The Fosters Episode 218 Recap: The Mating Rituals Of Meerkats

Dinner time! Brandon takes Chinese carryout over to Mike’s for some advice. He wants to keep having sex with his girlfriend and the best way to do that is to go on tour with his band and the best way to do that is to sell the autographed Tony Gwynn baseball that Stef’s dad gave him. Brandon is looking for permission, and Mike knows it. But he’s not really keen on the idea. And if even Mike is not keen on your impulsivity, you know it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself. He tells Brandon it’s his decision, but the implication is: “You’re gonna regret it when your brain is fully formed and your skull’s not soft anymore and your mom finds out and kills you.”

Stef and Lena serve healthy dinner things to their children and to Connor and discuss the “act of oppression” Lena perpetrated with her email about how everyone’s getting suspended if they don’t come to school on Monday. And Lena wants to know how Mariana read her email even though all the technology is in a suitcase in Lena’s car. Jesus explains about the hacking and the poaching of the wi-fi, and Lena just hilariously rolls her eyes, like, “Well, and of course Mariana can do that.”

I love that even though they’re on opposite sides of this argument, they love and respect each other so much. You’re obstructing our attempt to organize, Mama! 

Stef: Connor, it’s been a while since you slept over with us. What are your intentions with my son?
Lena: Uhhh, what Stef means is we’re glad to have you here, Connor.
Jesus: You guys should pitch a tent in the backyard, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.


I get to be Wonder Woman this time.


Well then show me that Lasso of Truth.

Lena and Stef are getting ready for bed, which is always my favorite scene of the episode. They talk about the freedom to question your sexuality when you’re a teenager, about passing privilege, about the sweet agony of falling in love with your best friends when you’re sorting out your gayness in high school, about identity stereotypes, about enjoying a little bit of kink. And they talk about it so organically and sweetly, like it’s just every day things people hear on TV. I cannot believe this show exists. Seriously. Still. I cannot believe it. They’re right that Kids These Days have it easier when it comes to exploring where they fit on the spectrum of sexuality, in large part because shows like this are airing on networks aimed at teenagers. In fact, I’d say that’s the major reason why it’s more acceptable for high school and college students to question what authentic sexuality looks like for them.

Stef: I don’t know, Connor doesn’t look gay to me.
Lena: I don’t look gay either.
Stef: I do, though, huh?
Lena: I think it’s the uniform and the gun. Soft butch flannel queen.
Stef: Reckon I’ll have to arrest you for perpetuating sexual stereotypes.
Lena: You’ll have to cuff me first.
Stef: Oh, you’d like that.

They start to smooch and then Stef breaks down about Callie. She can’t believe they’re losing their daughter.


Do you want to Google pictures of boobs or nah?


Do you want to make act out some Klaine fan fiction instead?

Connor borrows some of Jesus’ pajamas and then hops into bed with Jude to play some video games. They’re like, “We make a good team when we destroy this dragon together by luring it out and trapping it so it doesn’t have any place to go.” Ha! That’s kind of how I realized I was gay too! They high five and do Storm Trooper mischief and you think for just a second that Jude is going to rest his head on Connor’s shoulder, but he stops himself. Connor’s not going to the pier tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to the pier ever again.

Callie is wide awake when Stef comes downstairs to make sure all the doors are locked. She explains the thing about Kiara, and Stef gently but firmly tells her she absolutely cannot go to that part of town and rescue her friend. For one thing, most of the girls down there have pimps who are extra menacing, and for another thing, Kiara is probably on drugs and not at all the Kiara that Callie knows. GOD. Callie needs Stef and Lena so bad! All the time! CALLIE, DO NOT GO. Stef basically forbids her to go after Kiara. And Callie agrees it’s a bad idea.


You keep saying I’m like a “cute Steve Jobs” or a “cute Clark Kent.” There are famous women in science too, Callie!


Well I’m sorry I haven’t found any of those women in my history books!

Upstairs, she gets into a huge fight with Mariana. Well. Huge for them. She yells about how she’s sorry she’s leaving but there’s stuff in her world that is bigger than coding and dance teams. They both burn out fast because they burn so hard and so bright. Mariana says she’s going to miss her sister, is all. And Callie says she is going to miss her sister, too.

Brandon, meanwhile, sits in his bedroom and ponders whether or not to sell a baseball.

Rita didn’t believe a word of her own bluster about how it’s not anyone’s responsibility but Kiara’s to save herself. She said it so Daphne and Carmen and Callie didn’t go running into trouble. She goes down to the street where Kiara is working and pleads with her to hurry up and get in the car, tells her she can get her back into Girls United if she’ll just turn herself in and deal with juvie for a couple of days. Kiara wants to get in the car so badly, but her pimp is clomping his way toward them and she’s scared. So she spits right in Rita’s face, calls her a “dyke,” says “I don’t do bitches!”

Rita is heartbroken. Just absolutely heartbroken. She slumps back to her car, casting the saddest look at Kiara over her shoulder as she goes.


Dottie Hinson dropped that ball on purpose. She loved her family more than she loved the Rockford Peaches!



Rosie is so good in this role.

The next day, Jude and Connor play catch in the yard. Which turns into a a game of chase. Which turns into a game of tickling. Which turns into a game of wrestling. Which almost turns into a game of making out, but that dang Daria texts and asks Connor to come over, and he seriously considers going. Jude gets so mad. He storms back into the house in a magical huff.

On the way upstairs, a whiff of his compassionate wizardry envelopes Jesus and he marches downstairs to tell Lena he doesn’t want to go to boarding school any more because him doing that, plus Stef and Lena not taking Ana’s baby, plus losing Callie is going to send Mariana ’round the bend. Lena pets his sweet little face and tells him it’s not his responsibility to take care of Mariana. But he’s going to anyway because that’s what siblings do.


Pinned ya again!


You’re right. I am the Simba of this relationship. 

Connor sheepishly tiptoes back into Jude’s room and tells him he blew off Daria, for which he gets a swift kick in the nuts! Judicorn! He’s immediately sorry; he didn’t realize the strength of his own gayness/rage. He crawls onto the floor to make sure Connor’s okay, but he doesn’t let his boyfriend off the hook. He says, “You’re the one that kissed me in that tent! You’re the one that held my hand in that movie theater! You’re the one who’s been doing … whatever you’re doing with me all day! I don’t get your deal, dude!” Connor’s deal is he is so into Jude’s deal. He leans forward and kisses him right on the lips! On screen!



Youngest gay kiss ever on TV? The only other one I can think of that may have been this young is Once and Again. (Tiny little Mischa Barton and Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual! Remember?) Anyway, it’s sweet and it’s perfect and I think it’s just remarkable that The Fosters isn’t content to present the queer experience as a single homogenized thing. It’s different for a 13-year-old boy than it is for grown-up-aged lesbians, no matter how many progressive strides we’ve made as a society in the last decade. Jude’s deal is different than Connor’s deal is different than Lena’s deal is different than Stef’s deal is different than my deal is different than your deal. There are shades and threads of shared experiences for all of us, but we’re not the same, and that’s awesome. And this show is awesome for knowing it.

Monty and Lena go for a walk on the beach, earning Monty a side-eye and Lena a stern look from me.


Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

Monty: Sorry I was such a hard ass yesterday about the suspensions. I realize that put you in a weird position, especially since your daughter is the best student at this school.
Lena: Yeah, it’s tough trying to balance being a principal with being a mom and feeling like you’re failing at both.
Monty: I think you’re great at everything and very pretty.
Lena: I lost a baby a couple of months ago. I’m not sure I’ve recovered. Oh, and P.S. Timothy was the sperm donor.
Monty: Ha! What! That’s like something off of TV!
Lena: If you think that’s like something off of TV, you should meet our daughter, Callie. More terrible stuff befalls her than Fred Flintstone.
Monty: Did I mention you’re pretty?
Lena: More than once. Cool it.

Mariana is home alone when the wrestling coach from Testosterone Academy drops by for a visit with Jesus. Dude is from Colorado but nobody bothered to tell him Jesus isn’t interested in attending his school anymore. Mariana takes his card and then accosts Jesus about it when he gets home, not because she doesn’t want him to go, but because she wants him to do what’s best for himself, even if it’s hard for her. He’s like, “For real?” And she’s like, “Yes, for real, you dummy. I love you.”

Brandon sells his baseball — to Mike. Mike thought if he won the auction Brandon would ship it “to the website.” Oh, Mike. What in the world. Now, Brandon can go on tour and no one has to tell Stef about this baseball getting sold and so everyone can stay alive.


And all he thinks about is that goddamn baseball.

And finally, Kiara shows up at Callie’s foster center. She wants to go stay with Rita at Girls United but she’s afraid Rita can’t forgive her. And she’s afraid of losing the cool stuff her pimp bought her. In fact, she thinks she’ll go on back home right now and get that stuff and then go to Rita’s. Callie’s like, “No, ma’am. You sit your ass right here and I’ll go with you if that’s a thing you’re going to insist on doing.” It is.

So after Callie gets off, she walks Kiara outside. And her pimp is waiting for her. Kiara called him.

But also, Stef wheels up in her police SUV and so does Rita in her car.


Kiara said Dottie dropped that ball on purpose!


I know, love. I know.

After Kiara leaves with Rita, Callie melts down on Stef in one of the best and most heartbreaking scenes this show has done. She says she keeps lying and making mistakes and she’s afraid to tell Stef and Lena about them because she’s afraid they’re going to give up on her, and she thought if maybe she made the decision to leave it would feel better than them making the decision to kick her out, and she is just crying and crying. Stef grabs her and holds her and says, “You will never do anything to make us stop loving you.”

And I guess Callie tells her that Robert manipulated her into not telling the truth about Daphne, because Stef zooms over to his house and bangs on his door and threatens to murder him if he ever, ever, ever tells Callie to lie to them again.

He says, “My daughter.”

And Stef wheels around and goes, “Your daughter? Brother, absolutely no.”


Ooooh, you in danger, girl.


Wittle Wobert wants a pony and a new daughter! A PONY AND A NEW DAUGHTER. GIVE THEM TO ME NOW NOW NOW.

The fight for custody has only just begun.

Next week: Someone dies in an explosion or gets shot or something? It’d better not be Connor!

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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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