Be as “well-read” as Sir and Gabi from NBC’s Found (Book list)

FOUND -- "Missing While a Pawn" Episode 104 -- Pictured: Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely -- (Photo by: Matt Miller/NBC)
FOUND -- "Missing While a Pawn" Episode 104 -- Pictured: Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely -- (Photo by: Matt Miller/NBC) /

The American literary canon is on full display in the new NBC drama Found. While the series is a procedural that focuses on missing person cases investigated by a private firm led by Gabi Mosely, who is a survivor of abduction herself, it includes a subplot about her and her kidnapper, Sir. The twist of the show is that seven months before the time period in the pilot episode, she tracked him down, kidnapped him, and has kept him locked up in her basement. Sir has been helping her solve cases during his captivity.

We’ve reached the halfway point of the drama’s freshman season and fans, like myself, have picked up on the way literature plays a key role in each episode. Sir is an avid reader who prizes intelligence and sees himself as cultured. When he held Gabi hostage in 2003 he sought to cultivate her brilliance through edifying her development. Sir did this by forcing her to read what he assigned as if he were her AP English teacher.

It’s a character quirk Found has used as a means of foreshadowing plot progressions and narrative reveals while also reinforcing the influence Sir still has on Gabi despite the tables having been turned. As the season has gone on, the amount of literary and non-fiction works shown or spoken of have been enough to constitute a list. Here’s what we’ve spotted so far:

  • “Macbeth” – William Shakespeare
  • “The Crucible” – Arthur Miller
  • “The Allegory of the Cave” – Plato
  • “Julius Caesar” – William Shakespeare
  • Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  • Jazz – Toni Morrison
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition

How Found uses books to world-build in its first season

FOUND — “Missing While Sinning” Episode 102 — Pictured: Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely — (Photo by: Steve Swisher/NBC)
FOUND — “Missing While Sinning” Episode 102 — Pictured: Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely — (Photo by: Steve Swisher/NBC) /

Found episode 2, “Missing While Sinning,” was when I first took notice of the inclusion of books as a means of subtly pointing to characterization in this series. The above image of Gabi exercising whilst reading “Macbeth” gave me pause. It’s not that one can’t get in their daily work out and read the bard, I’ve cycled while reading “Othello” myself. But, typically, lit nerds are the ones huffing and puffing through their morning routine while reading in iambic pentameter.

“Macbeth” is also about duplicity, deception, and a failed attempt at claiming power. The pilot episode of the series revealed that Gabi has been harboring a dark secret from everyone in her life; she’s holding Sir in her basement. As the episodes have gone on, we’ve gotten a look into what Gabi gets from holding her kidnapper captive.

It goes beyond revenge; it’s about control. He took a year of her life from her and now she’s taking from him. She justifies it by using his predator know-how to profile the victims of abduction she’s trying to locate in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia). But, as the books featured in episode 3, “Missing While Widow,” foreshadow, Gabi is walking a very thin line.

“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller and Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” are about perception vs. reality. Gabi is seen by the public as a hero. The same can be said for those she employees at her firm. But that perception hinges on her making the right choices for the right reasons. She’s also convinced herself that she’s not in the wrong. But just because she feels that’s the case doesn’t mean she’s right.

The two literary works also serve to highlight the way in which Sir still has the ability to manipulate her. He planted a memory of her asking him for a companion in order to get Gabi to see that they aren’t so different and that her recollection of her time with him, where she was brave and selfless the entire time, wasn’t the truth.

For the whole episode, Gabi fears she’s responsible for Lacey’s kidnapping when they were both children but, once she’s spoken to her, a memory of her denying a companion came to the forefront of her mind. Relieved and also stewing with anger, Gabi took the books she’d given Sir as punishment for messing with her head.

In Found episode 4, “Missing While a Pawn,” the works featured are “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The former highlights Lacey’s growing feeling that Gabi is hiding something from her. Do expect an “Et tu, Brute,” situation between the two women whenever it does come to light that Gabi knew where Sir was the entire time.

Lacey’s been waiting for the day that her kidnapper is caught. She’s let herself hope since political analyst and show host Joy Reid offered her help to find him and so, too, did Zeke. Gabi has been lying to her for months, putting distance between them, and having mercurial mood swings that will leave anyone wondering what they did to upset someone they love.

The J.D. Salinger classic, which is about a teen’s disillusionment with adulthood, serves as a prop in the plot, denoting who’s really responsible for the abduction of a young boy. But it’s also a reminder that both Gabi and Sir are unreliable “narrators.” There’s their individual perspectives on their history as well as their present, and the truth that lies somewhere in the complicated middle.

FOUND — “Missing While Undocumented” Episode 105 — Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Sir — (Photo by: Steve Swisher/NBC)
FOUND — “Missing While Undocumented” Episode 105 — Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Sir — (Photo by: Steve Swisher/NBC) /

Jazz by Toni Morrison is brought up in episode 5, “Missing While Undocumented,” when Sir posits a new name for Gabi to adopt. He’d filled her head with the possibility of finally leaving the house that he’s been holding her in, but first she must shed her old identity and embrace a new one.

Sir shared he’d choose Eric Blair–author George Orwell’s given name–and he thought Felice would fit Gabi as she’s curious and in a search for answers in the book. Rather than accept Sir’s offer, Gabi chooses to keep her name. It’s a defiant move, one of many she makes in the year that she’s held against her will.

Episode 6, “Missing While Addicted,” is the first episode where a literary work isn’t the book spotlighted on Found. Instead, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition takes center stage. In the previous episode, we (along with Det. Trent) sat with Gabi as she explained the importance of the place where her father wanted his ashes spread.

Through the DSM-IV, and flashbacks with Sir, we learn that Robert Mosely has struggled with mental health issues. As a young girl, Gabi stepped up to take care of him after her mother died because her death likely triggered PTSD. He wasn’t always there for her but she was there for him. Sir tried to use that point as a means of convincing Gabi that she was better of without her dad, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

She stopped eating in protest with the hope that it would force Sir to let her call her dad. He didn’t do that but he did provide her with a picture of him at a bar, thinking that it would make her feel like her dad forgot about her. It did the opposite. She held onto to the fact that he looked to be doing okay and that he’d remembered to wear his gloves. It gave her the boost she needed to recapture her determination that she would see him again.

What she’d come to learn once she escaped Sir is that the ordeal would lead her dad to become an alcoholic. Their relationship was never the same and it took Gabi years to understand that her dad was struggling with a disease. It’s also implied that she didn’t make it to his side in time to be with him before his passing which is a weight she’s still carrying with her.

There are seven more episodes left in Found‘s first season and we’ll be adding books to this list after each episode premieres. Stay tuned to Hidden Remote.

Next. Found cast: Guide to the NBC show’s cast and characters. dark

Found airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. Next day streaming is available on Peacock.