New show: Quantico
When: 10 p.m. Sundays on ABC
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Josh Hopkins, Jake McLaughlin and Aunjanue Ellis
Premise: The pilot opens with the jarring image of an explosion in the middle of New York City, the result of a terrorist attack that’s apparently the handiwork of one of seven FBI recruits. But which one?
Could it be Alex, played by Bollywood star and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra? Investigators want viewers to think that, and Chopra has been a focal point of ABC’s marketing campaign. (The actress has won the Indian equivalent of an Oscar, and this is her big U.S. breakout role.)
But each of the recruits comes with his or her own baggage. The show borrows from the “How to Get Away with Murder” playbook, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those seven recruits are all attractive and diverse with some potential for romance interspersed among the characters. This also means that everyone fits a certain expected type – the Southern belle with mad shooting skills, the kid who’s only there because his parents were agents.
What helps is that the show plays with time, another device used in “Murder.” Through flashbacks – from the explosion to nine months ago in Quantico and even before then – we learn the recruits’ secrets and how they were selected to join the FBI. This fleshes out these archetypes in interesting ways. It gives them dimension in unexpected ways, and as it pertains to the plot, it perhaps gives us, if not investigators, clues of how the attack occurred. Because once you see the explosion, you’ll want to know who might be the guilty one, too.
In addition the recruits, other characters have nebulous pasts. The Quantico instructors may have something to hide, too, about their personal and professional lives. This includes Hopkins, most recently seen in the lighter “Cougar Town,” who plays an instructor who dodged bigger troubles, thanks to his (romantic?) relationship with Ellis.
The pilot has plenty of tension, and the terrorist attack isn’t the only moment to keep you hooked. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, making me curious enough to watch more next week. If writers can continue to give us action while also giving us some answers and character development, I may stick around the entire season.