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Lost and Found, with an engaging twist!

The protagonist, a kidnapped victim herself, hides a huge secret that could jeopardise her good work!

By Omair Alavi |
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PUBLISHED June 23, 2024

Most police procedurals have a formulaic story where the central characters might seem different but the story remains the same. Found is unlike its predecessors in this regard because in this show, a team of individuals working for a crisis-management firm excels at rescuing missing people, because of their 'own' crooked past. However, the team’s lead is keeping a secret from them, one that benefits her in her work, and the revelation of which can destroy her good work.

The Plot

Found revolves around public relations specialist Gabrielle ‘Gabi’ Mosely (Shanola Hampton) who has a knack for finding missing — or most importantly kidnapped — individuals before it’s too late. She is the best in the business because of her history as a kidnapped victim, a backstory she shares with her colleague Lacey (Gabrielle Walsh) who was abducted by a man named Sir (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) when Gabi was a teenager. What her team doesn’t know is that the very person who abducted her is now a prisoner in Gabi’s basement who unwillingly helps her retrieve her clients, so that she can make a name for herself. Will Gabi’s secret remain safe or will Sir have his revenge, the first season deals with the paradigm shift in a brilliant manner.

Gabi’s crisis-management team features individuals with a chequered history — Margaret Reed (Kelli Williams) might have excellent observational skills but has not been able to let go of her own son's abduction from a bus station 13 years ago, law student Lacey Quinn (Gabrielle Walsh) had to change her name after she escaped with Gabi, security expert Chan Rana (Karan Oberoi) is still to overcome his captivity for three years during his time with the army, while tech expert Zeke Wallace (Arlen Escarpeta) suffers from agoraphobia because of his own experience as a kidnapped victim. Detective Mark Trent (Brett Dalton) is Gabi’s friend and liaison with the Police Department who at times gets frustrated with her team’s antics, but appreciates them once they get the job done.

The Good

Found belongs to Shanola Hampton whose presence could be felt in every scene, even if she isn’t on the screen. The brilliance with which she plays Gabi, a former abductee and a modern-day saviour for kidnapped victims, is something not every actor can pull off easily. She takes a stand against the system whenever she can, and uses her trauma to her advantage which is why her performance is so convincing. As the series progresses, you see her in a new light, which makes up for the lapses in the script writing and sometimes in the resolution of the mysteries.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar also does a commendable job as Sir, the man who kidnapped Gabi and Bella and was later abducted by the former, only to help her out in her quest to find victims. His backstory is the best among all the other characters and makes you want to hate him from his first appearance. After all, he was presented as a monster, but as the story moves forward, you realise that he is just a twisted person, who might have done a bad deed but was trying his best to compensate for that.

And then there is Kelli Williams’ Margaret who is the only character in Gabi’s team who didn’t get abducted herself. She uses her power of observation to find out things that not even the police could find, which makes her character stand out. What is interesting about her character is that in Tim Roth’s Lie to Me, as Dr Gillian Foster, she used to analyse patterns of voice, language, and behavior while here, as Margaret, she is a different person, who could even have her TV show one day. The rest of the cast is also good but none stand out like Margaret who is still hopeful that her son will return one day to the bus station, which is why she has been spending her nights at the place.

The Bad

First of all, the premise of Found seems too much like a one-season wonder Stalker where Maggie Q played the officer-in-charge of the Threat Assessment Unit who herself was a stalking victim when she was young. Add a few varied characters and change the stalking to kidnapping and you have a new product altogether. Secondly, TV shows like How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal had one or a maximum of two big twists per season which made them seem different when they aired, however, Found has too many twists and turns which don’t serve the story at all. Yes, the weekly mysteries are good enough to make you follow the series but the never-ending twists are too hard to digest, and, at times, border on silliness.

Also, Gabi and Bella’s backstory can get on the viewers’ nerves if they binge-watch the series. Had it been a new phenomenon done for the first time, the audience would have been mesmerised but sadly the technique was used successfully in Arrow, more than a decade back. Also, giving a backstory to every character might seem like a good idea on paper but so many kidnapped/abducted victims under one roof seems too unrealistic. Besides Margaret who had a loved one abducted, the rest of the members were victims themselves!

It was good to see Brett Dalton in the main role after Agents of SHIELD but the romantic arc between her and Gabi seems forced, especially in the first season. It could have been explored in later seasons but with so much happening around, it could have been avoided in the first season. Brett Dalton is a wonderful actor who could have had a backstory himself, but that would have confused the viewers more.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar's 'Sir' seems to have been created while the writers were watching either Silence of the Lambs or Criminal Minds because his character has elements from such projects. His presence in his basement was a wonderful twist but came too early in the series, and was even shown in the teaser which lessened the impact of the twist when the series eventually aired.

The Verdict

The premise of Found might seem far-fetched to those watching it outside the US, but it is inspired by real-life missing person firms in America that step in when the trail of a missing person either goes cold or the police department decides to move on. The way it tackles how race and ethnicity affect the workings of law enforcement in the States and what the ‘missing White girl syndrome’ is, is commendable since it paints the true picture of the American society.

Add to that the long-term effects of abduction and you have a series that entertains and teaches, without sounding too preachy. The over-the-top plots could have been avoided but without those, the viewers might have switched to other police procedurals who have been around for longer durations. The chemistry between the employees who have been abducted in the past adds colour to the dark theme of the show, which is on the right track after the first 10 episodes.

In short, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that Found can be classified as a show with multiple layers — one layer has a weekly mystery while the other tackles a case that took place in the past. Due to the cast’s believable performances, Found comes out as a believable product and that’s why it was renewed for a second season. However, it will be a challenge for series creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll as to how he will take the show forward without making it seem repetitive and boring.


Omair Alavi is a freelance contributor who writes about film, television, and popular culture


All facts and information are the sole responsibility of the author