Quantico really wants to be your new TV obsession. The pilot works hard to live up to that ambition, but whether or not it can go the distance remains to be seen.

Image provided by imdb/ ABC

Quantico opens with rookie FBI agent Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) waking up in the rubble of a major terrorist attack on New York City. The action cuts back and forth between the aftermath of the New York bombing and Alex’s FBI training class six months earlier. At an FBI command center, Alex learns that someone from her class is suspected of masterminding the attack.

Alex goes through her memories of meeting various fellow trainees. Most notable is Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin), whom she meets on a plane. They hook up before knowing who one another is. Alex’s training class features the diverse crop of characters expected from an ABC drama. Instructors O’Connor (Josh Hopkins) and Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis) have some personal baggage chafing them as they oversee the new recruits.

In both time periods, numerous secrets are teased and twists come fast and furious. During training, secretive Alex has some key questions about her late father. Post-bombing, she quickly realizes she’s in the cross-hairs and the only way to extricate herself is to identify the mastermind.

Image provided by imdb/ ABC

Quantico is a very ABC take on the kind of edgy espionage/terrorism plots one sees frequently on cable. It’s got the twisty conspiracy, with various “gotcha” moments already spring-loaded to shock viewers. But it also features a cast of diverse, attractive actors whose characters spend as much time fretting about their love lives and personal demons as they do chasing criminals. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Gritty dramas are all well and good, but there’s something to be said for an entertaining gloss, too.

Quantico is well-produced. It’s slick and propulsive. The action zips along quite nicely and twists come fast and furious. Possibly the writers try to do too much in the pilot. With a large cast and plethora of secrets, lies and mysteries, there’s a lot to track. On the other hand, you can’t accuse the show of dragging things out. The challenge will be how the show manages to maintain the kinetic pace set at the outset without becoming a frantic mess.

The cast may be Quantico’s biggest asset. Chopra is a major star in India and it’s not hard to see why ABC was eager to work with her. She’s got a striking look and strong presence; she oozes star quality. She infuses some backbone into Alex, keeping her grounded even as panic sets in. Chopra makes Alex a strong fulcrum for the ensemble. Even if the series doesn’t fly, it’s a good U.S. launching pad for the actress.

Image provided by imdb/ ABC

McLaughlin manages some nice sparks with Chopra and is the most notable among the actors playing the trainees. Characters played by Johanna Braddy, Tate Ellington and Yasmine Al Massri all have potential (and secrets); they made a favorable impression in limited screen time. The weak link was Graham Rogers as a snotty washout, who came across distinctly one note.

TV vets Hopkins and Ellis did a strong job in their handful of scenes. How O’Connor and Shaw’s relative positions shift between the two periods and how their fortunes intersect with those of their training class remain to be teased out. They’re a strong duo who do a nice job providing the “grown up” element to counter-balance the raw recruits.

At this point, Quantico is worth following to see where it’s headed. If the writers can effectively maintain the pilot’s momentum without devolving into chaotic nonsense, the show could develop into an absorbing guilty pleasure.

Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on September 28, 2015.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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