Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: The show was created and written by Joshua Safran (Gossip Girl), who executive produces with Mark Gordon (Criminal Minds) and Nick Pepper (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders). Marc Munden (The Crimson Petal and the White) directed the premiere.
The Cast & How You Know Them: The ensemble cast includes Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra along with Jake McLaughlin (Believe), Aunjanue Ellis (The Mentalist), Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town), Yasmine Al Massri (Crossbones), Johanna Braddy (UnREAL), Tate Ellington (The Mindy Project), and Graham Rogers (Revolution).
The Premise: Quantico follows a diverse group of brilliant young FBI recruits — all of whom have secrets and one of whom will eventually be suspected of masterminding a huge terrorist attack.
What Works: Quantico immediately drew me in with its characters’ various secrets, and this is definitely the new show that has me most eager to see another episode so far. The cast is strong — I was particularly delighted to see Johanna Braddy, who was great on UnREAL this summer — and has interesting chemistry in a variety of directions and combinations. As always with these slowly unraveling conspiracy shows, I’m not quite convinced that everything will hang together in the end, but in this case the show has enough going for it that I’m happy to go along for the ride.
What Doesn’t: There’s a lot going on here, and I think the pilot suffers from the frenetic pace and the need to establish a dozen different plotlines. The timeline was confusing at times, and it took me a while to keep some of the characters straight — I think it would have been stronger if it had taken more time with fewer characters, and hopefully going forward the show will rotate the focus that way. And honestly, I was least interested in the overarching terrorism plotline; I’d have been happy with an FBI trainee soap that didn’t feel the need to add in a big mystery.
An Aside: I find it mildly weird that the writers decided that what TV needed was another FBI Agent Booth — this is a very different kind of show than Bones, but still. It made me wonder if the use of the name was deliberate and whether this one, like Seeley, would wind up being related to John Wilkes Booth.
Our Favorite Line: “Ceiling’s only glass until you break it.” “That’s the kind of thing that only a man would say.”
You Might Like This if you like How to Get Away with Murder — the format is very similar, flashing back and forward between new students meeting each other and a future terrible event, and at one point while watching this I actually double checked if I’d somehow missed the fact that this was a Shondaland show, since it felt so much like one. The “uncovering a terrorist within the ranks” concept is also reminiscent of Homeland.
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)