We did it, gang! Our collective hopes and prayers worked: The Adams Foster house has been saved. And all it took was a little scamming of the system! Lena and Stef are going to file for divorce — just file, relax — which will freeze up their assets, put a pause on the moving process, and hopefully drive away the current buyers. Both Jesus 2 and I think it's just a tad devious, but our mamas insist they do it out of love: love for their memories, love for their family, but mostly love for their kitchen island, solver of crises, maker of dreams. The house stays!
Of course, we didn't learn that the big D word was only being thrown around as a real-estate tactic until the conclusion of "New York." And yes, it's a bit cheap to open the episode with Stef's proclamation that she and Lena are getting a divorce, only to rewind 36 hours to explain just what she means. The Fosters has been relying on these gimmicks to amp up the drama all season, when the truth is that the show doesn't need them. The Fosters excels in its quiet, relatable moments, not this misleading melodrama. I'd take 100 scenes of Lena telling Mariana they were meant to be mother and daughter over whatever the hell that opening was tonight. But seriously: that scene, 100 times.
Let's talk about Mariana, shall we? She doesn't have a huge story line in this episode, but it's certainly the most affecting. Also, she's my favorite Adams Foster and I make the rules here.
While Mariana and Jesus are cleaning out the garage for the family yard sale — this is before Stef and Lena decide to fake divorce proceedings — Jesus comes across Stef's old journal. He reads a snippet and realizes that this will undoubtedly be more trouble than it's worth, but his sudden disinterest means Mariana is all over that thing once her brother leaves.
So kind, so doofy, so tall: Jesus 2 really is the best of them, isn't he? What he read and didn't want Mariana to see was Stef journaling her heart out about Lena initially not wanting to adopt the twins. This revelation hits Mariana hard. When paired with the lingering memories of Nick hiding out in the house, Mariana is feeling very pro-move. For her, the house is nothing but a place full of lies and shadows of deranged ex-boyfriends.
When the mamas show their cards and Mariana realizes she'll be staying put, she storms off. Jesus fills them in on journal-gate, and Lena heads upstairs to do damage control. She tells Mariana about the day they first met, how Mariana was just a little girl looking for love and affection, and that scared the crap out of Lena, whose own mother wasn't the nurturing type. (Lorraine Toussaint? I don't believe it.) Soon after, Mariana needed comforting after a bad dream, and that was it for Lena. She was in love, and she knew she was meant to be Mariana's mother. That was also it for me, left to weep into my throw pillow as Lena assured Mariana that being her mother is the thing she's most proud of in her life.
Lena notices that Mariana is still jittery after their heart-to-heart, but she brushes her off when Lena continues to press the issue. We all know Mariana's problems stem from unresolved Nick feelings and that big bottle of Jesus's ADHD pills she stole from the mail, but Lena is still in the dark. I sincerely hope she doesn't blame her heartfelt-chat skills, because she was seriously on-point tonight, and Lena doubting herself for even one second would be the real tragedy here.
Mariana's roommate is having an emotional night, too. Another week, another episode where Callie must deal with drama on multiple fronts. There's her rocky relationship with Jude, of course. He's still giving her the cold shoulder and some hardcore shade over her choice of boyfriends: "[Noah's] not a bad influence, and at least he isn't my foster brother." He then drops multiple mics, in my head.
She's also trying to keep her perfect boyfriend from being scared off. Callie and A.J. are innocently having sex on the floor of an empty apartment in Mike's building, when Mike and Stef walk in so that Stef can see about renting the place while the family looks for a new home. The kids duck into the closet, but this, of course, is the location where Mike and Stef decide to have a frank conversation about Brandon and Callie. He thinks that Callie has caused nothing but trouble for Brandon since she showed up. Stef does her best to defend her daughter, but is there really any way to recover after the phrase "yanking his chain" is used in a serious discussion?
Two wonderful things come from this: First, Callie is forced to be honest with A.J. about her kiss with Aaron, and A.J. takes it like the sensitive, trusting, perfect boyfriend he is. Second, in the heat of the discussion, Mike refers to A.J. as his son. HIS SON. I am but a puddle on that vacant apartment's floor.
Let's get real, though: Callie's main concern is still her one man #FreeKyleSnow movement. Callie hears that Kyle is getting moved to Folsom Prison tomorrow, so yet again, she takes matters into her own hands. Aaron discovers a DNA report that was covered up, claiming that a third person's DNA was found on the murder weapon. This means there could be another potential suspect, and Callie has someone in mind: Doug Harvey, curb painter and creepy hoarder extraordinaire. Stef and Mike pay him a visit, but it only yields more confirmation that Doug is a bit unhinged.
Callie decides it's up to her to get some of Doug's DNA to prove Kyle's innocence, so she takes her own clandestine trip to steal Doug's toothbrush. Unfortunately for Callie, Doug comes home while she's inside, and although she makes a quick getaway, he sees her and figures out who she is (and that she's related to the cop who came to question him earlier). As the episode closes, he pulls up outside of the Adams Foster house and waits. The guy's a top-notch creeper, what can I say?
Alas, now Callie has a probable murderer on her tail. Remember when her biggest concern was making sure her social worker didn't find out she was sleeping with her foster brother so that she could get adopted? It was a simpler time.
In Other Family News:
- Brandon finally makes it to the concrete jungle that is New York City for his big Juilliard audition. Within minutes, B meets a girl who immediately recognizes that his current home-life situation is dumb and that he needs to break things off with Cortney before he blows his audition out of obligation. He mails Cortney a Dear John letter and then goes on to play the best version of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata he's ever played.
- Praise be! Jude is still hooking up with Noah, the cutie pothead pastor's son. Noah's a little more experienced than Jude, but he also respects his new boyfriend. The kid seems pretty decent. Is Jude going to lose his v-card to this guy? Unfortunately for the budding boyfriends, the mamas catch the two of them smoking pot in the garage — looks like Jude might be hanging on to his v-card a little while longer.
- "New York" is sprinkled with some nice flashbacks, as different Adams Fosters grapple with losing their home. Highlights include: remembering how tiny Judicorn was, and the WTF hair Lena and Stef rocked back in the day. I'm still waiting for proof of Stef's "Mrs. Brady" mullet.
- The only reason I'm giving the whole "file for divorce" thing a pass is because the mere mention of divorce leads Stef and Lena to admit that some of their old issues are creeping back into their relationship, followed by a lovely moment when they promise to be better and reaffirm their love for each other. Will I ever stop crying? Probably not.
- We finally meet Joe Gray, dirty detective. He's a lover of yard sales and threatening people into staying quiet. Apparently, he doesn't know that nobody threatens Stef Adams Foster. Or haggles her down to a lower price than she deserves for her old books. HE WILL PAY FOR THIS.