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Did ‘Carter’ Truly Connect With Elizabeth?

The troubled teen only played nice to get what she wanted -- but might have broken through to something real.

Carter Stevens has run herself ragged trying to knock her biological mother, Elizabeth Wilson, off of her abductor Lori’s trail. But on tonight’s “Finding Carter” episode, she tried out a brand-new strategy — playing nice — and, wonder of wonders, it worked.

Crash, who was busy stealing souped-up cars the last time Carter heard from him, advised the troubled teen to get on Elizabeth’s good side if Carter wanted the police officer as an ally. Carter was hesitant but had nothing to lose, so in an act of total insincerity, she feigned interest in Elizabeth’s work and pleaded for a chance to tag along to work with her. In a snap, her plan was in motion.

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But things didn’t play out as planned for Carter, who anticipated that Elizabeth would continue to be as cold as ever. Slowly, the teen began to see how compassionate her birth mother could be, and when she watched Elizabeth embrace a woman who’d been beaten by her husband — and who’d killed him in defense — Carter saw undeniable tenderness.

Ultimately, Carter’s plan worked, and after she and Elizabeth cultivated what the police offer believed was a genuine connection, she swore to back off of Lori. “For five minutes today, you liked me,” she told her biological daughter. “I know you did. And I want that.” Carter should have been thrilled; instead, she suddenly looked confused. But why?

On one hand, Carter’s not-so-sincere plan got her exactly what she wants — Lori can now try to get her back without fear of being caught. On the other hand, Carter has finally found her footing with the Wilsons, and it’s possible that the idea of leaving them has brought some unexpected guilt.

So which is it: Is Carter just playing along with her biological mother, all to get to Lori? Or did Elizabeth actually work her way into Carter’s heart?