The question I have seen raised most often in regards to Fox’s new series The Finder is whether viewers need to watch Bones in order to follow it, since it is a spin-off of that series. The answer is absolutely not. Having never seen that series myself, I found sufficient information was given about the characters and their situation to allow the audience to connect to the characters and enjoy their story.
The main character, Walter Sherman, is a former military police officer who was seriously injured and suffered brain damage, effectively ending his military career. He was always good at finding things and people, but since his accident he has a particularly special ability to locate anything. He lives in a trailer in middle of nowhere Florida, where his friend Leo Knox runs the Ends of the Earth bar and offers him council and help when needed. Leo has a troubled teenager living there under his supervision as well, Willa Monday, who was raised in a criminal family and now works for Leo as a requirement of her probation. It’s the only thing standing between her and juvenile hall. Rounding out the cast of characters is the beautiful Isabel Zambada, a kickass, career driven Deputy US Marshal and Walter’s sometime love interest.
The series begins with Walter’s search for John Fogerty’s favorite guitar. He has cool gadgets to help, like a robot that makes the sound of footsteps coming down a hallway. While the thief is distracted by the odd contraption in a hotel hallway, Walter grabs the guitar and runs, straight to a ballroom where he has Leo and Isabel waiting. Isabel didn’t know exactly why she was there, but she’s happy to have this wanted criminal delivered right to her and she makes an arrest. Leo asks her if it will make up for when Walter got her suspended and she says she’ll let him know. Once Walter returns the guitar to it’s rightful owner the audience is treated to the bonus of a John Fogerty performance to get things rolling.
Before Fogerty’s performance has ended, the first client of the series, Cooper Allison, has car trouble late at night as he searches for the Ends of the Earth. Willa happens along and helps him out, and also lifts his wallet. Leo really has his hands full with her. Once Cooper finally makes it to the bar and meets Walter, who once saved his father after his military plane crashed. His dad’s praise of Walter has stayed with Cooper and he needs Walter’s help in finding his dad again. He was in another plane crash the year before and authorities have stopped looking for him. Walter is reluctant to take the job at first, since Cooper can’t produce positive identification, but that part gets cleared up once Leo gives Willa a look and she returns the wallet.
Walter has to go into his vault to retrieve something while continuing his talk with Cooper. This vault is built under the patio of the bar, and looks almost impossible to break into . Willa is seen taking mental notes. Walter tries to let Cooper down easy, telling him that sometimes he finds more than was bargained for and it’s better for everyone if he just turns the job down. He has a change of heart as Cooper walks away dejected, though, and promises he will find his father or die trying.
Next up, Walter and Leo visit the airfield Colonel Allison took off from to see what they can learn there. During the drive, Walter tells Leo that his ward Willa is going to run away. She’s been living there six weeks and hasn’t spruced up her trailer. Leo sadly realizes he’s right. At the air strip, they learn Allison had argued with someone right before he took off. Walter lets slip that he’s found the plane already, which isn’t true but he thinks it might help him learn who else has interest in finding it.
Cooper works on his car, which is still broken, and Willa brings him a peace offering of a sandwich and soda. She asks about his dad, and shares with him that her parents were murdered in Atlanta. It’s a sad and tragic story. It’s also not true. Willa’s parole officer drops by to check on her, questions Cooper to make sure he’s not a convicted criminal and bad influence, but he’s as clean cut as they come. The parole officer looks disappointed as she drives away.
Isabel is on stakeout, watching for an escaped armed robber who is now spending his time in a building where illegal cock fights are underway. Walter needs her help to find out what authorities know about drug activity at the airfield. She can’t go in looking for the guy because…well, she’s hot. He’d see her before she could find him. So Walter takes it upon himself to get her case quickly out of the way. He goes in looking for the guy, telling Isabel and Leo they will know the suspect when they see him. While he’s gone, Isabel and Leo talk about Walter’s situation, she thinks Walter’s getting worse…he’s stopped seeing his VA shrink and she’s concerned. She loves him…but tries to cover and say it’s not literally love, sounds like she’s protesting too much, though. She thinks Walter’s compulsion to find is not natural. Leo thinks it’s a gift and he’s proud to be part of it. Isabel worries that when he can’t find what he’s looking for he will run himself to death like a bloodhound. Leo tells her that Walter found him in time to prevent him from killing a man in cold blood, and he would give his life to help him. Just then there’s an explosion inside the building they are watching and people start fleeing. Leo guesses the one covered in fluorescent orange paint is Isabel’s suspect.
Isabel and Walter prepare a meal together to celebrate her arrest of orange man, and they share a little wine, or something like it. Walter shares with her that Allison was on a task force that was disbanded two days after he disappeared. She theorizes he was working undercover as a drug smuggler when he disappeared. Just as it seems things are going to get romantic between them, a couple of track suited thugs attack Cooper and Willa outside (still working on the car). Cooper does a decent job of fending them off, but Leo the truck knocks one down, and the other is no match for Isabel, her lingerie, and her gun. Not sure which of those was more deadly.
Cooper tells Isabel that the men just asked him where the drugs were, and that was all. She’s pretty livid that Walter told a lie that almost got the two kids killed. She leaves in a huff, there will be no romance in the trailer park that night. Elsewhere in the park, Willa is visited by a member of her criminal family, Timo. She really wants out of the Ends of the Earth. She begs him for help with “Uncle Shad”, a new identity to get her out of there. Timo sneaks away when he hears Leo approaching. Leo offers Willa a little trailer warming gift, wind chimes. After Leo leaves, Willa tosses it aside.
Willa’s parole officer drops in for another visit and Willa prepares her a nice breakfast which she serves arranged on the plate as a frowning face. Have to love Willa’s style. The officer starts reciting Willa’s rap sheet and how she came to be assigned to work in Leo’s care. She believes Willa is a sociopath. Walter points out that Willa works hard because she wants Leo to like her, and wanting someone to like her, by definition, means she isn’t a sociopath. The meeting is cut short because Walter and Leo have work to do on the Allison case, they need to see the man he was arguing with before his flight, Major Royce. Well, he was once a Major anyway. Now he’s a 2nd Lieutenant. He’s been a very bad little soldier. Walter has Royce look him up in his database, and Royce is impressed with Walter’s creds. He opens up about Colonel Allison, the task force was to trace drugs coming onto military bases, the target was Amadea Denaras. Before they can get much more information from Royce, he reads Walter’s records a little more closely and realizes that Walter’s career has ended and he is in no position to help him get his back.
Leo, Walter, and Isabel discuss the details of the case over a meal, they think maybe Coopers dad wasn’t under cover but was actually a drug dealer. Maybe he turned off his own transponder to fly under the radar so he could get away. The two thugs they caught earlier will be no help, they were killed while in custody. When Isabel is asked if she knows anything about Amadea Denaras, her expression suggests she definitely does. Denaras has killed multiple witnesses under the protection of US Marshals office and Isabel hates her. Aboard Denaras’ boat, where she plays some very bad trumpet, they get very little information from her at first. Isabel is seething. Walter makes it clear he just wants to find the pilot’s remains, she can have whatever he was hauling. Walter wants to know where Allison was taking the drugs. Denaras reveals that after the earthquake in Haiti the cost of medical supplies were sky high in Dominican Republic, implying he was making a lot of money off of needed medical supplies there. She then dumps the trio off her yacht just shy of the shore. Leo doesn’t appreciate the ocean, he tends to sink.
Cooper can’t and won’t believe his dad smuggled drugs. Walter believes there is no way he didn’t. He thinks the Colonel was about to get arrested and fled for the border. Cooper is crushed, because if this theory is true, his dad is still alive and abandoned him. Cooper wants to end the search for his dad now, he’ll be leaving. Leo gives Walter a “you could be more sensitive” look, but Walter’s more concerned with his sandwich. That night, Walter has a dream that he’s flying shotgun with Colonel Allison. The Colonel wants to know about his son. Walter says he fired him, but he’s still going to find him anyway. The Colonel tells him he loves his son more than anything. Walter awakens with a new perspective on the case.
Willa goes to Cooper’s trailer, but he won’t let her in. He’s angry she lied about her past, and he closes the door in her face. Walter hears the shut down, tells her it’s because Cooper is the cream of the crop and she’s the kind of crud that sinks to the bottom, then suggests she could always change into the type of person who would deserve Leo. He invites her to join his and Leo’s discussion of the case. Walter runs through all his speculations about what happened using all his technical tools and resources, such as model airplanes and GI Joe dolls…erm, action figures. Willa’s criminal past is coming in handy, she knows how to sneak. They figure out what possible directions the Colonel could have taken and how far he could have traveled. Walter now believes he must have crashed and died, because he loved his son and would have been in contact if he were still alive. With a general location in mind as to where the plane could have gone down, they leave at dawn to search for the remains. Walter reassures Cooper that his dad would never have abandoned him, and they head out to find him. Willa uses the opportunity to clean out the cash register and try to get into Walter’s vault so she can skip town.
While Walter goes out on his motor glider to look around, Cooper and Leo have a serious talk while they wait. Cooper thinks his dad didn’t have what it takes to give his life to the military. Leo tries to convince him his dad was proud of him. Walter interrupts with news that he has seen the wreckage. At the crash site they find the Colonel’s remains and all the Oxycodone he was carrying. He wasn’t selling the drugs on the black market, Walter tells them. He was taking them where they were needed most, the field hospitals in Haiti. Walter finds one last thing before they leave…Major Royce’s rank insignia.
Timo is not impressed with the scant amount of cash Willa got from the register. As they are leaving, Willa she sees the wind chime Leo had given her and she appears to have a moment of indecision. She tells Timo about the underground vault and suggests she should maybe stick around until she can figure out how to get into it. He agrees. She will stay there, for now at least.
After authorities have been summoned to the crash scene, Walter learns from an inspector that the fuel was contaminated and it wasn’t an accident. The inspector found a letter Cooper’s dad had written to him before he died. His dad told him how proud he was of him. Cooper thanks Walter for finding his father.
Walter deduces Royce approached Allison for a cut, assuming he was smuggling the drugs, and that was when the argument occurred. After they fought, Royce contaminated the airplane’s fuel in retribution. The cops are able to trace the drugs back to Denaras, so as an added bonus Isabel is able to get her revenge as well. As Walter and Leo relish a job well done, they see Willa across the lot, hanging her wind chimes on her trailer. Leo tells Walter he was wrong about Willa, all she needed was a reason to stay. Walter pauses, watching her, then agrees that yeah, she must have found some reason to stay. His look says that he has question about what that reason might be.
The Finder airs Thursday nights at 9/8c on Fox.