Shanola Hampton doesn’t think audiences are really prepared for what’s about to go down in the Found season finale.
The NBC series wraps its first season on Tuesday with an episode that the star told Deadline left her “in awe.”
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After the penultimate episode, when Hampton’s Gabi Moseley finally revealed to her M&A colleague Dhan [Karan Oberoi] that she’d not only been been holding her kidnapper Sir [Mark-Paul Gosselaar] captive in her basement but using him to help solve the firm’s missing persons cases, her carefully kept secret seems like it’s close to unraveling. According to Hampton, the final episode will feature a moment between Gabi and the rest of the M&A crew that is so raw, she had a visceral reaction to filming the scene.
“By the end of it, Gabi ends up in the fetal position on the ground,” she said. “That’s how gutted the whole thing is and that was a very impromptu reaction when I was shooting the scene, because it was so painful.”
Hampton is eager to talk about the upcoming episode when she and co-star Gosselaar sit down to talk with Deadline about the series. Promising the episode will end on a cliffhanger, she added: “We have some fine writers on this show. I know people say that in public, but really, they pour their hearts in it to tell personal stories.”
As they sit next to each other in the booth of a North Hollywood restaurant, they talk about attaching themselves to these roles, which add an interesting layer to what could have been a run-of-the-mill missing persons procedural. Instead, the series gives a more layered, complicated perspective on trauma. Even Sir, for all his despicable acts, has an explanation for his fractured psyche.
“For network a show I was like, ‘Wow, that sounds really interesting,'” Gosselaar remembered of reading the pilot script for the first time. “I thought, ‘This is a different show. This is something that’s challenging.’ I didn’t know how the character was going to be perceived. I had a lot of questions about how dark we could play it.”
He also admits he had questions about his co-star. Hampton laughs as he recalls asking his manager about how her “energy” might translate on screen. “Because you’re so bright, and the show is kind of dark,” he tells her.
As they talk, it’s hard to remember their characters are at odds with one another. From the first time Gabi ventures into her basement to ask for Sir’s help with a missing persons case, the pair have an unsettling dynamic on screen.
Hampton describes it as an “undefined” chemistry. It’s not love. It’s not even lust. It’s also not exactly hatred. Their feelings toward one another are largely negative, but complicated.
Gabi resents her teacher-turned-kidnapper, yet she feels a near constant need for his approval. She’s not even certain she can succeed at her career without him, as he often gives invaluable insight into the cases she’s pursuing.
“This person made her be perfect. That was the whole idea, to be prim and proper. And there is some sort of Stockholm Syndrome in that perfection,” Hampton explained. “That is why Gabi dresses so well. She’s impeccably dressed, her hair is always together, but not because she’s trying to look pretty for a man, just because it’s one of the things that she inherited from what she went through with Sir.”
Meanwhile, Sir does care for Gabi. That much is clear. When she goes missing in Episode 12, he’s beside himself. He begs for her love. But, while he insists he loves her as a parent would their child, audiences are left wondering if his heinous actions make him capable of love at all.
Much like the audience, Hampton and Gosselaar learned more about their character with each episode. At times, Gosselaar, who also was encouraged by showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll to mirror his performance off infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, said he would make up stories in his head to explain Sir’s past.
“That’s the thing that’s the difficulty of doing television too, instead of doing film, as an actor, just understanding your character. Episode Four, you’re going to therapy for a speech impediment. And you’re like, ‘Wait, I had a speech impediment?'” he said. “We just don’t know these things, and they get written as the season progresses to your strengths or your weaknesses. And it’s difficult sometimes because you read a script and go, ‘Gosh, I really wish I had that information [sooner].'”
Hampton described his performance as “brave.”
“There were actors that didn’t want to touch this particular character because of the mood of the world. It can really take away the artistry sometimes. It makes you fearful to do different things. Here he is having kidnapped a woman of color and being the villain… I think that he doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for taking on this kind of a role,” Hampton said.
When asked about Season 2, Hampton admits that she’s already spoke to Carroll about those plans, since the series received an early renewal in November. She remains tight-lipped about what’s to come, other than to say it’s ambitious, and she expects it to deliver.
It’s unclear how things might play out if Gabi reveals her secret to the world. Would Sir even be around next season? Well, all Hampton will say is “I don’t do the show without Mark-Paul.”
While she’s looking forward to exploring the depths of her own character, Hampton also tells Deadline she’s excited that Season 2 will allow for more revelations about the rest of the M&A crew, who each carry their own traumas that audiences saw glimpses of in the first season. With 22 episodes, Season 2 will let those stories breathe.
After all, the heart of Found lies in the way it gently explores the healing process of its main characters.
“People call you for the first week when something bad happens to you, and then after that you should be over it or ‘Wait, you still cried about that?'” Hampton said. “We don’t judge that, and we don’t judge the process, and we don’t judge the timing. There’s no stopwatch on it.”
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