I have no idea what happened on last night's season premiere of Quantico. The ABC primetime drama starring Priyanka Chopra has so many twists, turns, and dueling plotlines that even armed with a notepad, and watching it twice, I'm still not exactly sure what's going on.
What I do know is that Priyanka has a new haircut. It's a collarbone-length, businesslady cut with some spiky layers. It's straightened and parted down the middle with just a hint of red.
Quantico is presumably a show about Chopra's character Alex Parrish, a half-Indian American woman whose father was an FBI agent and who is some kind of prodigy in basically every skill needed to become a member of the United States Intelligence Community. The series is part cop drama, part straight drama, and part mystery. Most episodes involve two plotlines: one from the past and one from the present. Generally, as Parish works some kind of crime scene or struggles to solve a problem, we the viewers see how she gained the skill set necessary to complete that mission.
What I'm trying to say is that Quantico is the most confusing show I watch right now. And that's really saying something, because I watch a ton of garbage television. I feel as confused watching Quantico as I did trying to watch season five of Lost, except that on Lost at least I knew all the characters by name. With a ridiculously large cast to match its dozens of storylines, Quantico is often trying to set up its viewers for a kind of gasp-inducing reveal at the end of each episode. But because it's trying to juggle too many characters with too many goals, I often find myself rewinding while whispering, "Wait, who?"
Quantico also airs 23 episodes in a season, making it a pain to binge-watch. It airs Sunday nights opposite Sunday Night Football, and it doesn't have the fandom of a show like How to Get Away with Murder or Scandal. So why is it that I can't stop watching it?
Maybe I just commit too easily to television shows (true), but Priyanka Chopra—even in a role that rarely makes any sense—is a dominant presence on the screen. At this point, I am only watching Quantico because Priyanka Chopra's hair deserves its own Emmy.
Priyanka's hair is used by the show to denote time and place. And because every single scene seems to take place in a different time and place, the easiest way to distinguish that something is happening in the "past" or the "present" is through whatever is happening on Priyanka's head. In the series premiere last fall alone, her character Alex Parrish sported six different hairstyles.
Here is Alex Parrish's hair in the "past" plotline of the second season premiere "Kudlove," which aired last night:
And here she is in the "present."
Priyanka's hair changes so much, I think, because the show is so bad at conveying when things are happening (or why they are happening, or to whom), that it's become dependent on its lead actress' bangs to give fans some kind of much-needed context.
Here's her "past" look from the season one finale, "Yes":
And here she is in a scene in that episode's "present":
At least, I think that's when these scenes are supposed to be taking place. I can't be 100% sure, because I honestly can't keep up. Here are some more looks from random episodes that showcase Priyanka's hair in all its awesome variety.
Half-up with bangs and curls (and sunglasses) tells us this scene definitely takes place in the past (I think).
I think this was when the government thought Alex was a literal terrorist, which was a major plot point (I think?) in the first season. I can't remember where we landed on that.
I have no idea when this happened.
Another thing to know about Quantico is that Alex Parrish is basically always exercising. This is a fancy exercise ponytail.
Priyanka's hair is so distinctive that someone made a Twitter account (@parrishhairporn) devoted to the many, many, many styles of Alex Parrish's hair.
But is hair enough to keep this show together? Absolutely not. No number of shots of perfectly coiffed bangs can save Quantico. This show is definitely doomed to a life—hopefully—of trivia question recall once Priyanka becomes a massive star.
I wish I could say I watch this show because I love the dizzy feeling of disorientation it gives me every goddamn week. But really, I'm only watching it for the hair.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.