Love… might win?
As The Fosters 4×16 begins, Stef’s mom Sharon shows up with her boyfriend Will (a.k.a. that guy from Numb3rs). Behold: Our first clue that this episode will end up being a good time. Sure enough, they announce their engagement at dinner, setting the stage for another patented Adams Foster bash. Mariana gets all Mariana about it and volunteers to plan the wedding, be a bridesmaid, and hold the ceremony in the backyard. It’s not like her moms are busy or anything. Meanwhile, Stef just got promoted to detective; Lena’s taking a leave of absence from Anchor Beach to care for Jesus; there’s lingering awkwardness within the Brandon/Emma/Jesus triangle; Callie’s latest legal drama remains unresolved; and Jude narrowly escaped what could’ve become a very dicey situation after exploring a Grindr-esque app named Pump. So, yeah, things have been quiet.
After Stef and Lena reluctantly agree to host the wedding, Sharon tells Stef she doesn’t actually want to get married. In fact, she only said yes because Will proposed in front of their friends and she didn’t want to humiliate him. See, this is why public proposals (and prom-posals) are just not a good idea. Sharon wants Stef to break the news to Will, but Stef is having none of it. Seriously, she has five kids dealing with some pretty gnarly issues – she doesn’t need mama drama on her plate.
Speaking of one of the aforementioned kids, Jude’s getting teased about the LGBT sex ed class that Lena organized in the wake of Pumpgate. It’s being held at the Adams Foster house, and some guys at school ask if his moms will provide any girl-on-girl action. Yet more proof that teen boys are simply delightful. Lena’s stressed about the class too, but for a different reason: Monte’s making her get permission slips from parents. While Lena worries about low attendance, Jude’s concerned about how all this is making him look.
Jude: “Why don’t you guys just hang a huge sign on the house that says ‘GAY VIRGIN LIVES HERE’?”
Stef: “We thought about it, but it’s just… it’s too expensive.”
Can I just say I fucking love her and she’s my fucking favorite? What a fantastic one-liner. Meanwhile, Lena says she’ll hold the class at the community center and suggests Jude invite Noah to the class.
(Side note: Those posters Lena hung at Anchor Beach have the #LoveWins hashtag on them. Double rainbow hearts all the way across the sky!)
AJ & Callie hit a speed bun…p (sorry)
Elsewhere at Anchor Beach, AJ’s talking (read: flirting) with Yvonne from Pretty Little Liars. Really, dude? After everything you put Callie through because of Aaron? Anyway, Yvonne’s name is Dawn in The Fosters 4×16, and she quickly drives a conversation about cinnamon buns into the gutter by asking “You like watching those buns rise?” Callie appears and totally busts AJ, musing “She seems very interested in your buns.” AJ tries to salvage the situation with a saccharine compliment (“I was just telling her there’s nothing as sweet as you”), which falls hilariously flat. Then Callie suggests that he date Dawn while she’s in prison, so, yeah, that conversation escalated quickly.
Another side note: Earlier this year, we interviewed actress Kara Royster about playing Dawn, who apparently stirs up some trouble for AJ and Callie this season. I’m not sure the couple needs any help from Dawn, though. Callie’s relentless pursuit of suspected murderer Troy Johnson is driving a pretty massive wedge between them. Apparently the woman who provided Troy’s alibi – Vanessa – manages a dive shop, so Callie drives herself and AJ there to check it out. There’s just one problem: She doesn’t tell AJ her plan until they’re sitting in the parking lot. Needless to say, AJ’s not thrilled, but he volunteers to go into the shop so Callie doesn’t have to show her face. He doesn’t find Vanessa but he does encounter her boyfriend, who just so happens to be… Troy.
AJ isn’t great at the whole poker-face thing (where’s Gaga when you need her?), and when Troy leaves the shop to investigate, he sees Callie’s car in the lot. He pounds on the window, accuses her of harassment, and says the lot has security cameras. Fantastic. But their sleuthing wasn’t a total loss: Now Callie knows Vanessa is dating Troy, she can friend her on Facebook using Mariana’s account. Turns out Vanessa was married when Martha was killed, so Callie surmises she may have been having an affair with Troy. Although Vanessa is unlikely to want to talk to Callie, her ex-husband may be more forthcoming…
A Shakespearean secret
So you know how in Shakespeare plays, a bunch of people misunderstand a bunch of stuff that leads to ridiculous consequences? In The Fosters 4×16, the complexity of Emma’s abortion situation rapidly reaches Shakespearean proportions. First, Emma gives Brandon a letter to give to Jesus, in which she reveals her pregnancy and subsequent abortion. At this point, the audience is the only entity that knows Jesus has been unable to read since his TBI. When Sharon sees Jesus with the letter, he makes an excuse about his eyes being tired, so she offers to read it to him. He probably should’ve stopped her after the first line (“First, I want to say I love you, even when we were just friends with benefits”) but there’s no derailing this runaway train. Sharon reads on, sees the part about the abortion, omits it, and concludes with Emma’s apology for pulling away. Once she leaves the room, Jesus dictates a text to Emma telling her that she has nothing to be sorry for, he isn’t mad, he loves her, and they don’t have to talk about it anymore. And with that, William Shakespeare gets all up in this story line.
Let’s review: Brandon, Mariana, and Sharon know about Emma’s pregnancy and abortion. Emma knows that Brandon knows, but not that Mariana and Sharon know. (Mariana also tweeted about knowing, but didn’t mention Emma’s name specifically.) Although Emma thinks Jesus knows, he doesn’t know. However, he thinks he knows because Sharon read the (abridged) letter aloud to him. Are we all on the same page here? OK, cool.
Also, apropos of nothing, Mariana’s wearing a sweater with glittery rainbows on it in The Fosters 4×16. I just wanted to mention that. I felt it was noteworthy. Moving on.
Not just our love, but OUR love
On the eve of the wedding, Will cooks dinner for the family, and his emotional toast causes Sharon to reconsider her anti-marriage stance. At first, it’s pretty standard – she changed his life, he loves her so much, etc. – but then he goes into how they met. Apparently she organized a campaign to kick his RV out of her neighborhood because she thought it was a meth lab? A meet-cute tale if I’ve ever heard one. Will goes on to encourage the kids to invite their significant others because the wedding “isn’t just about our love, it’s our love.” This guy is one of those people you get a contact high from even if he’s stone cold sober.
Other fun dinner events include Jude saying Noah can’t make it to class the next day (did you even ask him, Judicorn?), which prompts Sharon to ask what kind of class meets on a Saturday. When she declares that LGBT sex ed “sounds like fun” and asks if she can come, Jude, Stef, and Lena all say no in unison. She’s a hoot, y’all. She’s the one Stef gets it from.
Incidentally, Stef and Lena totally saw through Jude’s BS and sent Noah’s mom a permission slip, resulting in Noah showing up to class the following day. Although Lena only received a couple of slips, way more than a couple of kids come to take the class, which presents an ethical quandary. Per Monte, they can’t take the class without parental permission, but that’s tricky to get when you’re not out to your family. “How can I turn them away?” Lena asks Stef. “Kids who can’t come out to their parents, they need this more than anybody.” Ugh, she is going to get in so much trouble for doing such a great and needed thing.
Anyway, there are rainbow flags and dildos on the table at the beginning of the class, which is pretty fantastic. When Jude and Noah talk afterward, Noah admits he may have exaggerated his sexual experience by insinuating he’s had “sex-sex” when he hasn’t. They both acknowledge they’re not ready to take that step, which must be a massive weight off Jude’s shoulders. Noah proposes they do “other stuff” instead, and Jude grins.
Back at home, the let’s-get-divorced-so-we-don’t-lose-our-house story line comes back to life when Stef and Lena’s divorce papers come in the mail. Knee-deep in preparations for Sharon and Will’s wedding, a frazzled Lena responds to Stef’s assurance that they can remarry with “I am not throwing another wedding ever again.” It’s usually Stef who can be a little too blunt sometimes, but damn. Stef counters with “We can go to the courthouse; I’ll wear flannel,” thereby cementing her coveted position as my Very Favorite.
An ominous thunderclap
As everyone scurries around setting things up for the wedding, there’s an ominous thunderclap because this show obviously needed more drama. “Did you know it was gonna rain?” Callie asks Mariana. “Yeah, that’s why I planned an outdoor wedding,” Mariana shoots back. She and her mom are both killing it with the one-liners in The Fosters 4×16.
Meanwhile, Sharon sweeps Emma away on the pretense of helping with her dress, then explains that she saw the letter but didn’t read all of it aloud to Jesus. She tells Emma that she supports her choice to get an abortion, then gives her a big hug. This is huge because Emma hasn’t told her parents (or anyone else except Brandon, apparently), and now Emma suspects that Jesus doesn’t know after all. Her suspicions that he’s having trouble reading are confirmed when she asks if he can find their place cards for the post-wedding dinner. He can’t – even though they’re right in front of him.
There’s been a blessed lack of Brandon and his perennial ridiculousness in The Fosters 4×16, but I suppose he had to have some kind of story line. Given that Mat recently broke up with Mariana, Brandon wisely invites someone else to perform with him at the wedding: music therapist Grace. There’s a fairly pointless stand-up comedy time-filler, and Grace tells Brandon she does one thing every day that scares her. We all know where this is going: She’s going to kiss him. Now, that’s scary.
Mike is weirdly absent from the wedding, but AJ shows up and decides now is a good time to tell Callie about what Ana’s mother revealed in the previous episode. Because Ana’s a felon, she can’t move in while Mike is fostering AJ – but she can if Mike adopts him. AJ interprets this to mean “Mike only wants to adopt me so Ana can move in,” and seriously, this show is a masterclass in false assumptions and twisted words. When Callie asks why he didn’t tell her earlier, he says, “Because all we do is talk about you, Callie.” Ugh, I like AJ, but he can be out of line sometimes. When Callie points out that she could be going to jail, AJ asks, “Whose fault is that?” Soooo, we hate him now, right? Well, wait a second – what he says next definitely made me reassess the situation:
“I’m a black man in America, Callie, with a juvenile record, and I don’t have a rich daddy to buy me the best lawyers. If I make trouble and get arrested, I’m going down just like Ty. That’s it. I’ll do anything for you but I’m not gonna follow you down a rabbit hole.”
Two weddings & no funerals
Meanwhile, Sharon is having an 11th-hour breakdown in the bathroom. She’s worried because her relationship with her ex-husband Frank (Stef’s dad) went downhill after they tied the knot, and she doesn’t want the same thing to happen with Will. When the man of the hour knocks on the door, she leaps into the shower and instructs Stef and Lena to tell him she’s not there. Honestly, the first half of season 4B was packed with drama and heavy as hell even by this show’s standards, so a little comic relief in The Fosters 4×16 is – well, a relief.
As Will and Sharon talk things out in the bedroom, Stef and Lena do the same in the bathroom. Lena reveals that the reason she doesn’t want to have another wedding is that their first wedding was the happiest day of her life and nothing could live up to it. Stef proceeds to give an effing amazing response that rings so true in these horrifying Trumpian times and culminates in a big gay proposal:
“We don’t have to try and recreate that day, love. I know I was the one that didn’t think a piece of paper was necessary last time, but I love being married. I like our marriage being recognized by the federal government. I know we don’t need anybody’s permission to love one another, but you know what? It feels good to have the same rights as every straight couple. To be included. To be protected under the law. God knows that right might be taken away from us, but, man, as long as we have it, I want it. I want to be equal. I want our love and our family to be out and be proud. They try to take marriage away from us, then you’re damn right I’m gonna fight to keep it, because us getting married again? That piece of paper? That’s about more than just the house, babe. I know that we’ve had some rough times since we got married, but all these politics aside, if I were to ask you today for the first time, would you marry me?”
To cut a long story short, Stef and Lena end up walking down the aisle after Will and Sharon, and it’s absolutely lovely. “No matter how hard life gets or what challenges we face, my love for your has only gotten stronger over this past year, and I know that no matter what happens, it always will,” Lena tells her, and Stef says “Ditto” because the heavens are about to open. As thunder and lightning crash around them and everyone else flees for cover, Stef and Lena kiss in the rain, and we finally get an episode ending that doesn’t feel like a sucker punch. Win-win.