Teri Polo as Stef, Hope Olaide Wilson as Diamond.
It’s about time The Fosters gave us a little twin interaction. When Jesus was injured, that trip into his subconscious revealed just how much he feels the need to protect Mariana. We’ve also seen some of this protectiveness come out, especially when it comes to who the other twin is dating, or how they might feel when their birth parents show up. But these moments seem few and far between. In the wake of Jesus’s TBI, it’s nice to be reminded of the special bond the Adams Foster twins share.
This time, it is clearly Mariana coming to her brother’s side. When Jesus was first injured, Mariana blamed herself outright. Of course, she was told it wasn’t her fault — and that is the truth — but this is a teenage girl who’s been through some grade-A drama: There’s no way she’s over the guilt of what happened to her twin because of her pill-popping stalker escapade.
Add that on top of the guilt she’s feeling for keeping Emma’s abortion a secret from Jesus, mix in simple sisterly affection, and you’ve got some pretty heavy motivation for Mariana’s actions in “Diamond in the Rough.” After watching Jesus grow increasingly frustrated and depressed as his rehab stumbles backward (he now has to wear giant glasses to help with his reading), Mariana wants to boost her brother’s morale. She catches him doodling some pretty amazing sketches of treehouses — the dude has gotten very into treehouses while laid up in bed — and has an idea to present to their moms.
As with any Mariana idea, Stef and Lena brace themselves, but it’s not as cuckoo as one would think: She wants to help Jesus present his treehouse sketch as his senior project. They could get Gabe’s help and Jesus could act as the architect of the project, all without doing any actual building himself. No nail guns will pass through those hands!
With Stef and Lena tentatively on board, Mariana brings her brother to school to get approval from Drew, the guy filling in for Lena while she’s on leave. Jesus has to wear his helmet and his glasses out in the wild, so to make her brother feel more comfortable, Mariana wears her own glasses and tells Jesus he basically just looks like a hipster now, so not to worry.
Unfortunately, the meeting doesn’t go well. Lena tells Mariana that Drew won’t be approving the project. He’s skeptical that Jesus will even be a senior at Anchor Beach due to his slow rehabilitation. In other news, Drew is the worst.
Thankfully, sometimes infuriatingly, Mariana doesn’t take no for an answer. She refuses to let Jesus face one more disappointment — he’s had his fill of those for a while. So, she finds another way: She tells Jesus the treehouse project has been approved — but only if they share it. She explains that it’s because the project is so expensive, but we all know she’s taking it on as her own project so that her brother gets a win. He can’t believe that Mariana would choose this as her own project, but she insists she wants to. After all, she’ll get to be project manager and she loves bossing people around. That sounds about right.
She also brings Jesus an old copy of the magic-treehouse book series that inspired him. They used to read it as kids, and now, as teenagers, Jesus asks Mariana to come and read some of it to him. It’s all so endearingly sweet, it made me want to cry. So I did. A lot.
Of course, there’s one last piece to this treehouse puzzle: Getting Gabe involved. Mariana goes to call him, only to find out his phone number is no longer in service. Add that to the list of things for Mariana to fix. Together, we will find that hot dad!
All the treehouse shenanigans, as silly as they may sound, go to show that there’s no need for a flashy “big-issue” storyline to make The Fosters moving. I would take Mariana advocating for her brother over the whole teenager-with-a-pimp story that gets introduced in this episode any day. Sure, it is important to give a voice to many of these bigger stories, but most of the time, it’s the small, relatable ones that really soar.
Speaking of which, Mr. Relatable Boyfriend himself gets his day in the sun. Okay, maybe A.J. doesn’t have the most normal teenager story; he’s dealing with choosing whether or not to be adopted, as well as the fact that his girlfriend might be going to prison. Yet he still certainly yearns for a basic teenager storyline.
He and Callie haven’t patched things up since their last fight. Callie goes to make things right with her guy and happens upon him playing a little one-on-one with Dawn. By that, I mean both a basketball game and some on-court kissing. Callie knows that when Aaron kissed her it didn’t mean anything, so she assumes the same and tries to win A.J. back by surprising him with a joint shower session. But A.J. takes his hygiene seriously, so he’s not interested.
After the awkward exchange, they finally talk to one another. Callie knows she’s been neglecting him, but A.J. isn’t a child and doesn’t need attention; he just wants his girlfriend to be … present. It is a very mature thing for A.J. to say, and with each passing minute, I’m more and more convinced that he deserves much better than Callie. Sorry, Cal, but this precious little bird of a dude needs to be set free.
In Callie’s defense, she does chat with him regarding his adoption problem, and tells him that he is allowed to choose what’s best for him — Mike will be okay if A.J. decides to live with Ty. It’s all very nice, but it is also the first time she’s had a conversation that is 100 percent about A.J. since they started dating, so it doesn’t win her that much goodwill. At the very least, it does help him.
A.J. tells Mike about his plans to live with Ty, and Mike is sad, but understanding. He makes sure A.J. knows that he meant everything he said when he told him that he loved him. He even comes up with a plan to have A.J. and Ty live down the hall by using all the money he’s received for fostering. (He was planning on giving it to him anyway.) A.J. is so overwhelmed and so sincerely happy with the gesture, I just want to stay in this moment forever.
Unfortunately, we can’t. Eventually, A.J. finds out that Callie saw him kissing Dawn, and he needs to talk about it. He admits that it did mean something to him. He loves Callie, but he likes Dawn, too. Everything is so hard with Callie, and it shouldn’t have to be that way. I respect that this is a sad moment for both parties involved, but I also want to high-five the hell out of A.J. He is so right. Fly away, handsome little bird. BE FREE.
• In case you thought Mariana was only in the business of saving one of her brothers, she also talks Brandon out of wearing a terrible shirt on a date with Grace. Oh, and she reminds him that it’s not actually fair of Emma to be putting him in the middle of this thing with Jesus. Correct on both counts, girl.
• Brandon tells Jesus that he looks like a Minion in his new glasses. Brandon is such a dick.
• We’re introduced to Detective Stef’s first case: working with a 15-year-old named Diamond (Hope Olaide Wilson), who is both scared of and attached to her pimp, named Russell. Stef gets her into Girls United, but Diamond wants to win Russell’s “love” back and begins to lure another GU girl into working for him. So, this is all horrifying and depressing to watch. Thanks, The Fosters!
• Hi, Daphne! I’m still not over that time you convinced Callie to help kidnap your daughter, but I do appreciate you being around to remind Callie to go hook up with her very nice and very handsome boyfriend.
• Lena and Monte get called out over the LGBT sex-ed class after a parent complains. The board wants Monte to resign — but there’s scheming afoot! Lena discovers there was no complaint made by a parent. It was temporary-vice-principal Drew who alerted people to the class, and now he’s been named interim principal to fill Monte’s place. Who knew high-school administrative politics could be so dramatic?
• Do teenagers today actually know who Steve Urkel is? I am genuinely interested in, and also fearful of, the answer to this question.