I don’t know who was watching How To Get Away With Murder last year, but they took pretty solid notes. Freshman class. Check. Female authority figure in charge of class telling them it is not like anywhere else. Check. Some big criminal event in the future, class members involved, flashing back to tell the story of how they got there. Check.
Except instead of it being law school leading to murder, it’s enrolment in the fresh class at the FBI’s Quantico Academy leading to a terrorist attack in NYC. Yet, where I found HTGAWM boring, I find Quantico strangely compelling. Let’s look at the class and see if I can figure out why. All of them have secrets, some we’ll find out sooner rather than later. Warning, definite spoilers ahead.
The main agent-in-training Alex Parrish is played by Priyanka Chopra, an Indian bombshell. Exotic, sexy, presence. Her big secret is that her mother shot her father; her bigger secret is that SHE shot her father, and then found his Special Agent credentials. Fast forward to the terrorist attack, and she is the only one on scene, unhurt, and the prime suspect with lots of evidence to tie her to the plot.
Next up we have Ryan Booth. He seems to be just another agent, but he’s actually undercover to get close to Alex. Decent character, decent actor.
Next is Nimah, the Muslim who should be the prime suspect, right? Except she has an interesting secret. She’s one half of a twin, and they’re both hiding in the same room doing the work.
Shelby Wyatt is the blonde bimbo who came from money. Her first secret is that her parents were killed in a plane on 9/11. I’m sure there are more secrets to come, but that is where she starts. She’s played pretty well by Johanna Brady — I don’t know any of her work, but with 48 credits in 10 years, she’s been working. A lot.
Simon Asher is the resident gay character. Except he’s a virgin, all his ex-bfs say so. And his “current” boyfriend is imaginary — he got a stranger to take a picture with him, smooch included. So is he really gay? And if not, why is he pretending to be? His other secret is some sort of ties to Palestine, but the FBI already knows about that.
Moving on, we have Graham Rogers as Caleb Haas. Caleb is the worst recruit ever — fails just about everything. But his parents are agents, so he has squeaked his way in. Not sure what his secret is yet, but it’s building.
Last we have the most disappointing development of all — Brian J. Smith as trainee Eric Packer. I loved Smith in Stargate: Universe. So why am I disappointed he’s in this? Because — SPOILER ALERT — he dies in the first episode. What a waste of an opportunity, he would have been awesome.
So there are two other characters running around, the academy staff — the woman in charge, Aunjanue Ellis playing Deputy administrator Miranda Shaw, and Josh Hopkins as head instructor Liam O’Connor. Both of them have their secrets and could be easily involved more so than a recruit. Ellis has been good on NCIS: LA, and I even liked her back in the day on The Mentalist. She even gave a good performance way back in a one-season show called E-ring. But she is good in support, not sure she’ll be able to handle running some of the plot. Hopkins is a good short-term character actor, and I’ve liked him in those roles ever since I first saw him way back on Cold Case when he was romancing Lilly. But like Ellis, he doesn’t have the gravitas to drive the plot forward. Almost every scene with him was lightweight.
But the show looks like it will rise or fall based on Chopra’s talents, and while she is awesome at the Academy, her time as FBI agent/lead suspect seemed false, too much like bad play-acting. I think the show has a lot of buzz and budget behind it, so it will play out for the season. Only the ratings will tell if it comes back for Round 2 next year, although rumour is that next year it would be a new batch of recruits and a new storyline, not the same ones continuing. I’ll stick around for a while.