Since its pilot episode, “Quantico” has built its story around a skewed timeline premise. The present is full of training and whimsically relevant missions, while the future is full of catastrophe and life or death stakes. Now though, the show has ditched the future storyline, and it’s a surprising breath of fresh air.
At first, we were worried the momentum of the show might falter without a future deadline to hold the present-day stories accountable. Knowing you’re building towards a terrorist attack or hostage situation helps put small clues into perspective because you know what to look for, and it ensures you keep the story moving forward to reach that future destination.
Luckily, that’s not the case here, since an open-ended future has removed the ticking clock feeling in a good way.
“Quantico” might not have the same urgency as when it was careening towards a future that’s been set in stone, but it does have much more consistent pacing and a lot of room to explore all of our favorite characters.
Without a huge chunk of time each week dedicated to furthering the plot of the flash-forwards, we’ve been given much more time to delve into the team’s dynamics. Each person gets fleshed out a little more each week, giving us insight into characters we’ve been lacking for a while. Speaking of that team, it’s shocking how much more invested you can get in these characters when they’re not jockeying for screen time with 12 other recruits. Condensing the task force down to a few, essential members has done wonders for “Quantico’s” cohesiveness.
We’re also getting to explore new characters without having to catapult them into the fray.
The one thing “Quantico” never quite managed to do was establish characters outside of the recruits and the FBI that the audience still genuinely cared about. It makes sense that these agents would have a hard time maintaining relationships outside of work, but it unfortunately made the characters feel a little isolated.
Now, we’ve got time to explore an intrepid reporter, hunting for the truth about Ryan’s (Jake McLaughlin) identity, a female President of the United States, who occasionally makes her agenda known, and if certain promos are to be believed, an ex-boyfriend/teammate by the name of Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers). Try and tell us you’re not excited about that.
“He is back, he’ll just be back later for more than one episode,” showrunner Josh Safran told Entertainment Weekly. “We had to make the days work for Graham to come in when he can.”
Caleb’s return is definitely exciting, but the fact that his availability was limited means he’s probably not going to be joining the team in any permanent way. That’s to the show’s benefit though, since building the world outside of “Quantico’s” main cast has helped it feel more real and grounded than the occasional mission in the big city ever did. Caleb dropping in to say hi or lend a helping hand reminds us that there is, indeed a world outside of the never-ending search for terrorists.
Finally, the show seems to have let go of the hunt for a mole that Seasons 1 and 2 focused on. We’re no longer carefully analyzing the people Alex (Priyanka Chopra) knows and trusts, determined to find out which one of them is a secret terrorist. Her current enemies are just as mysterious, but they are not likely to be in cahoots with someone on the task force.
That kind of breathing room has released some of the tension between our favorite characters, and watching them build trust without waiting for a betrayal to come out of nowhere has been an unforeseen reward of this new narrative structure.
We’re excited to see where “Quantico” goes for the remainder of Season 2, and whether they’ll be able to keep the stakes high and the momentum going in their potential Season 3.
“Quantico” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.