At the top of The Fosters 4×18, we find out Brandon’s the type of person who eats the heels of a bread loaf, which doesn’t surprise me at all. For more twists, turns, and revelations from the episode, read on for our recap of The Fosters 4×18, “Dirty Laundry.”
Throughout The Fosters 4×18, Lena struggles to hold down the fort (and the troop of teens who live in it) while Stef works long hours in her new detective position. As always, there’s a lot going on in the household: Brandon wants to move into the converted garage, Mariana wants Gabe to move into the garage, Jude wants to go to school on a Saturday, Jesus wants Lena to get a doctor’s approval for him to have sex, and Callie wants to go to L.A. for the weekend with Aaron. Also, Drew is leaning on Lena to do all his work as newly appointed interim principal of Anchor Beach following Monte’s resignation.
First up, let’s discuss Brandon. Historically, he’s tended to be the most ridiculous and self-centered of the kids, and his storyline this week is no exception. When Stef tells him he needs to earn the privilege of living in the garage, he makes a “You mean I have to work for this?” face but ultimately agrees to go grocery shopping. Brandon being Brandon, he loses the list, goes off-script, and comes back with Red Vines, marshmallows, and not the chicken Lena’s planning to make for dinner. And guess what? That’s not even the worst mistake he makes in The Fosters 4×18. No, that accolade is reserved for his decision to keep the bombshell letter about Emma’s Secret Abortion™ in the pocket of his pants, where Stef later discovers it while doing laundry.
Meanwhile, Mariana visits the other contender for the coveted title of garage resident – Gabe – and learns that he’s moving to Lake Tahoe for work. Apparently he got behind on rent and has nowhere to live locally. We last witnessed Mariana’s penchant for making promises before securing permission in The Fosters 4×16, when she volunteered the family’s backyard as the venue for Sharon and Will’s wedding, and in this week’s episode, she does the same with the garage. After all, if Gabe moves out of town, he won’t be able to help the twins build a treehouse for their senior project, which Mariana hopes will help with Jesus’ recovery. In Stef’s absence, what’s Lena to do but say yes to Mariana’s request?
So not Raven
Speaking of Jesus’ recovery, Lena sits down with Jesus and Emma to relay the awkward conversation she had with his doctor about whether he can have sex despite his TBI. It’s cringe-worthy for all involved (restrictions include “no acrobatics” and “lie supine”), but ultimately Jesus gets the green light. However, after all that, he has performance issues that Emma suggests may be related to his medication. He examines the bottle for side effect information – and Lena realizes he can read again! It’s a joyful development, but there are two big problems: He stops taking his meds, and he wants to read Emma’s letter. Yup, the same letter Emma asked Brandon to steal back in last week’s episode – and which Brandon intelligently kept in his pocket for Stef to find.
Like Brandon, Jude’s also making some questionable choices in The Fosters 4×18. Specifically, he decides to get back at a classmate who’s bullying him for being gay by photocopying the kid’s failing grade on a history test and plastering the papers on lockers. That’s so not Raven – or Judicorn – and as Noah points out, “bullying a bully kinda makes you just as bad as him.” This leads to one of the episode’s best exchanges:
Jude: “Bullies always win, and I’m tired of being a loser.”
Noah: “What makes you a loser is stooping to his level.”
Ultimately, Jude takes down the papers before anyone sees, and is adorably rewarded with a kiss from Noah. So, all’s well that ends well, right? Not so fast. Turns out Drew is on campus too, and they hear him talking about getting Anchor Beach rechartered to become a private school…
In the most prominent storyline of The Fosters 4×18, Callie and Aaron travel to L.A. with a dual agenda. First, Callie wants to speak with the ex-husband of murder suspect Troy’s girlfriend, Vanessa. If he can support her theory that Vanessa was having an affair with Troy at the time of the murder, Vanessa would lose credibility as an alibi witness. Second, Aaron wants Callie to be his buffer at his father’s birthday party.
So, why does Aaron need a buffer? His parents seem great – for like 30 seconds. Then his mom refers to Aaron by his deadname, his brother calls him a lesbian, his dad makes a “joke” about how he won’t be getting involved in his college’s sorority scene, and Callie notices there are no post-transition photos of Aaron in the house. Y’all, it’s microaggression city. Then, upon seeing one of Aaron’s tattoos, his dad asks, “Haven’t you mutilated yourself enough?” and Callie hits her breaking point. Although Aaron’s family certainly deserves her stern lecture, she doesn’t stop to think about whether Aaron actually wants or needs her help. After dinner, he tells her he can defend himself and reasserts his own agency.
Aaron: “I don’t like the way they treat me either, but I made a choice. I can push them away, or I can accept them.”
Callie: “But they don’t accept you.”
Aaron: “They’re family, Callie. That’s important to me. … This isn’t something you can fix.”
Downstairs, Callie runs into Aaron’s mom and apologizes for her behavior. His mom admits she feels as if she lost a daughter and says, “I don’t know who’s sleeping in [deadname’s] old room right now.” On the show, Callie counters with “He’s the same person that he’s always been, and he loves you a lot” before heading up to Aaron’s room to apologize, where they end up kissing. In real life, actor Elliot Fletcher tweeted gems like “aaron’s mother never lost a daughter. she always had a son.” and “aaron’s name is aaron. always has been. always will be.” Basically everyone should follow him, is what I’m saying.
The next day, Callie prints a photo she took of Aaron the first day they met back in The Fosters 4×03, and his mom displays it on the mantle. As they prepare to return to San Diego, Aaron asks if the previous night’s kiss was “just a road trip thing,” Callie answers by kissing him again, and my heart grows three sizes. Oh, also? Aaron talks to Vanessa’s ex, who confirms she was having an affair with Troy at the time of the murder and would have done anything for him. What’s more, he’s willing to talk to the authorities!
Ships in the night
Back in San Diego, Stef and Lena finally get a chance to talk after passing each other like ships in the night for most of the episode. Lena admits she feels like a single parent, and Stef finally realizes the stress she’s been under. What could easily have devolved into an argument instead becomes a productive, adult conversation that all couples could benefit from having more often.
Stef: “Listen, sit with me. I appreciate everything that you’re doing for this family – I realize that the majority of the burden is falling on your shoulders and I’m sorry for that.”
Lena: “I appreciate all the extra hours you’re working to make up for me being on leave.”
Stef: “But it was never the deal that you’d do everything, and I’m going to try and do better.”
Ugh, talk about #couplegoals.