The Fosters Recap: Off the List

The Fosters

Now for Then
Season 4 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****
Cierra Ramirez as Mariana, Jordan Rodrigues as Mat. Photo: Eric McCandless/Freeform

Oh, happy day, Fosters fam! It’s Stef and Lena’s first wedding anniversary (seriously, it’s only been one year?!), and The Fosters is celebrating with an episode that has a little bit of everything. Tears! Laughter! Two-thirds of the Hot Dads Club! Lena eating out of a foil swan! What a time to be alive.

Let’s talk about Callie, shall we? I’ve always had mixed feelings about Callie. She is just so sad. Even when she’s happy, she’s moments away from crying. She’s a very nice girl, but I wouldn’t want her coming to any of my parties, you know what I mean? Still, I have high hopes that Callie can turn this around in season four, as evidenced by her behavior in “Now for Then.” She’s facing her fears, being open and honest about her past, and she even has cute banter with A.J.! Cute banter, you guys! I have a theory about this: The further an object gets from Brandon, the more tolerable it becomes. The one anomaly in this theory is Talya, because she was awful from beginning to end, but other than that, it totally works. Science!

This new, relatively lighter Callie is hard at work on her senior project. She drags A.J. around as she photographs the homes she’s lived in as a foster kid, and he obliges because he’s still got that Boyfriend of the Year award locked up. She brings him to Liam’s house — you remember Liam, Callie’s foster brother, rapist, and general garbage-fire person — and without hesitation, reveals the awful truth of what happened to her within those walls. Before A.J. can really process anything, Callie’s one-time foster mother pulls up and invites them in. It’s set up as if the woman is finally going to apologize to Callie for her role in that harrowing ordeal, but instead, she calmly describes how Callie ruined her family and entire life. It’s a bit of a stretch that the lady wouldn’t immediately scream at Callie in the driveway, but it is just as horrible to watch.

Later, when Mariana asks if it’s safe to go back to those homes, Callie says that she needs to face the people who made her feel helpless. See? This is the Callie I’m into. With fearlessness in mind, she goes back to the one home that left her confused: It was a safe home with loving foster parents, until social services suddenly took them away. The foster mother, Sheila, explains that she did want to adopt Callie and Jude, but they weren’t allowed to adopt both of them and their third foster child, Kyle, who had developmental disabilities. And I thought Callie had bad luck; Sheila here might give her a run for her money. Callie learns that Kyle is now serving a life sentence in prison for a crime Sheila knows he didn’t commit. This is mainly because he didn’t get a fair trial, but also because everything that Callie touches turns to shit, I’m assuming.

That second reason is why I fear for A.J.’s future. I mean, this kid loves drawing and his grandma and also he is very tall; Callie is going to stomp all over his heart. But not tonight. No, tonight, A.J. further proves why he’s so good and lovely. He takes Callie aside and, with the knowledge of her rape, asks if he should be doing anything differently, if there is anything she needs. It’s a great scene, and a nice glimpse into what a mature relationship might look like for Callie. There is life after Brandon.

A.J. also recognizes Callie’s hero complex. When she tells him about Kyle’s situation, he cautions her to keep her Super Callie cape in the closet — he wants her to focus on herself and stop taking on other people’s battles. Yeah right, dude. Callie almost immediately goes to Aaron — yes, motorcycle Aaron — and asks to use his connections with the Juvenile Justice Center to help Kyle. See? That entire wackadoo plot had a point, sort of.

Someone much closer to the Adams Foster family is also in need of some justice: Gabe. Yes! Hot Dad Gabe is back, finally. Things are just inherently better when the Hot Dads are on my TV. Science, again.

Gabe’s back because Lena’s in trouble and also because our tear ducts needed a cleaning, I guess. Lena’s going to be fired for knowingly allowing a registered sex offender to work on the school play, unless by some miracle Gabe is taken off that list and gets his record expunged. This is actually a viable option, thanks to an expensive lawyer recommended by Monte, who thinks Gabe has a real shot at overturning the conviction and getting himself removed from the list. Still, Gabe has some concerns.

First, Gabe can’t afford the fancy lawyer and he doesn’t want Lena and Stef to pay his legal fees. The dude doesn’t like owing other people. He’s a Proud Hot Dad. When they give him the option of paying them back by working around the house, he moves on to concern number two. Going back to court and fighting to get off the list isn’t a guaranteed win, but he’s been offered a deal: If he pleads guilty to the school-play thing, and agrees to relocate, he won’t have to serve any jail time — and that is guaranteed. Gabe obviously doesn’t want to go back to prison, so the deal sounds pretty good to him. It does not sound good to Jesus, despite listening to Gabe’s entire rationalization.

Gabe goes to see Jesus to further explain himself, but when his son asks a simple question — “Don’t you ever get lonely?” — his steely exterior begins to crack. Once Jesus envelopes his hurting dad in a big ol’ hug, Gabe breaks. He weeps. I weep. WE ALL WEEP. Don’t worry, guys, I’ve only watched this scene four times. Just kidding! It was five. Five times.

Thanks to Jesus, Gabe agrees to take Stef and Lena’s help, then goes off to court to try and win his life back. In his corner, a bit surprisingly, but not really because we all know he’s a good dude, is Mike. Hot Dad Mike is a little touchy about the Gabe subject. He’s still finding his footing in his relationship with Ana, and he worries that Gabe is a trigger for her. (He’s also worried that she might still have feelings for the guy. Even a decent kitchen make-out doesn’t reassure him.) Because Hot Dad Mike is the best, he still puts in good work when he realizes he knows the ADA from Gabe’s case. It works! Gabe and Ana return from court with the news: He is officially off the sex-offenders list. A round of hugs for everybody! But mainly for Jesus and Gabe. NEVER STOP HUGGING, GUYS.

In Other Family News:

  • Inspired by Callie, Mariana decides to see Nick at his “secure treatment facility.” She assures everyone that she’s going to make sure he knows things are over, but when he confesses that she’s still the only thing keeping him alive, she continues to feed into his fantasy. But would Stef really be standing that far away during this? Mama Cop would be on top of that.
  • Brandon and Cortney throw a terrible house party. It starts with Jesus clogging the toilet and ends with Cortney being served papers informing her that Eddie’s seeking full custody. Good thing she’s reassured that she’s not an unfit mother by THE 18-YEAR OLD CURRENTLY SLEEPING IN HER BED.
  • Brandon almost redeems himself by finally apologizing to Mariana for being such a dick about the Nick thing, but then loses any points he may have gained when he starts policing how much Cortney drinks. She’s had four skinny margaritas, Brandon! Jeez!
  • Cortney is another example of the Brandon Relativity Theory. Now that she’s living with Brandon, her screech level has increased, she calls Mariana “Marianne,” and, oh yeah, SHE IS STILL LIVING WITH BRANDON.
  • Can someone please get me a GIF of Stef peeking through Brandon’s window? This is the most important request I’ll ever make, Fosters fam. Please let the interwebs be good for something.
  • Hot Dad Watch will continue until Robert Quinn makes his triumphant return. Where is that silver fox when you need him?

The Fosters Recap: Off the List