Dreams do come true, you guys. And The Fosters makes them happen. One of my biggest dreams for season five was to get a better understanding of how Lena and Stef deal with the abundance of biological parents hanging around the ol’ homestead. It seems, um, complicated? And emotionally trying? Two types of problems that The Fosters excels at dealing with.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled to report that the two major story lines in “Exterminate Her” are both rooted in how Lena and Stef decide to navigate these unique situations.
Let’s start with Robert Quinn. To say his relationship with Lena and Stef is tenuous is an understatement. He fought pretty hard to take full custody of Callie … but on the other hand, the dude has a boat. Then again, he does unilaterally make a decision to throw an impromptu “The Charges Were Dropped and You’re Not Going to Jail” party AT STEF AND LENA’S HOUSE. But also, he brings cake. It’s a toss up.
Stef and Lena are none too thrilled about the aforementioned party — especially as it happens seconds after they try to teach Callie a lesson about owning up and learning from her mistakes, not celebrating them — but they are at their wit’s end. They fill Robert in on Callie’s latest harrowing incident and he has an idea: He’d like to be more involved in Callie’s life. He wants to be supportive and help her make better choices. Lena and Stef seem exhausted and they’re all out of ideas when comes to getting Callie to take her future seriously, so Robert Quinn it is.
I joke, but there is a great scene in “Exterminate Her” that dives into just why Stef and Lena consider this their only option. In fact, there is a whole heap of great Stef and Lena moments in this episode that once again showcase the most authentic marriage on television. We do not deserve them. Stef and Lena are discussing what welcome gift to get their new neighbors (it’s less of a discussion and more of Lena shooting down all of Stef’s ideas), that quickly has Lena asking Stef if they’re doing the right thing with Callie. Stef mumbles something about it “taking a village,” but Lena knows that doesn’t sound like Stef. Stef begins to show her cracks. This last ordeal with Callie broke her. She’s scared and has no idea what to do. She’s looking for any way to protect her daughter — and sometimes that means asking for help in the last place you want to.
I told you, we are not worthy.
But it’s not like Stef and Lena have too much to feel threatened about: Robert “being more involved” mainly seems to mean driving Callie to and from that art school she was interested in before she was facing jail time. That’s right, just as Callie believes her dreams of art school are DOA because she doesn’t have anything resembling a portfolio, she gets a call from Art Professor Helen asking her to come audit her class. Has Callie ever smiled this wide or for this long? I’m seriously asking.
Anyway, before long, it dawns on Callie that there is no way in hell a senior in high school with very little art experience would be allowed to audit at a prestigious college and assumes that Robert has written a big check in order to make this happen. She gets upset and runs off with her classmate Ximena, the most patient college student in history. Ximena takes Callie to … her roller-derby practice. Guys, I can’t even get into this roller-derby thing right now because WHY, but also because I’m sure at least one of the Adams Foster teens will be back to “unleash the beast” at the rink. Consider it Chekhov’s Roller Skates.
When Callie returns home, she gets an earful from her moms and Robert (who did not write a check, thank you very much, but simply reminded Helen of Callie’s situation), but Callie gives it right back. She thinks all three of them are asking her to forget her past in order to move forward with her life. She doesn’t want to forget her past; those experiences make her who she is. It’s a very heartfelt moment that’s met with extreme empathy from our matriarchs. They would never ask Callie to pretend she’s someone she’s not. In fact, out in the backyard sits Callie’s senior art project — they saved it from being tossed in the trash because of how important it is to remember the past. They just don’t want Callie to keep repeating the same mistake. They want her to learn from her past. And then the three of them embrace and cry and I learn how awkward it is to hug a flat-screen TV. WE ARE ALL LEARNING LESSONS. Robert Quinn’s lesson, as he awkwardly stands to the side, is that he may be able to support Callie, but Lena and Stef are her parents.
The bigger bio thorn in Stef and Lena’s side at the moment is Gabe. This is a tricky situation. I feel for Gabe — his whole thing is so new for him. Just last week, he was lamenting to Ana that he is clueless when it comes to boundaries with the twins. Maybe you could say one boundary is not telling Jesus something Stef explicitly asked you to keep to yourself. I’m just guessing here.
After Jesus kicks Mariana off his treehouse senior project because he wants to make Emma happy (geez, I forgot how mad she was), Mariana informs Gabe that she has to be involved because Jesus might not be a senior next year. This is information that Stef and Lena aren’t ready to upset him with yet, but Gabe has trouble lying to Jesus, especially after seeing what keeping secrets did to him last time. So, he spills the beans on Jesus’s senior status almost immediately. I get where Gabe is coming from, but Stef is also right to be furious. She and Lena make the parenting decisions around here and if Gabe can’t respect that, he should get to steppin’. Child-rearing is hard enough without the backseat parenting.
There is an unforeseen wrench thrown into this whole situation. Over at Anchor Beach, tensions are running high and Not-Principal Drew is still the biggest dick in all the land. After Mariana, Jude, and Taylor hack the school newspaper to replace a pro-privatization op-ed with a piece about what really went down that night, Drew is heated. He can’t prove they are the ones who did it, but he can punish them and Lena. He suspends the school paper indefinitely and strips all funding for juniors starting senior projects. He’s coming after the Adams Fosters.
For Stef, there are pros and cons to this news. Sure, Jesus will be devastated, but the only reason Gabe is living in the backyard is to help the twins with this project. No project, no Gabe. Gabe sees how upset Jesus is to lose the one good thing he had going, so he offers up a plan B: He can scrounge up some scrap wood and ask Jesus’s uncle (the construction guy) to donate anything else. Stef is quick to correct him: Jesus’s biological uncle.
Again, Gabe doesn’t mean anything malicious by his choice of words, but Stef’s frustration is understandable. Unlike Robert Quinn when he first rolled into town, I don’t think Gabe is any kind of real threat to the Adams Foster family unit — he simply doesn’t know any better. He, Stef, and Lena are all trying to figure out his role in Jesus and Mariana’s lives. Now that the treehouse project is back on, they’ll have plenty of time to confront this situation head-on. I, for one, am so here for that.
In Other Family News
• This week in Oh, Brandon: B doesn’t realize that when Grace calls him over with an “emergency” and that emergency is her being handcuffed to her bed, it’s actually her attempt at seducing him. It takes a little clarification from Callie, of all people. Dopey Brandon is the best Brandon.
• Mariana’s face when Jesus informs her that Emma will be helping him with his project instead of her goes from hopeful to heartbroken in seconds. So, yeah, Cierra Ramirez is still the best.
• The Jesus-Emma-Mariana problem may be moot anyway, as Emma seems to be running for the hills in fear after witnessing Jesus’s rage problem firsthand.
• The Adams Fosters have new neighbors! This is exciting news for two reasons: First, that Logan kid is giving Mariana some serious eyes … and Mariana is giving them right back.
• And second, when Stef and Lena finally head over to officially welcome Dean and Teresa to the neighborhood, it’s very obvious that Stef and Teresa have some history. This is going to be so good, you guys.