So, who did it?
During the past seven weeks, Quantico's present-day story line has methodically worked its way through a core cast of FBI trainees, giving us reasons to suspect each of them for a terrorist attack that decimated New York's Grand Central Station. A lot of these suspicions have been red herrings, rich with the sort of soapy complications and entanglements that Quantico loves — like Shelby's affair with Caleb's father, Agent Clayton.
Now we're more or less out of people to suspect. Each week, an important member of the Quantico class has moved from possible suspect to secret member of Team Alex — a team that has now been mostly apprehended, except Alex herself and a badly wounded Ryan Booth.
Thanks to the big hullabaloo from last week's episode, the Feds have Alex and Ryan cornered within a six-block radius. Instead of fleeing, our favorite fugitives break into a house to hunker down, where Alex performs the least necessary procedure in all of medicine: painfully, crudely removing a bullet from Ryan's abdomen.
In our first Quantico flashback of the night, the Nimahs, after revealing their secret twin powers to the rest of the gang, are now settling into life as their own people. This proves to be a problem for Simon. (He calls them FRANKEN-NIMAH, a nickname I'm actually pretty mad I didn't come up with myself.) Simon was really into Nimah Prime, but Raina-Nimah was the twin who actually liked him back. Now that Raina and Nimah are no longer pretending, we've got ourselves an instant love triangle.
Meanwhile, Caleb and Shelby are still having sex, and ugh, I think I don't mind anymore. Also, I just looked this up on Twitter, and #Shaleb is their ship name? I don't know. I'm not shipping anyone. This is Top Secret Government Sexy-times: The Series. OTPs shouldn't happen here.
Shaw, meanwhile, kicks off the episode's smallest subplot, but it's one that I like the most: She has her son Charlie follow her around during her day at Quantico. Once she arrives, she has good news: The trainees are now allowed to leave campus on nights and weekends. She also gives them the day's assignments, and in a bit of a swerve, they're individual cases. After each case is handed out, Alex surmises that they're the sort of investigations that the FBI thinks they'll be suited for after they complete their training.
Ryan, meanwhile, surprises Alex and O'Conner by still hanging around — when O'Connor asks why, he says that he's wants to make sure he doesn't mess with Alex's head. Then, he shows Alex the picture he was looking at in last week's episode; it was a photo of O'Connor with Alex's father. They used to work together until O'Connor put in an immediate transfer request for reasons unknown.
Back in the future, Clayton has Simon and Shelby in custody. He's about to address the press when every computer and screen in the field office goes haywire. Someone has hacked them, and is leaking all the files that pertain to the bombing investigation. Alex, who watches the whole thing from the house where she's hiding out, says she now has the data she needs to clear her name. She also has the means to obtain it — the hack was perpetrated by her good ol' Dark Web friends, the Unknown, who happen to know exactly where Alex is holed up, and arrive in order to offer their services.
This makes the FBI look very bad at their jobs.
But, lucky for the FBI, Alex doesn't want to run, even though the Unknown are more than happy to sneak her out of the country. She just wants to clear her name.
The media, meanwhile, are having a field day with the leak. (The episode is probably brought to you by the big Sony hack.) This presents a unique problem for Agent Clayton: It's only a matter of time before personal emails begin to surface, and his emails will reveal his affair with Shelby. He asks Caleb to help him scrub the evidence.
Honestly, how much more messed up is this going to get?
Back at Quantico, Caleb researches Shelby, since their earlier flirt-fighting revolved around how little they actually know each other. This, Brandon warns him, is a bad idea. Her family owns the Quantico equivalent of Blackwater, so there's probably all sorts of unpleasant stuff it's better not to know. He does, however, stumble across the unknown foreign number Shelby has been calling. (It's her half-sister's number, as she told Alex in an earlier episode.) This makes Caleb very suspicious.
What's Shelby doing while Caleb sleuths around her life? Oh, not much. She just listens to Natalie deliver the best line of the episode: "What's the attraction between you two?" she asks. "Daddy issues? Master race?"
Damn, Vasquez got JOKES. Who knew?
Anyway, the rest of the gang follows another one of Alex's hunches, only to discover that their individual assignments are connected. As O'Connor says, "There is no such thing as a solo assignment. Everything is a part of a bigger picture." After they've pieced together a bigger picture, it's time for phase two: a field trip to the real FBI headquarters, where they'll present their findings to the Bureau.
Of course, this works out for Alex and Ryan, who figure they can use the opportunity to just poke around the government files stashed there to see if there's any info on Alex's father. You know. As you do.
They pull this off without much of a hitch, lifting a file from a giant filing room, and make it back in time to join the presentation. The Bureau chiefs then give them their next exercise: They have to identify and apprehend a target carrying a canister full of weaponized Ebola in a local park without getting made.
The exercise doesn't work out as planned. Alex finds the correct suspect, but he's carrying nothing. One of the Bureau chiefs ask Caleb and Shelby, who were surveillance-flirting, to head back to HQ with them. Alex is perplexed by the fact that the target didn't have the canister — when suddenly, her bag starts smoking! The gas was planted on her, and she unknowingly carried it back. Assignment failed.
Team #Shaleb is also having a rough go of it: The Bureau chiefs interrogate Shelby about her bank account and the large sums of money she's sending to a Middle East bank with terrorist ties. Shaw storms in and won't tolerate it. She tells them that if they followed the proper channels, she would've told them about Shelby's half-sister. She also reveals that they're suddenly interested in Shelby because of Caleb, who alerted them after seeing that strange number on her phone.
It looks like #Shaleb is in trouble. And I was just starting to get behind it, too.
Let's see how things are in the future. Maybe that'll be more cheery. Turns out … it's not. Alex believes there is another bomb somewhere. (Another hunch based on the wire she's been carrying around for the entire series. It is ridiculous how much she has been able to surmise from this wire!) However, since the FBI does not have the wire, they cannot figure this out. Team Alex is the only one who knows about a second bomb.
It's time for them to make moves, so the Unknown use the internet to hack an FBI vehicle and drive it to them. This show, you guys.
Anyway, the car takes them to a chopper, but the chopper is not for all of them — Alex lies to Ryan in order to draw him in, then takes off with one of the Unknown. She's got a plan.
Once more to our team's Quantico Daze. Shaw is talking to her son about his day, when he asks the most episode's most heartbreaking question: Does she think he had what it took to be an agent? Shaw tells him the truth — Charlie has a record, so he can't be an agent — and undoes all the progress he made with her. He leaves, very upset.
Man, I wish Quantico was nearly as invested in this subplot as I am, because that scene messed me up. More Charlie, please.
Alex, in the meantime, notices that the file she lifted from the FBI has gone missing. She suspects O'Connor took it, then confronts him about it. In the angry argument that ensues, the truth finally comes out: O'Connor and her father were working together to infiltrate a local militia in Omaha. They botched the op and couldn't prevent a bombing that killed 204 people. So they covered it up. That decision, eventually, would be too much for Alex's father.
This isn't the only huge secret being spilled, by the way. Caleb, by way of apologizing to Shelby, tells her his dark secret: In the throes of his low self-esteem, he fell under the sway of a cult, which his father raided in order to rescue him. The cult was scrubbed from his record, though, so no one knows about it.
In the future, he continues to cover for his dad by scrubbing Shelby's phone and email for incriminating evidence — the same evidence that would exonerate Alex — and finds an email from her encouraging Shelby to stay away from him. And then another one, where she tells Clayton that she's ending things with him because she still loves Caleb. If that's true, though, then their story about meeting is now suspect. Something else is going on here. I doubt Caleb is going to get out of this okay, especially now that the closing montage includes him adopting the persona of Mark that he's been slowly building up over the course of the series. Is he planning to reenter the cult?
Meanwhile, Simon gets a phone call. It's from someone making a bomb … and he sounds like he's going to be involved with the placement of it.
After confronting O'Connor, Alex goes to talk with Shaw, only to find her bleeding in her home. She's only able to say Charlie's name, and gestures toward his open window.
And finally, back in the future, Alex initiates her big plan: She's turning herself in, and warning them about the second bomb.