By the end of the series premiere of “Finding Carter” — MTV’s new kidnapping drama — it seemed as if Carter (Kathryn Prescott) and her newly discovered father David (Alexis Denisof) were starting to bond. He was the nice, loving, easygoing father figure, a stark contrast from her biological mother Elizabeth (Cynthia Watros), who was strict, distant and cold. It was easy to see why Carter would gravitate to David over Elizabeth.
But David’s harboring a huge secret that could go absolutely nuclear on that new budding relationship.
His first book, “Losing Linden,” about Carter’s abduction years ago was a huge hit, and now he’s in a sophomore slump. He promised Carter he would abandon his second book, “Finding Carter,” about her return to the family, but that was a total lie. He’s still writing the book, and is visibly excited about it, despite the fact that Carter has no idea what’s going on behind her back. Is David going to end up a villain in this story?
Denisof reveals we’ll find out soon. “Even though the pilot didn’t get to really explore David’s story, I knew that it would be explored in later episodes how the abduction and return of Carter would affect David and Elizabeth’s marriage and David as a person,” Denisof tells Zap2it. “What has he been through these past 13 years? The return of his child isn’t just going to fix everything and put everything back to normal. These life-changing events will have long, difficult repercussions and a lot of relationships don’t survive. People become something new in order to survive even if it isn’t necessarily who they are.”
While Denisof wouldn’t speak outright about David’s betrayal, he did tease that David is hiding quite a bit from his family. “David has a lot of secrets and some of those secrets you don’t even know that he’s keeping that secret until further into the season,” Denisof says. “You’ll start to get the inkling that, ‘Wait a minute, something isn’t quite how it looks.’ He’s an interesting character. There are some really juicy plot points about David coming that are really going to shock people.”
Are viewers supposed to like David … or hate him? That’s up to you.
“We wanted him to appear like a very likable character at first, but we didn’t want him to be devoid of his own character flaws and his own dramatic story points,” Denisof says. “I would rather people are fascinated by my character than they like my character. If at first you think that you like this guy and then you think, ‘Oh wait, do I like this guy?’ And then you think, ‘Actually, do I hate this guy?’
“If you’re asking those three questions, that means you’re absolutely interested in that character more than if you just liked a character. Fascination will carry you a lot further with a character and a story and a TV show than just liking it.”
Denisof thinks David has become this secretive person because of how he’s had to live for the past 13 years. “David is not everything that he appears to be because he’s taken a different approach to this tragedy in their life than his wife,” Denisof says. “Elizabeth has become a cop and is obsessed with hunting [Carter’s abductor] Lori [Milena Govich] and finding their child almost to the exclusion of everything else in their life. She’s been driven to solve the mystery of their missing child. Whereas David, his task has been, ‘How do we get through each day,’ kind of picking up the slack where Elizabeth has withdrawn herself.”
And as for Elizabeth’s affair with her police partner, she may have ended things with him when Carter finally came home but those kinds of secrets don’t stay secret for long on TV shows. Has David known about her extramarital activities, or has he been in the dark this whole time?
“We’re going to get into that right away,” Denisof promises. “You’re going to find out immediately who knows what and who doesn’t. It’s also handled in a surprising way between the two of them and what David decides to do when it does come to light and how it comes to light. It’s a really good thread for this season and not a cliché. The situation is very real and one of many surprises that are contained throughout this first season.”
One surprise we learned directly from Denisof? He almost didn’t want the part of David. “When I first got the script, I didn’t know if I could even read it, since I’m a parent of two kids myself,” Denisof says. “This is up there with the top three nightmares for any parent. I wasn’t sure I could get through the script. But then I started reading it and I couldn’t put it down.”
That sounds about right, since we can’t stop watching. “Finding Carter” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.