We’re four episodes deep into the back half of The Fosters, season five. The first three out of the gate were excellent, but we’re now at the point in the season where we see just how many story lines the show is juggling. On the plus side, I’m invested in all of them — even Jude and his video-game-livestream flirtation escapades, which is a feat because, if I’m being honest, I don’t even know what all of those words mean. On the other hand, having so much happening in the Adams Foster house leads to an extremely overstuffed episode — and Jude even sits this one out! I’ve been watching the show long enough to know that things will eventually thin out and come together, but for now, it is a lot.
Let’s start with the good news: Ximena can finally leave that church! Thanks to all the hubbub Callie created with her moving protest during the Shiloh Q&A — and maybe a little bit thanks to Ximena’s lawyer doing his job — Ximena has been granted a special hearing to get a stay of deportation until her DACA status is decided. There’s one obstacle: To have any chance in court, they really need footage from the original rally to prove that Ximena didn’t make any threats against the government.
Unfortunately for Team Ximena, the only footage of the rally was taken by the Conservative Student Union at UCSD. When Callie goes to ask for their help, they get into a little Constitution-off and the head of the CSU refuses to give up the tape — even after Callie tells them about Ximena’s 15-year-old sister being put into the foster system. I’m surprised that The Fosters makes the Conservative Student Union members outright villains. The show is typically great at showing arguments from all sides and being inclusive of different viewpoints — or at the very least, not making things so black and white — so this interaction seems a bit off. (Although there is a strange cutaway to one female member in the corner — so perhaps we haven’t seen the last of the UCSD Conservative Student Union.)
Just when it seems all is lost, Callie realizes that, since the CSU took the rally footage with a school video camera, the footage actually belongs to the school. Maybe they might be more willing to share. And they are! The judge reviews Ximena’s speech at the rally, realizes the charges from ICE are ridiculous, and grants Ximena a stay of deportation. Her DACA status is still in question, but at least she can walk outside without fear of being detained. She’ll be staying at Lena and Stef’s crowded house, which should make the discussion of that kiss with Callie extra-awkward. For now, though, let’s celebrate her freedom!
Especially because there is an ICE agent creeping around Callie, signaling imminent drama. Fingers crossed for a pleasantly surprising twist!
That was fun, but here’s some bad news: With each waking moment, I am increasingly worried about Stef’s fate. She’s made an appointment with a therapist to figure out what’s going on with her panic attacks, but then she catches the flu from Jude. Sure, Stef’s flu gives us the pleasure of watching Lena be sent in her wife’s stead in an attempt to cockblock (Lena’s words) Jenna from hooking up with Tess during that dinner they agreed to at Stef’s birthday party. And that is a treasure and a gift, especially when we get to see the mamas text each other things like, “Did Jenna shove her tongue down Tess’s throat yet?” and “They’re ordering another round. Kill me now.”
Stef’s incapacitated physical state also means she has zero patience when Tess shows up at the house the next morning to talk about some things. Stef doesn’t want to hear it. She doesn’t think it’s fair for Tess to put her in the middle of Tess’s marital problems. Stef doesn’t want to watch Tess flirt with Jenna, and she’s pretty sure Dean doesn’t want to, either. Stef gives it to Tess real good. So, yes, all of this is great drama to watch, but are we worried this flu and her breathing problems are indicative of something else? Is Stef going to get sick again? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
And now, Fosters fam, we move on to the most tragic of news: Mariana has narrowed down her field of suitors to two … and kicked sweet Mat to the curb. Okay, it wasn’t that harsh, but it was tragic. Shame on me for being so invested in a high-school relationship (although it is basically my job), but I am very attached to Mariana and Mat, and this turn of events is upsetting. Please respect my privacy in this time of mourning.
So what led to this very sad yet mature decision? As we know, Mat only begrudgingly agreed to Mariana’s casual-dating decree. He loves Mariana and he wants to be with her, so if that means waiting until she comes around to the same conclusion, he’ll wait. For a week.
Now, Mat has had enough. He thinks Mariana is only using Wyatt and Logan to protect herself because she’s scared she could get hurt again. If they already know they love each other, why not just go all-in? The question gives Mariana pause. In a very funny scene, she goes to Callie for advice, but never actually gives Callie time to dispense any. But the conversation works, and she heads off to end it with Wyatt — Mat is her first love, and she should be with him. Only when she goes to tell Wyatt of her decision, he charms her by divulging his senior yearbook quote: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” (It’s by C. S. Lewis.) It’s a great quote for a yearbook, and Wyatt following it up with talk of exploring the great big world with Mariana doesn’t hurt either. She remains conflicted.
Wyatt’s outlook on life is very appealing to Mariana. So, when she overhears Mat talking to Brandon and expressing the complete opposite of that outlook, she starts to think about what a relationship with Mat might mean. Poor Mat! He’s scared about going to college. He’s worried that the best years of his life are behind him. He may have peaked. This is a very bleak view of the world for a strapping young teen with lots of potential, but kudos to The Fosters for reminding all of us that going away to college can be very daunting. Adventures are cool, but adventures are also scary! That’s the whole point, I guess.
Mariana has a very honest conversation with Mat. She tells him that she can’t look backward, and she doesn’t think it’s good for him to do that either. He’s staying with her because she’s familiar and he’s scared of what’s next. They both cry as Mariana assures Mat that his best days aren’t behind him — that he has so much to look forward to as he moves on from Anchor Beach and from her. It feels way too mature for these people to be saying these things to each other, but I don’t care. I’m crying, too. Group hug!
In Other Family News
• Brandon plans the senior prank to make Grace happy. They gather siblings and friends and Talya, and they bring the beach inside the Anchor Beach hallways. Of course, newly minted principal Lena catches them, but instead of getting too bent out of shape for being disrespected, she wins over some fans by showing up to school the next day in full beach gear. Lena is so cool.
• The scene in which Grace complains to Callie about Talya being at the senior prank, and how awkward it is to be in the same room with someone who has slept with your boyfriend, is so good, it might be worth all the Brallie nonsense we suffered through.
• Grace has to stay inside ahead of her T-cell injection, so B drops off a sterilized gift for her: It’s a beach in a jar, to remind her of their prank, and his senior yearbook photo and quote: “A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” (Willy Wonka!) Aww, he is one of the good ones, Grace’s mom!
• Emma’s getting upset that Jesus seems to have less and less time for her these days. With Poppy living with her best friend and boyfriend, she feels like a third wheel. After Jesus becomes the Stats Manager for the roller-derby team, Emma decides it’s time she try this derby thing out. No one but Emma seems enthused.
• I laughed so hard when Stef finally admitted her senior yearbook quote was, “If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed,” from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. That is exactly how I imagined Teen Stef.