The Fosters Season Finale Recap: Leaving the Nest

Photo: Eric McCandless/Freeform
The Fosters

The Fosters

Just Say Yes; Many Roads Season 5 Episodes 18 and 19
Editor's Rating 5 stars

Hitting us with both the 100th episode of The Fosters (!!!) and the season finale in one night seems way harsh. A girl can only tear up and clutch her heart so much, you know? These back-to-back episodes aren’t the series finale — we still have three more episodes to come this summer — but wouldn’t they be a perfect way to go out? The ending is so lovely and wonderful and so The Fosters. I’m not complaining that we get a little more time with our favorite family, of course. I’m just saying that this is a nice little ending.

There’s a lot packed into “Just Say Yes” and “Many Roads,” so let’s take this recap Adams Foster by Adams Foster, okay?


Callie is on a mission to get into UCSD’s five-year law program. Dr. Kim thinks she’d be a great lawyer and will go to bat for her — but the truth is, it just won’t happen this year. Instead, Callie decides to focus on keeping the Sinfuegos in the United States. She thinks there is precedent to get them a stay of removal due to the way the ICE agents manipulated their way into their home. Look at our little Callie talking about precedents and stuff!

Dr. Kim says this is all great, but it still comes down to ICE’s word against the Sinfuegos’. Callie has an idea: What if she can get an actual ICE agent to testify about some less-than-ethical ICE practices? Well, that would be wonderful, says Dr. Kim. Does Callie know an ICE agent who would actually do this? GET WITH THE PROGRAM, DR. KIM. Or, at least, read my recaps.

When Callie’s ICE-agent friend Alan doesn’t want to testify because he doesn’t want to lose his job, Callie and Aaron serve him a subpoena. Understandably, ICE isn’t too thrilled with the idea of an agent being grilled in court, so they pull some strings and grant the Sinfuegos a stay of removal. It’s not a direct path to citizenship, but it’s a step in the right direction. And the family can remain together in the U.S. while they figure it out.

This is amazing news, and it further fuels Callie’s desire to become a lawyer. The Sinfuegos were lucky they knew the right people, but not everyone does — and Callie wants to help the unlucky ones. Dr. Kim calls her a “force of nature” and we’re all like, duh, dude. Unfortunately, she isn’t enough of a force of nature to win Aaron back, who decides to see where things will go with Amanda. It’s sad, but Callie will be busy saving the world anyway.

On top of saving a family from deportation, Callie’s moms remind her that rarely does a kid from the foster-care system go on to college, so what Callie has accomplished is nothing short of amazing. “See what happens when you start fighting for yourself?” asks Stef. Then the three of them hug and we all cry.


Mariana and Emma are toiling away on their robots, but Emma is having a tough time. Mariana doesn’t want to help the competition. She really needs this internship! But Mariana comes to realize that, all too often, women are pitted against one another. Women lifting up other women is a win for all of us. So Mariana ends up helping Emma with her robot … and Emma gets the internship, but Mariana does not.

Mariana believes her dreams of attending M.I.T. have been dashed, but Jesus isn’t so sure. Oh, how I’ve missed Twin Talk. He reminds Mariana that she is tenacious and talented and pretty much gets whatever she goes after. She’ll be fine.

Speaking of getting what she wants, Mariana is still dating both Logan and Wyatt. Wyatt seems to be winning her over though, and for that I am grateful. But she also has a little catch-up session with Mat, who is feeling much better after their talk, thank you very much. He reminds her that if she does end up at MIT, they’ll both be in Boston. Hmm …


Jesus is working on a half-decent shame spiral over the fact that he’s being held back a year when Mariana — dear, sweet Mariana — drags him into the backyard for a surprise. Everyone we know is there, ready to help Jesus build his treehouse, complete his senior project, and get enough credits so that he can be a senior next year. The day is ours!

Not only does the kid build a wonderful treehouse for a foster-kid camp, but he also gets some closure with Hot Dad Gabe. HDG apologizes for leaving in the middle of the night, but Jesus doesn’t need it. He knows HDG is doing the best he can. Besides, Jesus has the best family in the world. He’s more than fine. You guys, think about the Jesus we had when this show started and look where we’ve ended up. WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES.


Thank heaven for Noah. Noah points out that Jude is being a major tool bag, much like his new BFF Declan. Noah thought Jude got into the gamer world to be a role model for kids like him, but now all he cares about is money and fame. They break up because Noah deserves better. Really, we all do.

At a meet-and-greet for Imminent Power, Jude watches as Declan is rude as hell to a nerdy fan sporting nail polish. Declan is rude as hell to everyone. Jude finally realizes that Noah is right. And then it happens: We get a gorgeous callback to season one. Lena finds Jude painting his nails, and she takes over as they chat. YOU GUYS. This is so great. They talk about how they both worry about turning into a jerk sometimes, and Lena tells her son that we are all human and we make mistakes and bad decisions. We are only jerks if we don’t try to fix those things. So Jude confesses that he is still streaming and Lena, BLESS HER, asks Jude what he’s going to do to fix it.

Jude finds Noah at the graduation ceremony to apologize. Noah is a good person and Jude wants to be one, too. He has quit Imminent Power, and he and Taylor are going to go back to streaming with just the two of them. Jude is being a good person. They kiss!

Stef and Lena

The focus of The Fosters 100th episode is Stef and Lena’s relationship. The ladies spend the majority of their time trying to assist their five angsty teens with whatever drama befalls them that week, so they definitely deserve the spotlight.

Our favorite mamas head off to the couples retreat that Sharon treated them to for Mother’s Day. It is as awkward and uncomfortable as you’d imagine. Still, I never knew I needed to see Stef and Lena do goat yoga and now I do, so that’s something positive.

The retreat also forces Stef to confront the issues she’s been having all season long in the form of her father — well, her Ghost Father. Or Hallucination Father. You know what I mean. She’s carried his rejection of her for her entire life. She needs him to be proud of her, of who she chooses to love, and the life she’s built so that she can get past the shame. Only Ghost Dad can’t do that for Stef. She is the one who needs to learn to love herself. It’s a wonderful, important scene and ughhhh, why is this show leaving us?

Stef goes back to her room and finally opens up to Lena. She tells her that Tess moving in next-door brought up all the shame she still sometimes feels about herself. She loves Lena and their family, but she grapples with feeling like she is somehow wrong. She lives in fear that her family will be taken away from her just because she is different. Lena, beautiful Lena, is like, I know, dummy. I know you. She loves Stef, dark places and all.

The strength of their relationship is also on display as Stef finally puts all the Detective Gray–Patrick Molloy drama to rest. Instead of breaking the law, Stef decides to take down Gray the right way — which means she could be going down, too, since Gray won’t hesitate to turn her in to Internal Affairs for covering for Mike during the shooting. Stef is okay with that. She is ready to be free of the Gray weight, even if it means she needs to find a new career. It’s scary, but in a good way. Plus, she has Lena by her side. Everything will be okay.


Listen, we all knew there was no way Grace would make it out of this show alive. But just because you know something is going to happen doesn’t make it hurt any less once it does happen.

Grace tries to play it off like everything is fine and her new T-cells are working and she is in remission, but she is lying. When she and Brandon head off to Los Angeles for his interview at the Musician’s Institute, there are clues that something is going on, of course. Grace spends most of the weekend taking pictures, making Brandon play music, calling sunsets beautiful, and saying things like, “Some things last forever.” It isn’t until they reach Grace’s mom’s house and Grace runs to her crying, “I couldn’t tell him,” that he really understands. The treatment didn’t work. This is the end.

She wants Brandon to go back to San Diego and finish school. She does not want Brandon — who, as Stef points out, feels like his worth in a relationship comes from his ability to be a caretaker — to stop taking care of himself in order to take care of Grace. As he leaves Grace’s house, Stef shows up. She thought he might need some company on the drive home. Brandon breaks down in her arms. Moms always know.

Grace takes a turn for the worse the weekend of graduation, and Brandon heads up there to be with her. He plays their song as she goes. It is all so extremely sad.

But instead of going home, Brandon finds himself sitting on the grounds of Coachella, imagining himself and Grace playing up on the stage. Eventually, Callie shows up because she sees the Coachella tickets he has in his room and she knows. (Okay, this is just ridiculous, and also I hate how much Coachella is factoring into this whole storyline.) Callie assures a broken Brandon that Grace knew how much he loved her and how lucky she was to be loved by him, even if only for a little while, because Callie knows what it is like to be loved by him, too. (Eww, but also a little aww.) But above all, Grace would want him to be at his graduation. He’s earned it.

Graduation Day

Callie and Brandon make it back to graduation on time. Lena gives a moving speech that yes, is for her students, but is also for the fans. She thanks them — and us — for taking this beautiful, messy journey with her. She even reminds them, “It’s not where you come from, it’s where you belong.” She doesn’t sing it, but what can you do?

Honestly, I needed to see it to believe it, but both Callie and Brandon graduate from high school. And then Callie finds out that she got a last-minute acceptance into the UCSD law program (aw, television), Ximena got her DACA renewed, and Daphne is still around. What a happy ending!

And then something extra-wonderful happens: We jump forward to next year and see Jesus, Mariana, and Emma all graduate. Jesus is going to community college and both the ladies are going to MIT. Wyatt is in the crowd to cheer on his girl and Jude is going through a punk phase. This is wonderful!

Another jump! Jude and Taylor are graduating! Mariana and Mat are together! Stef has long hair and isn’t wearing flannel! What is this future world?!

The family gets together to celebrate Jude’s graduation and acceptance to UCLA. But he isn’t the only member of the family with something to celebrate: Brandon and his girlfriend, a seemingly lovely cellist, are engaged. Callie, who has one year left to go in her law program, makes a weird face when she hears the news. I am not here for this, Callie. Let Brandon live!

You know what I am here for, though? In the middle of the celebration, Lena gets a call from Bill the Social Worker, aka the guy who called about Callie in the pilot. He has another kid who needs a home. Are Lena and Stef interested?

Oh boy, you guys. You know they won’t be able to say no! But we’ll have to wait a few months to see The Fosters come full circle. See you this summer — we have a wedding to attend!

The Fosters Season Finale Recap: Leaving the Nest