Midseason Report Card: Has ABC’s ‘Quantico’ lived up to the hype?

Even before “Quantico” premiered on ABC this fall, we heard stories about how it could be the next big serialized drama, or how star Priyanka Chopra could be destined to become the next big thing in the entertainment industry after so much success in the Bollywood scene.

Now that we’ve seen the show through at least the first half of season 1, is most of that justified? We’d say that the answer to that is decidedly mixed. What “Quantico” has done successfully is tell a story that is one part “Covert Affairs,” one part “Grey’s Anatomy,” and a little bit “Harry Potter” minus all the magic. What they’ve failed at is trying to do a little too much.

What worked – Chopra is magnetic as a lead, and through the past two and a half months we have become rather invested in Alex Parrish’s journey from newcomer to bombing suspect. We’ve become attached to her, and numerous other characters from Shelby to Caleb to Nimah and Raina are almost equally as interesting. Having the central conceit be in many ways a whodunnit was a nice way to get viewers hooked right away, given that you knew that something terrible happened to Alex in between the early days of Quantico and the future, and you just had to wait to connect the dots. Who would’ve thought that Elias would have been the person to carry out some of the plans, or that Caleb could have been someone pulling the strings? The finale was outstanding enough to make up for a few slower episodes.

What didn’t – Unfortunately, the finale doesn’t fix the show’s rampant structural flaws. The biggest one is that they’ve pigeonholed themselves into a brand of storytelling that constantly forces them to jump from Quantico to the future every episode. We almost wish that there was a little more looseness to it, and that the writers / producers afforded themselves a little bit more flexibility to make this story in the way in which they want to do so. Sometimes in season 1 there have been real dud stories at Quantico, leaving us wanting to just get back to Alex being on the run.

Also, there’s simply way too much romance. The “Harry Potter” aspect of building social dynamics while at a specialized academy is interesting; the part where everyone is constantly hooking up is a little melodramatic, and the show frankly doesn’t need it.

Overall – The uneven natural of the storylines and the emphasis on the juicy relationship “shockers” detracts from what we think is a good premise at its core. Let’s just hope that we can focus in on the espionage and the drama of it all this spring. Grade: B-.

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