The Fosters Recap: Sound the Alarm

The Fosters

Season 5 Episode 14
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Tony Rivetti/Freeform

For the most part, the major story lines from last week’s episode of The Fosters are put on the back burner this week. Lena is, presumably, settling in to her principal role after saving Anchor Beach. Mariana is, I suppose, casually dating Wyatt and Logan, which is the first casual thing she’s ever done in her life. And Jesus is, well, missing? Gone on vacation with Emma? Trapped in a room learning roller-derby stats? Who’s to say, because Jesus doesn’t seem to be at home. At least there is a good reason for letting some of these story lines fall by the wayside for a hot second. Instead of saving charter schools or discussing TBIs, The Fosters uses “Scars” to dive into two complex and intense issues: its ongoing exploration of how immigration is handled in this country, and transgender rights. Yeah, it’s a lot.

Of course, there is one character who will carry both those heavy issues on her very tiny shoulders: Callie. Per usual, Callie Adams Foster is having a very intense few days. Has any teenager led such an intense life? Sometimes I long for the days when Callie would go running off to Mexico. Like, at least have a little bit of fun, girl. Life is short!

Alas, there are too many important things going on for Callie to have fun. Remember that creepster ICE agent following her around after Ximena won a stay of deportation? Thankfully, he only seems creepy. Good ol’ Alan here confronts Callie because he wants to apologize. ICE was told that Ximena had made threatening and violent remarks at the rally — he didn’t realize they had been lied to until he saw the rally footage at the hearing. Chasing down innocent people isn’t why he got into the business. He sincerely wants to keep our country safe, but the job has changed and he doesn’t approve. Alan wants Callie’s help in exposing some of the things ICE is up to, like their new mandate to target undocumented kids who have just turned 18 by raiding their schools. There is a raid coming up and Alan wants Callie there with her camera.

Of course, once Callie tells the Scooby gang — which at the moment consists of her, Ximena, Mariana, and Aaron — they agree that it isn’t enough to just document the raid. They need to warn the kids being targeted and do whatever they can — without obstructing justice — to keep those kids safe.

While Callie waits for the call from Alan, she uses her free time to build her art portfolio for her college application. Her next piece: a shirtless portrait of Aaron. I don’t know, Callie, but shirtless art sessions do not seem like they’d be on the list of “Things Friends Do” that you’re so fond of explaining to Aaron. No wonder the kid is so confused as to what you want!

Aaron gets a look at Callie’s work and wonders why she hasn’t drawn the scars he has on his chest from having his breasts removed. Callie didn’t know how Aaron would feel about including them, especially if this portrait goes public. Would Aaron be okay being outed like that? Aaron isn’t ashamed of his scars, and is finally at a point where he loves his body, but he is a private person and is discerning about who he tells about being transgender. Later, Aaron explains that coming out as transgender is tricky. When someone comes out as gay, people tend to see that as that person being authentic. When someone transgender comes out, many people can feel like they’ve been tricked and lied to. It’s complicated.

I’m very much on Team Callie Should Choose Herself, but I am happy to have Aaron remain such a big part of this show. What a wonderful, important character to have on a teen drama.

Early the next morning, Callie gets the call from Alan with the name of the school where the raid will be taking place that day. Callie, Mariana, and Aaron rush over. Realizing that ICE will only be able to take kids off the buses, since they aren’t officially on school property, they tell anyone who will listen that if they are undocumented, they need to run into the school as quickly as possible. The entire scene as ICE pulls up and begins to run down their four targets is harrowing. Again, what a progressive story line to be telling on a teen drama. You go, The Fosters.

Some of the undocumented kids are carted off, which is horrible, but something equally as terrible happens to one of our own: Aaron gets shoved into one of the agents and is wrongly arrested for obstructing justice. When he finally gets to make his one phone call from his holding cell, he reminds Callie, and all of us, just how precarious his situation is. If he gets processed, he’ll be strip-searched —and prison can be an extremely dangerous place if people know he is transgender.

Because Callie is learning and growing as a person, she enlists Stef to help. Stef can’t really do much, but she does suggest Aaron disclose that he’s transgender to the police. He doesn’t feel safe being in a men’s prison and he doesn’t belong in a women’s prison. The police have no idea what to do with him.

Unable to do nothing, Callie meets Alan in a park and proceeds to yell at him for awhile. He won’t corroborate Aaron’s story, even though he knows Aaron was only shoved. He could lose his job and he has his family to think about. He doesn’t want to set off any alarms. Callie thinks someone at ICE needs to set off some alarms. She is disappointed, angry, and frustrated. So, you know, it’s a typical Tuesday for Callie.

As it so happens, Alan is moved by Callie’s speech. Callie gets a call from Aaron — he is a free man. Charges were dropped because someone at ICE corroborated his story. Callie runs over to Aaron’s place immediately to make sure he’s okay. Turns out, because no one knew what to do with him, Aaron was put in solitary confinement for his own protection. It was dehumanizing and it was in no way a solution to the problem. It motivates Aaron to be more open about his story. He wants Callie to add his scars to her portrait of him. He wants to be a face for transgender issues. Aaron isn’t playing around anymore.

As teens do, Aaron and Callie celebrate with a make-out session! Only, once Aaron asks if this means they are getting back together, Callie stops. She is internally freaking out and tells Aaron that she isn’t ready for them to be back on. He can do whatever he wants. And then she bolts, just as quickly as she arrived. Oh, Callie, always with the internal conflict.

In other family news:

• Oh, boy. Grace secretly makes Brandon her medical power of attorney, and you know that’s going to come into play down the road. If you weren’t sure if Grace would be a goner by the end of the season, this is your answer.

• As if Brandon doesn’t have enough drama thanks to his own family, he gets in the middle of Grace’s family drama once her dad shows up at the hospital. Henry and Grace’s mom, Susan, had a nasty breakup after he slept with one of Grace’s nurses (Grace doesn’t know that detail), and Susan hasn’t really moved on. You know what finally gets Susan over the hump? A chat with Brandon, another child of divorce. Brandon Foster, Teenage Therapist.

• Speaking of B’s insights into moms’ psyches, when Stef suffers a bad panic attack while grocery shopping, it’s Brandon whom she calls to pick her up. He reminds Stef that she used to have similar attacks when he was little, prompting Stef to take therapy a little more seriously. Her therapist has a theory: Could having her first love move in next door and involving her in her marital drama be triggering Stef’s anxiety?

• Poor Dean! He tearfully tells Stef that Tess wants a separation but he has no idea why. He loves his wife so much! Dean deserves a happy ending.

• After much deliberation, Jude and Declan are back to heavy flirting “for the show.” Although Declan grabbing Jude’s butt during a good-bye hug is most assuredly not for the show. Taylor tries to keep Jude on the straight and narrow, but Jude’s too busy enjoying fame and swag from his adoring fans.

• Is it in my head, or was Ximena sending some longing looks toward Callie any time they spoke about Aaron? Ximena’s mouth was saying words like “You’re in love with him,” but her eyes were screaming “Pick me. Choose me. Love me.”

The Fosters Recap: Sound the Alarm