disagreement in judgment and they have to navigate the intricacies of their personal and professional lives co-mingling and how do they keep a church and state type balance. (Thank you Grey’s Anatomy for that reference!)
Eventually, Shelby and Nimah are trying to implement a bug, but they hear a little disturbance when activating it. What does that tell them? There’s already a bug on the Farm that someone else implemented. This sets off some red flags, because the time frame to implement a bug is quite limited as the Farm is swept for bugs every five days.
The sandpaper-like relationship Owen (Blair Underwood) has with Lydia (Tracy Ifeachor) surfaces when Lydia finds out that her dad used his influence to get Lydia put on this post at the Farm. This, of course, upsets Lydia because she questioned her professional capabilities and identity as a CIA professional. When she realizes what he did, she storms out of the house and makes a suspicious call to someone and says, “I’m in. What do I do next?”
Back to present day and Alex makes her way to the room where everyone is being held captive. Unfortunately, things don’t go to well for her here because Ryan colludes with Harry to create a diversion where he ultimately wanted to uncover the mask of one of the terrorists. He ended up choking this person and little did he know he was choking Alex until she gasped, “Ryan! Ryan!” Of course, the other terrorists took her away.
As one of the terrorists walks her into a dark room, they eventually get into a physical altercation where once again Alex turns the badass meter up another notch! Eventually she unmasks her opponent and discovers it was none other than an instructor on the Farm. This instructor takes a suicide pill and few moments later she’s on the ground, foaming at the mouth. Eventually, back where hostages are kept, a body falls through the glass ceiling and there’s a note on the body that reads, “2 Down.” Raina puts two and two together and says, “Alex is alive!”
Back to the training days and we see Harry go to a bar and see our friend, Will (Jay Armstrong Johnson). Will was the one who was severely beat up by Caleb as he tried to infiltrate the radical Scientology-like group in the second half of Season 1. Harry goes up to Will, but it’s obvious he is up to his old tricks and introduces himself to Will as “Julian.”
All in all, Quantico keeps us questioning and wondering what’s coming next. Stay tuned next week for what unfolds. If the preview is any indication, there is going to be some progress on the hostage situation but, of course, in true Quantico style, there is a bump in the road and a showdown is likely!