Are Elizabeth and David going to work things out? Is Carter finally embracing a stable home environment?
We returned to the strength of the show with Finding Carter Season 2 Episode 8, dropping (at least for a night) the extraneous storylines about Bird and her parents and Gabe's affair with a teacher. While we were introduced to yet another new teenager who will try to squeeze their own storyline into the show, at least newcomer Madison has a solid connection to the ongoing drama via her idolization of Lori.
For all that Madison seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid about Lori, I actually liked her. Her background story about being kicked out because of her sexuality is more realistic and relatable than the other kids' stories. It also makes it understandable why she likes Lori so much. Here's hoping she's given some real world wakeup calls on life and rent though – I loved Carter's response to Madison's thoughts on the topic!
Madison: We'll get jobs! You know, figure out a way to make it work.
Carter: Okay, that is what strippers say right before they become hookers.
Madison's story and the grounding plot line lead us into what I would call one of the themes of the season – parenting. For a show whose intended audience is teens, I keep being struck by how we're shown that Lori was a bad parent precisely because of the freedom she allowed Carter.
Obviously the strict over parenting exhibited by Madison's parents is unacceptable, but we're shown that Elizabeth and David punish their kids (okay, Carter) BECAUSE they love them. And even Carter is starting to realize that. She doesn't enjoy being grounded, but she's starting to understand it's better than being ignored and left to run wild.
Although Elizabeth and David still don't seem to be in therapy (nor does anybody else, and whatever happened to the lady they were all seeing last season anyway?), we saw them in sync with each other throughout the hour. There were slightly awkward moments when their respective love interests showed up, but both were sent packing. Let's all hope that soon it'll be for good!
I was especially touched by the conversation the two had in their (former) bedroom. David showed that he understands how the kidnapping has impacted Elizabeth's parenting, and that's something the two of them share with no one else. That connection and understanding is something they'll never have with anyone else, and if they're going to get back together, it's a good place to start.
David: Liz, I know you're afraid when she's out of your sight.
Elizabeth: No, that's not it.
David: Sure it is
Elizabeth: Every mother is afraid for her children
David: Not all mothers have to deal with kidnappings
Taylor continues to be petulant with Max, who apparently was supposed to give her a written biography of every event that has ever occurred in his life. While I personally find her behavior with Max annoying a lot of the time, the way she makes everything about her is pretty spot-on for a teenager.
When Max reveals that not only did he witness his mother's assault, but that the assailant was his father, we got both an interesting back story that helps to explain Max's motivations (giving him more of an inner life, something he's been lacking) and a wake-up call for the sometimes self-absorbed Taylor.
There was an odd interlude with Gammy fainting during an argument with Elizabeth about parenting the kids. I will be absolutely shocked if this isn't revisited in the next few episodes, probably with Meredith Baxter in a hospital bed. The foreshadowing was pretty heavy handed, but I'm hoping they don't actually kill her, because Madison's right, she's spunky and it's awesome.
We were a little light on Grant during "Riptide." I really liked at the end when he stayed because of the cake (from a box). He was so unabashedly proud of his cake! Grant can come ninja bake me a cake (from a box) any day. His cake saves the day, both by being edible and giving him an excuse to stay. Of course, he tells us the real reason.
Grant: I was actually thinking of staying here tonight if it was okay...
Elizabeth: Yeah, of course. Yes, that's okay.
Grant: You know, I can't ice my cake until it cools down. And, plus, PopPop spends a lot of time in his underwear.
My favorite scene would have to be a tie between Taylor and Carter discussing their future and the birthday cake scene at the end. Both of these exemplified to me the premise of the show, a broken family working to mend itself.
There's a certain unacknowledged tragedy that these sisters who just found each other are likely going to be pulled apart by life circumstances so soon. I love the scenes where they connect with one another; it's real life drama full of complicated emotions vs. the contrived high school drama of boyfriends and pills and sleeping with teachers.
The last scene eeks out the lead simply because of the drama of the last line about Lori. But what I really enjoyed was the frivolity of the family as they dug into the cake. It was some excellent acting – not over prepared or over thought, conveying real emotion. It felt real, and like things were heading in the right direction.
What were your favorite moments? Is Gammy doomed? Will Lori ever lose her hold?
Watch Finding Carter online to judge for yourself and share your thoughts in the comments.
Elizabeth Harlow is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.