The Fosters Recap: Robots Against Misogyny

Cierra Ramirez as Mariana, Amanda Leighton as Emma, Arden Belle as Penny. Photo: Freeform/Eric McCandless
The Fosters

The Fosters

Girl Code Season 4 Episode 8
Editor's Rating 3 stars

Earlier this season, I complained about an episode that leaned on gimmicky fake-outs to build a sense of drama. Unfortunately, “Girl Code” has the same basic problem, albeit with a little less gimmick: Mariana seems like she might be aggressively out of control at the robotics competition, until she ends up being a team player; and Callie continues to mount her own dangerous investigation into Kyle’s case, only to realize, at the last minute, that the adults should handle it. What gives, The Fosters?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled our teens are making smart decisions. It just makes for a rather lackluster episode of television.  At least “Girl Code” gives us the gift of having Jesus 2 chant, “Bitches get things done!” For that, I’ll always be grateful.

Speaking of things I’m grateful for, how about that stunner of an opening scene? As Stef and Lena meet with their realtor, noting what they’ll need to change before they bring in potential buyers (#NOTTHEHOUSE), the Adams Foster home is brimming with activity: Brandon is practicing for his big Juilliard audition, Callie and A.J. are caught making out on the porch, and Mariana is screaming to Jesus about robot weight (it’s a thing). It is complete chaos and it is lovely. The Fosters can easily veer into complete melodrama, but what really makes it special are moments like this, moments that feel endearingly and frustratingly real. Have I mentioned I love this show?

But, alas, it’s time to talk about Callie. I know, I know, but we have to. I gave Callie a lot of flack last week for being just as infuriatingly terrible as Brandon, but I’d like to add a belated caveat. Callie can be pretty terrible, but unlike Brandon, the girl is pretty self-aware. After outing Patrick Malloy for being a child molester at his place of employment, Callie gets a visit from the local police as well as a very stern talking to from her moms. She probably deserves the former, and definitely deserves the latter. Even after Stef begs her daughter to let her — the actual cop in the family — handle it, Callie continues to dig.

Callie finds a note in Kyle’s case files about a suspicious curb painter (aren’t they all?) who might be a possible suspect, so she enlists Aaron to help question Kyle’s neighbors. All of this leads to a shady-looking house, with a shady-looking dog, and a shady-looking one-time curb painter. As they wait for said curb painter to return home, and, I guess, confront him — Callie has no plan, of course — the two buds sit in the car and have a heart-to-heart. Callie admits that she’s a magnet for trouble, and Aaron reminds her that bad choices don’t make you a bad person. It’s quite nice, and something Callie tends to forget. She’s always hardest on herself, that one.

Thanks to that conversation, and a little time to cool down, Callie ultimately decides to stop pursuing the curb painter, and leave the investigating to Stef. She doesn’t know it yet, but her mom is actually doing a bang-up job. Go figure, since Stef is a police officer and not a 17-year-old.

Stef follows the lead about the Patrick Malloy cover-up to the victim’s house, where she discovers that the victim dropped all charges after the lead detective threatened to have his parents deported. We haven’t met this Detective Gray, but he sounds like a real dick. Can’t wait to watch Stef tear him apart!

Freed from her mission to free a wrongly imprisoned teen, Callie turns to the really important stuff: She needs to find a new place to have sex with her hot boyfriend! A.J. fills her in on Mike’s new rule about “relations” under his roof, and when they get caught trying to have a little afternoon delight at Callie’s house by the realtor and her clients (who still want to buy the house, by the way — the house is that magical), they’re all out of options. The issue doesn’t bother Callie much, but she’s plenty riled up with suspicions about the real reason behind Mike’s rule. Brandon lets her know that Cortney dropped the Brallie bomb on poor, unsuspecting Mike, so now Callie assumes Mike thinks she’s bad news. She also decides she’s done letting other people dictate how she feels about herself. It’s a great realization, but if she takes Hot Dad Mike’s good name in vain one more time, I might lose it. Hot Dad Mike is the best, leave him out of your sexcapade issues!

It’s actually pretty decent of Brandon to make sure Callie knows the full situation going on at Mike and A.J.’s place. It’s one in a series of good choices B makes in “Girl Code.” Shocking, I know. But Brandon’s realized that his big audition is just days away, and he’s been distracted lately. He’s not prepared, and it’s his own fault (and Cort’s, let’s be real). He even apologizes to Stef, who reciprocates. She feels guilty over blaming B for the whole sleeping-with-his-foster-sister thing since the words came flying out of her mouth in a beautiful fit of rage. Stef even hugs the guy! Also, remember how she covered Brandon with a blanket when she found him sleeping on the couch instead of going back to Cortney’s? Moms are the best.

If Stef is Exhibit A of moms being great, then Lena is right behind her. Lena as a robotics-team cheerleader is something I didn’t know I wanted (or that I could have wanted), but now, it’s something I cannot live without. I mean, her cheer of choice while embarrassing Mariana is “Go ’bot bitches!” Lena, you are perfect.

Mama has good reason to cheer, too. Well, eventually. At first, Mariana is a true terror as she enters the arena. I’ve never been to a robotics competition, but according to this show, it’s two parts BattleBots, one part Medieval Times. Jesus is not a fan of the nerdery, but he and Emma are just so darn cute, and he gets over it pretty quickly. His twin sister is not so easygoing. She’s ready to crush the competition, possibly literally. Mariana is all hyped up and very aggressive. At one point, when Stef asks for an update, Lena replies, “Our daughter is out of control.” Yeesh. I’m glad Lena is concerned, but that statement might warrant a phone call.

But yeah: Mariana is out of control. Although the competition preaches “gracious professionalism,” she shows anything but. The Anchor Beach Anchor Bytes start off rough — I honestly thought it was going to be sabotage by the mean boys who came to jeer the gals — but they recover in the following rounds. (Serious question: Where can I get me one of those team T-shirts?) Their biggest problems are Mariana’s temper and the weird coach from the favored team, who is way too invested in a high-school robotics competition. Almost as much as Mariana herself.

When the Fightin’ Anchor Bytes don’t place high enough to make the finals, Mariana threatens to “smash someone in the face.” Instead of actually going off the deep end, which would have been much more interesting, Mariana uses her cool negotiation skills to form an alliance with the only other all-female driving team. Thanks to the girls (and Jesus 2!) coming together with a little strategy in which they use blatant misogyny in their favor, the other female team wins, and along with them, the Anchor Bytes.

The win only pushes Mariana deeper into her perfectionist frenzy. Now that she’s won the regional competition, she wants to raise money to cover the $5,000 entry fee so they can compete in the world competition. The girl has a lot on her plate, what with SATs coming up, but Mariana wants it all. Lena is definitely sending another one of those “out of control” texts to Stef.

As the summer season winds down, I have a few burning questions on my mind: Did everyone collectively forget Justina Marks? Also, Jude? How sulky will Brandon be if he doesn’t get into Juilliard? And most important: Will they really sell the Adams Foster house? That won’t happen, right? WHERE WILL WE HAVE ELABORATE THEME PARTIES?

The Fosters Recap: Robots Against Misogyny