The Fosters Recap: To Plea or Not to Plea?

The Fosters

Cruel and Unusual
Season 4 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

The Fosters

Cruel and Unusual
Season 4 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Maia Mitchell as Callie. Photo: Ron Tom/Freeform

What’s a parent to do when she realizes that her children are The Worst? Why, she grabs a hammer and takes down all of their bedroom doors, of course. Even better, she hands that hammer over to her son and makes him take down the doors. Have I told you lately how much I love Stef Adams Foster?

Stef and Lena deserve some kind of parenting award or a three-day vacation somewhere because, man, are they dealing with a lot these days. There is so much drama happening under their roof, in fact, that they up and decide to let Jude freely see his pothead, trespass-loving boyfriend again. They say it’s because Jude has lost so many people in his short life, but we all know it’s because they realize it is the least of their problems. They have so many problems!

The biggest are still Callie’s felony charges and Jesus’s recovery from brain trauma. Which means, yes, “Cruel and Unusual” is yet another depressing episode of The Fosters. I yearn for the days of teenage house parties, but at least there’s some compelling forward movement in both story lines.

Callie is … not well. Her extended stay in juvie is pretty frightening. The shady guard, Joey, who has inmates “party” with him, only has eyes for Callie at the moment. It is nauseating. Making matters worse, her inmate neighbor feels threatened when she sees Joey take an interest in someone new. That’s her man. More nausea ensues. Callie tries her best to stay out of the whole thing, but c’mon. She is greatest trouble magnet in the history of television.

When Callie sees the other inmate getting sick from the drugs she’s been using, she can’t not help. She gets the guards involved, and in doing so, really pisses off Joey. Callie promises that she won’t say anything about what he’s up to — but a promise isn’t enough for this guy. While Callie’s on mop duty, Joey grabs her bucket, throws it against a window, and blames it on her. Callie is put in solitary confinement for attacking a guard. So, I guess the lesson here is never help anyone ever.

This latest infraction, no matter how fabricated, won’t help Callie ahead of her fitness hearing. You know what might help, though? An assist from Robert Quinn. That’s right, everybody, Hot Dad Robert Quinn has returned from the abyss to make us all feel things in spite of his need to wear a chunky turtleneck. Oh, Robert, welcome home.

Robert’s upset that he had to find out that his daughter was back in juvie and facing felony charges from Sophia. He calls into question Stef and Lena’s ability to parent Callie. “Do you really want to play the game of who’s the better parent?” Stef bites back. Things are contentious, but Stef does agree that Robert should be in the loop, and that seems to calm him down a bit.

That calmness quickly goes away once he visits Callie. She actually seems kind of happy to see her birth father and she’s able to talk him off the ledge when he starts saying things about regretting giving up his parental rights. They also share a very cute moment when he mentions he ran into A.J., who gave him a letter to pass along to Callie. It’s a nice reprieve from the chaos, even if only for a few seconds.

The chaos returns when Callie asks for Robert’s advice. Her lawyer says there’s a deal on the table: The prosecution will withdraw the petition for a fitness hearing, if Callie pleads guilty. She would have to stay in juvie until she’s 18 — which is eight months away — but then her record would be expunged. On the flip side, if she doesn’t take the plea, she might have the opportunity to tell her side of the story and get the charges dismissed. What does Robert think? Here’s what Robert thinks: What in the hell is a fitness hearing? So much for being kept in the loop.

Needless to say, when Callie’s fitness hearing arrives, Robert is fuming. He threatens to sue for custody (BACK OFF, SIR) and demands that he and his lawyer be in the room as they discuss Callie’s options. There’s an obvious line in the sand. On one side, Stef, Lena, and Callie’s lawyer think it would be best to take the deal. Eight months in juvie is a heck of a lot better than five years in prison and a permanent record as a felon. Robert disagrees. There’s no way these charges will stick once argued in court. The truth is on Callie’s side. Stef tells Robert that he doesn’t understand how the system works, but what she really means is: Nothing ever works out for Callie, dude. Haven’t you ever seen this show?

Before the bickering can go too far, Callie interrupts. There’s no way she’s staying in juvie. She’s not taking the deal.

Of course, once they go into the fitness hearing, it’s pretty clear it will not go in Callie’s favor. Surprise, surprise. The judge understands that Callie is a good student with a loving family, but it’s obvious to him that juvie has not provided the wake-up call she needs. Callie will be tried as an adult.

The only good thing to come from this decision is that Callie gets to go home after Robert pays her bail. She can fit in a few more snuggle sessions with A.J. before heading back to court. If only a snuggle could solve all of her problems.

So that’s one rogue Adams Foster kid back home. What about the second? Jesus is in for a long, hard recovery. His doctor is optimistic, but it’s tough to see any silver lining while watching Stef and Lena’s hearts break. Their son as they knew him is gone. Jesus has a tremor in his hand, a twitch in his leg, and struggled to name everyday objects.

In other words, Jesus will require around-the-clock care through rehab. The hospital offers them a bed in a seemingly fine inpatient center, but after taking a tour, Stef and Lena can’t imagine leaving their son there by himself every night. That boy is coming home!

And so, Lena takes a leave of absence (Monte is going to be so heartbroken, you guys), and they set Jesus up on the first floor of La Casa Fosters. Everybody knows that house has healing powers, so this is a very good thing. It’s especially good, because another consequence from his injury is only now showing itself: As the entire Adams Foster family discovers, those pesky personality changes the doctors mentioned are real. They hand Jesus a slice of pepperoni pizza, his favorite, and he proceeds to yell that he doesn’t want it before smashing it on the ground.

I guess they’ll be ordering plain from now on.

In Other Family News

• Mike wants Ana and baby Isabella to move in with him and A.J. Don’t Mike and Ana look so happy? There’s a catch, of course: Stef reminds Mike that Ana has a criminal record, and CPS won’t like her living with a foster kid. When Mike tells A.J. he would like to adopt him, is it because he really wants to, or is it just a loophole to make his domestic dreams come true?


• Speaking of declarations of love, how adorable was A.J.’s letter to Callie? His tiny handwriting! His little smiley face! His use of a comma when writing, “I love you, Callie!”

• I guess that Brandon redemption story line isn’t coming anytime soon. Instead of going to Mariana, or, I don’t know, keeping it to himself, B decides it would be super cool to ask Mat if he’s having sex with Mariana and if she might be pregnant, because he totally saw her with a pregnancy test. Brandon, lean in real close so you can hear this: NO.

• Mat realizes that he’ll never be able to trust Mariana again and ends things. Maybe Mariana should take a boy-break for awhile. Choose you, girl. Choose you.

• Mariana explains to her dum-dum brother that Emma was only buying her tampons that day in the hospital. So what was up with that pregnancy test Emma purchased? Dun dun dun.

• “This is, like, cruel and unusual punishment!” “Tell me about it. Sometimes that’s how I feel about parenting.”

The Fosters Recap: To Plea or Not to Plea?