Anna Jacoby-Heron, Kathryn Prescott

“Something To Talk About” is a terrible fortune cookie disguised as a boring episode of Finding Carter. “Be careful what you wish for,” it says, “because you might get it.” Since the season began, I’ve been hoping the show would pull away from Lori and Crash and focus on the core characters, and “Something” does exactly that. The episode doesn’t contain a single mention of Crash, which is curious since Carter’s forbidden love hopped a bus out of town approximately five minutes ago and she appears to have worked through her emotions at record speed. Lori is mentioned, but only by way of letters she won’t stop sending Carter despite Carter’s refusal to reply to them. “Something” is exclusively about the Wilsons and their many domestic fault lines. And wow, is it ever dull.

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Not only is the episode dull, it’s self-consciously moralistic in a way Finding Carter almost never is. The show’s non-judgmental portrayal of teenage drug and alcohol use is one of its strengths. One could argue the show glamorizes adolescent substance abuse, but I’d argue the opposite. On one hand, Finding Carter does make drinking look cool, but as a visually stylized MTV show, that’s par for the course. (Teen Wolf makes shapeshifting look cool, despite the real-world complications that would arise from that ability.) Finding Carter merely avoids focusing on the immediate negative consequences of a behavior that typically doesn’t carry them. Substance addiction sneaks up slowly, and isn’t the sort of thing that can be credibly compressed into a few hour-long television episodes.

Yet, here is Taylor, circling a full-blown dependence on unidentified “study buddies” (presumably some kind of amphetamine), a problem already to the point of causing a traffic accident that could have killed Taylor and Carter both. Of course, Taylor was also texting while driving, granting the show an opportunity to editorialize about yet another deeply foolish practice teenagers engage in all the time. Toss in Gabe’s affair with Abby—easily the stupidest development in a show over-reliant on stunts—and “Something” is Finding Carter as an after-school special. I couldn’t help but think of Saved By The Bell’s camp classic “Jessie’s Song,” which was equally ham-fisted but is at least campy fun, and includes those fantastic performances by Hot Sundae.

The episode’s saving grace is Taylor’s breakdown after pulling an all-nighter to prove she’s a responsible person after losing track of a few deadlines. The more facile story choice would have been to allow Taylor to botch her interview with the Yale recruiter or screw up the college expo to show how her reliance on prescription drugs is already ruining her life. Instead, Taylor hits all of her targets, as any overachiever would, but she still doesn’t feel any satisfaction as a result. Taylor is finally ready to admit she hasn’t taken Lori’s revelations from the early part of the season in stride, despite going to lots of effort to suggest otherwise. Taylor’s story has been well-paced and well-executed, even more so than anything involving Carter this season.

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But getting to the emotional payoff at the end of the episode was quite a slog, and when “Something” wasn’t about Taylor, it was about the conflict between David and Elizabeth and cumulative effect on Grant’s mental health. There’s definitely something of value in Grant’s storyline, but the writers haven’t managed to get at it yet. Whatever that value is, it certainly doesn’t involve putting Kyle’s phone into the dishwasher. I respect the writers for resisting the urge to patch things up between David and Elizabeth too quickly. But because I don’t see Finding Carter, a show about a fractured family trying to repair itself, fully going through with David and Elizabeth’s divorce, that entire storyline feels like a waste of time.

Ironically, the most intriguing element of the story is Lori’s correspondence, though I’m still really baffled by Lori’s unlimited access to Carter, all things considered. As much as I don’t want Finding Carter to go too far the rabbit hole with regard to Carter’s kidnapping and what it all means, I also don’t want it to be a bore. If “Something” is Finding Carter without crutches, I’m ready to hand them back.

Stray observations:

  • The stuff with Gabe and Abby is too stupid for words, and I’m in no way invested in whether Kyle finds out.
  • I can only assume Lori’s letters relate to the mystery phone call in “Love The Way You Lie.” While I fear knowing who was on that call, with only five episodes left this season, that’s as good as any method to inject some much needed momentum into an extremely uneven season.

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