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New Quantico Boss Explains How Season 3 Will Be Different

The tone, the music and the way these characters work are all changing

Megan Vick

A new season of Quantico premieres in April, and things are going to be very different when the show returns.

First of all, the ABC drama made major changes behind the scenes between seasons; showrunner Josh Safran stepped down and will take on a consulting role as Code Black's Michael Seitzman will take over the reins. There were also a lot of cast shakeups: Aunjanue Ellis, Yasmine Al Massri and Pearl Thusi are out, but the show is bringing back Russell Tovey and adding Marlee Matlin into the fray.

Quantico's Aunjanue Ellis Is Officially Out for Season 3

When the series returns, it will pick up three years after the Season 2 finale, when Alex (Priyanka Chopra) and Ryan (Jake McLaughlin) ran off together and Owen (Blair Underwood) became the Deputy Director of the CIA. The new season will also ditch the flashback conceit and switch up the general feel of the show as the team regroups at the FBI to solve cases off the books for the government.

TV Guide recently talked to Seitzman about how viewers will be reintroduced to Quantico's characters and how he's changing the show to reinvigorate it for fans as well as bring in new viewers. Check it out below.

Priyanka Chopra, Quantico​

Priyanka Chopra, Quantico

Giovanni Rufino, ABC via Getty Images

Can you tell us where we're going to find Alex and Ryan? They sort of just ran off into the sunset together at the end of last season, but obviously they're going to have some business to attend to when they come back.
Michael Seitzman: We start with Alex three years later, living in Italy. She's not with Ryan. We don't know where Ryan is at this point. We find Alex living with somebody else -- a man named Andrea -- in the small town of Montepulciano, Italy where she works in a vineyard and she comes home to him in the evening and his daughter Isabella, who's a beautiful 7-year-old girl. They live in the Italian countryside together.

Then somebody finds her. Somebody bad finds her. That sort of brings her back into the world that she had left. As the episode progresses, we start to learn what happened. As the season progresses, we learn how she ended up in Italy, and we learn what has happened to Ryan, why she's not with Ryan at the moment. We learn what draws her back in and what she's coming back in to do.

Are flashbacks still going to be a very prevalent tool of the show?
Seitzman: No, not at all. The tone of the show is completely different. In a lot of ways the season is a reboot of the show where we took the elements of the show that were working, the elements that I was interested in launching with, and leaving behind the elements that didn't fit into that paradigm.

Just trying to figure out how to make a show that felt like something that you both recognized as a loyal viewer but also felt like something brand new. That felt like a fresh start for the show where we have a series of villains over the course of the season that we vanquish. We put our team together in a different way. They interact with each other in a different way. They work out of a different kind of a home base. They move into a big downtown New York loft together. They don't live there, but they work out of it. They work as a black ops unit in the FBI, sort of off the books.

Sometimes we have villains that traverse several episodes. We have a character who traverses five episodes, for example. Then we have others who we figure out how to beat them or we get beaten by them in one episode. The idea of the show is that you should be able to start right here and it's not that we're ignoring the other two seasons, but we are saying that you can enter the show right here and it will tell you a really good story whether you've ever seen the show before or not. Or if you're a loyal viewer and you start here, I can promise you that we've taken really good care of the characters and you will recognize the show that you've been watching. You'll just enter a new phase. The show has evolved and has become a different version of itself.

Russell Tovey Is Returning to Quantico in Season 3

Marlee Matlin also joins the cast this season. How is she going to play into things?
Seitzman: Marlee plays a character called Jocelyn Turner. Jocelyn Turner also is drawn into Episode 1 because she has special knowledge. Her special knowledge is that she's the only person who'd ever successfully infiltrated the Widow's inner circle when she was undercover for the FBI.

As we tell it in the story, when her cover was blown so were her eardrums is what she says, because a bomb went off and she lost her hearing. When we find her, she's an instructor at Quantico, but because she has special knowledge of the villain that we're after, they draw her into the unit, and they make her a part of it and she stays with the unit after the first episode.

She's in so many ways one of the most exciting parts of the new season. First of all, she's just a wonderful actress and a wonderful person to work with. Also, she provides an enormous amount to the show by virtue of the fact that she's deaf.

When we left off in Season 2, Owen was made deputy director of the CIA. Is he still going to have that position when we find him in Season 3? How is he dealing with it?
Seitzman: When we find Owen, he is back at the FBI and [he] becomes the leader of this black ops unit that we've put together in the first episode. So he has a supervisor at the FBI. He's no longer with the CIA. He explains why in the first episode. This unit becomes very much a kind of black ops unit that the character is accustomed to just within the FBI.

There were some sparks between him and Alex last season. Are we going to see those resume in Season 3 or are we still focusing on what happens with her and Ryan?
Seitzman: No. In fact, a chemistry developed really quickly between Owen and Jocelyn that we explore later in the season. But we sort of felt it immediately on set. They just sort of worked really well together. The actors are old friends. They've been friends for 30 years and that's part of it too. We just sparked to it early on in the writers' room and start to write to it.

Marlee Matlin Joins Quantico Season 3

What are you most excited for fans to see in this upcoming season?
Seitzman: I'm excited for fans to see the change in tone of the show. We changed the tone dramatically. I think we've made a very stylish show, and I think we've made a show that looks forward. It feels like the show took ... I mean, I'm a fan of the show prior to this year, so this should be taken in that context. I think the show evolved. I think it took a step forward the way all shows should... That's what we did. I think people are going to see that the tone is different. The music is different. The look of the show is different. The way that we tell the stories is different. The way we deal with timelines and the way we deal with structure is different. The way we deal with characters is different.

The idea is it is five years since they left Quantico. They're different, you know, as we all would be. When I became a writer, I was a different writer five years after I started, and I'll be a different writer five years from now. So we wanted to sort of reflect that. The other thing I'm excited about is, I think the show invites new viewers in, in a way that you only can do when you reboot, which is what we did.

Quantico premiere Thursday, April 26 at 10/9c on ABC.