Someone somewhere is really enjoying season two of Finding Carter. Not just in the sense that there’s always a superfan willing to see the silver lining around any dark cloud, but in the sense that Finding Carter isn’t doing things wrong, it’s doing the wrong things. That’s an important distinction, one that explains what I’d imagine is a very polarized response to the season thus far. If you’re invested in the elements on which Finding Carter is focusing right now, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was probably a fine episode. In fact, for those fans who see Lori’s large, looming presence as the show’s biggest issue, “Back Together” has to be the best episode of the season, even though it isn’t completely Lori-free.
For me, season two isn’t working so far because the prominence of the Lori mythology and the broader mystery surrounding Carter’s kidnapping is the biggest misstep, but not the only one. It would have been hard to imagine Crash becoming a more irritating element than he was in the first season, but the writers found a way by pairing him with Max in a torrid bromance that serves no purpose other than to drive wedges between the show’s more important characters. That’s an important function, but it’s one already well-served by Lori, even when all she’s doing is making off-camera calls from prison. (Speaking of Lori, is there no such thing as a restraining order in this universe? Because this seems like a problem with a clear solution.) Crash is totally superfluous, especially if, as the title suggests, Carter is understandably uninterested in a reconcilation.
That Taylor Swift title, which could just as easily describe several of the show’s fractured relationships, is among the strongest elements of “Back Together.” It’s least literal in the case of David and Elizabeth, whose marriage is certainly on the ropes after the reveal in “Shut Up And Drive,” but David says he and Elizabeth are interested in repairing their relationship and are hoping to avoid a divorce if possible. Still, they are formally separating, taking shifts at home with the kids while the other temporarily resides offsite, with David living out of his office while Elizabeth goes to her parents’ place. It’s a heartbreaking arrangement, but one that says a lot about David and Elizabeth’s characters. They aren’t interested in using their kids as pawns—a good thing, considering how much they’ve been through—and they seem interested in negotiating as peaceful an end if there’s an end in sight.
Considering how awful it must have been for Elizabeth to learn of David’s affair with Lori, she’s surprisingly restrained in her reaction to him. Elizabeth’s emotional state is so fragile, it’s as if she isn’t able to deal with indignation right now. All Elizabeth can process is hurt and betrayal, but she manages to set both aside long enough to play nice for Buddy and Joan’s anniversary party. The party becomes a showcase for Taylor, whose journey most literally captures the title. Taylor is already a wreck due to the return of Crash, though her conflicted feelings around Max’s relationship with Crash is still not completely tracking. Joan invites an old friend who recruits for Stanford, providing Taylor an in for admission to her first-choice school. But the recruiter is more interested in Carter and her “story,” which is enough to send Taylor into a spiral.
Anna Jacoby-Heron often has terrific moments in her performance but, like any actor, she’s only as effective as the material, and “Back Together” isn’t anywhere near the best Finding Carter is capable of. The Stanford recruiter was downright rude in her exclusive focus on Carter despite her indifference and Taylor’s obvious investment, a moment that felt like an inorganic retread of Carter and Taylor’s season one dynamic. As a result, the scene didn’t come together, despite the performers’ best efforts. The same can be said for Taylor and Max’s almost reunion, which was really just a kiss Max interprets as an invitation when Taylor is actually just tipsy on champagne and in need of validation.
Taylor’s continued rejection of Max works well for those invested in their relationship, but I’m not one of those people. Max is a vestigial character, and while he’s a vestigial character I like (along with Alex Saxon’s slacker charm), I don’t like him so much that I want him to be this involved in the story if his only purpose is to befriend Crash and have an on-again-off-again relationship with Taylor. As brilliant as the episode’s title is, it’s also a bit of a tease. If only these characters would end their toxic relationships once and for all.
- Grant remains the sanest, most reasonable person on this show, by which I mean he’s really angry all of the time.
- David is apparently very friendly with his TA, and Grant…approves?