In the pursuit of finding new shows to get lost into, I've taken an interest in the shows that are not only on Netflix, but there are only one or two seasons of. They're easier to get through and require less of a commitment than a show with 5+ seasons would. This does come with the side effect of needing to keep track of yet another show that's still ongoing but that's a small price to pay when you're frozen with indecision otherwise.
I picked Quantico for two reasons. One, the main character looks familiar (more on that below). Two, I'm a sucker for detective shows. Quantico's description seemed to put it in that category while also promising a different spin.
A different spin is exactly what it provided, for better or worse. The below should be considered spoiler heavy.
Removing Vasquez Sets the Stage for Future Failures
Getting into this with a negative right away, Quantico made a grave mistake early on in the season. The show had an interesting approach: showing what's happening in the moment and then showing what happened in the past. Both would connect to each other and you'd be left with a complete story at the end of it all.
As you can expect, this gets muddied with character deaths and dramatic discoveries. This is difficult to do but it can provide immense entertainment if done right. Unfortunately, this show makes a mistake that sets the stage for future failures on this front.
The character of Natalie Vasquez is murdered by a bomb in the "present" timeline. Great! We'll still see her story unfold in the past segments, right?
Wrong. The character disappears from the story entirely after she dies in the present. This is jarring because she is involved in some pertinent drama. Namely, Alex's romance with Ryan is tense because Ryan was also in a relationship with Vasquez. This dramatic point is brewing in both the past and the present, so it stands to reason you'd still see this in the past even after the character's death in the present. But you don't.
Vasquez disappears from the show and is never mentioned in a character interaction again except for the primary plot points. She isn't mentioned by any of the supporting characters or by either Alex or Ryan. It's a terrific blunder... and one that continues later.
The Main Character... is Priyanka Chopra!
When I saw the image for Quantico, I thought to myself that the character looked very familiar. I couldn't quite place my finger on it. It was midway through episode three when it clicked in my mind and I said out loud, "That's Priyanka Chopra!"
She's a wonderful singer, both in Bollywood and in western media. I was introduced to her by an old friend, her part in Desi Girl, and I kept track of her since then. I had no idea she got into western acting but I am glad she did. Priyanka plays the role of Alex Parrish excellently.
Good Drama, if Sometimes Lost
Quantico has some good drama. This applies to both the plot and the characters. The problem I kept bumping up against is that the drama ruins the continuity of the show, again and again and again. You are constantly facing the issue of witnessing a dramatic scene that contradicts a previous one. It strongly comes across like the writers didn't figure everything out beforehand and instead dealt with each episode on a case-by-case basis.
That works fine with an episodic series but is a poor idea for a show that's supposed to have a coherent story arc. It makes me have a significant love-hate relationship with the show.
The story of the first season is simple regardless of the complexity behind it. Someone from within the FBI is plotting against them, trying to take down the organization. Neat idea! They tease the reveal again and again, framing different members of that Quantico class.
Then finally, it's revealed that it's... Liam. Meh. I will be completely honest, he is only a marginal improvement over Drew being the terrorist. I don't know who the best choice would have been but Liam was not high up on that list. It didn't make sense. We couldn't learn why it made sense either since the reveal and conclusion were only a couple episodes apart.
It was a very lackluster end to a show I really enjoyed.
The Drama Between Shelby and Caleb is Overdone
There is a lot of attention given to the relationship dynamic between Shelby and Caleb. This was fine at first while the story was coherent, but this unraveled as time went by. More and more dramatic revelations were revealed as the season progressed to the point that the early tension between the two of them no longer made sense.
At some point, I reached a level of apathy over the whole thing. In a vacuum, each point of drama was endearing and interesting to witness. When you put each point together, however, it all fell apart. It was no longer compelling. The affair, the cult, the parents, the lies... it's all nonsense.
I have to mention it again. She's gone after they kill her character in the present. It occupied valuable space in my mind during every subsequent episode, space that could have gone towards paying attention to other aspects of the show. They replaced her in the Ryan/Alex storyline with a random ex-wife of Ryan's.
They should have kept the actress on to keep the story intact. They really should have.
Uncertainty Over the Future
With the events that transpired in season one, it is difficult to envision a second season that compares. The season ends with Alex being recruited by the CIA, and I suppose that could be interesting, but the joy of Quantico is in the development of the story's characters. Will Alex be thrown into a whole new class with a similar dynamic to the first season? Will any of the first season characters make an appearance?
I'm unsure what can be done that will be as compelling as the first season. It's made me hesitant about continuing the show although I expect I'll start on it later this month.
I would recommend giving Quantico a watch. It has a very compelling premise, the characters are well-done, and if the writers were a bit better it'd be a show that could go down in history as being one of the greats. That, of course, hinges on the writers.
As it stands right now, the show is worth watching. You'll like what you see but many of the virtues will be matched with vices. The positives outweighed the negatives for me.
The first season is available on DVD right now for 55% off. If you're the kind of person to want a physical copy of your favourite shows and Quantico is one of them, now would be the time to get it.