[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Monday's episode of Quantico. Read at your own risk.]
When you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
That's Owen's (Blair Underwood) plan on Quantico after the task force can't land on the same page about its next move to take down the collaborators and subsequently gets exposed. Using Clay (Hunter Parrish) and Maxine's (Krysta Rodriguez) engagement party to get all the collaborators in one room to turn one of them, Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) seemingly does so with Alice Winter (Elisabeth Waterston), who proposes a meet-up so she can bring two him two more of her cohorts.
Sensing it's a trap, Alex (Priyanka Chopra) is the only one who's vehemently against the plan, but Keyes has already cleared it. But once again, Alex is right — Alice has tipped off a journalist who films Ryan. Owen tells her there is still one way they can win: turn "one of us." Obviously that "one" is Alex, who wipes the task force's files and hands them to one of the collaborators, Fletcher (Fredric Lehne), while the rest of the task force watches the news break on their covert op.
What did Alex hand over to Fletcher? Are they actually all the task force's files?
Joshua Safran: Yes. She wiped everything clean from the office and she handed over all the research they had just so that the collaborators were aware and could close any loop they needed to close so they could never be brought to trial for all the stuff the task force had found.
Does Fletcher suspect anything? There's a quick shot of him darting his eyes as Alex is pulling out the folder.
Safran: Well, they're not stupid. [Laughs] It's not that they suspect anything but definitely in the next episode Fletcher and the rest of the collaborators give Alex a couple of tests to prove her loyalty and to prove that it's real. ... She will meet [the other collaborators] in the next episode. ... They're all onboard to put her through the trial and whether she passes or fails will determine the next steps.
How far in advance does Owen have this planned? Or is it a "deal with it as it comes" kind of thing?
Safran: Not very far at all. [Laughs] He simply wants to ensure that they have a better angle. They kind of have to roll with the punches moving forward because while they are aware that Alex will be tested, they aren't exactly sure what's a test and what's not a test coming up. That's going to be the two of them working together and trying to figure it out before Alex does anything too far. The next episode is like reality in a way, which is that when you're undercover and you're tested, you have to pass even if it goes against what you believe in, even if it means killing somebody. That's what you have to do. So the questions is, can Alex do that? That's all in [Episode 20].
Owen has his mojo back sort of. He's not under a hail of bullets yet, but this is a risky plan and he really believes in Alex.
Safran: Yup. He really does. He has his mojo back, but he is going to be tested himself in terms of, can he make the right call moving forward? It's a very dangerous plan. It's a huge risk. So that's also in the next episode.
He also checks in on Ryan after Sasha's death, like a "Hey, I know what you're going through."
Safran: Yeah, he's been there. That's in his past as well. He talks about that in the next episode in terms of what it's like to lose an asset. We're not like opening up the first half of the season. The whole point of Owen's story was that he had to learn to live with what had happened and he had, and Ryan has to learn too. Let's just say that Ryan, Alex and Owen intersect in the next episode.
What is the rest of the task force thinking? Are they aware of what Alex and Owen are doing?
Safran: They find out pretty quickly. They're not aware of what they're doing, but no one thinks Alex has turned into a bad guy. They may not know exactly what she's doing, but they have faith in what she's doing. There's a really great scene between Shelby and Ryan in the opening moments of the next episode where they talk about that.
Are they pissed they didn't give them a heads up?
Safran: Yeah, that's what Ryan is upset about. He does not like to not be included.
What can the task force do now? They're all exposed.
Safran: Yeah, Ryan and Shelby (Johanna Braddy) can't leave The Farm because they are the ones who are exposed right now. Raina (Yasmine Al Massri) can't leave The Farm — well, she can, but she's in danger of outing herself as Raina. The next episode is really sort of the last stand between the collaborators and our team. Pretty much I'd say after 20, a lot changes for the remainder of the season. Surprising things happen and the victors aren't necessarily who you think they're going to be. It's a very moving ending.
Is there bloodshed?
Safran: I'm not going to say!
Roarke (Dennis Boutsikaris) got played by Claire (Marcia Cross). What's his next move?
Safran: Well, he is not happy! We really love working with Dennis Boutsikaris. [Roarke's] not at all like Trump or Paul Ryan, but you recognize him and what I like about him is he's not evil either; there's some sanity in what he's saying. Dennis really has been great showing the humanity of that character in his grab for power. He has been a civil servant for American for decades and he really believes in what he's doing. Our other collaborators are really fun too. You'll see a lot more of Peter Theo and Elisabeth Waterston, who plays Alice Winter. She and Priyanka spend a lot of time together next week. And of course Maxwell Fletcher — Fredric Lehne is just spot-on. The next episode was directed by Cherien Dabis, who was one of our writers and producers last season and who is actually a filmmaker. She left to pursue directing ... and came back to direct this episode and it really is an amazing episode. It was great to have her back.
I love how Alex is still always right.
Safran: Yeah, it's so funny. I forgot where I was reading it where someone was commenting that Alex was always right, but in the beginning of the series, we were told that Alex had to have a win all the time because she's the lead character. We, the writers, never wanted that and Priyanka didn't want that either. She was like, "I can't be right all the time." We were able to not make her right all of the time in Season 1, but what happens now is any time she's right it reminds you that she's always right, even though there's been many episodes where she isn't right. [Laughs] I'm very grateful to the network for not needing all of the characters to have a win every episode of these back nine [episodes]. Very often our team has actually lost and I'm really grateful for that because I think it adds to increased stakes. They lost this episode and they may lose again.
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Shelby "sleeps" with Caleb (Graham Rogers) to get Clay to hate her again. Are they just gonna be an unrequited love? Is nothing going to happen between them?
Safran: I can't say that, but I can say that they definitely have feelings for each other. It's just a very complicated situation. Shelby's trying her best not to repeat her mistakes and Clay is trying his best to not repeat his family's mistakes. I think Hunter and Johanna are really doing beautiful work. It's funny — when Clay first appeared, people were like, "We want Caleb!" and I think they're now seeing that he's not meant to be Caleb. I really love having both of them together. I'm sad this was Graham's last episode because he had go to Ray Donovan, but seeing the dynamic for a few episodes was really great and it helps develop those characters into a new direction.
That scene was so loaded. They all know it's an act.
Safran: Yeah, that's why I love that scene, that's why I love those actors. They fully understood that. He knows she didn't and she knows he knows she didn't. Even the idea that she could have is enough to remind him. It's really well played by them. It's one of those things where, sure, we're a high-concept action soap, but there are scenes that are a little like theater with a lot of subtext and that was one of them.
How concerned is Maxine about Shelby? She did invite her to join The Roster.
Safran: She knows what's going on, but that character is a real person, not just somebody who is a plot foil. She understands what's happening, but she's not going to, like, burn it all down or pick up a gun and shoot Shelby. We see Maxine again before the end of the season and you will see them struggle again with these issues, but they struggle with them in very adult ways.
Are they going to get married?
Safran: I can't say that. You always ask the questions I can't answer!
Well, answer this: What is Caleb's boy band's name? Did he form one?
Safran: He didn't form one, sadly. He just wanted to be in one. He sent letters to Lou Pearlman, which is one of my favorite lines in the episode. [Laughs] May he rest not quite in peace. He just wanted to be called Cal.
Which boy band is his favorite?
Safran: His favorite, I'm sure, is 'N Sync. But I think he would've fit in 98 Degrees. If he had to be in one, I think it would be 98 Degrees.
Yeah, he has that look. They're very homogeneous.
Safran: It's so true. I think Hunter and Graham should start a boy band side project and Marcia can play backup.
Quantico airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.