‘Quantico’ 3×05 Review: ‘The Blood Of Romeo’

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I think the writers were trying to go somewhere with their Shakespeare-inspired title for this episode, but aside from mentions of Prokofiev’s ballet, there didn’t seem to be much “Romeo” in “The Blood of Romeo.”

There was blood, though. Not the gory, turn-your-stomach kind; just a few quick splatters here and there as the result of fistfights and gunfights. Those were nicely balanced with a bit of the spy tradecraft I enjoy in Quantico and have been missing the past couple of episodes.

The things that didn’t quite work were the seeming resolution to Shelby & Ryan’s marital crisis, and the teasing of a budding relationship between Alex and Mike.

The Caper Of The Week

A bunch of weaponized uranium-235 has gone missing, stolen from a university lab by a physics professor. The FBI assigns the black ops team (which is STILL without a cool name, darn it) to find the missing nuclear material before it can be turned into a bomb. Complicating matters is a summit between India and Pakistan that is convening in New York.

It doesn’t take long for the team-without-a-cool-name to figure out that the professor was acting under duress, forced to steal the U-235 by terrorists who are holding her husband and son hostage in exchange for her cooperation. From there, the team-without-a-cool-name is split into separate units to find the professor, find her family and keep an eye on the summit.

The division of the team-without-a-cool-name sets up dramatic potential between the agents. It’s an effort to push some of the romantic issues, but the more interesting stories don’t involve romance at all.

Team Alex

Alex has been partnered with Mike and Deep to track down the professor. They find her at a student’s apartment, thanks to a paper trail the professor was smart enough to leave behind in her office. The student is registered as Pakistani, which leads to some conversation between Alex and Deep about the conflict between India and Pakistan. But it’s not a particularly extensive conversation; Deep is all too willing to believe the Pakistanis want to blow up the summit and thousands of New Yorkers. That belief gets shaken by some plot twists that, unlike last week, I did not see coming.

The talks between Alex and Deep are friendly, but in contrast, her interactions with Mike are adversarial. She challenges him on how far he’s willing to go to get the U-235 back; he does eventually balk at the idea of letting the professor’s son die. There’s a rather cliche awkward moment when Alex tackles Mike at the start of a gunfight, and later she bristles when he asks about her boyfriend back in Italy. Alex is bothered that Mike seems to be investigating her, and I can’t blame her. It’s kind of creepy – even for an FBI agent.

QUANTICO – “The Blood of Romeo”  (ABC/Giovanni Rufino)

Is Mike supposed to be the title’s Romeo? He and Alex are coworkers, and she has learned only too well the sorts of things that can go wrong when you start dating a coworker. Do we really need this romance?

(You and Harry need to make that friendship death pact you talked about, Alex. Seriously.)

Team Jocelyn

Ryan and Shelby are teamed with Jocelyn to try to find the professor’s family. It’s an uncomfortable matchup. After Ryan’s not-entirely-honest confession about (trying to) kiss (an unconscious) Alex, Shelby is barely speaking to him. Nor is she really speaking to Alex, who now knows that Shelby knows, and truthfully said she did not kiss Ryan back. But Alex should also have let Shelby know exactly what did happen. Shelby might not have been so willing to kiss and make up with Ryan if she’d had the full account.

Jocelyn also might not have been quite so sympathetic to Ryan had she known everything. But perhaps she’s right in not wanting to know the whole story; as Harry had observed weeks before, these things can infect a team. As important as it is to trust someone who’s life may well be in your hands, sometimes you have to just decide that everyone has feet of clay, and each of us harbors something that another might just find untrustworthy. When you have a job to do, you have to decide whether that untrustworthy something will affect the job, or just your opinion of your coworker.

Is Ryan supposed to be Romeo? He does get one line designed to sweep Shelby off her feet (and it does): “You were never my backup plan, Shelby. You were my only plan.”

(But if that’s true, Ryan, then WHY DID YOU TRY TO KISS ALEX?)

Team Owen

Owen, Harry and Celine are taking on the summit. While Owen palavers with the less-than-savory security heads of the two delegations, Harry and Celine are disguised as hotel employees, all the better to sneak around the diplomats. I chuckled a little when Owen told them that if they were caught, the FBI would have to disavow them; I was waiting for the words, “This message will self-destruct in five seconds.”

I watched a lot of Mission: Impossible as a kid. And in some ways, this episode reminded me of that show, as the separate teams found their objectives and the real plot at the heart of everything was revealed.

I like Owen in Jim Phelps mode, managing the operatives. And I enjoyed the scene with Harry and Celine in the hotel kitchen, as Harry quizzed the newbie on what she could use as a weapon since her uniform didn’t include a place to pack a pistol.

Remember last week when I asked whether the team-without-a-cool-name needed so many agents? Tonight, they did. Celine wound up playing the hero for Harry after he got caught, and disavowal never became necessary.

But there was no Romeo in this bunch; not even a glimmer of an Owen/Jocelyn ship that was hinted at last week.

The Things We’ll Do For Love

Amid all the intrigue and tradecraft, there are the motivations. The professor helps the terrorists to keep her family safe. What mother wouldn’t go to any extreme to protect her child? I don’t know if there’s any line I wouldn’t cross to protect my own son.

The student became a terrorist to avenge his beloved father, killed years before in the skirmishes between India and Pakistan. Perhaps in this respect, the writers went for the wrong Shakespearean character; Hamlet would have suited better.

Ryan says he didn’t confess to Shelby sooner because he was desperately afraid he would lose her. Perhaps he should have; his track record has not been very good. Perhaps he still will.

But it will be another two weeks before we see what’s next.

Random notes

  • This episode brought back the feel of those old spy shows I used to love.
  • Deep finally gets to do a couple of things! Even though crawling through a cobwebby crawlspace couldn’t have been too much fun.
  • Harry, what did you NOT understand about not getting caught? This was one part that really wasn’t like those old spy shows; they’d have had him slip out the window and standing on the ledge outside the hotel room.
  • The professor is openly holding a gun as they walk into a park to deliver the bomb, and NO ONE notices? Are New Yorkers that self-absorbed?
  • The professor teaches at Hudson University, which only exists in DC Comics and rather bloody NYC television mythology. Cool article on that here, titled “Why You Should Never, Ever Go To New York City’s Hudson University.”

Quantico returns to ABC on Friday, June 15 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central.

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