[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Monday's episode of Quantico. Read at your own risk.]
POTUS Roarke (Dennis Boutsikaris) successfully called for one by the end of Monday's episode -- after Alex (Priyanka Chopra) & Co. thwart a bunch of plane-based terrorist attacks. Little did they realize that was exactly what the villainous collaborators wanted. Roarke proceeded to burn all of them by thanking and congratulating the task force -- including Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis), who pitched in with Matthew (Henry Czerny) and Will (Jay Armstrong Johnson), and a reluctant, buzzed Clay (Hunter Parrish) -- on TV, before announcing his plan to dismantle the FBI and CIA to form a new hybrid group in a sign of unity. That proposal requires a new amendment via a constitutional convention, and states are coming on board at a rapid clip.
But the task force was in a lose-lose situation either way. Had they failed to prevent the attacks, Roarke would've decimated the groups for their incompetence and ridden a platform of fear to a con-con, where he can rewrite the law any which way he wants.
With the convention 100 days away, Alex tells everyone they can no longer react impulsively to the collaborators. They need to play the long game... So they have three-plus months to come up with something.
We caught up with creator and showrunner Joshua Safran to get the scoop on their plan, and what you won't see in the season -- and possible series -- finale next week.
Finale preview: Scoop on your favorite shows
How did you guys come up the constitutional convention plot?
Joshua Safran: I'm pretty sure it was [writer] Jordon Nardino, but I can't say for sure. He's our political guru. It's never happened before, but it's not outside the realm of possibility anymore, which is so scary. When we first talked about it, we were like, "That would never happen!" But unfortunately as time has gone on since the initial pitch, I don't think it's going to happen, but there was an article a couple weeks ago ... that talked about how it's not outside the realm of possibility for someone to try in this regime to try to force a new amendment. That's what it's all been building towards: reshaping America in an image that doesn't help everybody.
The episode was all about looking at the long term, not just with the collaborators' plan, but between Alex and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin), too. They didn't see the collaborators' plan coming. Is that realistic that none of these people would take a step back and say, "Hey, wait a second. What's the bigger picture here besides getting the presidency?"
Safran: We talked about a lot about that. When you're so deeply entrenched in basically undercover work, which is kind of what they're all doing because they're a small group, you do lose sight of the bigger picture. Because there isn't a team of analysts analyzing your materials and deciding what the greater goal is. If they had had the resources of the CIA or the FBI behind them, it would be a different story. But because they have been operating under the cover of night, they are only able to see what they can see. Frankly, right now, if suddenly our administration called for a constitutional convention, I don't know if we would've seen that coming either, but we might be like, "Oh, of course. That makes sense," like how our team reacted.
What do they come up with in those 100 days?
Safran: We jump through those 100 days in the first five minutes of the finale. You'll find out what their plan is by the end of the first act ... which is again scored to a Peter Gabriel song, like last year. It's a nice little callback.
Alex says they have to make Roarke believe they're on his side in the meantime. The collaborators have to know the task force isn't giving up, right?
Safran: Well, they have 100 days to make them believe!
I like the cat-and-mouse game between Roarke and Alex. They respect one another and want to take each other out.
Safran: Yeah, and they both know that about each other. It's very above board, but they can't trust each other. They have eyes on each other and have been working side by side. Dennis has been a real boon to the show with how he plays Roarke.
Is there a name for Roarke's FBI-CIA hybrid?
Safran: Yes. You will find out in the very beginning of the next episode. ... It's letters that make total sense. It's what I imagine it would be called if it existed.
I know Iris (Li Jun Li) is back. What can you tease about that?
Safran: It's really fun to see her again. We love Li Jun Li. She's a blast. She gets to do a lot of fun Iris-y things. ... I can tell you she definitely comes to blows with one of our characters. I don't mean physical blows but emotional blows.
Miranda and Owen's (Blair Underwood) interaction was great. Is he going to take her advice to heart -- to not hate himself when he fails at something?
Safran: Yeah, they're so much fun together. There's going to be more of that next week. They continue that conversation in the finale and they come to a conclusion together.
After his conversation with Henry, has Ryan finally accepted, I guess not his role in his relationship with Alex, but what he needs to bring to the table and how they can make it work?
Safran: I hope so. I hope that he can learn to be the man behind the woman and not always having to try to compete. Sorry -- not the man behind woman, the man alongside the woman. Their issue has always been he doesn't fully trust her and he always thinks he might know better and now he needs to accept that Alex might be a better agent than him, and can he give her the space to flourish? And that's a question the finale answer.
Raina (Yasmine Al Massri) also tells him she doesn't think he's mad because Alex went rogue, but because of who she went rogue with. He feels replaced.
Safran: Yeah. I do think part of it is he feels hurt, not that it's Owen, but that it's somebody not him. And the question is can he handle that? Can he handle not being her first phone call or the person she tells information or the person she trusts the most? Can he fully support her without any expectation because to fully support somebody is to not expect anything in return? You just support them. They have a conversation about that in the finale.
Raina gives herself up so Shelby (Johanna Braddy) could leave the bunker. Are she and Nimah both still in custody?
Safran: Yes, but you will see both of them. You will finally see Nimah again.
Clay claims Maxine (Krysta Rodriguez) dumped him. Did she really or did he just say that because he wants to get with Shelby?
Safran: You will find out in the finale. Maxine will be back.
High Clay was fun.
Safran: It's a little Silas from Weeds! Hunter had a lot of fun with that. All season, I told Hunter that Clay was going to be unbuttoned, and he kept asking me, "When is Clay's unbuttoning?" And he got [the script for Episode] 21 and was like, "Ohhhh."
Will Clay and Shelby get their burger?
Safran: You'll get an answer in the finale.
They have 100 days. They can get a burger sometime.
Safran: Exactly. They can get 100 burgers!
You shot two endings for the finale. Have you picked one yet or is that contingent on a renewal?
Safran: We did pick one. We cut that scene that would've been the other ending. We had a guest star we borrowed from another show and it won't see the light of day. It wasn't because the network or studio asked to not have a cliffhanger ending; it was because weirdly the scene before it has a better ending. You're left with a question you could live with for the rest of your life with these characters as a series finale or it was a big enough question for a Season 3, and [the extra scene] was sort of a hat on a hat.
Would the extra scene have propelled the show in a different direction?
Safran: It had a legitimate cliffhanger, like a life-or-death moment for somebody. That kind of felt like false jeopardy because that question would be answered in the opening seconds of Season 3. It didn't have much lasting effect. This is an open road that could go anywhere.
Would you like to know who the actor was? Here's a spoiler: My poor good friend Jeremy Jordan, who flew all the way here on a red-eye to do this scene. His flight was delayed, he had a connection, he flew all night. He showed up at 9 in the morning, all bleary-eyed, to do this one scene. He did it so well and it was excellent and we cut it!
Can you say who he's playing?
Safran: I'll tell you next week. It's related to the episode. But it was really nice to have Jeremy and Krysta in the same episode. Jordon Nardino wrote another tiny SMASH allusion in the finale, so I'm curious to see if people catch it. The SMASH allusion is still there, but Jeremy is not.
Well, we can't have everything.
Safran: I know. Hopefully if there's a Season 3 Jeremy can come visit.
Quantico airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.