by KAMMs Moore-Mitchell
If you ever wondered what it looks like when someone gets it all the way right – and I know you have because it doesn’t happen often – then you need to take a look at the latest episode of ABC Family’s The Fosters.
The team in charge of The Fosters was already doing things right and after this last episode I have nothing but kudos for ABC Family and The Fosters right now. They have gotten so many things so very right so far. Let us count the ways.
Timeout. A brief recap first.
Jesus gets “initiated,” in the form of a black eye, from his wrestling teammate, which seemed to include a bit more malice than typical schoolboy hazing. Kelsey snitched on Mariana resulting in a suspension for the younger Foster. But you saw that coming right?
Cole, our transgender friend from the group home, pilfers Callie’s phone under the pretense that he’s doing her a favor. It later comes out that he really just saw the perfect opportunity to get in contact with his connect for much-needed street hormones and be a jerk to Callie at the same time. This moment ends up being a great turning point for Cole – one that definitely needed to be seen. Mark this as a highlight for The Fosters.
Brandon’s thirst gets real and he panics when he receives a text from Cole pretending to be Callie that the two must breakup and he shouldn’t contact her anymore.
Lena and Stef tell Jude they want to move forward with his adoption. He later tells Callie, on family day, that he would be getting adopted with or without her. Her words tell Jude she’s happy for him and approves, the nuanced look on her face tells a slightly different story.
The Adams Fosters discover Callie’s intentions to pursue the independent living program and they confront her about it. Here is where a pause is almost mandated just to take in and admire the magnitude of Lena’s (Sherri Saum’s) life-giving hair-porn that continues to be served on a silver platter week after week. I can’t be the only one who had to rewind a little because I was pleasantly distracted – again.
Jude begins to assimilate into the Adams Foster family and Lena and Stef could not be giddier about it. Martked by several highlights including Jude calling Lena ‘mom’ and fighting with Jesus for locking him out of the room – his room – that they share, it’s certainly a touching turn of events for the once untrusting Jude.
Back at the group home Cole ends up overdosing on the street hormones, having a seizure and hitting his head on the bathroom sink, ending up in the hospital. Although Callie might not be responsible for Cole’s actions, her involvement (or maybe lack thereof) causes the other girls in the house to call her out for her selfishness and poor decisions, eventually asking her what she’s doing there since she has a family that actually wants her.
Now that we’re caught up, can we get back to that list of ways The Fosters has gotten it all the way right lately?
For one, they continued sharing Cole’s story, and just when criticism from fans begins about Cole’s negative personality, we get to see a different side of him in the process of him opening up to Callie – and possibly anyone – for the first time.
He talks about the struggle of his transition, his family disowning him, and how his body is reverting back as a result of begin off of his hormones. The desperation is evident as he explains that he can’t wait any longer to be placed in an LGBT home or turn 18 to get them prescribed by a doctor.
We even get a bit of his background; the prostitution charge that sent him to the home in the first place is explained when he shares that he did whatever he had to, to begin his transition without the support of his family. Cole’s story is far too real, and way too common.
As if that wasn’t enough, Cole is played by actual transgender teen, Tom Phelan, who shared in an interview with GL
AAD that the hardest scene to film was Cole getting berated by the other girls in the house after the binary-gendered bathroom incident during the group’s field trip.
Out of the group home and with her foster family for the funeral of Stef’s father, Callie has the chance to interact with the family again, but not without flashbacks of her own mother’s death. Lena’s mother urges Callie to reconsider the independent living program, right before a malicious comment directed toward her own daughter causes Lena to speak up and shut her mother down for good – a move that ended up garnering respect from the elder Adams.
After the funeral Callie loses her late mother’s necklace, panics, and ends up breaking down and opening up to Stef. Finally we get to see Callie dealing with her deeper issues – herself. She has experienced great grief and responsibility albeit self-imposed, resulting in the suppression of her own emotions all while playing parent to a little brother when she’s just a kid herself. Kudos again are due to The Fosters for this very realistic portrayal of grief, growing up too fast, and the foster system.
The eminent love triangle between Jesus, his new teammate, Emily and Lexi begins to emerge as the two teammates spend more and more time together. You feel for Lexi and yet subtly root for the Emily-Jesus ship.
In an episode filled with events that seemed to bring Callie some enlightenment, including a heart-warming and playful scene with Mariana, who admits she was hoping she would be her sister, she finally tells Brandon they can’t be together and accepts the fact that she needs and wants a family too – The Adams Fosters. Brandon agrees, acknowledging his selfishness in not realizing that for them to be together Callie has to give up everything. Perhaps we haven’t given Brandon enough credit; that is certainly a mature realization and decision.
Did you wonder if they were going to work Sherri Saum’s real-life pregnancy into the story or try to hide it? Well it certainly seems like there may be at least one more Adams Foster on the way if the last 30 seconds of the episode is any indication.
Lena has been unable to open up and talk to Stef about her desires to have a baby. After giving Lena the cold shoulder for much of the episode because she found prenatal vitamins in Lena’s drawer, we get a plot twist that most of you were probably expecting: the baby conversation. Instead of Lena opening up per her mother’s urging, Stef is the one who asks Lena if she wants to have a baby. I saw that one coming and didn’t at the same time.
Even with the focus on Callie, Lena’s desire to have a baby, and inability to talk to her wife, The Fosters has done a much better job of balancing the storylines in these last couple of episodes. There is even a moment when Lena calls out Stef for her own intolerance and unwillingness to meet her father halfway in his effort to accept and love her unconditionally.
His pastor reveals near the end of the episode that her “father was questioning his fundamental beliefs because of his love for” his daughter. Unfortunately we will never see where that journey of acceptance and unconditional love might have taken their relationship. Still, the statement is enough conviction for Stef to reflect and finally accept the new, much-needed car her father gifted her only days earlier.
Media is changing – getting progressively better, no doubt. There are in fact a few shows that have surged ahead of the pack. But while those shows are on a slow simmer, cooking for equality in representation, The Fosters are already serving us four and five course meals in every episode.
I’m here for it. Are you?
Keep up the good work, Fosters.