Blending ripped-from-the-headlines plot points with issues of the heart, The Fosters 5×09 took viewers on an emotional roller coaster. Here are 6 things to know about The Fosters 5×09, “Prom.”
1. Ximena’s story crosses over into real life.
Ximena’s crushingly timely story line comes to a head in The Fosters 5×09 – the same day that the Trump administration announced the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). In fact, the beginning of The Fosters season 5A finale picks up right where last week’s episode left off – with Callie, AJ, and Ximena protesting a controversial right-wing speaker’s impending lecture at UCSD. Heeding Stef’s warning about making smart choices if things get out of hand, Callie eventually retreats with AJ, although they do stay long enough to hear Ximena deliver a passionate speech to the crowd:
“The real enemies of free speech seek to normalize hateful ideas that lead to violent acts against vulnerable communities. … All over our country, people like me are scared. That is not my America, and you don’t need to be a citizen to recognize that.”
By standing up and declaring herself undocumented and unafraid, Ximena sends a powerful and inspiring message – but also attracts the attention of the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When ICE agents come to the derby warehouse (which also serves as the venue for prom in The Fosters 5×09), Callie alerts Stef, who supersedes ICE’s jurisdiction by telling the agents that she’s charging Ximena with underage possession of alcohol and taking her to the local SDPD precinct. Stef seems to be using her professional leverage to get Ximena out of a bad situation, but before we can learn the extent of Stef’s plan, Ximena escapes from the back of Stef’s car and stows away in the back of AJ’s. After the ICE agents recognize Callie and AJ from the protest and take off in pursuit, Callie consults Stef for assistance and then places a call to Jude, who asks Noah if his mom’s church will give Ximena sanctuary. Following a harrowing foot chase, the trio makes it into the church, albeit barely. As red and blue lights flash through the church windows, Callie declares, “We don’t leave until Ximena can walk out of here without being detained.”
2. Brandon and Grace face a major obstacle.
In another heavy story line, Grace’s mom confidentially reveals to Brandon that Grace has an aggressive form of leukemia with a less-than-hopeful prognosis. Grace has to move home for treatment, but before she leaves, Brandon commits to making sure she has the best prom ever – complete with prom queen tiara. Toward the end of the episode, Grace asks Brandon to promise he’ll still go to Coachella even if she can’t accompany him, and he responds by telling her firmly, “We’ll go together.” The couple also known as Grandon Canyon has largely served as comic relief this season, which makes The Fosters 5×09 all the more heartbreaking.
3. Callie and Aaron are on shaky ground.
In a comparatively petty development, Aaron tells Callie that he saw her with AJ at the protest, and reveals he’s decided not to take that summer internship on the East Coast after all. Callie assures him that there’s no need to feel threatened by AJ, and he responds in just about the worst possible way – with predictable results.
Aaron: “It was pretty easy for me to steal you from him, so how hard could it be for him to steal you back?”
Callie: “I am not a piece of property. You didn’t steal me from anyone. If that’s how highly you think of me then this is done.”
Because no episode of The Fosters is complete without an epic misunderstanding, Aaron sees Callie and AJ driving off together and leaps to a false conclusion about them.
4. Mariana’s back with her ex – or is she?
Mariana’s penchant for elaborate schemes becomes a breath of fresh air in this fraught episode. With neighbor Logan’s girlfriend Olivia in town, Mariana’s determined to prove she isn’t interested in Logan (even though she is). The solution? To pretend she’s back with her ex. A comedy of errors ensues, featuring a very high, very drunk Wyatt; a just-as-drunk Emma; and a sober but apparently off-the-market Mat. Mariana/Emma shippers undoubtedly snapped to attention as Emma sloppily kissed and slow-danced with Mariana, much to Stef’s hilarious incredulity. After an evening of morosely watching Emma from afar, Jesus approaches her and offers a heartfelt apology: “I know that I haven’t been myself lately, but I want to be me again – for me, and also for you. I want to be the man that you deserve.” It’s a sweet reconciliation that leaves Mariana faux-outraged and alone… at least until Mat explains he isn’t actually taken and asks her to dance.
5. Tess is venturing out of the closet.
In between gawping at Emma and Mariana and running interference for Ximena and Callie, Stef finally has a direct conversation with Tess, calling her out on her homophobic behavior and noting that their super-gay high school relationship seemed super-gay on both sides, despite Tess’ fervent assertions of heterosexuality. Eventually, Tess admits that moving back to San Diego and reconnecting with Stef brought up some repressed feelings that may be to blame for her unhappy marriage. Essentially, Tess is in the same position as Stef back when Stef was married to Mike. Tess acknowledges she did have feelings for Stef back in high school (raise your hand if you’re shocked) and has been denying those feelings ever since.
6. Anchor Beach’s future remains uncertain.
The potential privatization of Anchor Beach has been looming over the school community throughout season 5, and although The Fosters 5×09 doesn’t provide a resolution, it does feature an interesting development. Monte reveals that she’s been approached by another charter school offering financial autonomy, an easy-to-work-with board, a progressive atmosphere, and her choice of vice principal. Lena promises to think about the opportunity, but if an anonymous text to Mariana is to be believed, she may not have to take the leap. The texter claims to know who destroyed the model of a privatized ABCC, and asserts, “I can help you save Anchor Beach.” While Mariana’s busy dancing with Mat, the texter unmasks himself as none other than Nick – the son of the man leading the charge for privatization, and the only ex she hasn’t tried to get back with tonight.