Let’s be honest: The majority of The Fosters season 4B and the first two episodes of season five were monopolized by Callie and Jesus’s respective story lines. It certainly happened for a good reason — those two have been through Some Things — but it’s nice to see The Fosters spreading the love around in this latest installment. Callie and Jesus are still involved, of course, but some of the other Adams Fosters get their day in the sun.
If you were to ask Lena, though, she’d probably love to be in the shade. This beautiful starfish is having a time. The cause of this Mama’s stress is two-pronged: She’s facing some tough situations both at work and at home. Let’s get work out of the way first because, sorry not sorry, this whole privatization thing is kind of a snoozefest.
The “Days Since Drew Has Acted Like a Dick” counter is still firmly stuck at zero. Lena and Monte are battling it out against Drew and the Parents Association to prove that Monte is still technically the principal of Anchor Beach, and had been during the time of the vote to go private, so therefore Drew’s vote is invalid. This is pretty easy to prove with, like, paperwork and stuff, and the education board does so with ease. If only it ended there. Since Monte won’t resign, Drew & Co. are going to find another way to get her removed as principal. They attempt to get Monte fired for that whole unsanctioned LGBTQ sex-ed debacle, but again, the very rational board easily comes to the conclusion that there aren’t grounds to fire Monte for it. Team Privatization vows to find some way to remove Monte, and after her, they’ll be coming for Lena. They are villains in a Western movie, apparently.
The good news is that Lena and Monte just bought themselves time to persuade some of the voters to keep Anchor Beach a charter school. The bad news is that this loss has only made Drew angrier — and he’s continuing to take it out on the students. A real stand-up guy, that Drew.
Drew may have suspended the school paper after “someone” hacked it and replaced a pro-privatization piece with a story about the protest, but a little school-activity suspension isn’t going to stop Mariana Adams Foster. She, Jude, Taylor, and a few other free-speech-loving teens create Rise Up, an underground student paper that I hope is a nod to Hamilton. When Drew installs security cameras at school, making it impossible for the Rise Up crew to sneak in and slip the first edition into lockers, Mariana comes up with a plan B. She convinces those mean boys from the STEAM club to help her use a drone to spread the papers all over campus. It backfires: Drew figures out that STEAM is behind it, and so he suspends that club as well. He then proceeds to make Mariana feel terrible about herself, a sentiment which those mean nerd boys echo. It’s a Mariana pile-on and it is not cool. No wonder Mariana runs straight over into the arms of Ximena and the roller-derby babes! Girl has a lot of aggression to work out. In a safe, controlled environment, of course.
With Drew and his cronies on her back, and the situation with the students deteriorating, Lena still needs to buck up and cook dinner for Stef’s first crush. That’s right you guys, the new neighbors are coming over for dinner. Lena and the kids teasing Stef after they figure out Tess is an old friend from high school — Stef had major feelings for her, but Tess was straight — is adorable and offers up a bevy of tiny moments that remind us all why this show is so great.
This dinner is a roller coaster, you guys. At times, hilarious: Mariana boning up on her football facts to impress Logan is a delight. At times, awkward: Tess brings up how much she loved Stef’s dad, the two old friends broach the subject of their falling out, and Tess finds out just how far she stuck her foot in her mouth when she dismissed Anchor Beach. Pass the wine, amiright? The meal is very insightful, too: Teenage Stef would “borrow” a neighbor’s car in order to go see the Indigo Girls. This is a perfect Stef anecdote. But, like any great dramatic TV dinner party, this one ends on a very tense note.
As Logan’s football career becomes a talking point, Lena questions whether or not Tess and Dean should be more worried about concussions in such a tough contact sport. (Is Lena overstepping here? DISCUSS.) Jesus, who’s been growing more agitated by the minute, eventually flips out, reminding everyone that a person can get a severe head injury and screw up his life without playing a contact sport. Later, Stef and Lena explain Jesus’s situation to their neighbors, and Tess, a doctor, offers some advice. Like, lots of advice. Advice about getting Jesus back into school and getting him a classroom aide. This sends Lena’s tension meter to high. Lena is an educational professional, after all, and she knows all about classroom aides. She and Stef have already discussed the situation, and they aren’t ready to send Jesus back into a school until they know he can handle his emotional outbursts. But thanks to Tess, Stef may be changing her tune. Lena is infuriated. Of course, when Lena is infuriated it mainly means she’s just pursing her lips and angrily stacking teacups.
Stef later confronts her obviously stressed-out wife, and finally we get to the heart of the matter: Lena isn’t just stressed — she’s scared. She’s legitimately afraid of Jesus and his out-of-control anger. He’s dangerous and she doesn’t know what to do anymore. The saddest part of this heartbreaking conversation? Jesus overhears the whole thing. Fingers crossed for an emotional Lena and Jesus scene that ends with hugging. They should always end with hugging.
Before we wrap this up, some very big news: I really enjoyed Brandon’s story line in this week’s episode! You guys, I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Let me clarify: I did not enjoy the idea of Brandon being some kind of sex god that Grace can’t keep her hands off of, because no. I did appreciate that she finally confronts him about not being able to play music for himself since losing his spot at Juilliard. He played at Lena and Stef’s vow renewal, he played with Callie the night before she thought she’d be going to prison, but he hasn’t been able to play without someone forcing him.
Grace may bring the subject to light, but it is another late-night kitchen chat with Callie (I’m starting to look forward to these, who am I?) that helps bring Brandon around. He shouldn’t give up on music just to punish himself. The next day, B and his guitar pay Grace a visit and he sings her a little apology song. She sings one back. It is all very sweet. Hopefully this signals Brandon starting to forgive himself and move on. Will Grace finally be the one to help Brandon become a mature and self-aware man? She’s very nice, but she’s no miracle worker.
In Other Family News
• Is Judicorn headed for trouble with Noah? The boys make a pact that Noah will give up weed for a week, but only if Jude stops playing video games on his phone. By the end of the episode, Jude is sneaking in some late-night gaming, so that probably won’t end well.
• Callie and Aaron go on their first official date … and it is very, very bad. In all fairness to Aaron, Callie does tell him to plan the thing. In all fairness to Callie, Aaron surprises her with tickets to The Fast and the Furious because that’s how Callie lives her life. If I followed Aaron’s system for selecting movies, I’d be watching Me Before You on a loop because I am selfish. Also, I really like that movie. So, on second thought, keep on keepin’ on, Aaron.
• Don’t worry, Callie-Aaron shippers. The two have a very mature first date postmortem and make nice. And then they make out.
• “It’s not like I’m asking you to get someone out of prison or prostitution.” Mariana serving us the realness when Callie declines to help her sister with Rise Up because she needs to stay out of trouble.
• It seems the Jesus and Emma romance may not be long for this world, Fosters fam. Emma is ghosting Jesus while away at her robotics competition, and the big guy is taking it pretty hard. Of all the Adams Foster teen romances, I’m rooting hardest for this one.