“Good Trouble” Episode 511 Recap: Imagining the Past, Looking to the Future

Last month, Freeform announced that Good Trouble‘s fifth season would be its last. With the first half of the season having already aired in the Spring of 2023, the remaining nine episodes would be Good Trouble‘s swan song. It also means, barring some last minute deal with Hulu or new spin-off announcement, the end of our time with the Adams Fosters. A decade in the Fosters-verse and it’s over, just like that.

“Both Good Trouble and The Fosters have shaped me into the person I am today. It was been one of the greatest privileges of my life to play a character on a show for 10+ years that has helped get important conversations started and pushed for transformative change in the world and has inspired people to be themselves,” Cierra Ramirez (AKA Mariana) wrote following news of the show’s cancellation.

Cancellations are always hard but, in a moment where the commitment to diverse representation at all levels seems to be waining, this loss stings even more. Good Trouble was that show — is that show — that offered space for so many voices that don’t get to see themselves represented in media. It should be regarded, alongside Pose and The L Word, as one of the queerest shows ever on television.

I’m going to try to savor these last episodes and mourn the loss of this show. But also? I want to celebrate of decade of queer greatness and be grateful that we got 10 seasons of watching Callie and Mariana Adams Foster grow.

Mariana returns from Dennis' party and is shocked to find Silas (off-frame) in her loft.

Mariana returns home to the Coterie from Dennis’ party, with her heart pounding from an anxiety attack and her face wet with tears. She finds Silas, the vengeful, abusive cult leader, standing in her loft. He apologizes for his henchman’s actions. Mariana is, understandably, skeptical and grips a nail file in her left hand, in case she has to defend herself. Silas insists that he’s only interested in helping the women at the farm heal from their childhood traumas. He only wants to hasten the suffering of those who, like Mariana, have been abandoned by a parent.

He persists, recounting details of Mariana’s life like he watched the entire run of The Fosters, and it’s so unsettling. Mariana yells at Silas to get out and he does but not before assuring Mariana that he sees her. The moment the door closes behind him, Mariana rushes to secure the locks…but then, seconds afterwards, Joaquin knocks and calls out from the other side.

“Did you see him? Is he still out there?” a clearly shaken Mariana asks. But Joaquin didn’t see anything or anyone and the interaction leaves Mariana convinced the she hallucinated it all.

The next day, Malika approaches Mariana with a request: She’s invited Isaac to move into her loft at the Coterie as he’s works through his recovery and asks if she can crash in Mariana’s loft in the interim. Mariana agrees and I am thrilled. Mariana needs this — the absence of a true friend in Mariana’s life since Callie’s departure has only left her more vulnerable — and, frankly, the show needs it too. Good Trouble thrives when it focuses on its chosen family and invests its energy in building the relationships between those characters (i.e., Alice and Malika, Gael and Davia) but, as I lamented during the midseason finale, that’s been missing lately. I hope that this is a harbinger of good things to come.

Mariana finagles an appointment with a therapist and finally has the opportunity to talk to someone about the trauma that she’s experienced. Unfortunately, even within the safe confines of therapy, Mariana refuses to be honest about what she’s experienced. She admits to being anxious and “having dreams that feel real,” but doesn’t acknowledge the panic attack she experienced or doing any self-care in the wake of the shooting. It’s clear that Mariana’s invested all her energy in ensuring that Evan recovers — from overseeing his medical treatment to shepherding his company through his absence — and now that he is, ostensibly, back, Mariana doesn’t have anything to distract her from feeling the weight of her own trauma.

Rather than leaving her settled, the therapy appointment leaves Mariana frayed and when Joaquin brushes against those frayed edges — by suggesting she tell the truth in her sessions — Mariana lashes out. He should go to therapy, she suggests, and figure out why he thinks he knows everything about everyone. Mariana retreats back into her loft and is greeted by Malika and her stuff…and it’s all just too much. She lashes out at Malika for the mess and then collapses onto her bed. She apologizes and Malika presses her about her reaction. She confesses to having a panic attack and that she came home to find Silas in her loft…or, she thinks she did…she doesn’t really know if he was real or a hallucination. At Malika’s suggestion, they check the security footage from the Coterie lobby for signs of Silas and find nothing.

Mariana, Alice and Malika gather around a computer and review the footage from the security camera in the Coterie lobby.

“So, he was never here,” Malika determines.

“That’s good news,” Alice notes.

“Yeah, but the bad news is I really am losing my mind,” Mariana confesses.

She returns to the therapist’s office the next day and admits that she had an anxiety attack after Dennis’ party. She talks about imagining Silas in her loft and recounts the personal history that he seemed to know. Her therapist tries to comfort Mariana with the knowledge that what she’s experiencing isn’t unusual: lots of trauma victims process their feelings through hallucinations, especially if self-blame is involved. She assures Mariana that she’s not losing her mind at all; instead, her mind is just trying to help her process her feelings. Mariana breaks down and, with tears streaming down her face, finally acknowledges how close she came to death.

Mariana returns to the Coterie looking lighter than we’ve seen her in months and, again, apologizes to Malika for the way she behaved. She assures Malika that she’s glad she’s staying with her for a while — she needs her — and Malika corrects her: They need each other. But unbeknownst to Mariana, Silas sits at a computer somewhere across town, requesting background information on Joaquin from a private investigator…the same investigator who provided a deep dive into Mariana’s history. Then, he picks up Mariana’s Callie doll — a doll that she kept on the mantle of her loft — and toys with it as he recalls his visit to the Coterie…including his narrow getaway, down the fire escape.

Do I still hate the way this cult story has subsumed the tone of Good Trouble, like B613 did with Scandal? Yes. Do I wish that the show would find a way to hasten its end? Also, yes. That said, thanks in large part to an incredible performance by Cierra Ramirez, we’ve finally arrived at a point where I truly feel invested in this storyline — Threatening Mariana Adams-Foster? Not today, Satan! — and I can’t help but wonder what took so long for us to get here. This story needed to be anchored in a character that we cared about, not this Coterie newcomer and his sister…and now that it is, I wonder how we’re going to resolve all this before the show’s finale.

Good Trouble Coterie Sundries

+ Isaac moves into Malika’s loft and the two settle into an easy rapport. The flirting is effortless and the tension is, at times, palpable. It’s easy to remember why I liked them together (though, admittedly, less so now because of the IRL stuff). At dinner with the Coterie fam, they toast Isaac’s return and Kelly wonders if his move means they’re getting serious. Malika insists that they’re not back together and later, when the two are alone, they reaffirm a commitment to being just friends; the focus of his time at the Coterie, Malika insists, has to be about recovery. I don’t know if this promise will last — they still have undeniable chemistry — but I hope it does…in part because I think the Malika that Isaac fell in love with is not the same Malika we know today. And also because Malika’s still not over Angelica.

+ The network calls Alice in and, thanks to her viral campaign, they’re agreeing to renew America’s Funniest Ferrets & Friends for one more season. There is one condition, though: They want Alice to run the writers’ room. Alice demures, at first — she’s the new girl after all — but the network executive makes it clear that either Ferrets returns with Alice at the helm or the show doesn’t return at all.

+ Last we saw Luca and Gael, they were affixing Gael’s #transparent mural to a spot high enough to avoid it being painted over. But as they’re finishing up, the cops show up and chase the pair in opposite directions. Gael manages to escape but Luca gets cornered, facing arrest and possible deportation. But mercifully, a garbage truck interjects itself between Luca and the cops at precisely the right moment, giving Luca the opportunity to escape. He returns to the Coterie and, as they share an embrace, Luca and Gael both breathe a sigh of relief. They promise to never do something that dangerous again.

+ Boy, Good Trouble really does love a love triangle, don’t they? Now it’s Luca’s turn to be subjected to the most overused plot device on the show. On the one end, he’s got Riley, a girl in his dance class with whom he’s smitten, and on the other, there’s Mabel, the adorable sous chef who works alongside Luca at Dennis’ restaurant. Luca is his most candid when he’s with Mabel — he tells her about his money issues and history of being unhoused, while keeping that from Riley — but he’s oblivious to her interest. I hope they give Riley some more complexity so that the triangle doesn’t seem quite so one-sided…and so I don’t grow to resent Luca for not choosing Mabel when it seems so obvious that she’s the better fit.

Next Week: Guess who’s back!

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 405 articles for us.

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