Who had no idea what to do with their Monday night when The Fosters was off the air last week? Same. Mercifully, it was back this week in the form of The Fosters 3×08 – and a whole bunch of drama came right along with it.
It’s been a while, but cast your mind back to the end of episode 3×07, when the social worker conducting Callie’s final pre-adoption home study said she couldn’t allow Callie to remain in Stef and Lena’s care until after she fully investigated the situation surrounding Brandon’s restraining order. Originally, AJ was supposed to be moving in with Rita after the kiss he shared with Callie necessitated that the two of them no longer live under the same roof while waiting for Mike’s foster license to get approved, but since Callie has to move out anyway, AJ gets to stay put. The Fosters 3×08 kicks off with Callie at Rita’s house, helping a very nervous Rita get ready for a date (“I haven’t been on a date since the Bush administration! The first one!). Sidebar: It would be cool if Rita were a lesbian like actress Rosie O’Donnell, but Stef, Lena and Girls United resident Carmen kind of have that market covered, I guess.
While Rita’s out, her daughter shows up unexpectedly. Her what? I know. Rita did a great job keeping that under her hat. Chloe makes a less-than-stellar first impression, categorizing Callie as one of Rita’s “lost girls.” When Rita comes home, Chloe tells her mom about an allegedly lucrative investment opportunity and Rita refuses, pointing out that she’s already given her daughter tens of thousands of dollars. When Rita asks if Chloe’s off her medication, Chloe reacts angrily and describes her mother as “Saint Rita, savior of lost souls – as long as you aren’t her own daughter.” Well, that was uncomfortable. After Chloe leaves, Callie asks about the meds Rita referred to and learns that Chloe is bipolar.
Back at the Fosters’, Stef blames herself for taking out the restraining order against Brandon way back when Callie was first living at Girls United. When Lena brings up scheduling their next couples’ therapy appointment, Stef asks to skip a week. …Speaking of uneasy relationships, the tension between Brandon and AJ is running as high as ever, and AJ doesn’t do himself any favors by bringing up the restraining order while he and Brandon are standing side by side in the bathroom, brushing their teeth.
AJ: So, a restraining order, huh? What, were you like, stalking her?
Brandon: No. Not that it’s any of your business.
Well, Brandon, you did show up at the place she was staying after expressly being told not to, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Gentle, loving care
As AJ exits the bathroom, Mariana enters. She urges Brandon to try to get along with AJ, seeing as AJ’s going to be his foster brother, and then asks if Brandon really is over Callie. Yes, he says unconvincingly, then makes things even worse by admitting he already had a chance to get back with her when Robert refused to sign the adoption papers and he and Callie kissed. Is it me, or is Brandon supremely gifted at making bad situations worse? Like, we’re talking Olympic-level talent here. He may have inherited that skill from Stef, who, within earshot of Lena, thanks the latest in the procession of plumbers for promising to treat her pipes with gentle, loving care. Did I mention this one’s a woman?
Meanwhile, Callie catches up with Daphne, Kiara and Carmen at Girls United. Carmen shares that she’s about to realize her dream of joining the Army, provided she passes her physical. It doesn’t take long for Kiara to spill the beans about the same forbidden kiss Brandon discussed with Mariana a couple of scenes back, and when Carmen asks if Callie’s over Brandon, she says yes about as convincingly as Brandon did. We also meet new girl Brooke, whose attitude is about as great as Callie’s was when she first came to the house. Over dinner, Callie explains the concept of her Fost & Found app and asks if she can record some of the Girls United residents’ stories to upload. Everyone’s reluctant to name names or call out irresponsible social workers and bad group homes, and Daphne suggests that Callie find some kids with less to lose. Callie ends up taking matters into her own hands and recording a powerful video message that names the foster brother who raped her, the foster father who beat Jude and the judge who’s blocking her adoption.
Not the same thing
You know the rules of this show: If something’s brought up more than once, it’s virtually guaranteed to explode in someone’s face by the end of the episode, and it looks like this will hold true in The Fosters 3×08 when, in his interview with the social worker, Brandon claims to have only kissed Callie once – at his moms’ wedding. Callie gives the same answer in her interview (so far so good) but their stories soon diverge, with Brandon claiming they kissed after Stef and Lena asked if they could adopt Callie and Jude, Callie asserting that it happened before that, and both taking responsibility for initiating it. After his interview, Brandon confronts his moms about AJ and Stef admits she saw AJ and Callie kiss, which opens up a whole Pandora’s box of drama.
Brandon: So, are you going to get a restraining order against him?
Stef: It’s a very different situation, Brandon. AJ is not going to be Callie’s brother. … It’s not the same thing.
Brandon: Stop saying that, Mom. It is the same. The only difference is good old Brandon has to take it on the chin every time you bring a stray kid into this house without even asking me how I feel about it. Luckily I’m out of here in a year anyway and you guys can adopt all the kids you want. Turn this place into a group home for all I care, because it’s obvious you guys do not want to live alone together.
Lena: Excuse me?
Brandon: What? You don’t think we can hear you bickering all the time? We know you’re in therapy, so maybe you guys should just worry about your own relationship for once.
…Ouch. Not that he doesn’t have a point, but still, ouch.
Stef’s not the only person whose fraught relationship with her birth child permeates The Fosters 3×08. After Chloe left Rita’s house, Rita canceled a check she stole, and now she’s back to confront her mother. “I hate you,” Chloe tells her as Callie looks on, “and Daddy hates you too – that’s why he killed himself.” Rita slaps her, and honestly, who can blame her?
After Chloe storms off, Rita tells Callie that she initially tried to compensate for Chloe’s father’s death by giving her money, and now that she’s drawing boundaries, Chloe is angry. She goes on to admit that she wishes she could take time off from Girls United, but she can’t. Oooh, foreshadowing.
‘Not kids like us’
Back at the Fosters’, the tension in the house seems to be affecting everyone. Even-keeled Jude snaps at AJ for talking while he’s studying for a math test, and Brandon spends the night at Idyllwild. Stef ignores the elephant in the room by burying herself in the hunt for the driver of the car that hit the twins and Ana at the end of season 2, and when Lena asks if she’s bothered by the fact that the kids know they’re having problems, she minimizes the situation.
The next day at school, Jude distances himself from Connor and walks out of math while everyone else is taking the test. When Lena leaves a meeting with Monte to ask why he isn’t in class, he says it’s hard to care about the test when Callie’s back in the system and Stef and Lena are getting divorced. Back in her office, Lena tells Monte that she and Stef aren’t separating but merely “going through a rough patch.” Try not to look too happy, Monte. After Monte urges her not to settle for an unhappy situation or put her feelings on the back burner, Lena resolves to be honest with Stef.
When Jude visits Callie at Rita’s house, they have a similar conversation about honesty.
Callie: Every kid says mean things to their parents, Jude.
Jude: Not kids like us.
Callie: You can’t be afraid to speak up – or mess up, even. I mean, I get it. We’re all the same. Every foster kid, we think we’re not allowed to say what we need or to stand up for ourselves, but we have to, and that includes you.
Rita: Can I say something? Parents don’t love you more because you’re biologically theirs. Your moms don’t love you because you’re easy to deal with or because you keep your mouth shut. They love you because you’re you.
This would almost be a heartwarming scene except for the turn the conversation takes from there. Jude tells Callie he overheard the conversation between Brandon, Stef and Lena in which Brandon mentioned couples’ therapy and Stef said she saw Callie and AJ kissing. He wants to know why Callie keeps making the same mistake, and Callie doesn’t have an answer for him.
At home, Jude apologizes to Lena and Brandon comforts him, which leads Stef to admit that she has more compassion to her adopted kids than she does for Brandon.
I think in my mind, you haven’t suffered as much as they have. You’ve had a stable home and parents that have loved you and cared for you from the day you were born. That’s not fair – I know you’ve suffered, I know you hurt, I know that things aren’t just great just because you have us. We weren’t there for you about Callie. I see now that your heart was broken and I should have been there. I should have been more understanding. I just always expect you to do the right thing because you always do, and I’m sorry. You’ve always been so warm and welcoming to all the kids we’ve brought in this house and it just never occurred to me that you might not actually be OK. If you don’t want your father to foster AJ, I think you need to say something. You have that right, and I’ll support you.
From bad to worse
Things may be warm and fuzzy at the Fosters in the wake of Stef’s admission, but they’re going from bad to worse over at Girls United. Carmen and Brooke are fighting upstairs, and after Rita goes to break it up, a punch is thrown and Carmen ends up with a bloody nose. Stef arrives in a police capacity to take statements, and both girls claim it was Rita who punched Carmen. As Rita is led away in handcuffs, denying all culpability, Callie tells Stef she wants to stay at Girls United rather than be placed in an unfamiliar foster home. Back at the Fosters’, Lena refuses to believe that the allegations against Rita are true, while Stef is more pragmatic, telling Lena, “I think we’re all capable of doing things that we never thought we’d do.”
The Fosters 3×08 ends with a tie-back that probably had Brallie shippers beside themselves: Parked outside Girls United, Brandon types out a text to Callie that says he needs to talk to her, but never sends it. He pulls away and drives off – but not before Callie catches sight of his car through the window…