If The Fosters 3×13 were an episode of Friends, it’d be titled “The One When We Learn Mat & Mariana Can SANG.” I’m also accepting “The One With the Jack Attack” as an alternate suggestion. Read on for our recap of The Fosters 3×13, “If & When.”
Viewers got to know Mat as Brandon’s bandmate in Someone’s Little Sister, so it’s no surprise he has musical talent, but he’s really shining in this whole Shakespearian rock opera situation that he and Brandon are working on for their senior project. In fact, he’s so good that Brandon wants him to play Romeo. “I’m not an actor!” Mat protests. “Oh, come on, we’re all acting all the time,” Brandon tells him loftily. Not five minutes into the episode and things have already gone meta. The Fosters 3×13 is looking promising already.
Of course, every Romeo needs a Juliet (or another Romeo – hey, no heteronormativity here), so Mat suggests Talya. Yeah, that Talya, a.k.a. Brandon’s ex, a.k.a. the girl who hates Brandon’s guts. That should go well. “Do you want to do all this work and then cast a Juliet who can’t sing?” Mat demands. He has a point, so they agree to hold open auditions on the condition that Brandon doesn’t weasel out of selecting Talya if she proves to be the best candidate. “Sometimes you just gotta suck it up,” Mat concludes – but will he be singing the same tune (literally) when it’s his ex auditioning? Looks like we’re about to find out: Smarting from her class presidency loss, Mariana shows up to try out… and she hits it out of the park, as Freeform’s subtly placed #MarianaSings hashtag indicates. “I don’t want you in my musical, but you were hands down the best Juliet,” Mat tells her after her performance. Well, it’s not a rave review, but it’s something. Could this be the beginning of a Matiana reunion?
‘You don’t give up on family’
Speaking of potential reunions, Callie asks Mariana to help track someone claiming to be AJ who’s messaging her through Fost & Found, while Nick (that kid from last week’s episode with the fast car and the hots for Mariana) is trying to get Jesus curious about his birth father. “What if he’s like, Pitbull?” Nick posits. OK, but what if he’s like, not? As luck would have it, Ana’s coming over to visit with the baby, so Jesus pops the question. Turns out his father’s name was Gabriel, Ana met him at a party, and she doesn’t know a whole lot more than that. So now that we have a Jesus and a Gabriel, all we need is a Mary and a Joseph, am I right? And maybe some frankincense sprinkled in somewhere? Anyway, although Ana claims not to know anything about Gabriel, Jesus and Mariana’s cousin Adriana does. Turns out Adriana’s dad is a contractor, and guess who he recently hired on one of his jobs? The archangel himself.
While Jesus is tentatively contemplating a search for his birth father, Stef is busting out the big guns in her quest to find Ty and AJ. Ty, if you’ll recall, was the driver responsible for the hit and run that nearly killed Jesus, Mariana, and Ana – and although AJ wasn’t involved in the crash itself, the fact that he’s on the run with his brother means he’s aiding and abetting a fugitive. Long story short, the arrest warrant Stef is drawing up for Ty lists AJ as well. Mike’s none too pleased about AJ’s inclusion given that AJ’s 17 and could be tried as an adult, but Stef submits it anyway. Later, Mike confides in Ana about Ty being the driver – and Brandon just so happens to overhear. Seriously, the lack of doors in the Foster house may be aesthetically appealing, but it sure as hell isn’t practical. Mike swears Brandon to secrecy, and surprisingly, Brandon comes to AJ’s defense.
Mike: “Maybe you were right about AJ. Guess I should’ve never trusted him.”
Brandon: “I don’t know, Dad. He was in a tough position. Ty’s his family. He made a mistake.”
Mike: “He committed a crime, Brandon.”
Brandon: “Look, I’ve made some bad choices. You never gave up on me, Dad. You don’t give up on family.”
So near & yet so far
On the topic of AJ and Ty, remember how they boarded a bus to Phoenix in The Fosters 3×11? Well, in The Fosters 3×13, we learn that they may not have strayed too far from home after all. Mariana traces the IP address of the person messaging Callie, and it turns out he or she is in the San Diego area – and is willing to meet with Callie the next day. AJ never shows up at the appointed place and time, but Callie’s former boss from the drop-in center does. Remember Rafael? I didn’t for a second, but then memories of AJ and spray paint and Callie getting fired came rushing back. Later that day, Callie gets a call from a Phoenix area code. It’s AJ – and surprise, surprise, he hasn’t been IM-ing her on Fost & Found after all. So who has?
Back at the Fosters’, Jude’s new friend Jack is visiting again, but he’s paying more attention to the video game they’re playing than to Jude. As Jude phrases it to Callie, “He’s friends with our Xbox, but that’s about it.” You’ve gotta feel for Jude – his boyfriend just moved away, and Jack isn’t exactly a good distraction. For those wondering how the long-distance Jonnor relationship is going, the short answer is “not well.” Connor’s wrapped up in his new school and a new sport – football – so Jude isn’t sure when he’ll be able to come visit. When Callie points out that Los Angeles is only a few hours away, Jude responds curtly, “It might as well be another planet.” Later, after he catches Jack asleep on top of his moms’ bed, he calls him “weird” (which is very un-Jude-like) and asks, “What are you, Goldilocks?” I hereby dub him… Tude-icorn. (That nickname was actually Noelle‘s creation; I am merely the messenger of mirth.)
Don Eppes drops a truth bomb
Here’s an idea: Jack vs. Nick in the Worst Friend Ever Olympics. Jack comes over to Jude’s house, ignores him, then falls asleep; Nick almost gets Jesus killed in a car accident and then tries to persuade him to yell at some random construction worker to see if that’s his father. Jesus ends up backing out, but when he gets home, his grandmother’s boyfriend Will is waiting with some words of wisdom that may just change his mind.
Will: “I happen to believe that a man’s connection to his father shapes his life, and he has to choose how that relationship – or, you know, lack of one – is gonna define him.”
Jesus: “So you think I should get to know him?”
Will: “Doesn’t matter what I think. It matters if you think you have to know who your dad is to know who you are.”
Sidebar: The guy who plays Will is the same guy who played Don Eppes on “NUMB3RS.” Whaaaat? I know! Polar opposite characters. You go, Rob Morrow. Four for you.
With Don Eppes’ words ringing in his ears, Jesus returns to the construction site and gets a job working side by side with Gabriel.
If & when
After mulling things over with Mariana, Callie shares the Phoenix number with Stef, and Stef promises to go get AJ. The only problem is that Callie doesn’t know “getting him” is code for arresting him. Later, when Mike argues that AJ shouldn’t be punished for standing by his brother, Lena backs him up, pointing out that an arrest could torpedo AJ’s future. Mike even brings up Brandon’s mistakes, which maaay just be a bridge too far for Stef. “Do not equate Brandon’s mistakes with AJ protecting the driver that almost killed my children!” she snaps, then sets off for Phoenix.
Brandon promptly tells Callie what he learned from Mike – that Stef’s not heading off to the Copper State to bring AJ back for a nice family reunion – and Callie frantically calls AJ, but gets Ty instead. Ty is about to run when the cops show up and arrest them both: Ty for the hit and run, and AJ for running away (but not for aiding and abetting a fugitive, because Stef told him to play dumb about that part).
When Stef returns from Arizona, she and Lena get a rare moment of alone time in which she shares the test results she received in the mail at the end of last week’s episode. She has DCIS, which, as she explains to Lena, “probably means it’s not a question of if I get cancer, it’s a question of when.” Next, she heads outside to talk to her mom in the RV that Sharon shares with Will. She reveals that she’s decided to get a double mastectomy, and when Sharon asks what she can do to help, Stef’s answer is simple: “Stay.”
Back to Jack. He shows up at the Foster house again, and Jude apologizes for being a Tude-icorn the last time they hung out. Jack admits he’s never really had friends before and he doesn’t think he’ll ever get adopted because he’s weird. Jude gives him a sweet, encouraging pep talk that’s way more Judicorn than Tude-icorn, and the two head inside to play video games. All’s well that ends well? Just one miiinor little twist: It turns out JACK is the one who’s been IM-ing Callie. Excuse me?! And with that, The Fosters 3×13 draws to a close with another trademark cliffhanger.