The Fosters #2.21 (The End of the Beginning) recap: The dancing robot dystopia is upon us

It’s the end of the beginning (allegedly, according to the episode title), and Callie almost looks like a different person. Her wild, messy hair is gone, and her tendency to lash out seems to be receding, too, replaced by a new maturity.

This episode sees Callie going to stay with the Quinns for a weekend, which involves the World’s Most Awkward Family Dinner. Callie meets her bullish biological grandfather, who treats her like a nuisance and a possible poison, but he does bring up some valid points, including criticizing Robert’s “obsession” with taking Callie out of the home she wants to be in.

After dinner, Robert and Callie finally speak honestly. Callie tells Robert she’s ready to “stop fighting” her connection to him. She loves him and knows she’s a part of the Quinn family, but that doesn’t change that fact that the Adams Fosters “feel like home”.

Things are almost derailed when Robert learns about Callie’s planned emancipation. (Sidebar: My theory about Robert having a weirdly close relationship with his lawyer – speed dial one! – holds true in this episode, considering the lawyer calls late on Saturday night to tell Robert about the emancipation. Are we sure Robert’s not having an affair with his lawyer?)

However, after some teenage sulking (from Robert, not Callie), Robert decides to give Callie what she wants, finally agreeing to sign the abandonment papers.

NOW THERE’S NOTHING STOPPING CALLIE FROM GETTING ADOPTED. Apart from the awkward fact that it would render one of the show’s central romantic pairings legally incestuous, and the writers will therefore probably find another roadblock to stop the adoption. BUT, APART FROM THAT, NOTHING.

#SimmerDownMonte

Meanwhile, Lena is emotionally floundering, as she struggles to deal with not only the Callie-Robert turmoil, but also the upset of having Ana as a houseguest, and the prospect of a baby that she secretly doesn’t want. Once more, she tries to lose herself in her work – and, of course, her “friendship” with Monte.

Monte, for one, is obviously viewing this friendship as a budding romance. Over champagne to celebrate a big grant win, Monte makes her move and kisses Lena. Lena doesn’t return the kiss – but she also chooses not to tell Stef what happened. We end the season with yet more secrets and lies between Lena and Stef…

#WarPaint

Lena does get a chance to shine in her scenes with Jude, who finally comes clean about what’s been going on with him and Connor – and, most importantly, WHAT HAPPENED IN THE TENT. “There were no girls, on the camping trip, in the tent – it was just us, and we kissed,” Jude tells Lena.

Not to nitpick (who, me?), but this tent business still doesn’t quite make sense to me. Why would Jude (at the fundraiser) have voluntarily told his moms that he and Connor did something “wrong, I guess” and then trotted out a lie about kissing girls? I suppose perhaps Connor and Jude fabricated the “girls” cover story ahead of time, but why would Jude bother to tell this lie to his lesbian moms?

Regardless, it’s good to draw a line under The Biggest Mystery On TV.

Jude dons his “war paint” (blue nail polish, of the type that Connor once wore in solidarity after Jude was beat up in school) and goes to visit Connor in hospital. But Connor’s dad refuses to let Jude see him. “I don’t care that your son is gay,” Adam tells Lena, “I just don’t want mine to be.” Lena eventually persuades Adam that keeping the two boys apart will only mean he ends up “shut out” of his son’s life.

A happy Jude and Connor are reunited, complete with hospital bed snuggling. And, later, Jude tells Callie that Connor is his boyfriend. His voice is proud and steady, but it’s not hard to imagine there’s a little trepidation to the moment. Coming out to your lesbian mom? Not a big deal. Coming out to your sister, who has very firm ideas about how you should and shouldn’t act (and a little history of homophobia to boot)? Not so easy…

#TheSoundOfSilence

We somehow manage to end the season still (!) not (!!) knowing (!!!) whether (!!!!) Brandon will go on tour or to Idyllwild (!!!!!!!1). For God’s sake, this storyline has been interminable.

Brandon does finally have his audition for Idyllwild – but not before Lou drops a couple of bombshells on him. It turns out there’s an A&R guy who’s heard Someone’s Little Sister’s music and is coming to their LA show. Lou thinks that this is Brandon’s big musical break.

Indeed, I like this scene because it paints Idyllwild as the frivolous choice; Lou casts the summer music program in exactly the same light that everyone else has cast the tour. In her opinion, Idyllwild is a distraction from the real deal, which for her, is the band. (This makes sense, of course, if you assume the band is the only thing of substance in Lou’s troubled life. Consider this my semi-regular plea for us to actually learn something about Lou’s homelife. Next season, maybe?)

In case Brandon’s decision (of tour vs. Idyllwild, pop music vs. classical) weren’t already mired in Lou vs. Callie subtext, Lou also takes this opportunity to tell Brandon she loves him.

Cue: THE LONGEST SILENCE EVER, before Brandon kisses Lou and tries to act like that masks the fact that he didn’t say it back.

#ANewAna

Ana makes an uneasy houseguest in the Adams Fosters’ home; a jarring addition to the family breakfast table. She has memories of her twins’ childhoods – memories of Mariana wearing an oversize t-shirt and dancing for attention – but none of the material family ties. She’s visibly aware that she doesn’t fit in here. When she looks at the old photographs of her children that fill the Adams Foster house, it seems like she’s looking at pictures of strangers. And, of course, she is essentially a stranger; it’s Stef and Lena that her twins call Mom and Mama now.

This is the most sympathetic Ana has ever been, and it’s impressive that the show has managed to bring her to this place. Slippery, untrustworthy Ana; pitiable, emotionally-manipulative Ana – these incarnations of Ana are gone. Ana finally manages to connect with Mariana… by being simply and genuinely honest.

We learn a little about Ana’s past – about the choices she made, by falling in with a bad crowd as a teenager; but also about the way her parents were hard on her, setting different expectations for her than they did for her brothers.

Bright, busy Mariana is drawn in stark contrast to her birth mother at the same age. Ana expresses her admiration at how Mariana has been raised “by strong, independent women” and taught to strive for anything she wants. Indeed, this episode finds Mariana marrying her love of dancing with her newfound coding skills in the dance-off against the Heathers’ rival team.

Even after Mariana twists her ankle, meaning she’s unable to take part in the dance-off, she is undeterred. She and Emma program their team’s costumes to light up in time to the music, creating a futuristic routine that blows the competition away. She even creates a dancing avatar to replace herself onstage, getting around this mysterious “gotta have six dancers” rule. (Which… btw… what?)

#TheRobotDystopiaCausedTheCarCrash

When she’s not bringing forth the dancing robot dystopia, Mariana comes to a decision about Ana and the baby. Everyone’s trying to make Mariana happy – the moms are adopting the baby, for her; Ana’s giving up the baby, for her; the Adams Foster siblings are keeping quiet about what a mess it all is, for her – and Mariana finally realizes it shouldn’t be about her. Ana’s parents have offered to let her live with them and help her to raise the baby, and Mariana encourages Ana to take them up on the offer.

However, this may be a moot point, because Ana, driving Jesus and Mariana home after the dance-off, ends up in a car accident “with one reported fatality”. Dun dun dunnn…

Let’s break down the car crash mystery of who’s dead, shall we?

Mariana? No. Nuh uh. Nope. Notsamuch. Rationally speaking, Mariana is actually the most likely to be deaded, since she’s not wearing a seatbelt during the collision. But Mariana is also sunshine and light, ably played by Cierra Ramirez, and on an interesting character trajectory. To reiterate: NUH UH.

Jesus? Well, it’s no surprise that Jake T Austin is leaving the show. He’s had that checked-out, “…line?” look in his eyes all season. But killing Jesus would be tantamount to exploding a bomb in the Adams Foster household. The level of grief would be incredible – and incredibly depressing to watch. I also can’t believe the writers would have bothered with the dull-da-dull-dull boarding school storyline if Jesus was just going to die.

Teh Babby? God, I hope so. I hate baby storylines. This seems the likeliest fatality, since it has a little emotional punch, but not too much.

Ana? However, if the writers want more emotional punch, Ana seems like a good character to kill. Her storyline with the Adams Fosters is all but wrapped up, and Mariana grieving her birth mother might provide an interesting entry into meeting more of her birth family.

Personally, however, I hope that the car crash is just a feint and no one’s dead. This isn’t a cable noir show; it doesn’t require a body count.

Other notes and sundry:

Sleeping arrangements: Ana spends this episode sleeping in Brandon’s room, so… where is Brandon sleeping? I feel like we missed out on some hilarity in seeing Brandon either squished into Jesus and Jude’s room or maybe camped out downstairs.

Gimme all the boozy stepmoms: Robert’s boozy stepmom/trophy wife to Grandpappy Quinn is my new favourite character.

Sophia, Queen of England: Remember when I thought this season might involve a realistic and honest portrayal of suicide and depression? Remember when that didn’t happen at all? We do at least see Sophia again in this episode, and a little lip service is paid to her mental illness (she has a personality disorder, which, she jokes, “makes it sound like I think I’m the Queen of England or something”), but the whole thing feels handwaved away. Too bad.

#TeamQuinn: In general, I wish we could spend more time with the Quinns. I’m intrigued by Robert and PearlClutcher’s relationship (in this episode, he alludes to “putting her through so much” – does Good Ol’ Jill know about Robert’s mistress? Is it an open secret?), and I’d like to see more of Robert’s fraught relationship with his father. Also: Dawson’s Creek is forever.

Wardrobe notes:

Nothing really to report, apart from the dancing robot costumes (which I think Mariana should just start wearing as casual daywear) and this patterned-shirt/waistcoat monstrosity that Brandon wears to his audition. I’d deny him the scholarship just on the basis of lack of good taste:

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