Tonight, The Fosters welcomes the dreaded, overtly themed episode into its canon. If you can't tell from the title itself, this episode is all about trust. And I do mean everything. Jude's "friend" Taylor brings him to a church Youth Group meeting where the theme of the day is … yes, trust. Callie breaks her mamas' trust by participating in both physical violence and motorcycling, but then learns she needs to trust that she's a permanent part of the Adams Foster family. Jesus and Emma realize a successful friends-with-benefits relationship is all about trust and a clean bill of health, so they head over to the clinic to get tested for STIs. You get the picture. The word of the day is trust.
In keeping with the episode's theme, this recap is also all about trust. Since a person wins or loses a person's trust based on their actions — I'm such a Lena today — I'm ranking the Adams Foster fam from most trustworthy to least based on their decisions in tonight's episode. Obviously, Brandon is losing this one, so no need to scroll down to the bottom in advance.
MOST TRUSTWORTHY: Lena and Stef (TIE)
WHAT GOT THEM HERE: Lena asks Anchor Beach to tear down that fence; Stef allows Brandon to make his own mistakes.
Lena, arguably the most visibly shaken-up post-Nick, is still on edge. She wants an alarm system installed at home and is very much in favor of the fences and metal detectors installed at Anchor Beach. Eventually, though, she has an eye-opening chat with Callie and realizes that walls can't protect you from everything. During a school assembly, Lena announces that Anchor Beach will not be a "monument to fear" and she wants to take down the fences. Furthermore, she wants to know why school shootings have become something we prepare for. "This shouldn't be normal," she says. Obviously, this impassioned speech is the team behind The Fosters talking, but regardless, it is an effective way to put into words what many of us were feeling after the season premiere. Lena trusts her gut with this decision, and I trust Lena.
Although Lena was vice-principal-ing like a boss, we shouldn't forget about Stef. Sure, her choices in "Trust" aren't made in as public a forum as Lena's, but they're no less important. We find Stef still trying to wrap her head around Brandon's latest bonehead move. Her rush to anger is understandable, but as Lena rightly points out, it's not the way to convince him to move back home.
With that in mind, when Stef happens upon Brandon back at the house practicing on the piano (at Lena's suggestion, so tricky!), she's much gentler with her son. It's clear how much she misses him, and instead of bickering, she reminds him of a trip to a piano competition gone wrong. They share some laughs, and although Brandon bolts the moment he gets a text from Cortney, his brief squeeze of Stef's shoulder on the way out may indicate that he misses her, too. The less pushy, more understanding stance is apparently working for Stef. She also wins points for her brief chat with Jude about God and faith. She casually refers to God as a woman and not-so-casually refers to Jude as both delicious and squishy. Stef gets my vote for the Best tonight.
SECOND PLACE: Mariana
WHAT GOT HER HERE: Standing up to bullies, generally being a badass.
Because humans can sometimes be awful to one another, Mariana is catching a lot of the blame for Nick bringing a gun to school. During a class discussion about the lockdown, a few students tell Mariana that she drove Nick to do it by cheating on him. Thankfully, she has candidate for Brother of the Year in her corner, and Jesus shuts them down pretty quickly. He's also the one to tell Mariana to try and shrug off the mean notes left in her locker. Mariana feels pretty down that she's being called a whore, but I also have to believe she's upset that the bullies don't know the difference between "to" and "too." How about we spend less time bullying and more time paying attention in English class, am I right?
Mariana's not really one to shrug things off, though. When the same group of gals find her in the bathroom and call her "Mariana Fost-whore," she's had enough. First, she corrects them: "It's Adams Fost-whore." Then, during the school assembly, when one of those girls tells Lena that the fences make her feel safe, Mariana publicly calls her bullies out. Mariana would like to feel safe at school, too (too!), but she can't — not while she's being harassed by classmates. The fences may keep some dangers out, but who will protect them from what's going on inside? Mariana gets a well-deserved round of applause. I can only hope that she'll be just as tough in dealing with Nick, who calls her from wherever he is to say that he misses her. Please tell your moms, Mariana. DO NOT HANDLE THIS ON YOUR OWN.
THIRD PLACE: Jude
WHAT GOT HIM HERE: Not giving up on himself.
The aforementioned delicious and squishy Jude is usually trustworthy. These days, however, Jude is sad, confused, and 14: By default, he's a wild card. When Taylor brings him to her church youth group, he very quickly susses out that she only did so to set him up with Noah, the pastor's cute, heartbroken son. Jude bolts from the meeting and reams out Taylor. He is in a mood, people! Still, Stef's chat with Jude — you know, the delicious and squishy one (which is actually about how she may not be a religious person, but she's sure that God must love Jude for who he is) — seems to work, and Jude ends up volunteering at the church rummage sale with Noah. He's back on track!
FOURTH PLACE: Jesus
WHAT GOT HIM HERE: Not saying how he feels, dammit!
Oh Jesus, please tell Emma how you feel. She keeps pushing a friend-with-benefits agenda on him, but he clearly wants more. And why shouldn't he? Jesus and Emma's chemistry has been off the charts since he returned from boarding-school-slash-casting. He somewhat gets his way when he convinces Emma that being non-exclusive-friends-with-benefits is pretty pointless if they want to stay STI-free, and she agrees. Now, if only Jesus could just be honest and remind Emma that exclusive-friends-with-benefits is the same as, you know, dating, we'd be in a good spot. She's been burned by him, so he has some ground to make up. Being honest about his feelings would be a good start.
FIFTH PLACE: Callie
WHAT GOT HER HERE: I cannot handle this motorcycle story line.
After punching a kid at school who harassed her over the whole "I slept with my foster brother" situation, Callie gets suspended. Instead of heading home, though, she ends up at a coffee shop and befriends a young law student named Aaron. How does she do this, you may wonder? Oh, she just tells him that she's studying photography at NYU and that her name is Cameron, and then they take off on a motorcycle joy ride.
What kind of fresh hell is this? I get that Callie is acting out because she believes her moms are going to reverse her adoption, but … what? This felt incredibly contrived. Also, what of A.J.? And why a follow-up?
If nothing else, Callie's inane trip brings us two excellent scenes with Lena and Stef. First, of course, is the conversation we've all been waiting to see: They want to know why Callie has been blatantly disobeying them and Callie wants to know if she should go pack her bags. Watching Lena and Stef reassure her that they're family, no matter what happens, was beautiful and emotional and maybe I'm still crying about it. When Lena and Callie catch up later, and Callie describes her senior project — a photo essay about all the homes she's lived in and how they led her to her family — I found myself wondering how I could get Lena to come by and comfort me. I know, I know, she's busy being a vice-principal and also a fictional character.
DEAD LAST ON THE TRUSTWORTHINESS SCALE: Brandon
WHAT GOT HIM HERE: Still refusing to move home, getting involved with Cortney's baby-daddy problems, typical Brandon Foster nonsense.
What more is there to say about Brandon? He gives Stef a lovely thank-you speech, but it's not enough to win me over. He still refuses to move back home, and now he's inserted himself into Cortney's problems with Long-Haired Eddie. Somehow, I find it unconvincing that anyone would be at all intimidated by an 18-year-old telling an adult to scram, but alas, here we are. I'm mostly angry with Cortney in this whole situation. She doesn't really think it's a good idea for Brandon to live with her, does she? She did decide to get involved with that Eddie character, so maybe poor decisions are par for the course. Brandon and Cortney are perfect for each other!
In other news: Hot Dad Watch continues. Are they all on vacation together? If so, I feel like I should've been informed.