After a fairly strong series premiere last week, Quantico falls into a painful trap and looses most of it’s steam in “America.”
While the idea of Quantico is interesting, the biggest challenges the show faces is to draw in a wide demographic audience, with enough drama to pull in viewers interested in relationship drama and enough action to pull in viewers looking for spy versus spy action. And while the pilot episode did have a decent balance of the two, “America” seems to lose all of that balance in the way of a fairly overburdened episode that tries to leave a trail of clues into the background of all our suspects.
The main heavy handed premise of the episode is the concept that while you need to follow the evidence, the evidence can lie to you if you can’t trust the source. Training exercises included various scenes of terror plots that were recreated but with tiny changes to lead the trainees on a red-herring chase of humility. Of course our heroine Alex sees though the charade to become the first trainee to actually pass the test.
Of course this ham-fisted parallel ties directly into the present day as Alex desperately searches for evidence to both exonerate her as well as catch the real culprit.
The big weakness though is the fact that the episode just throws so many different pieces of information at the viewer, with tiny suspicious looks at every single character in the group. While I understand there’s a need to cast doubt on all of the group, it really just works to confuse the viewer as they attempt to keep track of each person. There is a real lack of personal identification or relatedness between the different characters as we just can’t be too sure they aren’t the real terrorist. The only exception is Nimah & Raina Amin, twins brought into the program by assistant director Miranda Shaw herself for what is still an unclear reason.
Every other character has major pieces of information that lead us to suspect their motives, and it makes for a weak bond with them. What likely should have been time spent towards building the likability and characteristics of each person (with an ultimate reveal they were the real threat), we spend the whole episode wondering how these people can explain themselves. It’s fairly unlikely that the entire class is part of a grand conspiracy, so each of these individual secrets causes more annoyance than intrigue.
With the drama side of the episode fairly weak, there isn’t a lot of movement on the action front either. Other than Alex being officially named a suspect in the bombing, she doesn’t really learn anything to help exonerate her other than someone has been using the building next to hers as a staging ground to frame her even further. The thing that doesn’t make sense is how they think that someone who was so successful in the FBI academy be so careless with evidence to be caught so easily?
Overall, “America” doesn’t really do much to build upon the pilot, and it may be a sign that the creative team might not have a clear vision on how they want to balance the two aspects of the show without making both so ineffective that the show just becomes a mediocre clone of every other drama.