This week, Callie’s still tying herself up in knots over the kidnapping debacle: in order to keep herself, Daphne and Brandon safe from arrest, she must pander to Robert, including going to live with him. Of course, to Lena and Stef, the whole situation seems bewildering and “devastating” – like they’re losing their daughter.
Likewise, Jude’s overriding sense is one of confusion. He even visits the Quinns, hoping to convince them to stop interfering – or, at the very least, to get a sense of why this is all happening. His best guess is that Callie wants to “feel safe” and leave the foster system for good. We see a new side to good ol’ PearlClutcher, Jill, who tells Jude that all she and Robert want is to give Callie that place to feel safe.
We also get to see the best of Robert in this episode, when it emerges that he’s been helping to fund a new Girls United house. He gives Callie and Jude a tour of the new house, and he’s heartbreakingly excited every time Callie grants him the slightest hint of affection. Callie can only respond with a series of queasy smiles.
With Callie still lying through her teeth and pretending a new life with Robert is what she wants, Stef and Lena are reluctantly forced to agree to the situation. They set up a court date and… it’s done. In legal terms, she’s no longer their daughter.
Yet, while Callie’s doubling down on her lies, Daphne’s finally ready to come clean. At the end of the episode, she makes a confession to the police.
I have to come clean myself and say that I’m finding Callie’s storyline convoluted and frustrating this season. The Fosters is a show that has found great success at digging into the emotional meat of situations like this; eschewing the big drama for the everyday. Here, however, I feel like the show is doing the opposite: instead of following Callie down a realistic emotional road, they’re throwing melodramatic mortar bombs in her path.
At the season’s outset, it was actually eminently likely that Callie might choose not be adopted by the Adams Fosters. It was believable that she might find genuine shared ground with Robert (a “connection”, in Rita’s words); that she might want to support her troubled half-sister by going to live with her; that she might want closure for the whole situation, and to be settled, finally.
The Quinns vs. the Adams Fosters storyline is nature vs. nurture writ large, and it should have been a chance for another exploration of the show’s central theme: where you come from vs. where you belong. Instead, we have this convoluted mess. Everyone’s lying to everyone else, and the real emotions at the heart of Callie’s decision feel like an afterthought.
…But that’s just my take on it.
Meanwhile, in dystopian dance purgatory, Mariana and Tia are still trying to recruit dancers for their dance team.
(STILL?!? This storyline has gone on so long that it feels like the robot dystopia is already upon us. In fact, it’s not your friendly recapper Nicola writing this. She’s been replaced by a robot. Gree-tings.)
Into the fray comes… April. You know… April. Right… Okay… APRIL.
In case you don’t remember (and I certainly didn’t), April is the girl who was kicked off the original dance team for drunkenness at the Adams Fosters’ house yard party. Mariana and Tia are now keen to recruit her for their own dance team, but Mariana theorizes that April will only respond to Regina George levels of mean girl despotism. She casts Tia in the role of Regina George and, yeah, Tia does a damn good bitchface:
However, this whole plan backfires. Mariana goes overboard on the whole mean girl schtick, ends up alienating April, and Learns A Valuable Lesson about not being mean to people. Okay… sure. Let’s all be nice to each other. I’ll bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles. (I may be tired of this plotline, but I’m not tired of Mean Girls jokes!)
Back at the Adams Foster house, for some reason, it’s Home Truths Week for Brandon. Jesus, who’s riled up over the fact that the moms won’t let him go to Paedophile Academy, picks a fight with Brandon. He calls out Brandon for being the “golden boy”, whose every misstep is forgiven. Jesus usually talks a lot of crap, but on this count, he’s correct – Brandon does get away with a lot. However, Jesus finally manages to gets his message across to Stef. She agrees to at least sit down with the private school recruiter.
Brandon also does some calling out of his own. He confronts his dad over the fact that Mike is always putting all of his shit “feelings and loneliness” on him. Brandon can’t deal with the intensity of his dad’s neediness; it makes him feel suffocated. The two of them finally have an honest conversation and Brandon tells Mike about the Idyllwild scholarship; about his fears that he’ll never again be good enough at classical music to succeed.
Next, we check in with the Charter School Wars. At Anchor Beach, Timothy doesn’t teach English or Language Arts. He teaches… HipsterLit!
This week, he’s comparing Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery with The Hunger Games. It’s so cute how I started liking Timothy ironically, because I found him amusingly pretentious, and now he’s my (no joke) favourite character. I can’t even make fun of this scene, because I’d legitimately love to take this class. You should read The Lottery if you haven’t already, by the way: it’s eight pages that will fuck you up (in a good way).
However, Monte’s still banging the drum for more conventional teaching. Barely suppressing his resentment, Timothy agrees to teach more non-fiction and critical thinking. (This is such a weird fantasy of teaching, where the curriculum changes at the drop of a hat and teachers plan lessons a day in advance, but… okay.)
In the spirit of more critical thinking, Timothy sets homework for his students to read up on the privatisation of public schooling. What a loveable smartass. Obviously, all of this gets his (smart)ass fired, though.
Excuse me while I get out my handkerchief and wave the fondest of farewells to Timothy. Oh, Timothy. My heart. My light in the dark. My pretentious, pretentious love. *sniffle, sob* I’ll play a sitar tune for you, Timothy.
Timothy’s smartass-iness lives on, however, through his students. Mariana leads a walk-out of students in protest of his firing, and Vice Principal Mama can only look on, aghast. Oh, Lena. Methinks you taught your daughter to stand up for herself a little too effectively…
Other notes and sundry:
Jude the pragmatist: I love how, at every turn, Jude wants to make sure Callie squeezes as much money out of Robert as possible. That’s my boy. Speaking of which…
Line of the episode goes to Jude: “Do you think he bought you a house?” Jude whispers to Callie, when Robert parks up outside the new Girls United house.
Baby crazy: God, now MIKE wants to adopt Ana’s baby. Good lord, people. Who’s next? Modern Family did an episode like this recently, but it was supposed to be funny. You can’t just randomly decide to take someone’s baby. You really can’t.
I didn’t think you could get more depressing than the misery stripes that Brandon and Callie whip out at regular intervals, but the misery plaid Callie wears in this episode might actually be worse:
Meanwhile, Brandon’s wardrobe really has gone off a cliff this season. What even IS this shirt?!?