'Quantico' Showrunner Explains Terrorist Twist in Explosive Midseason Finale

Joshua Safran breaks down terrorist reveal and the bloody aftermath.
Courtesy of ABC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Quantico's midseason finale, "Inside."]

Following weeks of trying to clear her name and prove to the FBI that she was not behind the terrorist attack at Grand Central station, Alex (Priyanka Chopra) finally put her finger on the real culprit during Quantico's midseason finale Sunday — though she wasn't quite in time to stop another incident. 

As Elias (Rick Cosnett) confessed to part of the crimes, pleading that he had been blackmailed by the real terrorist and had thought it was a good idea to set up Simon (Tate Ellington) to take the fall, Alex and the rest of the FBI were able to stop a bomb from going off at a gala event as Elias plunged out the window to his own death. 

Then, just when they thought they were in the clear and Alex told Simon he could let go of the detonator that had been placed in his hands, another bomb went off at the command center, leaving many of the Quantico recruits' lives in question. 

To find out if everyone makes it out alive when the show returns in March, along with whether Elias was actually telling the truth, THR caught up with showrunner Joshua Safran, who promised more questions and reveals to come in 11 remaining season-one episodes. 

The Command Center blew up in those final moments  will there be casualties?

Not everybody survives. I cannot hint as to the number of people or to how you’ll accept it or not accept it. But you can’t have a bomb going off without people dying and it is a major crux of the second half of the season. But, the good thing about two timelines means that just because someone dies in one doesn’t mean that they do in the other.

Will you reveal who dies right away?

It will be teased throughout the first episode back.

Was Elias always the intended terrorist for the midseason point?

Yes, but whether he is or is not the only terrorist is open to interpretation. He tells a story about how he is actually not a terrorist, he is a pawn for a terrorist. Whether that is the truth and whether people believe him is a different story. When we created that character we knew where we were going with him. He was the only character recruited by the FBI, rather than enrolling himself. In episode seven when he runs out the door he says himself that he didn’t want this the way you guys did. He had money, and what was he doing there, and he was conflicted about it. Knowing that was within his character, we always talked about how he was the kind of character that would put himself above the many.

How does that change the structure of the back 11?

Viewers will quickly learn if Elias was telling the truth. Regardless of whether he was working alone or not, there is definitely more afoot than just than bank blowing up.

Does it ever become a question of how so many shady people were admitted to the program?

At some point we talked about how they had opened the gates wider than they had in the past and they let in more people. Also they talked about how they had been vetted and how that worked. The system is a little bit broken and that’s what Miranda (Aunjanue Ellis) and Liam (Josh Hopkins) have been working to fix. Everybody has secrets  I find it hard to believe that all of the FBI agents that exist don’t have secrets that they could have had walking into the doors, regardless of whether that secret is a small as telling a white lie. And of course probably not as big of secrets as our characters have.

Caleb (Graham Rogers) was one of a few characters up to sketchy behavior in the finale, is that to continue shining a light on the main “suspects?”

Yes. This and the last episode we have very much told the audience that any story strand that opens up will be closed before the end of the season. Obviously we have not learned all there is to learn about Shelby’s (Johanna Braddy) half-sister  or fake half-sister  and we obviously haven’t learned about a whole host of other things all the way down to Alex’s missing year in India and Pakistan. There are a lot of pockets remaining to be looked into.

Will there be other Quantico “trainees” that you’re pulling into the fold for the back half?

We will be introducing a couple of new trainees at Quantico now that Simon and Ryan both are no longer there. That will happen when we come back. But we still have our trainees to look into too. There’s a lot going on.

Is the plan to still reveal the real mastermind by the end of season one?

This entire story of this terrorist in New York City will be completely wrapped by the end of the season and the Quantico timeline will catch up to the current timeline. If there was someone blackmailing Elias, then the question becomes just how many people are under the web of this mastermind.

Does this exonerate Alex and reinstate her at the FBI?

It’s safe to assume that after the bomb goes off Alex is no longer a suspect in anything. And yes, Alex is back at the FBI. In a full capacity I can’t say, but I will say she is no longer seen as a suspect and the FBI will have to admit to their wrongdoing, and the question of how and why and when she’s reinstated will be answered very quickly in the opening minutes of episode 12.

How will Eliza Coupe and Marcia Cross fit into the back half?

They will be around with us for a bit. Marcia’s character is in both timelines, but you see her primarily in the Quantico timeline, where you meet Hannah, Eliza’s character. The two of them represent for Shelby and Alex new power players in their stories. Hannah is a very straight shooter, she’s very honest and direct and she represents for Alex the kind of women she hopes she can be even though at the same time Hannah may not agree with Alex’s choices. That’s an interesting dynamic we’re going to see play out there.

As for Claire (Cross), her story with Shelby and Clayton (Mark Pellegrino) and Caleb’s story start to become more entwined. Viewers will learn a lot more about the Haas family moving forward. Shelby will learn even more than she bargained for.

Can you break down that moment in the car between Alex and Liam?

You can take it in a variety of ways, we’re leaving it open. You do hear in the pilot somebody says to Liam, “especially what happened between you two at the academy.” Then in episode two Miranda asks, “Who are you chasing, the trainee you fell in love with or the terrorist that rejected you?” So that definitely is part of the fabric of our story, it’s not a strand that we have let go of. At the same time I’m not going to say definitively that Alex is going to jump really quickly onto Liam. It’s more a beginning of a mutual understanding between the two of them now that she can see Liam as a mentor and no longer feels manipulated by him.

Was that part of the reason for the original recasting of that character, to follow that storyline?

It is definitely something that while it was hinted at in the pilot, once the recasting came about it became about, yes. We wanted to be able to tell more of a romantic triangle let’s say, than maybe initially it might have appeared we could have.

Is there anything else you can tease at for when the show returns?

We really are approaching them as two separate seasons, in that much like the bomb going off in Grand Central in the opening seconds of the pilot, there is very much a story concept that happens in the midseason premiere that will tell you immediately what the entire next 11 episodes are about.  

What did you think of the midseaon finale? Sound off in the comments below. Quantico returns Sunday. March 6. 

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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