[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Sunday's episode of Quantico. Read at your own risk.]
Quantico is officially seeing double.
On Sunday's episode, Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis) revealed Nimah and Raina's (Yasmine Al Massri) identities to the rest of the NATs. Meanwhile, in the present, Alex (Priyanka Chopra) and Simon (Tate Ellington) located Raina in Queens, who revealed that she and Nimah have been infiltrating an Islamic terrorist cell in the house across the street, and it was Nimah who was in the Grand Central surveillance footage. But Nimah's not behind it — nor is she dead as Raina had assumed after not hearing from her — she's just been following (and sleeping with) the group's leader, Hamza (Michael Aronov), who was planning to target an American landmark, and has been in the group's house this whole time.
During a twin swap, Hamza told Raina-as-Nimah that his attack hasn't been executed yet and he wants to skip town with her. But before anything can happen, the FBI bust in on Team Alex — thanks to Shelby (Johanna Braddy) blowing their cover — and all hell broke loose. Natalie (Anabelle Acosta) let Alex and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin), who got shot, run away, but what will the twins do?
Al Massri tells us what we can expect now that both twins are out in the open in both timelines.
Right before Ryan gets shot, Nimah and Raina both had this look on their faces that was mad and scared because they might still be or be thought of as guilty. How were you playing that for each of them?
Yasmine Al Massri: Well, I'm starting to know Nimah and Raina better now. Raina is a compassionate, forgiving person. She thinks she can change things for the better because of her faith. She's kind of innocent. Nimah is more angry. She loves the Western culture. She doesn't want to be compromised by anything, whether it's man or religion. She doesn't mind a conflict in order to win. So knowing that is the infrastructure. When Ryan and Alex find them, Nimah and Raina know they're innocent. They were on an undercover mission for months. There's no doubt in their minds they're innocent. The first thing that motivated me in those future scenes was how worried I am about my sister. It was about protecting my family. They'd each die to save each other. And the second thing was Alex and her accusing them, because the three of them are the brown girls.
It was very pot/kettle of her since he had called everyone out for accusing her of the attack because she's the brown girl.
Al Massri: Exactly! They think of Alex as one of their own. To have Alex doubt us, it's out of line. How can you doubt us? We are in this together. That's the challenge of the twins being suspects. I get so many messages from fans now saying, "Yeah, we know the Muslims are gonna be the terrorists like usual." I'm so happy that people will now see that Nimah and Raina were on an undercover mission that actually serves and protects the United States of America.
Are they really innocent though? Could they be working with Hamza even if they're not behind Grand Central?
Al Massri: I think that's the interesting thing. I think right now they are [innocent]. At the same time, all the NATs are suspects. This is the beauty of Josh Safran's writing. Each one of them is very suspicious. I like this ambiguity because it allows people to rediscover each character and where they come from. ... Each episode is flipping people's perspectives. Now it's Nimah and Raina's turn to surprise people. Are going to help Alex now? I think they really do see Alex as one of them.
Will we see more Hamza and each of their relationships with him?
Al Massri: They're so different in how they approach things. They know that he has a plan that is against America and a location of importance. Raina looks at Hamza as a man she can change. She's heartbroken after her experience with Simon. Raina has compassion for Hamza. Nimah is just using him to get information. She has no problem killing him. The mission is now interrupted. I don't know what's gonna happen. I'm still waiting to see if there will be another encounter with Hamza. For the moment, he's shot and I don't know what happens.
Is Hamza the one who recruited Miranda's son Charlie?
Al Massri: Wow, that's a good question. I hadn't thought of that! I don't know. I did not relate those two together because when Miranda's in jail and Ryan asks her about the twins' contact, Miranda tells him, "You have to be careful. They're not the same people they were in the academy and the mission is not on anymore." When I asked Josh about that, he didn't mention anything about Charlie. Maybe! I'm gonna ask Josh later.
What happened between the twins and Simon in between the timelines? Did he and Raina simply have a bad breakup?
Al Massri: [Laughs] I don't really know, but their relationship is very complicated. Now that they are revealed to the class, Simon is gonna see the differences. There will be a moment where he's like, "Wait. Who is who? Who is the girl that I like?" This is gonna be very tough on Simon. He fell in love with a mix of both. He doesn't know which one said that word, which one looked at him in a certain way. Raina is the one who fell in love with him. Nimah doesn't hate him. She likes that he's smart. They're actually very similar. In the previous mission, Nimah said she doesn't like coffee and Simon doesn't like it either. It's just small things that show up that they're very similar. I don't think she's interested in him the same way Raina is because he does not surprise her.
Simon could fall for Nimah now, but Raina is still in love with him. It'll be a big love triangle.
Al Massri: [Laughs] Maybe! I like that!
Nimah pushed Miranda to tell everyone that she and Raina are twins. Is Miranda going to regret it? She wanted them switching because of her top-secret mission.
Al Massri: I think Miranda is becoming more vulnerable. ... I think Miranda is really trying to teach us how to trust each other. Every test has been about: Can you put your life in the hands of your colleagues? Miranda is trying to teach us about sacrifice for your country and each other. That conversation between her and Nimah about "How do you expect us to put our lives in each other's hands when we cannot trust each other about who we are?" hit her strong. What Nimah said, I think, really got to Miranda's head and heart. I think it made her say, "Yes, it makes sense to tell everyone." Now, there may be another agenda that I have no idea about! If there are any secrets and twists, Josh will be the one who reveals it later. I like to think this is genuine. Nimah trusts Miranda. She looks at her as an ideal.
I like that even though Raina was the one pretending to be Nimah, it's Nimah who walked into the class with a new identity: herself. She had her hair down and everything.
Al Massri: Yeah! Get the hair out, get the lipstick out! She's finally able to be herself and just herself. And you see Raina is being herself, which is the complete opposite.
Everyone knows they're twins now. What is the dynamic going to be like at the academy?
Al Massri: Nimah is immediately with the popular girls with Alex and Shelby. It was very hard for her to be away from them and the modern her. The moment she gets to be herself, she wants to be with the girls she can identify herself with. Raina will be more isolated. She's the one who's different. She's the one who cannot go out and have fun and all that.
Nimah and Raina are fiercely loyal to one another even when there is tension between them, but do you think they'd ever betray each other?
Al Massri: I really don't know. The great thing about Quantico [is] everyone is a suspect. There is the fear you could be the bomber, but it's happening in a democratic platform. If you are the bomber, it will be because of your decision, you're judged in Quantico because of your actions, not your background.
What has it been like for you playing two characters who are playing one character in two timelines?
Al Massri: Technically, it's very hard. I have to run between the scenes, switch to the other. Now that they are revealed, I have a lot of scenes with the group. We have to shoot the same stuff and I have to switch Nimah and Raina, and I usually have five minutes to switch. It's a crazy adrenaline moment. When I go back home, I'm very proud. ... Being a woman, sometimes you have your period and you want to kill the first person who says hello. You can go from bitchy to nice, depending on the moment and the people and the circumstance, so to be able to play these human colors across two people, I like that. Me wanting to honor Nimah and Raina is what scares me the most. Raina has a faith. She's proud of her religion. I know people are looking at Raina and they're surprised. They haven't seen such a positive hijabi woman on an American TV show on a network like ABC. I want to honor the character more than how many of them there are.
Who do you think the bomber is?
Al Massri: First, I thought it was Sita, Alex's mother. I don't trust Clayton [Mark Pellegrino]. I don't want it to be any of the NATs. I'm too involved emotionally in all of them. I tell Josh not to make it one of us. It has to be us against the world!
Quantico airs Sundays at 10/9c on ABC.