The Fosters 4×13 opens with Stef looking pissed as fuuuuuck, and there’s a whole plethora of potential explanations for her less-than-stellar mood. Is she mad about Mariana’s drug use, Jude’s drug use, Callie’s deja juvie situation, or Brandon’s academic fraud? Read on for our recap of The Fosters 4×13, “Cruel and Unusual,” to find out.
At the beginning of The Fosters 4×13, Stef’s not even yelling-mad, she’s silent-mad. As Brandon tries to engage with her, she flatly ignores him in favor of grabbing some tools and whaling on the kids’ bedroom doors.
“[Jude’s] getting high, [Mariana’s] stealing Jesus’ pills, and [Brandon] cheated on the SAT, so he is now unaccepted at Juilliard. There are far too many secrets going on around here, so the doors are coming off.”
When Mariana protests that Stef’s approach amounts to cruel and unusual punishment (hence the title of The Fosters 4×13), Stef counters that sometimes, that’s how she feels about parenting. Well, touché.
There couldn’t be a worse time for Callie’s biological father, Robert, to show up on the doorstep – so, of course, that’s exactly what happens. Robert found out Callie’s back in juvie and expresses skepticism about everything from Lena and Stef’s parenting to the lawyer they’ve chosen to represent Callie. Not exactly what the family needs right now – and the public defender representing Callie has more bad news. (Side note: You may recognize Shi Ne Nielson from her role as Raquel on Freeform’s dearly departed Chasing Life.)
Essentially, the district attorney is willing not to charge Callie as an adult, but only if she pleads guilty to vehicular assault and felony hit and run. Pleading guilty would mean she’d likely have to stay in juvie until she turns 18, which won’t be for another eight months. However, she’d have her record expunged upon release, and the possibility of serving five years if she’s tried and convicted as an adult will be off the table.
Meanwhile, Mariana is eager to visit Jesus in the hospital, but Stef and Lena are shielding him from visitors. He’s experiencing some pretty intense neurological symptoms following his traumatic brain injury, including a hand tremor, a leg twitch that’s severe enough for him to require a cane or a walker, and cognitive difficulties that interfere with his recognition and verbalization of the names of household objects like a hammer and a hairbrush. According to his doctor, he’s actually “one of the lucky ones” – but he’ll still need round-the-clock care at the hospital’s in-patient rehab facility on his long road to recovery.
The Matiana ship hits an iceberg
As The Fosters 4×13 continues, Brandon asks Mat if there’s a chance Mariana could be pregnant. It’s an awkward discussion to have in the school hallway, but Brandon feels the need to broach the subject after seeing Emma buy a pregnancy test and pass the bag to Mariana in last week’s episode. “I wore a condom, so I don’t think she can be – with me…” Mat responds uneasily. His mind jumps to Nick, and although Brandon tells him to forget about their conversation, when has it ever been that easy? (For the record – and because Anchor Beach apparently isn’t teaching this in health class – condoms have a typical-use efficacy rate of 82%. That means if a condom is the only form of contraception used by a couple, 18 out of 100 women will still get pregnant, assuming a degree of human error. Even the perfect-use efficacy rate is “only” 98%, so, yeah, Mat, she can be – with you.)
Predictably, the Matiana ship hits stormy seas shortly thereafter. When Mat confronts Mariana, she claims she never slept with Nick (which is true) and tells him she isn’t lying. “Yeah, but you have – over and over,” Mat counters. “And I just… I don’t think that I’m ever gonna be able to trust you again.” And with that, the ship is sunk.
Later, a furious Mariana tells Brandon that the bag Emma gave her actually contained tampons. Brandon’s silent for like five seconds straight, proving once again that if you ever want a guy to shut up, mentioning period-related stuff is the best way to do it. That said, Brandon’s still sure he saw Emma buying a pregnancy test, which raises the question: Was it for herself?
A really cute letter & a really bad poem
Despite the fact that Stef and Lena banned Jude and Noah from seeing each other, Noah drops by Anchor Beach, because none of these kids ever listen. Noah slips Jude an envelope that he says will “make him smile,” and Jude stashes it in his locker, unaware that Lena’s watching. Ultimately, Lena uses her vice principal powers to break into the locker, and that night, she tells Stef what she found…
Stef: “Was it pot?”
Lena: “That’s what I was thinking, but, no, it wasn’t pot. It was a poem. A really bad poem that Noah wrote for Jude about hope and strength.”
Stef: “So, we…?”
Lena: “Callie’s in juvie. We don’t know when she’ll be getting out; if she takes the deal, it could be another eight months. Jesus isn’t coming home any time soon. I just wonder… should we be taking away another person from Jude? Someone who really cares about him, after Connor and Jack? He’s just lost so much.”
Stef and Lena agree to let Jude see Noah again – but only if he stays away from the pot. Jude happily agrees, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll hold up his side of the bargain.
Speaking of separated couples, AJ can’t visit Callie in juvie – but Robert can, so AJ gives the older man a letter to pass along in which he declares his love for her. All together now: Awwwww.
In which Robert gets a privilege check
In juvie, Callie encounters a corrupt guard named Joey whose interests include sleeping with and drugging the inmates. Yup, he’s a real peach. When one of the girls in Callie’s unit gets sick from the drugs, Callie calls for help – and promptly makes herself a target. Soon afterward, Joey smashes a window and blames it on Callie, who’s summarily placed in solitary confinement.
On the day of Callie’s hearing, the Adams Foster family encounters Robert and his lawyer at the courthouse. Robert (who, let’s not forget, signed away his parental rights) threatens to sue Stef and Lena for custody of Callie if they don’t let him be part of the legal proceedings – all while Jude, Brandon, Mariana, AJ, and Mike look on. Robert thinks Callie should fight the charges because the idea of her being convicted is “absurd,” while Stef and Lena are Team Take the Plea because it’s the safest option. Arguably the best part of The Fosters 4×13 is Stef giving Robert an talking-to about privilege and the justice system and how nothing works the way he thinks it does.
“Robert, listen, you live in a privileged world, and I don’t think that you really understand the system. You think that bad guys go to jail and that the good guys get out free, and it’s not that simple. The judge is not going to see the Callie that we know and love. All he’s going to see is that she has a file, she has a record. He’s not going to ask her why she did the things she did. All he’s gonna see is that she did them, and that’s what he’s gonna judge her on.”
Ultimately, however, the choice is Callie’s, and she doesn’t want to spend another night in juvie. “I’m not going back there,” she tells Stef, Lena, and Robert. “I can’t. So we have to fight.”
Right where you belong
Despite Callie’s lawyer’s best efforts (“You send a girl like Callie to be tried as an adult, you might as well be throwing her away”), the judge decides to send Callie and her case to adult court. At least she gets to go home in the meantime, but I doubt we’ve seen the last of the juvie corruption story line.
Now the only baby bird away from the nest is Jesus, and Stef and Lena are having a hard time with the idea of leaving him at the rehab facility for the foreseeable future. After they tour the facility, they look at each other and decide to bring Jesus home where he belongs. Lena takes a leave of absence from work to look after him, and we actually get a few moments of cheer as The Fosters 4×13 nears its end. But next thing you know, Jesus has a pizza rage freakout because oh, yeah, did I mention mood swings are also associated with traumatic brain injuries? Shocked into silence, the family starts to realize that having him home might be tougher than they thought…