“Who Are You?” is supposed to invoke questions about the work done by Quantico’s black ops team, and what that work does to each individual.
Instead, the title of this series finale evoked this question for me: “Who are you, and what have you done with Quantico?”
It was a lackluster finish to a series that had started with generally positive reviews, an intriguing cast and an intricately wound plot. It felt half-hearted, like too much of Season 3. There was little effort in growing the characters we knew in interesting ways, and little reason to get invested in the new characters.
The writers weren’t even interested enough to bother coming up with a cool name for the show’s team.
For this final review, rather than running down the plot, let’s look at the characters.
Jocelyn & Owen
These two end up pretty much right where we knew they were going: together. I’m not unhappy with that. I liked their dynamic. I liked seeing 50-something actors getting to be just as badass as the junior agents. I would have liked to see so much more craftwork from them, though. More of what made them instructors at Quantico and The Farm. And if anyone should have been talking with Alex about the cost of this job to one’s soul, it should have been these two. For some reason, the writers instead gave those important observations to a newbie fresh out of Quantico.
Deep & Celine
As long as I’m thinking of the newbies: Both of them were classic redshirts; characters created to be written off. They’d started off with potential that was never fulfilled. Celine, the hacker/anarchist and Cirque du Soleil performer? Why put that much in the backstory when you’re not going to use half of it? It felt like the writers had become bored with the character halfway through, and that’s why they killed her off in “The Heavens Fall.”
And then there’s Deep, a surgeon and a tech expert who finds the life of a spy is not for him. Or maybe it is, after he spends some time working in some government cube farm for a while. (And why there rather than, oh, the secret hospital for spies, since he IS a doctor?) Deep becomes the voice of “the normal life” even though he hasn’t really lived enough of it to know just what that is. Once again, it felt like perhaps they wanted to do more with this character but just couldn’t figure it out.
It’s a pity the two actors weren’t given more to work with, but it felt like the writers just couldn’t figure out how to balance four new agents with the ones they already had within such a short season.
Let’s move on to that fourth new regular, Mick McQuigg. I’m still pissy over the lack of affirmative consent when he and Alex got together last week (doesn’t the federal government require ANY training about this?). But beyond that… there just wasn’t enough to him to make me interested in him with Alex. Mike was most fascinating in his very first appearance, undercover in a white supremacist group in the episode “Fear And Flesh.” He became less interesting as the season went on and all we saw from him were country music references and flirting.
The show’s ending is rather open to interpretation regarding Mike and Alex. I’m better with that than I was with them in a relationship that never felt right.
If Devlin got a double dose of original sin, does that mean he gets a double dose of hellfire? He’s finding out.
Devlin started out as a rather intriguing bad guy, one who was staying just one step ahead on the team-without-a-name. But in this final episode, he felt more one-dimensional, with his quest for vengeance leading him to bad decisions. Primarily, trusting a man whose loyalty he should have questioned.
It also didn’t feel very logical to me for Devlin to kidnap Alex’s Italian boyfriend and his daughter, in order to get to Ryan. Why not kidnap Ryan’s dad? We already knew he had lines on the team’s loved ones, from the kidnapping of Harry’s sister a couple of episodes back. Of course, kidnapping an old man just doesn’t have the poignancy of kidnapping a seven-year-old girl. And why am I expecting logic from the show now, when I was so willing to embrace illogic in the plot early in the season?
Perhaps because it was a child in danger; one of my least favorite tropes. Maybe because it felt too pedestrian for a villain who’d been so interesting up to this point. Or maybe because it feels like the writers just said, “To hell with it,” late in the season. But attacking Alex for Ryan’s “sin” of killing Devlin’s son just never added up.
Shelby and Ryan
Another thing that never quite added up; how did these two wind up married? I was hoping we’d get some kind of back story beyond “Alex was gone for three years.” That never materialized. Instead, we got a hint of a possible (and thankfully never realized) love triangle, one pretty stupid move by Ryan back in Episode 2, a little bit of suspicion for Shelby and later some rather Neanderthal observations by Ryan about pregnant women in the spy biz and by Mike about “winning” in romantic relationships.
None of this helps us believe it when Shelby keeps her weepy vigil by Ryan’s bedside in the finale. We never got a chance to care for them as a couple, although the tension with Ryan’s Dad in “No Place Is Home” helped a little.
We don’t know whether Ryan will ever fully recover after being shot by Devlin. Unfortunately, this season didn’t give us enough reason to care about the answer, except in how it affects Shelby.
Let me be honest: Russell Tovey was one of the reasons I got into watching Quantico. Harry in Season 2 was a wicked charmer. I’d hoped we’d get an answer to what happened to him midway through that season, but we never did.
Harry became a bit more domesticated in Season 3, giving relationship advice to his teammates and then being the protective big brother. The former was a surprise, the latter was very enjoyable. I can’t complain about anything they did with Harry, but I’d have loved a little bit more of the old bad boy that we saw in “Spy Games.”
Heck, I’d have loved a little more Harry, period.
Why am I struggling to figure out what to say about Quantico’s leading lady? I feel much like her Italian boyfriend Andrea – I don’t know her.
Perhaps that’s because she didn’t seem to know herself, or what she wanted, in Season 3. It felt like a disservice to the character of Seasons 1 and 2, who was so sure of herself even when the world was falling apart around her.
In Season 3, Alex was presented with two dilemmas. The first was the push-pull of work versus family. It’s made a little more exotic by the very nature of Alex’s work. “Peaceful lives are for other people,” Harry advises her early in the season, and the message is driven home again and again as loved ones are put in danger.
Yeah, that one is a trope. Can a woman have a family and her FBI clearance complete with Glock 22? And what happens if she’s a pregnant agent, as Alex was for a short time until an attack caused a miscarriage?
That idea could have been better explored, if not for the other dilemma that shouldn’t have even existed: Alex being “torn” between three men. There was no reason for that. Two of the candidates really weren’t eligible. Ryan is married, Mike is her co-worker (and Alex was right about not getting involved with co-workers). We didn’t really need any of that push-pull, which took away from what Alex really needed to face: Did she want the spy life any more?
Focusing on that one issue, with just Andrea to worry about, would have improved the storytelling tremendously.
Final Random Thoughts
- The spy caper of the week idea had promise, but it felt like the producers couldn’t quite manage it.
- Quantico’s cancellation was announced three episodes into this new season, but much of the back half of the season felt like the writers and producers had already given up on it. It may be that they already knew they had to wrap it up; the finale is written like an ending, with the only cliffhanger being when (not if) Ryan will wake up.
- Parts of this final season were filmed in Italy and in Ireland, and I’d’ve loved to have seen more of both countries. As it was, the Italian vineyard could have been one that’s just a few miles from my house in SoCal. And while there’s no mistaking an old graveyard in the UK, it would have been marvelous to see a little more of Ireland.
- If someone ever wanted to re-reboot Quantico, going back to training would be a good start, with Jocelyn and Owen as instructors.
- I’m still down for a spinoff featuring Shelby, Harry and Alex running a consulting firm called SHHALEX. Call the show “Artful Dodging.”
- Or just give me something featuring Harry Doyle.