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Review: Priyanka Chopra’s Quantico S3 Ep5’s India-Pakistan Baffler

Geopolitical ties don’t seem to be the strong suit of the ‘Quantico’ masterminds.

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4 min read
A screenshot from <i>Quantico.</i>

The episode titled The Blood of Romeo may just breathe new life into Priyanka Chopra’s Quantico, which will not be returning for a fourth season, not so much because of the content but because of the controversy it seems to have embroiled itself in.

Some weaponized uranium-235 has been stolen from a university lab by a physics professor. The task of hunting down the missing nuclear material has been assigned to the Black Ops team on the heels of the India-Pakistan summit, to be held in the New York City.

Taking an audacious step, the latest episode has attempted to feature the India-Pakistan conflict and depict some ‘Hindu nationalists’ as terrorists. Tread with caution for this review is rife with spoilers.

This bunch is trying to blow up Manhattan to frame Pakistan. The plot sent Twitterati into a frenzy. The group plans an attack in Manhattan with the intention of blaming it on the neighbouring country. The ‘Indian Hindus’ are even shown to be acting like Pakistanis.

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While the idea may not have been to denigrate India, the makers may have aimed for a subversive plot, trying to ride on the wave of the critique of rising Hindu nationalism in India. It is way off the mark since it does not succeed in coming across as dystopian, only going on to strike as ludicrous. Exhibit A - What gives this bunch away? - Rudrakshas - Cultural Appropriation much? They are all seen walking around Manhattan, in full public glare, with a live nuclear bomb. It’s literally a ‘walk in the park.’ Geopolitical issues definitely don’t seem to be the strong suit of the Quantico masterminds. But the controversy that it has raked up, shows how many of the Indian fans of the show are finding it hard to believe that Indians can be terrorists too. It lays bare our prejudices of how easily we accept the imagery of Muslims as terrorists, almost consolidating that belief. 
A screenshot from <i>Quantico. </i>
A screenshot from Quantico.

Another instance is when Harry calls Jootis ‘Elfin Monstrosities’. Not only do they fail to land as punchlines but you also wonder what the choice of the plot is trying to accomplish.

A screenshot from <i>Quantico.</i>
A screenshot from Quantico.
Marlee Matlin aces this episode as well. She invigorates the most banal narrative threads and lines. The smartest strain in the episode is steered by Matlin in the way she decodes how the professor has stolen the uranium under duress and how she has in fact left a paper trail for them to pick up on.
A screenshot from <i>Quantico.</i>
A screenshot from Quantico.

That said, this episode does surprise with dialogue. One of the exchanges between Alex and Mike unfolds thus:

Alex: It’s an educated guess. Mike: I’m an educated redneck. You know what that makes me? A redneck.

New Couple Alert!

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We see more of the newbies in this episode, both rising to the occasion and surprising us and the mettle. Harry pairing up with Celine for this one makes for some freshness on the show. While Alex schools Deep about his misplaced hatred for Pakistanis - the ‘burden of history’ braids the political and personal. Ryan referring to Alex as history definitely brings some relief. Hope that tedious romantic track now stands axed.

A screenshot from <i>Quantico.</i>
A screenshot from Quantico.

In a turn of events, we see Alex doing something we haven’t seen her resort to in the previous episodes of the season - kill. With her pragmatic side taking over, perhaps portraying an Indian eliminating another was the safe bet for the show but it has not gone down well with ‘nationalist’ Indian netizens.

A crucial question remains unanswered - Who’s the Romeo that the episode is alluding to or may be we’re missing the point?

P.S. The Black ops team needs to stop being so expository asking, "What do you see?" at every turn when it’s trying to uncover something. Will the team ever have a name?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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