Episode Air Date: August 12th, 19th, 26th, September 2nd 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Finding Carter (Throw Momma From the Train, Half Baked, Do the Right Thing, Love Story)
Starring: Kathryn Prescott, Cynthia Watros, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Alexis Denisof, Zac Pullam, Milena Govich
It’s been over a week since the 10th episode of Finding Carter, but here I am again, writing my review of episodes 7-10. One of my favourite new shows of 2014 so far (I can’t say it enough, if the show continues with the calibre that it is showcasing, it could be the new One Tree Hill, provided the actors are on board and committed, and the show survive that long), Finding Carter’s use of a poignant, emotive and sensitive subject and its ability to turn around a topic so mellow and bring about a story so intriguing, interesting and with such a depth to both its characters and its plotline is nothing short of something extraordinary.
Possibly even my favourite new show of the year (yes, even trumping shows like About a Boy, Chicago PD and The 100); the show has managed to dive into issues head on- and sort of in a ‘One Tree Hill’-esque way, remind us all about family and friends in the midst of all the drama, chaos and interesting developments these characters go through. Delving more into drama territory as opposed to much more comedy in the first half of the season, MTV have a keeper, and a show certain to bring renewed interest in a channel is in desperate need of a viewer or two.
Maybe I’m a sucker for teen dramas (shows like Switched at Birth, Parenthood, One Tree Hill and The Fosters have been some of what I’ve enjoyed these last few years), but with an objective hat on (or objective as I can possibly be), Finding Carter would have to be the show with the most difficult premise to work with since cloning drama Orphan Black– with the BBC America show difficult in terms of one actor playing multiple characters, this new MTV show’s difficulty comes in the form of subject matter. No one wants to hear the news that the family they grew up with wasn’t their family to begin with- let alone hearing that they kidnapped you from your real family when you were younger. To deliver emotion that is not too over the top nor unrealistic is quite an achievement for Kathryn, and one that continues to anchor the show in the acting department, further asserting my enjoyment for the show, and bringing the amount of tense moments in these new episodes to a maximum as Finding Carter aims to ask questions that no family/teen drama have delved into as of this moment.
Since we last discussed this show, a lot has happened. Carter and Taylor had their birthday celebration in episode 7, and with Taylor not celebrating her birthday since she was three (and Carter in fact celebrating her kidnapping day- thinking that it was her birthday instead), the show did remind us of how important birthdays are, and that as much as we ourselves as humans want to downplay the significance of them in our lives, we see in this show how much these birthdays were missed by these two girls. The emotion on Kathryn’s face when she plays the part of the episode where Carter finds out that what she’s been celebrating was in fact her kidnapping day instead of her birthday has made me continue to like Kathryn’s portrayal of a character that I reckon is one of this year’s most intriguing and interesting characters, alongside Martin Odum of Legends and April Carver of Chasing Life.
If you think episodes 3-6 were crazy, then you’re in for a real treat in these 4 episodes. From David writing the book ‘Finding Carter’ without the family’s consent (and then being found out about it by Elizabeth), and Elizabeth’s affair with Gabe’s dad being outed by none other than Gabe himself, to Carter’s lockup in a jail cell over a betrayal from a friend, as well as Crash’s deed in the end of the 9th episode that sets up the tone of the rest of the season quite nicely; Finding Carter’s drama doesn’t derail from the central plot- whether or not Carter feels safe in the home of David and Elizabeth, and can call them Mom, Dad and believe that they are her real family. While Lori wasn’t really that present throughout these episodes, she was still a big part of the thought processes of Carter, and how she made her decision to stay with the Wilson’s than run off in the middle of the night with Lori- fake passports, ID’s and the lot of it.
Acting-wise, it was during this group of 4 episodes that Alex Saxon (who plays Max, Carter’s friend and Taylor’s boyfriend), and Alexis Denisof (David, the father of both Taylor and Carter) really stood out amongst the rest. With crucial storylines within the 4 episodes playing out to bring out the character depth in both Max and David; we are met with how these two actors showed their depth as actors, knowing that by far Max and David are the show’s most mysterious and interesting characters of late.
How Alexis portrayed David’s remorse and hurt when he found out that Carter knew about the writing of the book ‘Finding Carter’ was priceless- not that I myself want to hide something from my own family, but being able to see a real portrayal of what someone feels like after they’ve been found out about something they’ve been trying to keep hidden for a while; Alexis Denisof’s performance, particularly in episode 9, was a great reminder for me, and hopefully to everyone, to keep honesty as our friend when it comes to interaction between family members. As of episode 10, it’s clear to see that David is now portrayed as the shady character, and one that isn’t necessarily liked by viewers- compared to the portrayal of Elizabeth as being the unlikeable character earlier on during the show.
Max, though usually portrayed as the character who rarely has a clue of what is going on, is perhaps one of the most likeable characters on TV currently. And to see the character move through a life-altering event towards the end of episode 10 really gives kudos to Alex Saxon as an actor. While he is still a recurring character on ABC Family’s The Fosters (he shines just as much on there as Wyatt), it is his character of Max that really enhances Finding Carter. If you’ve followed this show to this point as much as I have, then you’d probably know the life altering event of which I’m alluding to (I’m not trying to spoil the big moments, in case someone reads the review even before watching the relevant episodes), yet even if you don’t, let me tell you- Alex Saxon is a great actor and possibly one of the best new talents of the last few years. His presence is known and felt in both shows, and if he were to depart from either The Fosters or Finding Carter, then no question the quality of the show in question may deteriorate without his presence.
While I don’t divulge every plotline that is within these last few episodes, I will say this- Finding Carter has come to the point of must-see TV, even to the point when if the show was during the fall schedule, its priority may usurp some of the other regular time-slotted shows (e.g.: if Finding Carter, on a Tuesday, was ‘competing’ with Person of Interest, I’d watch Finding Carter first). Like I have previously said, each episode that passes makes me much more excited for the next one. Will the show survive at 10pm on Tuesdays? Considering that the show was renewed for season 2 (I would’ve been pretty upset if the show wasn’t back), I guess season 1 ratings don’t really matter anymore. What matters is the characters and storyline, and Finding Carter is as interesting a show as I’ve seen ever since Once Upon a Time, Arrow and Orphan Black which premiered in 2011, ’12, and ’13 respectively.
Has Finding Carter continued to impress you with these 4 episodes (bringing the total episodes to 10)? What do you think about the predicament Max is in? Do you think Lori will tell Carter about why she kidnapped her in the finale? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Parenthood, The Fosters, Switched at Birth, One Tree Hill
Rating: 4.5/5 (based on 10 episodes)
Finding Carter airs every Tuesday at 10/9c on MTV.