Borrowing liberally from the Book of Shonda Rhimes – especially Season 1 of “How to Get Away With Murder” – and adding just a little sprinkle of Showtime’s “Homeland” on top, this ensemble thriller/drama, “Quantico,” is about a group of fresh FBI recruits reporting for elite training at the bureau’s facility in lovely Prince William County, Virginia.
The plan here is for the narrative arc to jump back and forth between the recruits’ initial meeting and a devastating bombing at Grand Central Station several months later. It’s up to Alex Parrish (played by Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra) to help figure out which of her fellow recruits was actually a secret terrorist-in-the-making placed within the FBI. That’s why most of the pilot episode plays more like the instructions to a board game as characters introduce and establish themselves by trope: “Hi, I’m quiet, young Muslim woman, a k a The Too Obvious Suspect.” And: “Hi, I’m closeted Jewish gay guy, trying way too hard to be friendly! Don’t trust me!” And: “Hi, I’m Super Stud. Let’s have sex in my car.”
Sure, it’s all sort of dumb, but “Quantico” also doesn’t mess around. Even though an early version of the pilot shown to critics had some issues (including replacing actor Dougray Scott as Alex’s mentor professor with Josh Hopkins of “Cougar Town”), Chopra brings a sincere, centrifugal force to this swirling story line. You leave the first episode wanting to know what happens next and where this conspiracy leads. That sounds like a rather basic accomplishment, but sometimes it’s all a fall drama needs to get ahead.
– The Washington Post