This review contains spoilers for episodes 1 and 2 of NBC’s Found. As if you needed yet another Black TV show to add to your endless queue (you’re welcome!), the first two episodes of NBC’s new drama series Found will have you glued to your screens in anticipation and a bit of anxiety. This story doesn’t bother with slow-moving narrative buildup — the urgency of the subject matter wouldn’t allow for it, anyway. It opens up with a frightened young Black woman walking towards a broken down shack straight out of a horror movie, where she asks a creepy-looking man for help; she says she fled her taxi after her driver came onto her before leaving her stranded in the middle of nowhere. From the glint in her would-be rescuer’s eyes, we can tell that he has something far more sinister in mind, but the creep doesn’t even get the chance to do whatever he has planned before he’s knocked to the ground by a mean right hook.
“You will tell me where Marquee Evans is,” an undercover Gabrielle Mosely (Shanola Hampton) says evenly, a smile playing at her lips. “You will sit here quietly, holding your pathetic face together while I retrieve him and leave. And when the cops get here, you will give them nothing short of a full confession. Otherwise, the next 20 minutes of your life — which is exactly how long it’s gonna take for said cops to get here — will have you praying for death.”
From the very start, it’s clear that Gabi doesn’t play by the rules. And why should she? The rules never worked in her favor. When she was just a teenager, Gabi was kidnapped and held against her will by a man only known as “Sir” (played convincingly by America’s first crush, Mark-Paul Gosselaar). She was missing for so long that her case nearly went cold before she managed to escape by her own means. Knowing that the system isn’t meant to protect or serve Black girls like her, our protagonist takes things into her own hands by opening Mosely & Associates, a crisis management firm devoted to finding the missing people that police somehow manage to overlook time and time again.
Because of her own personal experience, Gabi is understandably dogged in her pursuit of missing people, and it’s earned her a reputation for being somewhat of a vigilante in the law enforcement space. While everyone respects her tenacity and her impressive track record for recovering victims, Gabi makes the police look bad. Untethered to the limitations of protocol and convention, she's able to go harder than they do because she knows exactly what’s at stake, and to prevent the worst case scenario from becoming a reality — as it so often does in missing persons cases — Gabi can resort to anything. And I mean anything.
Even enlisting the help of her own kidnapper.
Found wastes no time with this big twist, revealing that Gabi has been keeping Sir chained in her own basement for the past seven months. Turns out, he’s actually been playing a pretty significant part in M & A’s recovery missions; in exchange for basic food and water, Sir has been providing Gabi with an expert’s opinion into her cases for the past seven months. Yes, he’s a sick and twisted individual, and Gabi hates the very sight of him, but she knows that a kidnapper’s expertise can only shed light on crucial information that can aid her search for the victims. Sir can get inside the minds of the perpetrators in a way that Gabi ever could.
Just two episodes into the new series, viewers can tell that Found is going to be a wild ride from start to finish with curveballs that we wouldn’t see coming even if we were sitting in the writer’s room ourselves (the show is helmed by All American executive producer Nkechi Okoro Carroll). The script feels urgent, accurately paced to match the short window of time authorities have to find missing people, but never rushed, still giving us enough time to invest in each new case and the team that’s racing against the clock to solve it. It’s excellently cast, too. Hampton’s Gabi is simmering with tension in every frame, and the barely-contained emotions that the actress relays make for a thoughtful depiction of the physical and emotional consequences that result from her unresolved trauma. Even though Gabi is free and has been for years, her kidnapping fundamentally altered her life, so her healing process is somewhat…stalled. (Imprisoning her kidnapper is kind of a dead giveaway for where she’s at emotionally.) And it’s not just Gabi shouldering a daily burden; each employee on the M & A payroll office is just as emotionally fraught and trying to navigate a similar pain. Whether they themselves were kidnapped, or a loved one was unexpectedly taken from their lives and never returned, they’re connected by the tragedy of kidnapping. These cases are personal, and the whole M & A firm is aligned on turning any and every stone to bring the missing back home.
We’ve only had a few glimpses at M & A’s unexpected unpaid intern so far, but Sir is already one of the most intriguing characters on Found. We don’t know much about him at this point besides the fact that he kidnapped Gabi as a teen, and that he’s got a strange, holier-than-thou outlook on the world — you’re literally a kidnapper, my guy — but each episode reveals that he is a complicated, must-watch force driving this plot. There’s something confusingly electric running between Sir and Gabi; in their reversed roles, she’s now the unflinching captor exploiting his unique talents, and he’s the needy hostage pretending to begrudge her of her demands. Gabi wants to believe that by imprisoning and using Sir, she’s in control this time, but with the memory of his violation on constant replay in her mind, her ideas about her own agency are thrown into question. Gosselaar, world-famous for being charming, takes a surprising turn into villainy with his role, and he does it well. Too well, almost. This isn’t the same guy you crushed on in Saved by the Bell or the gone-too-soon sizzler that was Pitch. He’s very bad, but he’s also very good. Duality!
Found is dark and beyond stressful, but it perfectly captures the intensity of missing persons cases and underscores exactly why a Gabi Mosely would need to exist in the real world. Victims of color, specifically Black women and girls, have been depressingly low on the list of priorities when it comes to missing persons cases compared to their white counterparts, and it usually takes efforts beyond law enforcement to make even a little of traction towards their rescue and recovery. This series lays out very clearly what’s at stake in the present moment and shows a reality that could be possible if only society would concern itself with the well-being and safety of our most vulnerable demographics: Black girls and women coming home again.
Found airs Tuesday nights on NBC, and streams on Peacock.