The Fosters 4×09 begins with a sentence that silences Stef and Lena’s bickering kids (minus Brandon) and shocks viewers: “Mama and I are filing for divorce.” This bombshell is incongruously followed by the show’s soothing theme song. Stef! Lena! Don’t you remember this is right where you BELOOOONG? Then we’re promptly transported 36 hours back in time, with the divorce announcement left hanging in the air. Well, we’re two minutes into this episode and I already need a Xanax. Read on for our recap of The Fosters 4×09, “New York.”
Packing up the dream house
Tensions are running high at the Fosters’, with Stef and Lena trying to pack up the entire house (and years of memories) in a single week. What’s more, Lena forgot to tell Stef that the realtor is dropping by with the soon-to-be owner and her contractor. A pajama-clad Stef glowers as the woman talks about remodeling the bedroom, and let me tell you, you do not want to be at the wrong end of that Teri Polo glare.
Stef and Lena escape into the hallway, and we flash back to when they first toured the house years ago – complete with dated haircuts and, in Stef’s case, a denim jacket. “It’s our dream house,” Past Lena tells Past Stef. “Can’t you see us raising our kids and growing old here?”
Back in the present, Modern-Day Stef and Lena exchange words with a frazzled Mariana, who’s overwhelmed by schoolwork and extracurriculars. Seems she’s always been frazzled lately, right? Two episodes ago, she promised Emma she’d stop taking Jesus’ ADHD pills, but in The Fosters 4×09, she breaks that promise.
Meanwhile, the realtor takes a call about her divorce, and Lena overhears her mention something about her soon-to-be ex freezing their assets. The cool thing about TV shows is that every line is – or, at least, should be – included for a reason, so let’s come back to that asset-freezing concept later. Suffice to say there may be more to this whole Stef-and-Lena-divorcing thing than meets the eye…
Cort vs. Juilliard
Speaking of relationships on the rocks, Brandon kisses Cort goodbye before heading to the airport for his Juilliard audition. As Cort watches Brandon leave, it’s obvious she’s still feeling the relationship insecurity she expressed in last week’s episode. What’s more, it seems she has good reason to. After arriving in Manhattan, Brandon enjoys a whirlwind nighttime tour of the city – and a kiss at sunrise with Juilliard dance student Ari. When Brandon admits he has a live-in girlfriend with a kid, Ari gives him a reality check.
“What are you gonna do if you get into Juilliard? Do you even want this? Do you really, really want this? Do you have any idea what it takes to study here? Everything. And after every 16-hour day, you have nothing left to give to anybody, and you shouldn’t have to. These four years are yours. I mean, you don’t have to be mean. You have every right to be selfish. You can’t go into your audition with a piece of you feeling obligated to fail, ’cause you will.”
Brandon draws the line at breaking up with Cort over the phone as Ari initially suggests, but before he walks into his audition, he mails her a letter.
Meant to be
Back on the West Coast, all the Nick drama is clearly on Mariana’s mind as she and Jesus pack up the garage. “I can’t believe that Nick was hiding up here – it freaks me out,” she tells her brother, but Jesus is too busy leafing through an old journal of Stef’s to notice she’s still traumatized. The twins agree that they shouldn’t pry, but Mariana can’t help herself. The last thing she needs right now is to discover that Lena was initially reluctant to adopt Mariana and Jesus – so, of course, that’s exactly what happens in The Fosters 4×09. “Between Nick and this, all of my good memories are ruined,” she tells Jesus. Eventually, Lena confronts the situation, providing context for how she felt then and how she feels now.
“You bonded with me instantly, and it made me a little uncomfortable because my own mother was never very affectionate with me. When I looked at you, I saw me as that little girl who yearned for her mom to hold her and comfort her, and I guess it scared me a little and it made me sad. And then one night, you had a bad dream and you woke up crying, and I came into this room and I held you, and my heart broke right open. I felt so much love for you. So much compassion. And I realized in that moment that this sweet, sweet little girl was sent to me to heal my little girl inside. And I realized that you were meant to be my daughter and I was meant to be your mother.”
After Lena bares her soul to Mariana, she invites Mariana to follow suit by asking if there’s another reason she doesn’t want to stay in the house. Mariana insists there isn’t, but I’m not convinced – and neither is Lena.
Hiding in plain sight
Elsewhere, Stef and Mike are checking out a vacant apartment in Mike’s building. After all, as of the end of the week, the family will be homeless. There’s just one problem: They enter the apartment at the same time as Callie and AJ are using it for, uh… let’s say “adult activities.” By The Fosters 4×09, Callie and AJ’s inability to hook up in peace has become a running joke, but this situation is particularly awkward. While the couple hides in a closet, Mike brings up Callie and Brandon’s tryst to Stef – and talk about a facepalm moment. Unaware Callie’s listening, Mike says Callie “toyed with” Brandon and is now “yanking Aaron’s chain” despite being with AJ.
Stef shuts him down, but the damage is done and AJ’s insecurities are now well and truly fueled. After Stef and Mike leave, Callie finally comes clean about how she met – and kissed – Aaron, and while AJ’s not exactly ecstatic, he accepts her assertion that they’re just friends.
Speaking of not exactly being ecstatic, Lena’s irritated that Stef put down a deposit on the apartment without consulting her. “It’s like we take one step forward and two steps back,” Lena snaps. “If nothing’s ever gonna change between us, what is the point?” Yikes, maybe this divorce thing is for real after all…
Jude & Noah & Mary Jane
So remember how Jude’s kind of a pothead now? Turns out he’s also still mad at Callie for telling Noah’s mom not to let Noah share his medical marijuana with her brother. As he packs up his room, Jude’s flooded by memories of Connor, but a text from Noah turns his frown upside-down. Although Noah’s grounded, that’s apparently not going to stop him from sneaking out to visit Jude.
Sure enough, Noah shows up that evening with his friend Mary Jane along for the ride. When he and Jude inevitably end up making out, he tries to take things further, at which point Jude admits that he’s “never done anything below the waist.” In a truly insensitive move, Noah says “Everybody has their first time” and tries to continue where he left off. Jude stands his ground and says he’s not ready, and Noah awkwardly leaves, only to return the following night to apologize and tell Jude “I only want to do what you want to do.”
Despite Noah’s faux pas, Jude defends him to Callie at the family’s yard sale the next day, and takes a cheap shot at her while he’s at it.
Yard sale drama
What’s more, the friction between Jude and Callie isn’t the only drama going down at the yard sale. Someone finds the pipe Noah uses to smoke pot and asks Lena how much it is (bus…ted), while the detective Stef suspects of framing Callie’s former foster brother Kyle drops by to deliver a thinly veiled threat. “I hear you’re trying to make detective,” he tells her. “The first thing you learn is that we don’t meddle in each other’s cases … but that’s if you make detective. Have a nice yard sale. I hope you make a killing.”
Speaking of Kyle, Aaron drops by with news about the case. Turns out the knife Kyle allegedly used to kill his victim had someone else’s DNA on it, but the lab report was buried by the aforementioned crooked detective. Callie tells Stef and Lena that after she and Aaron knocked on a few doors, they found a suspect in the form of a local curb-painter named Doug. Stef isn’t thrilled that Callie refuses to let this Kyle thing go, but she agrees to visit Doug’s house with Mike. Although Doug claims not to know anything about the murder, Stef gives him her card anyway.
Later, in a desperate bid to get Doug’s DNA and keep Kyle out of Fulsom Prison, Callie drives the family car over to Doug’s house – the same car Stef drove when she and Mike paid him a visit. Callie steals Doug’s toothbrush and manages to escape, but not without him seeing (and recognizing) the car she’s driving…
Freezing their assets off
In the midst of all the turmoil, there’s finally some good news. Lena gets a call from her mom, who struck a deal with the IRS and took out a loan against her pension to save the house.
There’s just one problem: Technically, it’s already sold. This brings us back to the opening scene of The Fosters 4×09, but this time around, the divorce bombshell is cushioned with a little clarification. “We’re not getting a divorce, we’re filing for divorce so we can freeze our assets,” Lena explains to the kids. “The buyer doesn’t want to let us out of escrow, but if our assets, including this house, are tied up, we’re hoping they will walk away.”
When night falls, Stef stares out of the kitchen window and reminisces about all the good times the family had in the yard, including her and Lena’s joyous wedding celebration. Lena joins her, and they exchange emotional “I love yous” and apologies before reaffirming that filing for divorce is not, as Stef phrases it, “for reals.” Just then, Brandon walks in – he’s back from New York, and he apparently “killed” his audition! Could an episode of this show actually have a happy ending, for once? Uh, not so fast. First, Stef catches Noah and Jude smoking in the garage, and then The Fosters 4×09 cuts to Doug sitting creepily outside the family’s house in his truck. Stef’s business card is in his hand, and the stage is well and truly set for next week’s summer finale.
Speaking of next week’s episode, we’re excited to chat with co-executive producer Peter Paige about what to expect from The Fosters 4×10. Look out for our interview, and don’t forget to tune in to Freeform on Monday at 8/7c!