The Fosters Episode 218 Recap: The Mating Rituals Of Meerkats

The way I like to watch The Fosters is while I’m riding my stationary bike, so I get sweaty and on a good endorphin high, and then I cry for like 45 minutes while I’m pedaling and pedaling. It’s very cathartic. It’s almost as good as therapy. Better, actually, some weeks. Like time machine therapy, healing the wounds of growing up closeted and gay in the deep south. Maddie and I were talking about it yesterday and she said, “WHAT IF I had seen THIS instead of The L Word, ten years ago, when I was thirteen? WHAT IF?” Same-same (only I was in my 20s). This episode is a doozy, so get some Kleenexes, kittens.


Okay, last order of business. Lena and I are the only people making out with each other in this house. Correct?

Stef and Lena call a family meeting to let everyone know that Callie has decided to go live with Robert, and everyone handles it exactly like you think they will. Mariana flat loses it. If one more person she loves abandons her, her super smart science brain is going to explode inside her beautiful head. Brandon think it has something to do with him. (Callie assures him it does not.) Jude refuses to take anyone’s side because he is a wizard of love and everyone in this room is his family. And Jesus’ tries to process what it means while filtering through the six thousand other stimuli fighting for his attention. (ADD, man. I feel you, Jesus.)

Of course as soon as the meeting is over, Daphne calls to tell Callie she came clean to the police, but told them she kidnapped Tasha by herself without help from anyone, especially without help from Callie and Brandon. She’s going to stay at Girls United for a while, and Callie can stay with Stef and Lena. Daphne hangs up real fast and Callie is just like, “Are you effing kidding me?”


What’s that? I’ve been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer? Figures.

The next morning, Mariana refuses to go to school. In case you’ve forgotten, Timothy got himself fired for refusing to work with the administration to find a teaching strategy that encourages free and critical thinking, and also prepares students to succeed on standardized tests, so Anchor Beach can get the funding it needs to stay open. I can’t stop thinking about it. I have this running mental list of Straight White Dudes On TV That Are Pissin’ Me Off, and somehow Timothy has managed to leapfrog his way over freaking President Fitzgerald Grant (Scandal) and land right behind Fucking Johnny (Pretty Little Liars) this season. Lena doesn’t explain to Mariana that if they’d rewarded Timothy’s obstinance and belligerence and plain stupidity by letting him keep his job, Anchor Beach wouldn’t have been able to stay open next year, and then everyone would have been out of a job, including half the people who provide her with a roof to live under and food to eat.


I’m staying home from school and I’m not going to teach you how to use the new TV remote.



Turns out only Jude is going to school today, basically, which means everyone has time to nose around in everyone else’s business. Brandon, for example, asks Jude about his new girlfriend. He’s like, “I could not be more serious when I say to you that she is literally just my friend.” But Brandon does not believe him. Stef noses in on the way Callie is shoving her eggs around on her plate, dejectedly, but you know she’s not giving anyone any hints about what the heck is actually going on inside her brain and heart.

Lena pulls Stef into another room and goes HAM about the kids not going to school, and then she has the best and most hilarious idea. It makes her grin like the Grinch. She packs up all the kids’ tablets, phones, laptops, DVRs, televisions, and even the wireless router into a wheely suitcase and marches out the door with it. It’s a very funny scene. All the kids grimace and look away when she roughhouses the suitcase around. “Our whole lives are in there!” Jesus says. Finally, Stef swoops in and helps her gently carry the suitcase to the car. She wants to support Lena, but she also wants the DVR to stay in one piece so they can watch their shows.


No, I don’t love TV more than you, but they’re revealing Big A in two weeks.


Baby, we have talked about this. They are NEVER revealing Big A.

Mariana says probably my favorite line of dialogue on this show ever: “You’re obstructing our attempt to organize, Mama!”

At Anchor Beach, Monty is feeling the pressure of half the student body staying out of school and the media coming in on Monday, so she tells Lena to pass along the word to everyone that if any kids stay out of school after the weekend without a valid excuse, they’re getting suspended. Lena thinks maybe that’s a little harsh since academics aren’t cutthroat businesses, so maybe they could have some kind of discussion with the students? Some kind of high minded forum? Monty is like, “These kids are just looking for an excuse to have some vacation days, let’s be honest. This is high school, not Harvard.”

Valid, Monty. But keep your eyes and hands off of Lena, you hear me?


Let’s just pretend it’s a David Attenborough documentary.


“The Secret Life of Wildlife” or something like that.


“Land Monsters 3D.”

Connor is making out with his new girlfriend and Jude is about to vomit all over the place. His new adorable friend Taylor says she deals with all their pawing by pretending she’s watching a documentary called The Mating Habits of Meerkats. Taylor, I like you. You can stay.

Taylor: Do you want to go to the fair this weekend?
Jude: Yeah, cool.
Daria: We’re going to the pier.
Connor: Naw, girl. Let’s go to the fair. We can go to the pier any time.
Jude: Oh, I forgot, I’ve got plans with my family on Saturday.
Connor: We can go Sunday.
Jude: I have plans Sunday too.
Connor: We can go next weekend.
Jude: We’re moving… to Europe.
Connor: My aunt lives in London.
Jude: Europa. We’re moving to Europa. Jupiter’s moon, Europa. So. I can’t go to the fair. Or anywhere with you ever again.

My 15-year-old self is watching this with eyes as wide as a Tarsier. Sweet Jude. We feel you. We have all been there.

Callie hangs out at Girls United with Daphne and Carmen(!). Hey, Carmen! They debrief Callie’s situation about awful Robert, and then Carmen says she saw Kiara working as a prostitute in a really dangerous part of town. Callie wants Rita to pack them up in her car right damn now and go rescue Kiara, but Rita says that it’s not their responsibility to save her. Rita says a very hard fact about life: You always have a choice, even if it’s a choice between two shitty things. Kiara has to come to them, not the other way around.


Sisters don’t shake hands! Sisters gotta hug!

At the Foster Adams House of Pancakes and Unconditional Love, Lu tells Brandon to sell his autographed Tony Gwynn baseball to get the cash to come on tour, where they will be able to play music and have sex nonstop for one whole summer. And then she has sex with him, to illustrate her argument. Brandon is delirious with lust when he walks Lu out later, and finds Mariana on the porch trying to poach the neighbor’s wi-fi on her e-reader so she can hack Facebook and check in on the protests for Timothy. It’s the only thing she can do to distract herself from thinking about losing her sister. She knows they’re all going to college soon, but she’s not ready to let go yet.

So, to recap. Today:

Mariana reconfigured her Kindle and hacked into her neighbor’s wi-fi to be a (admittedly misguided) social justice warrior.

Jude watched the boy he loves make out with a girl right in front of his face.

Callie grappled with the fact that she is losing her family, and found out one of her best friends is working as a prostitute.

Brandon got laid.


So much for Jupiter.


Don’t make a Uranus joke. Don’t make a Uranus joke.

When Jude stops by Lena’s office that afternoon for a ride home, Connor is sitting on the couch. Turns out his dad got trapped out of town on a business trip and so Connor will be spending the weekend with them.

Connor: I can help you guys pack for your move to Europa.
Lena: Huh?
Connor: [Raises his eyebrows in Jude’s direction]
Jude: [Sighs and follows Connor out the door]

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Fun fact: when I was one years old I used to call Fox and the Hound “Fuckin’ Sound”. But Pinned Ya ‘Gain is actually a lion king thing. :/

  2. I have been waiting for this recap since I saw this ep, that is how flaily it made me. In the best, omg this show is too perfect kinda way. Jude is killing me with his story line and if Connor breaks his heart I will cry rivers of sadness. And if principal lady tries to make a move on Lena I will cry rivers of angry tears so that had better not happen.

    • agreed re:principal lady. ALTHOUGH I feel like even if that happens it would still be breaking the lesbian trope that happens all too often where one of them cheats with a dude. I am so glad that the show has steered far away from rekindling any Stef/Mike flame.

  3. As you said, I am IN LOVE with the direction they’ve taken with Stef and Lena’s relationship this season. I feel like their intimacy with each other is better established than MOST couples on TV, gay or straight. I feel so affirmed by it, both for the me of ten years ago, and for myself right here and now.

    I have mixed feelings about Kiara’s storyline. On the one hand, I think it’s great to have a story about a kid engaging in survival sex work that talks about why that’s what she’s decided is her most viable option. On the other hand, I do not do not do not like the whole Hashtag-Save-Kiara thing. I think that storyline sent really mixed messages about Kiara’s agency, because while she did seek Callie out, that happened between two interventions from Rita [and Stef], both of which happened without Kiara’s consent, and had a few circumstances changed, they could have ultimately subjected her to a lot of violence from her pimp and/or the juvenile justice system. I think the storyline ultimately props Rita [and to an extent Stef and Callie] up as this white savior figure, and I don’t love the message that sends to the me of ten years ago.

    • Thank you for exactly describing the mixed feelings I had about the Kiara storyline. I thought all the people involved in those scenes were doing some great acting but it still left me feeling a bit off.

  4. Okay, Mariana’s not *that* much of a genius. Kindles (and most e-readers, I imagine?) are Wi-Fi ready. So, if switching them out of “airplane mode” to piggyback on the neighbor’s network is brilliant, then…I dunno. See? This show is so great that I have to nitpick insignificant details that are not pertinent to the story.

      • Tying things in with the Mariana/STEM stuff, maybe? Then again, if I recall from the repetitive product placement in previous episodes, they all have Kindle Paperwhites, which don’t have web browsing capabilities, in which case, that is impressive. Okay, I take it back, she is a genius!

  5. I usually find myself eye-rolling A LOT during this show, but this episode made me cry at least 3 times, because the acting and script were on point.

    In particular the Stef/Callie scene had me bawling (due, in part, to the fact that I had my own mother do the intervention-standoffy thing at that age due to my mental health. You do not forget that kind of love). It was wonderfully accurate and Teri’s facial expressions are everything.

    Also, major props to the Callie/Mariana gifs; this is Autostraddle!

  6. “Maddie and I were talking about it yesterday and she said, “WHAT IF I had seen THIS instead of The L Word, ten years ago, when I was thirteen? WHAT IF?”

    I think about this all the time when I watch this show and PLL. WHAT IF there had been positive, relatable representations of gay people on TV when I was a teenager? The only representations of gay people I saw at that age were…Will and Grace and hmm yeah just Will and Grace. And that show was about gay men.

    I like to think that seeing characters like Steph and Lena, Jude, Emily and Paige etc would have been a great thing for me. I would have understood myself earlier and with less shame and angst. I wouldn’t have had to try to pretend to like boys.

    But also sometimes I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t realize I was gay until I was in college and out of my parents’ house, out of the high school environment where everyone knows your business. Even though I didn’t have to do it, just the thought of trying to come out as a high school kid makes me feel so anxious. You’re just so damn vulnerable at that age. Being older made me better able to control my surroundings and protect myself.

    I know that society has changed quite a bit in the past 10 years since I was in high school, but I don’t think it’s changed enough for me to envision myself coming out in high school. I still think that kids who come out early tend to really suffer in school, despite the fact that no one bothered Emily Fields after Paige’s dad calmed down. I think maybe seeing shows like this would have just tortured me. They would have let me see that I was gay before I was ready to deal with it. They would have given me false hope that everything would be ok when I came out.

    This isn’t to say that I think that gay representation on TV is a bad thing. It’s a great thing. I just think there’s still so much that needs to change before the world is truly safe for young gay people.

    • This isn’t to say that I think that gay representation on TV is a bad thing. It’s a great thing. I just think there’s still so much that needs to change before the world is truly safe for young gay people.

      Yes I TOTALLY agree. I will be among the last people to suggest that the Fosters and gay representation in media in general makes the world safe for young gay people. I did come out in high school, though, and I think seeing the Fosters (which I am sure I still would have watched in secret the way I did the L Word) would have maybe helped me feel less tortured than the L Word did. Now that I’m thinking about it, I think that also might have something to do with the way the Fosters alludes to sex without showing it. Obviously they’re not going to show it, but I think the fact that it shows queer women having sexual lives along with a bunch of other things happening with their lives is really important. Sex/the desire for sex was (still is?) the only thing I could relate to about the L Word when I was coming out. I think the Fosters would have helped me feel more comfortable loving the weirdo that I was, even when coming out was hard.

      • I agree about the L Word. I tried watching it (in secret!)when I was starting to come out to myself, and it just made me feel gross. I couldn’t relate to anything on that show. Weirdly, it actually made me feel more isolated and confused.
        It’s only now that I’m much older that I can watch the L Word for what it is- a ridiculous soap opera. My wife and I laugh at it together.

    • Co-sign. You captured my feelings perfectly. All I needed would be to have seen a Santana or an Emily or even a Lena to realize that feminine lesbians even exist in a regular world, and then I would have at least recognized that my desperation to have my femininity validated by any guy was unnecessary. Ugh. So many feelings. But I’m glad that I was old and mature enough to never question or dismiss my attraction to women once I did realize it.

    • But also sometimes I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t realize I was gay until I was in college and out of my parents’ house, out of the high school environment…..You’re just so damn vulnerable at that age. Being older made me better able to control my surroundings and protect myself.”

      I feel this so much. This show makes me imagine what growing up in a perfect world would have been like. And I’m worried that kids will mistake today for that perfect world.

  7. Dottie TOTALLY dropped that ball on purpose and I AM STILL UPSET ABOUT IT!

    Excellent recap! I’m still swooning over Jude and Connor. Too sweet.

  8. The Fosters is cute and it fills me with lots of awwws, but there is no way hormone filled teenage me would have ever traded the L Word for this show. Not a chance in hell. Yep, horrible representation and all. I wasn’t looking for anything serious in my gay shows. I read fanfic for goodness sake. I wish the L Word had better writing like QAF, and was more consistent from season to season, but other than that no.

  9. This SHOW! I didn’t grow up that long ago. I’m only thirty. But it’s a whole new world out there. I mean, Willow didn’t even blow out Tara’s candle until my freshman year of high school. Two grown actresses and they wouldn’t show them kiss on the WB.

    Now, every time I watch this show, my jaw drops. Last ep, Steph and Lena were talking about their ORGASMS. This ep, Jude and Conner. Jude and Conner kissing astounded me, even though Conner kissing his meerkat GF a hot second earlier hadn’t made me blink an eye. This show makes me examine the homophobia I internalized growing up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I watch it. It is doing important work. I want to thank and hug absolutely every person involved.

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