Quantico is barrelling toward its series finale, and “The Art of War” is one of the better entries of the season. The episode has few surprises, but there is some nifty procedural work, a very different take on a shootout and some character building that’s been missing.
To wind down the season, the writers moved away from the “caper of the week” in favor of an ongoing storyline featuring former IRA baddie Conor Devlin and Garrett King, the turncoat federal contractor who nearly drowned Alex a few episodes ago.
“All warfare is based on deception.”
The episode is littered with quotes from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” Surprisingly, the cool-team-without-a-name is unfamiliar with the book. Devlin, however, knows it well and plays the two sides against each other. He gives the team information leading to a literal truckload of kidnapped young women. He also gives King what he needs to lead an assault on the team’s loft.
That shootout is one of the most intriguing action sequences I’ve seen on the show. It switched between Jocelyn’s point of view and Owen’s; from silence to sound. When Jocelyn finally turns around to see what’s happening, she grabs a shotgun and drives the bad guys away – but not before Owen is seriously wounded.
“If your opponent is of choleric temper, irritate him.”
This Sun Tzu quote wasn’t featured in the show, but it should have been. Alex is definitely of choleric temper when it comes to King. She’s desperate to take him down. It’s no surprise that when she does take him down, she finds his death doesn’t do anything for the pain of her miscarriage.
Alex’s drive for revenge and her dispute with Mike over it should have been an interesting arc of character development, but it fell flat. Mike and Alex have never been convincing as a potential couple, despite the show’s attempts to make them so, and they’re not that interesting as colleagues.
The far more interesting relationship is between Owen and Jocelyn. Just before King’s attack on the loft, she told Owen she’s no longer seeing Frank. But she still has things to work out. She may now be working them out next to Owen’s bed in the secret “hospital for spies.”
“When you strike, fall like a thunderbolt.”
For me, the most interesting relationship is the sibling dynamic of Harry and Maisie Doyle. It took very little time for me to adore them in the last episode, and I was so delighted to see a scene with them at the beginning of this one. Harry is fondly exasperated when she talks about “the beau I’m currently bedding,” then becomes the protective big brother when she admits to still being scared after the mansion attack. It’s all as sweet as candy floss (hey, they’re British), but you just know that Harry can’t keep his promise to protect her. So it’s no surprise when King kidnaps her and throws her into a cage with other young women who are shipped to Ireland for auction. As if terrorism and murder weren’t enough, Devlin also dabbles in human trafficking. But frustratingly, that can’t be proved, and he’s being extradited to the auld sod – where you just know that he’s going to escape and wreak more havoc.
But he’s not going alone. The team has learned: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me – and it’s off to Ireland they go for part one of the two-part series finale. Hopefully it will be an episode with more neat little bits of detective work, more of the Alex & Shelby friendship that gave the first two seasons so much heart, and more Harry & Maisie candy floss.
Quantico airs Friday nights at 8/7 Central on ABC.