This week on The Fosters, Callie and Lena were reunited with people from their pasts, Mariana’s web of lies expanded, and Jude took a significant step. Read on for our recap of The Fosters 3×04, “More Than Words.”
The Brandon Whisperer
The Fosters 3×04 begins where the previous episode left off: With AJ putting back the baseball he stole from Brandon’s room and Brandon catching him in the act. Brandon was already suspicious about AJ’s intentions – not to mention defensive of his father, who’s preparing to foster the boy – so when Callie tries to calm him down, he’s in no mood to hear it. That is, not until she reminds him that she was just as lost and distrustful when she first met the Fosters, but Brandon helped to change that. Just call her the Brandon Whisperer. She lets AJ know that for now, he’s in the clear, but if he messes up again, he’s on his own.
Speaking of messing up, remember that time Mariana lost her virginity to Wyatt while dating Mat? Needless to say, she’s avoided speaking to Wyatt ever since. Dealing with Mat hasn’t been as much of a problem since he’s on tour with Someone’s Little Sister… except now, after driving for nine hours, he’s baa-aack. Also, he Photoshopped her into all of his tour pictures, which is kind of sweet but also kind of creepy? She invites him to the beach because she already promised to spend the day with Callie and she doesn’t want to be the kind of girl who cancels plans to hang out with her boyfriend. Where was that presence of mind when she was considering whether or not to be the girl who sleeps with her adopted sister’s ex?
In other news, Lena’s half-brother Nate is in town. With the goal of mending long-broken fences, she arranges for him and her parents, Dana and Stewart, to come to the Adams-Foster house for dinner. (Side note: Who else is still mildly traumatized by Lorraine Toussaint’s role in Orange is the New Black?) There’s just one problem: Stewart still doesn’t know that Nate directed a racial slur at Dana two decades earlier, and while Dana wants to keep it that way, Lena feels he should apologize.
Little-known fact: My absolute favorite Fosters character of all time is Cole from Callie’s Girls United days. Following an entirely-too-long absence, he’s back in The Fosters 3×04, post-op and looking good.
Cole joins Callie, AJ, Jude, Connor, Mariana and Mat on the beach and tells them all about the LGBT prom he’s organizing. When he encourages Connor and Jude to come and meet “other gay kids,” the label-averse Jude cringes, which doesn’t escape Connor’s notice (more on that later). After Cole mentions he doesn’t have a date, Callie volunteers to go with him, and those of us who’ve been shipping Callie/Cole for the past three years may or may not have paused the episode to flail around a little. After Cole strips off his shirt in preparation for a swim and reveals the scars from his surgery, Callie fills in AJ on his backstory.
Callie: He’s transgender. He was born in the wrong body.
AJ: So, those scars… He did that on purpose?
Callie: Yeah, and?
Callie: When I first met Cole, he was literally binding his chest, and look how proud he is now, taking off his shirt like that. He’s in a good place finally, so don’t go making him feel weird about it.
Callie Jacob for ALL THE AWARDS.
At home, Brandon’s deeply embroiled in an 11th-hour struggle to compose something for his mid-term presentation at Idyllwild that will meet the excruciatingly high standards of his partner, Kat. He finally bows to the pressure, Googles “unknown Bach fugue” and signs his name to the legendary composer’s work. Well, that bodes well. Needless to say, he gets found out – but not until after Kat calls the piece “unimaginative.” Brandon talks his way out of the situation by claiming he knew one of the program organizers would recognize the composition and simply wanted to prove a point about Kat’s critical nature – but at what cost?
Different kinds of gentlemen
Back at the beach, Callie and Cole discuss the logistics of prom night while sunbathing. When Callie asks what time she should show up, Cole responds, “I’m gonna pick you up – what kind of gentleman do you think I am?” After he leaves to prepare for the event, AJ tells Callie that Cole likes him as more than a friend, but Callie dismisses the notion as “ridiculous.” Don’t fight it, girl – COLLIE IS WRITTEN IN THE STARS. …We’ll work on the portmanteau.
In other cute couple news, Jude borrows one of Jesus’ suits for the prom and, in lieu of a corsage, Connor presents him with a shirt that says “I’m not gay but my boyfriend is” as a joke. His heart’s in the right place, but Jude’s not laughing. Downstairs, Cole shows up in a pinstripe suit and is rightfully declared “dapper” by Stef, then Callie appears in a vintage dress that has everyone ooh-ing and ahh-ing – especially Cole (along with actor Tom Phelan, apparently). Jude and Connor emerge next, looking precious in their suits, and Stef and Lena do their requisite embarrassing parent thing with group photos and forced poses. Can LGBT prom happen every week?
The kids leave for prom and Lena tells her mom that she’s planning to confront Nate at the dinner party. Dana doesn’t look happy, but before she can respond, Nate and his girlfriend Faith arrive. Judging by Faith’s skin color, Nate is over the racism of his youth, but Lena isn’t convinced. After dinner, she publicly confronts him about his lack of an apology, then storms off, followed by Stef and Dana shortly thereafter. Ultimately, Dana doesn’t see why Lena is hurt by something that didn’t directly involve her, but for Lena, it’s a much bigger issue.
When someone calls one person the N-word, it doesn’t just hurt that black person, it hurts all of us. That word cuts, whether you’re black or you’re mixed or… Especially when it’s directed at someone you love – at your mother, your hero. It would have hurt less if he’d said it to me, and what if he did? What if he’d said it to me? Would you be so quick to forgive and forget?
Lena and her mother go back inside to demand an apology, but Nate says he doesn’t recall the incident. When he refuses to take responsibility, Stewart asks him to leave.
Power in labels
At prom, Cole introduces Callie to his friends. Their reaction? “No wonder you talk about her all the time.” Umm, way to blow up his spot. Meanwhile, Jude’s thrown when a couple of the other attendees introduce themselves with not only names, but also sexuality and gender identity. When they press him, he says he’s “just Jude.” Later, one of the guys approaches Connor at the punch bowl with a warning: When a boy won’t identify as gay, that means he’s not sure he is… and hearts will break as a result. When Jude asks to leave, Connor doesn’t want to.
“It’s a gay dance, right? I’m gonna stay. I’m having a good time – but then again, I’m gay.” Low blow, Connor, low blow. Elsewhere at the event, Cole tries kissing Callie on the dance floor, and it goes about as well as Connor and Jude’s conversation.
Cole escapes outside and runs into Jude. They bond, which was something I never knew I wanted, but it ends up being awesome.
Look, I understand not wanting to have to check a box or whatever, but there’s power in labels too, you know? When I was at Girls United, most of the girls refused to call me “he,” and my label is what got me through. My label got me into an LGBT home where I can just be, you know… me. No questions asked. I’m not saying labels are for everyone, but sometimes they can make us feel not so alone.
Inside, Cole confronts Callie. He feels like they’re on a pity date and accuses her of not wanting to date him because she doesn’t see him as being male. She says she needs a friend, not a boyfriend, and claims she’s always seen him as a guy and never pitied him – rather, she looks up to him and is impressed by the work he did to make the prom happen. Crisis averted, friendship restored. Jude fixes things with Connor too, “introducing” himself in the style of the other attendees and telling the other boy, “I’m super-gay for you.” They slow-dance, and after Cole points them out to Callie, she asks him to dance too. Adorably, the two couples dance next to each other and it’s REALLY CUTE and did I mention adorable? Pan up to the disco ball. I love The Fosters 3×04.
Back at the house, the happy evening isn’t over yet: Turns out Callie’s driver’s license arrived in the mail. Will there actually be a blissfully happy ending to an episode of The Fosters? Not so fast – Mariana breaks up with Mat, AJ makes things weird by admitting he was jealous when Cole was flirting with Callie, and Brandon comes home with the news that he got kicked out of Idyllwild. But, hey, the family is sitting around the table eating together, so how bad can things actually be?