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.

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The Fosters #2.20 (Not That Kind Of Girl) recap: Bait and switch

In an episode that opened with the aftermath of a shooting, it’s a little ironic to say that the most heart-in-mouth moment was actually created by the bloop-bloop-bloop bubbles of a text message loading.

Jude and Connor managed to steal this episode – and with perhaps five minutes of screentime between them. This is a testament to the talent of this show’s young stars, who repeatedly rise to the challenge of the scripts’ Pinter-esque pauses. And it also proves that this is a show that succeeds best when it underplays, rather than overplays, emotion.

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The Fosters #2.19 (Justify the Means) recap: Mercury in retrograde

Stef hatches a secret plan to keep Callie a part of the Adams Foster family. In doing so, she creates a folder on her computer called MY SECRET PLAN. Then she hangs a neon sign that reads CALLIE’S MY DAUGHTER, and hires a skywriter to write SUCK IT, ROBERT across the beautiful San Diego skies. Stef is so covert, the FBI’s looking to recruit her, I’m sure.

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The Fosters #2.18 (Now Hear This) recap: The tension and the terror

Everyone’s looking for a family. When Kiara returns, she assures Callie that’s she found a new family, one that cares about her. The fact that her new family is a prostitution ring? Well, it might not be ideal, but she’s making the best of a bad situation (and, for Kiara, there have been so many bad situations).

In this episode, Callie tries to convince Kiara that Rita and the newly-reunited Girls United could be her family – a good family; a family that comes without strings attached. Callie, whose other family – the Adams Fosters – is slipping away from her, is desperate to keep together Girls United. She can’t lose this other family, too, because losing Stef and Lena already “hurts so much”.

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The Fosters #2.17 (The Silence She Keeps) recap: Home truths

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.

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The Fosters #2.15 (Light of Day) recap: Put your hands where I can see ’em

How did we reach the point where two 13-year-old boys holding pinkie fingers makes for the most heart-in-mouth, toe-curling, stressful viewing of the whole season?

Hannibal’s gonna come back on our screens later this year and casually disembowel people with Italian flair… and it’s still going to make for less tense television than Connor moving his hand half an inch across an armrest.

Some other stuff happened this episode, as well. I mean… I guess it did. *vague gestures*

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The Fosters #2.14 (Mother Nature) recap: Exit, pursued by a bear

The Adams Fosters go camping! Stef and Lena want the kids to actually experience something, “without tweeting or twerking about it”.

And, oh, the family experiences something, alright – but more time is spent spilling secrets and unloading built-up resentments than singing Kumbaya around a camp fire.

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The Fosters #2.13 (Stay) recap: Got issues?

In this week’s episode, The Fosters manages to hit more social issues than your average tumblr SJW post. Privatization of public services? Check! Charter school bureaucracy? Check! Gender politics? Check! The vulnerability of children of addicts? Check! The importance of at-risk teens finishing high school? Check!

The only thing missing is… Jude. Wait, where the hell is Jude?

I’ll share my speculation on where Jude has disappeared to later, but first, on with the recap…

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The Fosters #2.12 (Over/Under) recap: Don’t Speak

“I don’t think I can handle any more bad news,” Callie comments in this season opener.

So please stop explaining, she may as well have said. Don’t tell me ‘cause it hurts.

‘Over/Under’ ends up being mostly about what’s unsaid. It’s a story that hides in the ellipses.

“And…” Jude trails off, when trying to explain What Happened In The Tent™. Then, later, “I didn’t tell…”

It’s a story told in pregnant pauses. In evasive looks.

It’s a story about bottled-up feelings and, when those feelings finally, inevitably explode, it becomes a story about lashing-out and half-truths and things you wish you could unhear.

So, as Gwen Stefani sang about “the guy with the crazy eyes”: don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t speak…

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The Fosters #2.11 (Christmas Past) recap: The lights and buzz

‘Peace on earth’ is the theme that the Adams Fosters are going for in their Christmas decoration display (Jesus wants to snag the $250 prize for best-decorated house), but what they end up with is squabbles about money, burned lasagne and hurt feelings. Oh, and also, there’s a not insubstantial amount of casual and unpunished crime that takes place in this episode. Standard Christmas fare, I guess.

Now, let me don my novelty headgear, turn up the Christmas tunes, and we’ll get started with the recap…

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The Fosters #2.10 (Someone’s Little Sister) recap: in tents

The art of the finale cliffhanger, apparently, lies not in near-death situations or natural disasters. To create a really compelling cliffhanger, it turns out that all you need to do is send two 13-year-old boys into the woods together, have them share a tent, and then not tell your audience what happened.

Quite a few people have been finding this blog this week by Googling “what did Jude and Connor do in the tent?” The answer is: I DON’T KNOW, BUT I WILL HAVE TO WATCH NEXT SEASON TO FIND OUT. (Thus making it… the perfect cliffhanger.)

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The Fosters #2.09 (Leaky Faucets) recap: plumbing the depths

Sometimes I check TiVo and laugh at the generic episode descriptions written for some TV shows, which completely fail to differentiate one episode from another. (Whoever writes these obviously can’t be bothered to actually watch the episodes or even check Wikipedia.) Anyway, if The Fosters had a generic episode description is would be this: “Tough exteriors mask real emotion in this week’s episode.”

Indeed, in ‘Leaky Faucets’, you’ll never guess what happens: tough exteriors mask real emotion!

Yet the fact remains that the characters on The Fosters have so much more inner life than most characters on TV, so this contrast of tough exteriors/inner turmoil is worth revisiting. There’s a bit of TV farce thrown into ‘Leaky Faucets’, when the whole Adams Foster sib-set ends up at a Mexican street festival, but the show is smart enough to realize plumbing its characters’ emotional depths creates the real drama.

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The Fosters #2.08 (Girls Reunited) recap: chasing a feeling

In this episode, everyone’s looking for a feeling: whether it’s a pop song ideal of love, or a true sense of ‘home’, or even just an end to numbness.

Yet it’s ersatz feeling that’s overrides real feeling in ‘Girls Reunited’, as the characters say one thing while they mean another; reach for one person while they yearn for another. Everyone’s looking for the real thing – in Brandon’s words, “someone who gets you” – but they’re mostly just making do with whatever they can find. Sometimes good-enough really is enough, but sometimes it’ll burn your house down…

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The Fosters #2.07 (The Longest Day) recap: uncharted waters

Callie ropes in Jude to join her in spending the day with the Quinns on their yacht. But it’s Brandon who’s all at sea, when he finally reveals the iceberg-sized truth about what happened with Dani to his parents. (Sorry, the scope for ocean-based metaphors in this episode recap has me cast adrift with excitement.)

Stef and Lena begin the episode by planning a quiet, relaxing afternoon alone together – a type of plan that has fallen through for them so often that, at this point, we basically hear a vengeful god’s booming voice say, “haha, nope!”

With Mariana at dance practice, Jesus at wrestling practice, and Callie and Jude headed for the open sea, it’s only Brandon (and his secret) left at home. Lena gently tells him that today’s the day: “The kids are all out of the house, so I think it’s time.” Lena’s phrasing, excluding Brandon from being one of “the kids”, is heart-breaking and more than a little ironic in the context of what’s to come.

Instead of a relaxing afternoon, it’s time for a little family therapy session.

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