The Fosters Recap: Open House

The Fosters

Sex Ed
Season 4 Episode 15
Editor’s Rating *****
Tom Williamson as A.J., Cierra Ramirez as Mariana. Photo: Tony Rivetti/Freeform

Isn’t it wonderful when one scene can remind you why you fell in love with a show in the first place? I’m happy to report that there is such a scene in “Sex Ed.” It’s a small one with no real drama or any big revelations — it is simply a family of seven sitting down to dinner together, talking about their days. There are multiple conversations happening at the same time, with a sprinkling of gentle (and not-so-gentle) familial ribbing. It feels like a real family gathered around the kitchen island. Sure, it serves to set up several story lines, but it also showcases what The Fosters is all about. This is a show about a family trying to make it through the day. The issues that the Adams Fosters deal with may be extreme, but it’s because of moments like these that the characters and their relationships feel authentic and relatable. That’s what has been so special about The Fosters from the very beginning.

Speaking of extreme drama, let’s get an update on Callie. You just knew some major setback was lurking around the corner from the moment Callie smiled. Yes, Callie Adams Foster actually smiles. But poor Callie is the type of girl who can’t smile and get away with it. Things don’t work like that in Callie’s world.

What is she smiling about? Well, Callie finally finishes her senior project and unveils it to her classmates. It is a rousing success. Even Talya, president of the Students Against Callie Club, is moved. She thanks Callie, not only for opening her eyes to the dangers of blindly trusting a broken justice system, but also for simply being brave enough to share her story. First, Callie smiles, and now Talya is a nice human being? Is this actually an episode of The Twilight Zone we’re watching?

Unfortunately, Callie’s project is a little too moving. Lena gets a call from a very concerned Monte that night. Typically, the seniors leave their projects up for the prospective student open house. Since there is so much pressure to increase enrollment numbers this year, what with the bad publicity of the whole Nick situation, Monte doesn’t think it would be a great a idea to let parents see Callie’s project about her life in and out of juvie. Don’t want them thinking there’s a ton of delinquents running around, you know? Callie is understanding of the situation. But you know who isn’t? Tayla and the rest of the senior class. They threaten to boycott the open house entirely. Monte, of course, blames Callie, which sets Lena off. She should’ve fought harder for her daughter and she’s proud Callie’s classmates are taking up the cause. It’s not right to silence Callie’s voice.

So the ladies concoct a plan. If Monte doesn’t want the project on school grounds, they’ll just rebuild it off school grounds … right in front of the entrance. In your face, Monte! That’s for kissing Stef’s lady!

The win for Callie is made even sweeter when a prospective parent, who just happens to be a professor at a local arts college, encourages her to apply to their program. Callie’s art is good and she shouldn’t stop after high school. The celebrations are cut short, however, when Lena and Callie arrive home to find Robert Quinn in the kitchen with Stef. Why does the Hot Dad always have to be the bearer of bad news? The latest: Troy Johnson won’t take the settlement deal, so the case is going to trial. Troy Johnson is such a dick.

Let’s chat about another girl having a tough go of it: Emma. In yet another scene that’s an example of what The Fosters does so well, we find Emma and Brandon, her only confidant at the moment, at a clinic, waiting for Emma to be called in for her abortion. Emma is 16 and pretty much alone — even Brandon knows he’s unqualified for this job — and the show isn’t afraid to let her be as confused as any teenager going through this would be. “Should I feel bad?” she wonders. If she doesn’t feel bad, is she coldhearted? And if she does, should she really be going through with this? There are no easy answers — especially when it comes to whether or not it is cruel to not tell Jesus. The Fosters doesn’t try to come to a conclusion about any of these questions, it just lets them breathe, as if the scene is just a conversation starter for the viewers at home.

Back in Fosters-land, Emma has her abortion and pretty much goes about her life. Jesus is still suspicious of her relationship with Brandon, and when she turns down a little hospital-bed sexy time — excuse me, physical therapy — and instead runs downstairs and chats with B about not being ready to have sex just yet, well, his My Girlfriend Is Sleeping With My Brother Meter goes through the roof. Later, during a disastrous piano lesson, Jesus finally confronts the two of them. He screams at them, so basically the entire family comes running just in time to hear Jesus’s theory about his brother screwing his girlfriend. Some things you just can’t un-hear. Jesus brings Stef into it, claiming she must have known and she must be pretty happy about it; after all, the mamas want B to have everything. Can a person be simultaneously punched in the gut while also laughing? I feel for Jesus in this moment, but how can he seriously think his moms are big Brandon fans?

Anyway, Jesus is more than just jealous. He’s frustrated and heartbroken over his situation. He collapses into Stef’s arms. And the long road to recovery continues.

Unfortunately, Mariana can’t just let things lie. She goes after Brandon. She wants to know if what Jesus says is true. Of course Brandon tells her it’s not — but eventually she forces him to tell the truth about Emma. Brandon is an extremely good liar when it comes to his secrets, but apparently when holding another person’s secret, he is no match for Mariana. Her reaction is anger-inducing, but also very teenager-y: Mariana goes right to her new Anonymous Secrets Twitter account and complains about her best friend being pregnant and not being able to tell her. Something tells me that little tweet is going to come back in a big way.

In Other Family News…

• Think the above drama is all Lena and Stef have to tackle this week? Have you ever seen this show? Jude also has a heck of a story line. When his sex-ed class neglects to discuss gay sex, he ventures out on his own to learn about it … via a hookup app called “Pump.” It is terrifying to watch Jude put himself in danger. Thankfully, nothing happens and Jude ends up getting a stern talking-to and a huge hug from both his moms.

• Lena is going to hold her own off-campus, gay sex-ed class. YOU GO, LENA.

• Oh, A.J.! The kid is so lovable, it’s tough to watch him get hurt. His brother is getting out early and wants them to be a family again … at the very moment he’s contemplating being adopted by Mike. BUT OF COURSE Isabella’s grandmother spills the beans that Ana the Felon can only move in if A.J. is no longer being fostered. In short, A.J. is very confused and very sad.

• Since The Fosters has been on a depressing bender in season 4B, might I recommend a quota of one scene per episode in which A.J. holds a baby? It’s only fair.

• The Stef and Mariana stuff is delightful. Stef attempts to teach her daughter some self-defense — Mariana wears heels to the demo, if you’re wondering how that goes — which leads to Mariana opening up about how scared she still feels about the Nick situation. I’d watch Mariana and Stef chatting in bed for a solid half-hour.

• I really love that The Fosters is exploring stories about kids with autism via Brandon’s excursion into music therapy, but it is so obviously setting up a new love interest for him that it hurts. Can B do any activity without falling for someone?

The Fosters Recap: Open House