While Quantico might not be the best thing to hit television screens this season, it definitely shows promise of becoming something way more exciting than its first episode. Slated to premiere this weekend in India, the TV show is being widely awaited for one reason and one reason only - Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra’s debut on American prime time television, and in the nicest of surprises we find that Chopra absolutely shines on TV.
When the first scene opens, we find Alex Parish (played by Chopra) flat on her face, lying in the middle of the site of a deadly explosion in New York City. Cut to flashback and it’s day 1 at the FBI training facility, where a fresh batch of recruits have just arrived, Parish being one of them. She gets a hot and hasty sex scene with a stranger (who she soon finds out is one of her new batchmates at the FBI training centre) right before class begins too. We approve.
In class, as one of their first exercises, each recruit is assigned to do a background check on another recruit to uncover a secret that has been deliberately omitted from their file. It quickly becomes apparent that almost all the recruits are hiding huge secrets and have their own agenda for wanting to join the program.
Parish reveals the death of her father, Shelby admits she lost both parents in 9/11, and Simon (a conservative gay Jew) has travelled to Gaza to live among Palestinians.
Cut back to present day and we find out that Parish is one of the prime suspects for the explosion which is now clearly an act of terrorism - the deadliest since 9/11, we’re told. Wrongfully pegged for the crime, Parish must now run and hope to solve the case and find the real perpetrator before she’s caught.
The good news - Quantico might just be the most diverse cast you’ll see on television today. And the show also smoothly passes the Bechdel test -- lots of women characters from different racial backgrounds, all with motivations that are not romantic.
Parish especially is seen taking charge of her own sexuality with not a hint of apology or guilt, and if we could have more characters like her on screen today, women might not feel the need to cringe through sexist and downright misogynist portrayals of their gender.
The bad news - the plot is just too thick. There are too many sub-plots and too many complicated relationships at stake right at the very beginning. If they can manage to keep the threads together, this would make for nail-biting television. But more often than not, these narratives unravel faster than a plot caught in quicksand.
The show also features the worst escape/chase scene in the history of bad chase scenes. With a big-budget series like this, we expect more thrills. And maybe Chopra needs to tone down on the histrionics just a tiny bit there - but we’re going to write that off as bad direction, more than bad acting really. For the most part, Chopra dazzles. She doesn’t seem one bit out of place and makes quite the sexy, smart and capable FBI trainee.
Now the wait is on to see how the show fares among both Indian and international audiences. We, for one, have our hopes up.
The first episode of Quantico airs in India on October 3. It will be available on the channels Star World and Star World Premiere.