This week, it’s all about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Of course, in the world of The Fosters, that means an “emotional orgasm”; a frown-y faced lecture on how giggling onstage as a result of The Drugs is simply not okay; and, uh, Brandon’s band.
So… ROCK ON!
Someone’s Little Sister is playing a Pharm party, where people drop a mystery pill into a community bowl upon entrance, which means it’s time for… The Fosters Does Skins!
Brandon’s wary of playing a ~drugs party, but with the band offering to put their fee towards the cost of hotels, this seems like his only shot at going on tour. He reluctantly agrees.
(What happened to Brandon rediscovering his love of classical music last week? Are we just supposed to conveniently forget about that until the finale, when Brandon must make The Choice Of A Lifetime? Sigh, sigh.)
The band, Mariana included, rock up at A Vaguely Threatening-Looking Warehouse for the gig. And this subplot does, at least, have one bright spot. Namely, this exchange:
Mariana: “I’m with Someone’s Little Sister.”
Doorman: “Good for you. Whose little sister?”
I’m glad someone finally made that joke! If Someone’s Little Sister were famous enough to have a tribute band, the tribute band should be called Whose Little Sister.
The show goes well, apart from a couple of DON’T DO DRUGS anvils that land on stage mid-way through.
Brandon is shocked and appalled, like a 19th-century Southern lady confronted with cussing, when Lou swipes a couple of pills from the communal bowl. Later, she… get this, giggles on-stage and misses a lyric during their show. WHY I DO DECLARE.
Mariana, meanwhile, is left to haul away the other anvil. She accidentally gets locked in a storage unit at the warehouse and stumbles upon a semi-conscious girl, presumably a drug casualty, who begins having a seizure. Mariana calls the police, who storm the party and take the girl away to hospital.
And, with that, we’ve all learned a valuable lesson. Drugs are bad! Because of this episode, I’m sure youths everywhere will stop taking them.
I’ve been watching teen shows make hamfisted attempts to deal with The Drugs Issue for a long time now (too long, some might say, *look*) and I genuinely can’t believe that this is still what passes for a nuanced discussion of drugs.
I liked The Fosters’ previous portrayal of drug-taking (Brandon and the pot brownie), because it was specific and realistic. DRUGS (all caps) were not some vague menace; they were just a dubious way to mess with yourself, and the penalty for drug-taking was that you might feel bad, embarrass yourself and have to call your mom.
Here, however, the threat of drugs seems (at once) incredibly mild and yet nightmarishly horrific. Brandon confronts Lou about her pill-popping and reveals he’s only on her case before he cares about her. She promises not to take drugs again and that’s… it. It’s all terribly anticlimactic, especially since we get to hear practically nothing from Lou on the subject. We don’t learn why she might want to take a vacation from absolute sobriety once in a while. This blank space is particularly vexing, because, last season, Lou mentioned she dated a drug addict. Surely that affects her views on drugs, yet we don’t hear a peep about it.
The episode’s other nefarious drug-taker doesn’t even get this much of a resolution. All we learn of the OD victim from the warehouse is that she’s okay and that Mariana’s actions “possibly” saved her life. I’m sorry, POSSIBLY? Simply from a dramatic stakes standpoint, could we bump up “possibly” to “definitely”?
Dammit, I want scenes of people running through a hospital; the OD girl unconscious in a hospital bed while Mariana holds her hand through the night; a stern-yet-kindly doctor saying to Mariana, “Without your heroic actions, young lady, this patient would have died, DIED – have you considered becoming a doctor? The medical profession needs you!”
Instead, everything with the OD girl happens off-screen and the whole thing’s a bit of a yawn. Instead, we switch gears on the storyline, and Mat breaks it to Mariana that he doesn’t want her to come on tour. His feelings for her are so intense – “when you’re in the room, you have my undivided attention” – that it’ll distract him from his music. Okay, dude. If Mat Tan were more than about 72% of a real character, I might be able to tell whether this was a nicely-phrased kiss-off or a genuinely-sweet moment of honesty.
While the rest of the gang are on the rock ‘n’ roll tour bus of life, Callie’s busy isolating herself at Number 13, Misery Lane, Misery Town, Miseryopia, the United States of Misery.
Robert – in scenes that hardly qualify him for father of the year – stresses that, to avoid getting everyone involved in trouble, she cannot talk to anyone about Daphne’s kidnapping romp. Not him. Not the moms. Not even Daphne herself – who shows up looking for advice on what to wear for her visit with her daughter.
For Callie, who’s been trying so hard to open herself up over the last few months, keeping this secret looks to affect her like a death sentence.
Even as Callie struggles to keep it under wraps, the secret threatens to bubble to the surface regardless. At Daphne’s supervised visit with her daughter, Tasha’s foster mom shows up and confronts her, yelling that she knows it was Daphne who took Tasha at Christmas.
For Daphne, the visit is coloured not just by fear that she’ll be arrested, but also by heartbreak. When Tasha cries out “mommy!”, it’s the foster mother that she runs toward, not Daphne. The scene is well acted and emotionally complex, with no good guys and bad guys. It’s only too bad such a moving scene is subsumed by the melodrama of the kidnapping stuff.
Callie, so wracked by guilt that she “can’t even look [Stef and Lena] in the eye”, makes the decision that it would be better for everyone if she ran away again. She breaks the news to the moms that she wants to go and live with Robert.
There’s a teeny-tiny-miniscule Brandon/Callie scene in this episode. Callie shows up at the Pharm party – a locked-in Mariana called her in a panic – and she signals to Brandon, who’s still onstage. He looks up at her like everyone else in the room disappeared and it’s just the two of them. I can’t help but cross reference this scene with Mat’s later speech to Mariana: “Tonight, throughout the whole set, I was scanning the crowd, looking for you. […] When you’re in the room, you have my undivided attention.” Does Brandon scan the crowd looking for Callie?
Brandon’s also the only one who seems concerned about Callie getting caught up in the Pharm party raid, since it would be a violation of her probation.
What’s more, there’s a suggestion that Callie may be covering for Brandon in the whole kidnapping debacle. “I’m not just protecting [Daphne],” Callie says to Robert, when he questions her reasons for not cooperating with the police. Is she worried Brandon could be arrested on an accessory charge?
Back at the ranch, Stef and Lena are still grappling with the idea of adopting Ana’s baby. Mariana, of course, sees the whole situation as clear-cut, meant to be. This baby, it can be a new Frankie. The whole thing’s better, in fact, because “this baby, she’s my sister”.
There’s a poignant irony to the fact that Mariana already sees this unborn baby – one set to be born outside of her family – as her sister, purely because of biology. Especially since Mariana has been perhaps the most welcoming of her adoptive siblings: she’s had a strong bond with Jude from the start, and she continued to think of Callie as her sister even after she ran away. Mariana spouting ‘biology is everything’ rhetoric is subtly heart-breaking.
And, for the moms, the situation is much less clear-cut. After all, Lena didn’t just want a baby; she wanted the experience of carrying a baby that was biologically hers. Unspoken, too, is the idea that Stef and Lena are still in mourning; they don’t want to simply replace Frankie.
When Stef and Lena end up with a rare night home alone, it’s a chance for them to reconnect; to focus on each other, rather than the kids. Also, they’re not counting (not really), but it’s been a while since they had sex.
After a little wine dinner (a lot of wine, no dinner), they race upstairs (“last one to bed has to be the top!”). Things don’t quite go according to plan, however, because… well, Lena had an emotional orgasm, she claims, which is better than Stef, who simply faked hers. They end up snuggling and, despite their derailed sexcapades, Stef reveals that this is her favourite part:
Lena: “Of tonight?”
Stef: “Of everything.”
This scene is so keyboard-smashingly good – shockingly candid for an ABC Family show; raw and funny and basically everything I want from TV relationship drama – that it makes me a little mad that it’s marooned in such an otherwise sub-par episode.
Although Stef and Lena’s night alone has the effect of renewing their relationship, making them look forward to a time when the kids have flown the nest, it also brings them closer, and makes them reconsider the idea of adopting another baby.
This subplot holds within it a deft sleight of hand. In this show, as in all same-sex relationships, sex is inevitably divorced from baby-making. After a drunken night home alone, a straight couple might fall into bed and accidentally conceive a baby. Biologically, that’ll never happen for Stef and Lena. But, emotionally, maybe it did happen. Maybe, after drunken sex, they did start to conceive of the idea that Ana’s baby might be a good thing for them…
Other notes and sundry:
Meanwhile, at Paedophilia Academy: In a scene that seems a whole lot like grooming to me, some random guy meets with Jesus without his parents present, in order to offer him a wrestling scholarship to a fancy private school. Uh, is this how recruitment usually works?
Just say no to random love interests: I thought Rafael, a.k.a. Drop In Centre Guy, was one of those “TV teenagers” who may look 30, but is supposed to be playing 18. Nope. He’s in grad school and this possible romance with Callie is ick-ing me out. That and the fact that all their scenes together in this episode are kind of boring and pointless.
#JonnorSubtextWatch: Jude was apparently on another group date this episode. With Connor, presumably. NO, I’M FINE WITH NOT SEEING THIS ON SCREEN. I’M FINE.
Line of the episode goes to Mariana: “I thought this was a farm party, with barnyard animals. I wore denim.”
Which brings us to…
Daphne soliciting Callie’s advice on what to wear is a hilarious case of the blind leading the blind. Callie, who wears pink and preppy clothes when she wants to project the best version of herself, offers Daphne her pinkest and preppiest outfit, the peter-pan-collar sweater she wore early in S2A. Daphne declares it “too white lady goes to brunch”. Heh!
To the Pharm party, Brandon wears the exact same outfit he wore to the fundraiser. Misery stripes and a mismatched blazer. I thought this was a Brallie throwback, but no, I think this is just Brandon’s ‘stage outfit’. It’s like he’s a wedding singer who has one nice suit that he wears for every engagement.
Mat’s collection of eccentric sweaters have gone unremarked upon for too long. TOO LONG.
What do you think? Did the Callie storyline seem too rushed to pack emotional punch? Is Brandon still holding a candle for Callie? What were Jude and Connor doing on their group date? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.