“My name is Alex Parrish”. Over scenes from last week’s premiere, her voice over continues, making a nice change from the standard “previously on”. “I never thought, before I’d save our country, I’d have to save myself. I need to find the truth.” Also better than “To save my city, I have to *be* someone else.” The truth is out there, Alex! You just have a mighty big haystack.

We’re flashing back to pre-Quantico and the new recruits’ interviews. Simon, Natalia, Shelby, Nimah, Alex. As each one leaves, something hinky occurs to rouse our suspicions. Simon tries on several pairs of glasses. Natalia examines a fresh scar behind her ear. Shelby deletes a phone contact with what looks like a name in Arabic script. Nimah is joined by the assistant director, Miranda Shaw. But Liam already has Alex pegged, as he tells Ryan, “That’s your mark.” In carny slang, a mark is a victim.

We flash forward to Week 2 and early morning PT. The troops are out for a run, and after, we revisit the notion that Alex and Ryan are what, in military lingo, is called “pissmates”, meaning they share a bathroom. Since opposite-sex PMs are frowned upon in the military, I’m pretty sure this arrangement is script dictated to build sexual tension. But hey, I get to see Jake McLaughlin in a towel, so it works for me. Ryan is having problems getting close to Alex again. My suspect, the hijab-wearing twins playing Nimah, and my friend’s suspect Shelby, seem to get along with her just fine. But I think I see a spark of jealousy in her eyes when he starts playing up to the ex cop, Natalia, who seems to have it in for Ms. Parrish.

This week’s first class is on preventing terrorist attacks. They will be working with analysts, and as the dozen blue polo-shirted extras walk in, everyone stiffens to see Caleb Haas, who was expelled after driving the LDS missionary to commit suicide. I perk up to see Rick Cosnett, previously seen as Eddie Thawne on The Flash. The class is taken to a set up of several different crime scenes, or “haystacks” and told to find the evidence pointing toward an attack, the “needle”. They are broken up into groups, with one analyst per group.

Nine Months Later (9ML): Alex, who has somehow gotten an FBI windbreaker, baseball cap, and walkie talkie, holds a tense conversation with Liam. As he orders someone to triangulate on her position, she promises him she’ll find the needle that will clear her name.

Quantico: Liam acts surprised when Miranda tells him Ryan’s an undercover agent, then calls her on her association with the twins. She evades his probe, and then pays them a visit to tell them they need to straighten up their act, because if their cover is blown, they won’t get the juicy assignment promised to them. I can’t decide if this heightens or lessens my suspicions.

9ML: Liam doesn’t pull any punches when he interrogates Miranda as to her role in Alex’s escape, but she turns it straight back on him, asking him if, when he looks at Alex, he sees the recruit he fell in love with or the terrorist who turned him down. Natalia interrupts with a phone call to let him know Alex’s apartment was a dead end. She thinks there’s a safe house somewhere. In the meantime, Alex is in the bistro across the street, starting her needle search with their security camera footage.

Quantico: Nimah’s twin, S (I didn’t catch her name and IMDB doesn’t list it), is having problems staying away from Simon, who seems pretty desperate to make friends with her for a purportedly-gay Jewish boy. In the haystacks, Ryan and Alex seem to be working well together until she starts harrassing him about the cover story he gave her last week. Natalia doesn’t miss the opportunity to woo Ryan away while getting in a dig at Alex. Shelby confronts Caleb; he claims he was given the choice to come back as an agent or analyst and chose analyst so he can kick back and watch Internet videos. Eddie Thawne introduces himself as Elias to Simon, and is kinda sorta hitting on him, although he claims he isn’t. It kinda sorta goes over Simon’s head. Alex finds her needle, so we jump to

9ML: She’s reviewing the security footage, and spots someone in her apartment after she left and before Ryan gets there. She has no idea how they got in. About then, the bistro owner recognizes her and Alex has to take her down.

Quantico: Now we’re going to identify the threats. Miranda’s sitting in. All the people who found evidence come forward and give it to their analysts; Simon cold-shoulders Eddie, who asks Nimah for the goods. She happily tells him about the Gaza trip. The analysts are using a super computer to crunch the data, and Haas is the first to announce the results. Eddie announces his team’s, then Ryan and Natalia tag team theirs. Guess their analyst didn’t rate a line.The trainees start to head out, but Miranda stops them. They have to prioritize, she tells them. Which (“If any” Liam interjects) of these threats is the imminent one? Liam gives them five minutes to figure it out. They all argue for each of theirs, but Alex suddenly pipes up with, “None”. That’s not one of the options, she’s told. She points out that Liam said “If any” but is roundly ignored, and disappears out the back of the classroom as the others dash off to their particular locale. Liam calls Haas back and reminds him that analysts just watch. We watch Alex studying the haystacks intercut with security camera footage of a shot Ryan being carried out of her apartment. Liam and a couple other agents appear to be closing in on the signal from Alex’s pilferd walkie as in the past, we see the results of the other three teams. Ryan and Natalia’s team was burned. Simon’s was flat out wrong. Shelby’s was still in the planning stages. “Where’s Trainee Parrish?” Liam asks, a question I figure he’s going to be repeating as we cut back to

9ML: Liam and his team are heading into a building. I don’t know where they are, but it’s definitely not the bistro. Some poor delivery guy in a dayglo vest is jacked up. Alex dropped the walkie in his bag when she bumped into him on her way into the bistro. Unfortunately, his bag has their logo on it, and Liam’s on the phone to Natalia. She and her troops storm out to cross the street as Alex watches from behind a garbage can, then warily approaches her front door. She slips in and slams it shut.

Quantico. Liam, followed closely by Ryan, Natalia, and Shelby, confront Alex in the agents’ office. She explains how she figured out the MacGuffin. “You have to question everything.” Liam tells them, something he seems to have forgotten. “You have to look past what you’re told to find the truth.” “Evidence lies”, chips in Miranda, echoing what she told (will tell?) Liam in an earlier-in-the-episode-but-nine-months-later-in-the-timeline scene. As she praises Alex for following her instincts and being the first recruit since they started running the test to figure it out, we see Alex trying to look past the evidence in her apartment. Then we’re fully with her as she rushes around, packing a go bag. She opens her door to come face to face with Natalia. “I’m innocent!” she blurts before the hand to hand combat starts. She manages to get away and drop a clothesrack on Natalia, then locks herself in her bathroom, where she discovers a secret passage. She busts out while Natalia calls for back-up and finds herself in the next building, in a room with a lot of damning packages addressed to her. She spots a piece of wire and grabs it as her once and current nemesis spots her. She heads for the fire escape. Natalia sends her team to the front of the second building and charges after Alex, who heads up to the roof. A chase ensues, and I unsuspend my disbelief enough to think Alex should quit looking back so often. Can’t she place Natalia’s location by the sound of her footfalls?

Natalia manages to get her to stop by shooting at her. Alex again protests that she’s innocent, and points out the illogic of her leaving incriminating evidence such as those packages just lying around, not to mention “shooting the man we both love.” She’s backing slowly away as Natalia closes in, and of course manages to get the drop on her, handcuff her to the nearest drainpipe, and kipe Natalia’s gun to arm herself before taking off.

Quantico: The trainees return to their dorm. Shelby quietly observes that Haas didn’t “choose” to come back as an analyst. He fesses up and she leaves. We see that the Internet videos he’s been watching all day, along with a picture of the clue that was in their haystack, are from Eric (the LDS missionary)’s social media profile. Eddie confronts Simon about his trip to Gaza, saying he likes to poke holes in things, then tries to turn the situation into a seduction. Nimah interrupts, and Eddie discovers Simon’s glasses are as fake as the picture of him kissing his boyfriend. Ryan runs into Alex in the bathroom, and reaches out to her by confessing just how right she was when she profiled him last week. A quick flash forward shows a recuperating Ryan returning a call to her burner phone.

Back at Quantico, Liam bring Miranda a coffee and an ear. Then he chews Ryan out for still not being best buds with Alex. They are almost discovered by the class running by, Liam ghosts away and Ryan catches up to Alex, who flirtatiously challenges him to keep up, and we again segue to

9ML: Alex has ditched the rest of her FBI outfit, and quizzes Ryan about his time at her apartment. He tells her he came by to apologize for what happened at Quantico, and it was too dark to see who shot him. He can help her, but only if he lets the FBI think she’s guilty. She tells him she managed to grab some evidence, and that a mole said it’s someone from their class, and he tells her not to trust anyone (including him, perhaps?), and they hang up just before Liam comes in. When asked who shot him, Ryan says, “It was Alex Parrish.”

Quantico: Liam tells Alex that he has some info on her father and he’ll tell her more later. We see the beginnings of a glimmer of interest in his eyes as he regards her. Miranda starts the lecture by reminding the class, and us, of the question they were asked at the beginning of the show, “Why do you want to join the FBI?” As she talks about the answers in a voice over, we see our suspicious recruits acting suspiciously. Shelby gets a call from her (probably) Arab lover. Eddie knocks on Simon’s door, and when he gets no answer, checks out the fake glasses again. Simon sees him. Miranda concludes her lecture.

9ML: A news anchor updates her audience with Alex being named as the main suspect in the bombing, and gives a description as Alex fondles the piece of wire she grabbed, then tucks her hair into her hood and strides off down the street. The news anchor’s voice over takes us to black.