We’ve known from the beginning that Alex Parrish has had quite a bit of trauma in her life. The defining moment of her childhood, we are was the late night fight between her parents that lead to the shooting death of her father. In fact, Quantico’s fourth episode begins with a flashback to that fatal night, as Alex wakes up from a nightmare recreating that moment.
One of the biggest lies Alex tells herself throughout episode four is that she has finally processed the fact that her father was an FBI agent and that she is ready to move on from her life. In fact, she’s quick to brush off Booth’s inquiries on how she is doing.
“Now I have closure, it’s behind me,” she tells him with false brightness. (Every viewer who has ever been in therapy is probably just said to themselves, ‘Oh, Alex, it’s all just beginning for you now.’)
Here’s what we learned during this week’s episode (please note this list isn't chronological, but instead is ordered to provide the most clarity):
Nimah's identity crisis continues: One of the big shockers last week was when the twins Nimah and Reina had their big argument about ‘What it means to be in the FBI’ and the real Nimah decides to leave Quantico for good.
This means that Reina, the quiet, studious twin who hates guns, has to go through the rest of training alone. At first she tells no one that her sister abandoned her, even when she was asked directed by the assistant director about the status of her twin. “Don’t worry about her, this is what she’s always wanted,” she demurs at one point. But director Miranda Shaw is not fooled and heads on a little investigation of her own.
“I never should have been recruited,” says a surprised (and unveiled!) Nimah once she is discovered relaxing at home. But Nimah as a question of her own. Why, exactly, did the FBI want to recruit the twins so badly?
Because this is ‘Quantico’ the answer is (you guessed it!) complicated. We’ve long known that Miranda has a very troubled son in juvie, but it’s always been unclear what he’s in for. It turns out that he found people he could connect to on the Internet — people who sound a lot like ISIS recruiters. Miranda warns there are people out there who want to plant sleeper cells in the United States and corrupt America’s precious youth. Miranda says she needs the Reina/Nimah duo to help fight these sleeper cells and they need to step in for America.
Who could say no to that? Nimah can’t in any case, and she soon rejoins Reina at Quantico.
We take a look inside the FBI’s most elite squad: Boy does this show love foreshadowing. “We don’t want to see what you do on your best day, we want to see what you do on your worst,” director --- intones during this episode’s intense training exercise. How will Simon, Booth and Alex react on their worst day? We find out as the episode continues.
“Parrish,” Alex is scolded at one point during a reenactment of a hostage situation, “without your team, you would not have made it out alive.”
“I think I would have made it out just fine,” Alex replies. (Of course you think that, Alex. Only time will tell if it’s true or not.)
Viewers get a glimpse at the non-’Girls’ Williamsburg: We have to admit that when we saw Alex and Simon walking through Williamsburg we expected them to meet up with a hipster millennial tech expert who will provide them with the information they need. Instead, Simon takes Alex to the other Williamsburg — the one filled with ultra-Orthodox Jews who speak Hebrew as a first language. “They’ve never seen television,” Simon tells Alex after she asks why seems being stared at by a large group of wide-eyed children.
Speaking in Hebrew, Simon asks his informant about the source of the explosives that destroyed Grand Central. But it soon becomes clear that Simon is careful about not showing his entire hand to Alex, as he deliberately mis-translates the conversation to keep Alex in the dark. (The viewer is cleverly kept in the dark too.)
“Simon, what’s happening?” That anxious question asked by Alex as she and Simon try to plot their next move is another statement filled with foreshadowing. We still don’t know where Simon’s allegiances lie, as it seems as if he’s in everyone’s corner. He’s obviously with the FBI, but he seems like he believes Alex too. (And Alex’s first-rate detection skills fail her in that she doesn’t seem to suspect her only friend may be against her as well.)
Alex finds some validation: Like many trauma victims, Alex gets flashbacks to the moment of her father’s death at random times. One of the most inconvenient moments that occurred was during the hostage rescue exercise in which Alex could not pull the trigger because she kept seeing her dad. This leads to all sorts of consternation among the FBI brass and a heart-to-heart-to-heart between Booth, Miranda and Alex.
Alex blurts out her guilt about her father’s death to Miranda and Booth and cries out that she killed an American hero. Booth and Miranda are more than happy to correct her misconceptions, pointing out Alex’s father was a violent man who threatened her mother and was a less-than-ideal agent. "Just because you're an agent doesn't make you a good man," says Booth in one of the most quotable lines of the night.
The Alex-Shelby frenemy drama evolves into an all out war: Alex is convinced that it’s Shelby (our resident Southern belle) show is behind both the plot to frame her and the actual bombing of Grand Central. She and Simon headed to Shelby’s home where (of course) they eventually run into Shelby herself.
It’s Shelby (in the ultimate mean girl twist) who reveals to Alex as the hold each other at gunpoint that Simon is with the FBI. Alex is truly shocked at the news, but barely has time to process that news before Booth bursts onto the scene, pointing his gun straight at Shelby’s head.
But Alex has no interest in being rescued. Instead she maneuvers the situation to force both Booth and Simon to leave her alone with Shelby in the house where (yet another) epic fight scene soon occurs.
It’s shoot-to-kill time: As always, the last three minutes of any ‘Quantico’ episode are the most action packed. The fourth episode was no exception. Alex was the one who prevails in the epic Shelby vs. Alex battle and Shelby swiftly ends up being chained to a banister. “You’re my hostage,” Alex tells her. Meanwhile, the FBI isn’t playing around. All agents and other federal agencies are told that Alex Parrish is more of a wanted woman than ever, and all personnel are ordered to shoot to kill her when they find her.
Odds and ends:
It would be remiss of us to not note one of the most Indian American moments of this episode. We’re speaking, of course, of the moment Alex Parrish calls her mother Sita to tell her that, actually she didn’t end up going to grad school after all and instead decided to join the FBI. This bait-and-switch is actually more common than you’d think, though we assume most people aren’t rushing to join the FBI. Sita, like most Indian mothers would be, is crushed.