Sherri Saum as Lena, Teri Polo as Stef, Maia Mitchell as Callie, David Lambert as Brandon.
Photo: Eric McCandless/Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Not every episode of The Fosters will be a home run, and the chilling lockdown at Anchor Beach is a tough act to follow. But continuing Nick’s story by bringing the threat directly into the Adams Foster house is a questionable choice. I can’t help but think Nick and Mariana’s final confrontation would have been more powerful if it took place on school grounds at the end of last week’s episode. Instead, we have to sit through a series of increasingly frustrating fake-outs while Nick bides his time for a one-on-one with Mariana — a decision that, rather than building any tension, only serves to make me seriously question Stef’s abilities to do a proper location sweep. Or maybe Nick is just a really good hider. At least he has that going for him!
Let’s skip the cheesy horror-flick shots of shadows while Mariana showers, or that heavy-handed lingering on the attic door, and get to the important stuff. After lurking around the Adams Foster house for two days, San Diego’s 2016 Hide and Seek Champion Nick Stratos interrupts Mariana as she attempts to take what seems like it could’ve been a pretty stellar nap. He’s even more out of sorts than he was the last time we saw him — and yes, he’s still dangerously waving around his dad’s gun.
Nick is in serious pain. He claims to hear voices in his head that won’t be quiet. He confesses that his father would beat him. He hates everyone. He hates his dad. He hates Mariana. He’s not there to hurt her, he promises, as he turns the gun toward himself. It is excruciating to watch.
How about a round of applause for Cierra Ramirez, though? A joy to watch in any episode, she really shines in “Safe,” as Mariana attempts to talk Nick off the ledge by saying anything that might calm him down. She keeps him talking long enough for Callie to wander into the connecting bathroom and catch a glimpse of Nick and his gun in the mirror. Instead of just storming in and attempting to diffuse the situation — which would be so typical Callie — the girl’s first reaction is to get Stef. I’ve never been prouder of Callie Adams Foster.
As Stef quietly enters the bedroom, she finds Nick sobbing in Mariana’s lap and his gun tossed to the side. Stef dismantles the gun and although Nick tries to hold on to Mariana, he doesn’t put up much of a fight as Stef pulls her daughter to safety. Stef reassures Nick that it’s all over, and he’s led out of the house in handcuffs. Here’s hoping we get more closure on the whole ordeal than Mariana and Jesus’s Twin Talk. Don’t get me wrong, I live for Twin Talk, but the mental issues that drove Nick to his current state deserve a little more discussion than what’s offered up in “Safe.” With all those cuts to characters jumping and gasping with surprise, I guess there wasn’t enough time. Next episode, maybe?
While Stef and Lena implement their own lockdown at home — no phones, computers, or leaving the house alone — the rest of the Adams Fosters still manage to cause some drama. And if we’re talking Adams Foster drama, we’re talking Brandon.
On a scale from “So Not Brandon, Are You Sure It’s Not Jesus?” to “That’s The Dumbest Thing I Ever Heard, It Must Be Brandon,” B really tips toward the latter side tonight. He’s simultaneously worried about scheduling time to reveal his and Callie’s relationship to his moms and getting out the house as fast as he can. This leads to several terrible decisions, as is Brandon’s M.O.
First, he decides the perfect time to pull Callie aside is in the middle of the night while she’s asleep. Apparently, there was not a single moment throughout the day when he could reassure Callie that Lena and Stef would never reverse her adoption. But sure, it seems like a great idea to wake the girl up in the dead of night, bring her into your bedroom, and misleadingly rub her leg as a means to comfort her. Stef discovers them, of course, which only adds more fuel to the ever-growing “Can We Ever Trust Brandon and Callie Again?” fire.
The next morning, B is gone. He disobeyed Stef’s order to stay in the house until Nick was found and sped on over to Cortney’s to help her move. This is dumb for two reasons: (1) Never cross Stef, especially in a crisis, and (2) Most people look for excuses to get out of helping people move. Don’t waste a good one when it’s handed to you, B. You’re infuriating!
Stef goes looking for her eldest son and finds him hanging out naked in Cortney’s bed. Why The Fosters keeps giving Brandon weird post-coital dialogue, I’ll never understand. In the spirit of pretending something isn’t happening until it just goes away, I refuse to discuss it. We should, however, discuss Stef and Brandon’s showdown outside of Cortney’s house because it is awesome and so worth the wait. It’s the argument in which B informs his mother that he can legally vote now, so he’s not a kid anymore. The argument in which B offends literally everyone in his family by telling Stef that he and Callie sleeping together isn’t a big deal because she’s not his real sister. The same argument in which B invokes the battle cry of teens everywhere and tells Stef that she just doesn’t understand. YOU KNOW THE ONE.
Thankfully, Stef doesn’t hold back. She lays into B, telling him that he knows sleeping with his foster sister is wrong, and they’ll say anything because they knew it was wrong. She says that she blames him more than Callie because Callie was vulnerable and he should’ve known better. (Um, has she ever met Brandon?) Then, against all odds, Brandon agrees with her. That is not a typo. He takes full responsibility, which is great, but then ruins everything when he doesn’t exactly apologize — instead, he tells Stef he’s moving in with Cortney. Oh, Brandon, just when I think you can’t make any more dumb decisions, you do. Bless your heart. Stef’s reaction is filled with anger, heartbreak, and annoyance. Teri Polo emotes all of that with her eyes alone. She’s the best, in case I haven’t said it enough lately.
Callie handles the scandal in her own special way, too. By which I mean she and Mariana use AJ’s computer to hack into Justina’s Fost and Found account. They reroute the page to a new site, “Justice for Jack,” which simply has a photo of a check Arbiter sent Justina, proving she works for the company and that she’s liable in Jack’s death. The real terror in this episode comes from realizing just how easy it is for a bunch of teenagers to hack into someone’s admin account. Protect your identity, people! Precocious teens are coming for you.
Speaking of Jack, after Jude has a dream where he visits him and claims he’s still in the system, Jude is determined to pay his respects at Jack’s grave. After he and Lena do a little digging, they discover that no one claimed Jack’s ashes, so his remains are just sitting somewhere, alone and unwanted. It’s possibly the saddest moment in an episode that’s full of ’em. Because Jude is the most thoughtful 14-year-old on the planet, he claims Jack’s ashes and buries them under baby Frankie’s tree. This kid is so sweet. It’s really going to sting when he finds out Callie has been lying to him again — and Callie knows it.
And so, The Fosters moves from the Nick saga into what I fear will be Brallie-heavy territory. In the meantime, riddle me this, Fosters fam: How long will it take for B to realize he can’t handle Cortney and her kid? What the heck are Lena and Stef going to do about Callie? And most important, where are the Hot Dads hiding and when will they return?