FX’s Class of ’09 follows a group of FBI agents across three timelines in 2009, 2023, and 2034. With the first two episodes now streaming on Hulu, I’ll be bringing you detailed recaps every Wednesday to help keep track of the action. For ease of reading, these recaps will group the timelines together, showcasing the formation of the group in 2009, the events that drove them apart in the present, and the turbulent future.
Episode 1 – “Part of Something”
The Past – 2009
Ashley Poet (Kate Mara) drives up to The FBI Academy, stopping to take in her first sight of Quantico. Since she stopped in the middle of the road, a driver behind her honks, and she parks her car. The other driver turns out to be one of her classmates, a Salt Lake City cop named Murphy (Jake McDorman). “I think we’re about to have one of those friendships that starts out really bad and then gets really good,” Murphy says to Poet.
Poet meets her roommate, Hour (Sepideh Moafi), who is anxious because she spent all her money getting there only to find that they have to pay for their uniforms. Poet offers to loan her the money, but Hour is reluctant to accept, saying she doesn’t belong there. Poet begs Hour to stay.
Class is led by Drew (Brooke Smith) and Gabriel (Jon Jon Briones), who announces that the students will be judged on everything over the next five months, including small details like what time they go to bed and who they sit next to. Drew singles out students to stand and introduce themself. Daniel Lennix (Brian J. Smith) shares that he followed his family’s path for him and became a lawyer, but he was unhappy with it. Hour reveals herself to be the daughter of two Iranian immigrants who left their country when her father was arrested and tortured for being a history buff with a bag full of books about the Soviet Union. Tayo Michaels (Brian Tyree Henry) was an insurance adjuster with a comfy office job who felt like he should be focusing on bigger injustices in the world. And then we see a flashback of Ashley Poet’s journey to Quantico. She was a nurse at a clinic, and one of the patients had a brother who was being investigated. She was asked to talk to the brother on behalf of the FBI agents, and she did so well that they recommended she apply for the program.
We see how strict Drew and Gabriel can be through a student named Nathan (Chase Anderson). While the recruits take the oath, a bird flies into the window and dies. Nathan is alarmed and asks if he can bury it, getting approval from Gabriel. The entire class is brought outside to watch Nathan bury the bird and, in front of everyone, Gabriel asks Tayo and Poet what they think of Nathan’s actions. They both publicly say it was a nice gesture, but in private, Tayo tells Poet he thinks Nathan will be sent home right away. He was right, as Nathan was his roommate, and he witnessed Nathan’s swift departure. He wasn’t even allowed to pack his own things, resulting in a photo of Nathan’s military brother being left behind. When Poet stops by the room, he shows her the photo and realizes that the burial wasn’t really about the bird.
The entire class goes out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant where Poet and Lennix sit next to each other. He talks about how his family hopes that his time in public service will help him become a senator someday. Poet shares that she never knew her father and that her mother passed away when she was 18. That event inspired her to become a nurse, although she never really felt connected to her mother through her work. However, when the FBI agent suggested she apply for this program, it was like her mom was speaking to her. Unknown to Poet and Lennix, Tayo and Hour watch the two and prophesize that they’ll be married in five years. Tayo asks Hour if she has eyes for anyone in the group, and he seems disappointed when she tells him no. She asks him the same question back, and he shares that he will never get married. Hour jokes that people who say that are always the first to get married. Before the night is over, the group toast to their class and take a photo.
After dinner, Murphy tries to catch a ride with Poet and Lennix, but Hour stops him and makes him join her cab with other classmates. On their drive back to campus, Poet and Lennix pass a motel. They hesitate for a moment but decide to pull over and spend their first night together
The Present – 2023
Poet is working undercover to take down a corrupt police force when she is dispatched along with her partner (Ty Cardaci) to the apartment of a Black man (Greg Weeks) following up on a report of gun shots heard in the building. Poet searches the apartment while her partner talks to the man in the living room. She finds a young boy in a child’s bedroom and, hearing her partner and the boy’s father arguing, asks the child to hide under his bed. She rushes back to the living room after hearing shots fired and gets on the ground to try and resuscitate the Black man, who was shot twice in the chest. As he dies, she watches her partner produce a gun from his belt with a handkerchief and place it next to the body. Poet calls for medical aid and sees that the young boy is standing in the doorway looking at his dead father.
Poet is in the locker room upset when two agents come for her and take her to the back room of a bar, where she is patted down, and her gun is taken from her. Chief Albury (Mike Pniewski) questions why Poet transferred to his precinct, suspecting her of being a narc, but she convinces him that she just wants to be a cop and couldn’t cut it anywhere else. He slides over a file with a photo of the Black man her partner killed. “He was a snitch for the FBI,” Albury says. Poet realizes that he sent her there to see if she recognized him. She didn’t. “Welcome to the family,” Albury says, offering Poet a celebratory shot of whisky.
Reporting back to the FBI, Poet’s peers make sexist jokes about how she was able to infiltrate this corrupt group of cops in just three months when other agents sent in failed. Her boss (Darin Toonder) tells her that she will be sent back to make the arrests, which surprises Poet because that’s against protocol. When she joins the team to take down Chief Albury and his corrupt precinct, Albury spits in Poet’s face.
A psychiatric evaluator (Elizabeth Becka) meets with Poet, who didn’t attend any sessions while undercover. Asked about prior relationships, we learn that Poet was engaged before going to Quantico. Her fiance said he supported her desire, but during the spousal interview, they stated they would not be willing to relocate for Poet’s career, knowing that would be a detriment to her chances of getting in. Poet says he let her down, and when asked what she would do if the FBI ever let her down, she says, “We’d have a lot more to worry about than my broken heart.”
When Poet exits her session, she finds Lennix waiting to congratulate her on the biggest police corruption bust in FBI history. Lennix is now Executive Assistant Director of the FBI, and he reveals that he made the request that Poet be present for the arrest of Chief Albury. She gets angry at this, saying that it was dangerous for her to go back, but he tells her he needed the team to be under the impression that she was burned out and in need of psychiatric evaluations. Poet is quick to catch on that this means she is going back undercover, but this time to do an internal investigation. “We’ll be in touch,” Lennix says before leaving.
That night, Poet meets up with Hour for drinks, their first time seeing each other since she was undercover. While catching up, Hour reveals that Lennix interviewed her about having Poet join her department. “It’s the world’s most powerful criminal database,” she brags. “I’d love to know what you make of it. And this is an exciting time. I’d love you to be part of it.” Poet’s level of comfort with her friend becomes increasingly tense.
The next day, Poet finds Lennix and angrily confronts him, accusing him of being racist about Hour’s Iranian ancestry. She refuses to spy on her friend. “Sometimes I forget why we broke up,” she snaps, adding that he just reminded her.
The Future – 2034
Poet is dispatched to a decrepit mansion, the home of a man named Amos Garcia. We see that her left eye is digital, capable of projecting her assignment on the windshield of her SUV and also acting as a camera for the FBI to see everything she sees. As she steps out of her car, another black SUV pulls up behind her, and Murphy steps out. He’s just as surprised to be there as she is, and they both suspect their paring isn’t random. Their reunion is quickly interrupted by a third SUV, with two other agents getting out and proceeding into the home. Searching the empty home, Poet and Murphy find a room full of TVs streaming the FBI’s surveillance footage. When they push a button on the console, a looped video begins to play of FBI Director Tayo Michaels at a podium saying, “Not only are we one of the greatest countries on the Earth, we are now one of the safest.” Poet feels like this was left for them to find.
Poet attends the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing to determine if they will extend Tayo for another term as FBI Director. “I have overseen one of the most radical changes to the way the bureau operates,” he declares. “I’ve integrated groundbreaking technology into the investigative process. Artificial intelligence that misses nothing and judges everyone as equals. And as a consequence, we have all enjoyed one of the steepest periods of criminal decline that this country has ever seen. We can now say that not only are we one of the greatest nations on Earth, we are also one of the safest.” Asked why he should have another five terms, Tayo says that progress is like a child that needs to be nurtured.
Outside of the senate, Poet and Tayo talk. She found out that Tayo assigned her and Murphy to Amos Garcia’s house even though they weren’t on his case, and she wants to know why. “Amos is unwell, mentally and physically,” Tayo says. “He has become a very dangerous man.” Tayo doesn’t know where Amos is now. Poet has noticed that she’s being followed, and she asks her boss about it. “You’re being protected,” he assures her.
Poet arrives at her high-tech home and pours herself a glass of wine. She touches behind her left ear, and her electronic eye powers down. She picks up a photo of her and her Quantico classmates out to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant on their first night together and smiles. Just then, the power in her home goes out. When the lights begin to turn back on, a man is standing in her living room with a mask over his face. “It stops cameras from tracking me,” he says, pulling the mask away and revealing himself to be Amos Garcia (Raul Castillo). “I know where your career began; I know where it ended up,” he says. “And where is that?”, Poet asks. “As a puppet of a justice system you no longer understand.” He adds that people aren’t supposed to be arrested for their thoughts as an alarm sounds in Poet’s house, announcing that the FBI is out front. Amos tosses a black card toward Poet just as agents burst in and order her to the ground. She lays over the card and pockets it as Amos is shot down and killed in front of her.
A senior FBI Agent (Grace Junot) interrogates Poet about the 5 minutes that they couldn’t see between when her eye was turned off, and the alarm was sounded. “Nothing I can make sense of,” she says. She is secretly holding the black card Amos gave her.
Episode 2 – “The Fitness Test”
The Past – 2009
When the new class applied to the FBI training program, they were asked to self-report a physical fitness test. But Gabriel and Drew surprised the group with an in-person test to make sure they were honest. During a five-mile run, men must reach the finish line in under twelve minutes to pass. Failing will result in expulsion from the program. “There are no exceptions,” Gabriel warns.
Tayo is the last to finish the run, coming in under the women’s qualifying time of 14 minutes. Out of breath, Tayo tells Gabriel that he passed the test on his own eleven months ago when he applied for the program, but he’s been in a desk job, and his fitness slipped. As Dana leads the group in a jog, Tayo overhears his peer Simons (Nicholas Logan) joking about how nobody can improve their run time by two minutes in two days.
Poet and Hour have their first fight over Tayo’s failure. Poet is determined to help Tayo improve his time, with Hour says is a lost cause. She accuses Poet of trying to solve everyone’s problems, reminding her of how she tried to loan her money for her uniform. They have their first fight but get over it quickly. The next morning, Poet wakes up at 6:30 am to help Tayo train.
Simons seems close to breaking a Quantico sprint record that’s been held for twenty years, and Drew announces that they’ll be timing him today to see if he beats it. She points to a flyer in the gymnasium with the current record holder, Mitch Colby (it’s the Black FBI Agent who will be killed in 2023 by the corrupt cops that Poet helps take down). At the end of his timed trial, Simons is declared second place in trainee history. Tayo overhears Simons mutter a comment about being the “best white trainee,” and he calls him out on it. They start to get into an argument, and Gabriel has to intervene to prevent a fight. Because of this altercation, Gabriel announces that regardless of individual achievements, tomorrow's retest of the run will be “all or nothing.” If one of them fails, they all fail.
Poet visits Tayo’s dorm room that night to talk and finds that Tayo wants to talk about a time when he was arrested at age 15. His brothers were driving to see the movie Crimson Tide when they were pulled over. His brothers protested about their rights while Tayo stayed quiet. This resulted in one of the officers slapping Tayo in order to force his brothers into compliance. “It helped me understand how to see this world,” Tayo says to Poet. “How you see the world, that’s what worries me.”
The retest has arrived, and Simons offers Tayo a handshake of truce, saying he’s sorry. Tayo doesn’t accept his apology or handshake. Simons is once again the first to finish the race. And again, Tayo comes in last place. His time: thirteen minutes and two seconds. Tayo has failed, and Gabriel offers him the chance to speak. Tayo shares that he read about past precedent at Quantico where a failed physical fitness test was retaken after seven weeks and asks if he could have that same courtesy, promising to work hard and pass the test. Gabriel and Drew step away to converse, returning to accept Tayo’s request.
That night, we see Tayo talking on the phone to his mother. He tells her that Quantico is not like school and insists that things are different now. He asks her not to worry about him.
The Present – 2023
Tayo drives his new partner, Agent Nuñez (Viviana Chavez), through a barren snowy landscape on their way to interrogate a person of interest. Two other agents already questioned him with a warrant and an announced visit, but Tayo thinks people are more likely to reveal secrets when you take them by surprise. They pull up to the ranch estate of Mark Tupirik (Mark Pellegrino) and are met by a full welcome committee. Tuprik is surprised that Tayo refuses to shake his hand. Inside, Tuprik introduces his wife, a timid woman named Jessa May (Sage Kim Gray).
Served tea, Tuprik refers to his ranch as a haven for suicidal farmers, likening it to a Native American reservation. Nuñez asks to use the restroom, and Tuprik asks Jessa to show her the way. Once around the corner, Jessa motions for Nuñez to keep quiet and leads her into the basement of the ranch. The walls are covered with dossiers on FBI agents, including blueprints for FBI facilities. Nuñez notices her photo on a board that also includes Tayo’s information. Jessa begs Nuñez to take her with them, and Nuñez promises to return for her. When they return upstairs, Tayo is saying his goodbyes to Tuprik.
Outside, Nuñez starts to talk, and Tayo warns her not to talk yet. He gets in the SUV, but Nuñez sees Jessa running out towards them, and she goes to her. Jessa tried to hand something to Nuñez when she was shot in the back, blood splattering Nuñez’s face. The shots keep firing and hit Nuñez in the leg. Tayo shoots into the house and is able to pull Nuñez into the SUV, trying to drive away, but his tires are shot out on the edge of Tuprik’s property. He has Nuñez stand behind the SUV and act as bait, shooting at the bad guys while Tayo sneaks around the fence line to take them out. The plan works, and Tayo calls for backup. When he rushes to Nuñez, all she can say is, “Basement.”
Tayo returns to the ranch to find the house is on fire. He proceeds to the basement, and the walls are burning, but he’s able to see what Nuñez meant. He finds his own photo and, next to it, a picture of his wife. He finds tunnels that lead to an escape hatch, and he gets out just as backup arrives.
At the hospital, Tayo is reunited with his wife Vivienne (Rosalind Eleazar), who tells him Nuñez’s situation isn’t his fault. He goes to the room where Nuñez is recovering, and she asks him if their visit was worth it. “They revealed themselves,” he says. “Did we stop something or start it?”, she asks.
Tuprik is loaded into a secret compartment of a utility truck, surrounded by weapons. As he is driven away, we see him studying FBI blueprints.
The Future – 2034
Lennix leads a tour group outside of Quantico, showcasing a statue that commemorates an attack on the FBI that occurred on March 20th, 2023, resulting in the death of 44 agents. Poet watches as the tour wraps up. Sitting on a bench, she tells Lennix that she’s sorry to hear about his divorce. Murphy told her that Lennix is planning to get into politics, and she tells him his parents must be thrilled. He brings up how after he retired from the FBI, he went to Quantico to teach and found that it’s changed too much. Their five-month program is now just five weeks, and they don’t even teach a driving course now. “It’s gone, Poet,” he laments. “The bureau that we knew… it broke my heart to see what Quantico has turned into.” She tells Lennix about how her every move is being watched, with agents waiting outside of her apartment. She tells him about the other agents who were at Amos’ house when she and Murphy arrived and how they cleaned out all of Amos’ computers. Lennix tells Poet that she should talk to Hour. “How long has it been since you two talked?”, he asks. “Nine years,” she answers.
One of the senators from Tayo’s hearing (Rasool Jahan) comes to him to ask about some inexplicable arrests without any reported crime committed. It happened to the son of a friend of hers, and she questions if he’s ordering arrests over an act that someone might do rather than has done. Tayo talks about the lore of golems, created from clay by a Jewish rabbi that were given life by God in order to protect their people. He tells her that people have failed their most basic duty to protect each other. The senator specifically asks about Amos Garcia, which is where the scene ends.
Class of ‘09 returns on Wednesday, May 17th, with episode 3, titled “Thank You for Not Driving.”
At Quantico, Poet faces a challenging driving course. In the present, Poet’s undercover operation brings the FBI to a critical juncture, while Tayo hunts down a domestic terrorist cell. In the future, Poet investigates the scope of Tayo’s power.