The good news about “Turn” is that it closes off a couple of plot threads that Quantico had been juggling for what seemed like forever. This means fewer plates spinning in the air, plus a tighter focus as we head toward the last leg of the season. The bad news about “Turn” is that it ties up those threads in the clumsiest possible way.
This is a bit of a bummer, especially after last week’s (surprisingly dark) episode. It seemed like Quantico was starting to find some of the verve and momentum it lost during its three-month hiatus, but this episode is just too messy. Of course, there’s quite a bit of plot housekeeping accomplished, which might be a net positive when all’s said and done.
“Turn” largely focuses on the Quantico side of things, which makes sense — there is much more going on in the past timeline than there is in the present. But, Lord, so much happens to get everyone where Quantico needs them to be.
This week’s exercise is of almost no consequence — they’re ostensibly supposed to examine FBI cases involving violent conflict, then determine whether they qualify as hate crimes, but it’s mostly an excuse to get Senator Haas behind the lectern as this week’s guest lecturer — so the stakes are immediately upped when a van full of terrorists attack Quantico.
The actual terror attack, while ostensibly the center of the plot in ABC’s promos, is ridiculously brief: The school goes into lockdown, and the terrorists are quickly handled. It’s really just a plot device to get Liam and Drew out of corners they’d been written into. Miranda stops asking for Liam’s resignation because he acts heroically to protect the NATs, and Liam decides to keep Drew at Quantico after Drew saves his life.
It seems like the attack is what Charlie’s subplot has been building to all this time. (Remember Charlie? Man, I wish Quantico used him more.) The terror cell he’d been involved with was using him to gain intel on Quantico, and when Raina finds out they’re on the move just before they strike, Miranda tells her to get Charlie and bring him to their home. That doesn’t work out so great, as Miranda finds out when she goes to talk to him once the lockdown is lifted. The leader of the attack is there, holds her at gunpoint, and then hands Charlie another gun and tells him to kill his own mother. (This is a very strange story line for heightening tension, since we know Shaw is fine in the present-day plotline, but whatever.)
At this point, the Shaw home is a full-blown hostage crisis. Raina calls Nimah to alert her about the situation — and then Charlie uses the gun to kill the leader of the terrorist cell. Too bad he loses his cool and freaks out, thinking they’ll lock him up for killing the guy. Miranda tries to tell him to drop the gun, since a shot fired means that law enforcement will treat him as a hostile. When he doesn’t listen, she shoots him to knock him down and hopefully save his life, but it’s too late: The sniper posted outside also fired a shot.
There’s no telling if Charlie lives or not (Shaw is next seen standing outside a hospital room), but geez, what a lousy ending to this terror-cell plot. Maybe there’s more to mine, but it seems like this was Quantico’s big play. Man, what a mess.
The present-day story in “Turn” doesn’t fare much better. Alex continues to play along with the Mastermind’s bidding (which involves swapping out a bottle of medication that belongs to Senator Claire Haas, who is visiting the FBI headquarters, with a bugged bottle). Unfortunately for Alex, she is completely stonewalled by Hannah Wyland, who won’t tolerate her very presence on the floor she works.
Wyland, by the way, is the best thing about this episode. She is so over Alex, and it is hilarious.
When repeated attempts to make the swap fail, Alex is pretty much fired by both Senator Haas and Wyland. In an unintentionally hilarious scene, Alex finally comes clean to Hannah, telling her that she’s being blackmailed by the Mastermind and that Natalie is dead and she needs to let her do the terrorist’s bidding.
This plot point is so bizarre that I really don’t know what to make of it. Neither does Wyland, and she asks for the bugged medicine (I also can’t get over the idea of “bugged medicine”) along with Alex’s badge.
Alex goes home, panicked and thinking she’s totally doomed someone else to die. That’s when the Mastermind calls again; he’s pleased with her performance. And then Wyland shows up at the door, saying that she tried tracking down Natalie and realized there might be some truth to Alex’s story, so she swapped the medicine and delivers the best line in this entire goddamn series:
“Can someone tell me if I just poisoned the next president of the United States?”
- It’s not you, it’s me. After making such a big deal about finally getting in touch with Ryan now that he’s moved on to field work and Alex is in Quantico, the two meet up … and she tells him that they’re not good for each other. He says he loves her, but she’s like, “NOPE SORRY,” and it looks like this is the conversation that sends Ryan on a path toward dating Natalie.
- Must be a popular bar. At the exact same place, Caleb and Shelby confront Shelby’s fake sister. Shelby gets proof that her parents are still alive, and that the money that was going to her was really for them. (Except for that last time when her husband asked them for $5,000 — that was an actual con job.) This subplot seems several steps too complicated, and I honestly don’t know if it’s finished or not. Shelby’s parents are alive, though! Not that she wants anything to do with them, with the whole faking-their-death thing.
- Good-bye, henleys; hello, low-cut T-shirts. The weather’s getting warmer, and the NAT uniform has to change. I’m gonna miss henleys, to be honest.