Previously on The Fosters, Stef was afflicted with stage zero cancer, and just when she and Lena had finally worked through The Great Kissing Debacle of 2015 too. She’d chosen to let Monty live, and karma gave her nothing in return! Emma and Lexi fought over the affections and political aspirations of their girlfriend Mariana, a thing that involved a lot of scowling and storming in and out of bedrooms. Connor moved up the PCH and smashed Jude’s perfect little tiny precious heart into a gazillion pieces. Callie was duped into believing the promises of a nefarious foster care advocate Sith Lord, but also was gifted fifty thousand American dollars by her. And Brandon spilled champagne all over himself and wrecked his favorite pair of diamond pants.
(I’m sorry I have official promo photos instead of screencaps for you this week; the place I acquire my TV online for screencapping wasn’t working ALL DAY.)
Stef is staring at herself in the bathroom mirror and doing the calculations for how long a lesbian on television can survive a cancer diagnosis. Hells bells, perfectly healthy lesbians on television are eaten by sharks and stabbed in the face by butter knives over casual dinners and melted by alien space rays on the regular. What chance does a lesbian with cancer have? Well, Lena’s got that information. In fact, she’s got all the information. When Stef comes to bed, Lena tells her there’s no need to panic because the overwhelming majority of studies indicate that stage zero cancer isn’t a thing that’ll kill you and maybe if Stef will just read through the hundred pages of research Lena emailed her and attend these lectures Lena signed them up for and watch these videos Lena bookmarked, Stef will feel better too.
You know what Stef’s most mad about, cancer-wise? That another damn thing in her life is going to force her to talk about her feelings.
But not tonight!
Lena big spoons her and nuzzles her back and neck, and Stef Stefs it, like, “I’m pushing you away, but not because I’m pushing you away.”
Elsewhere in the Adams Foster burrow, Mariana is melting down about Lexi running for junior class president, and Callie is flipping out because someone posted on Fost & Found asking if she slept with her foster brother, and Brandon is obliviously playing his keyboard in the garage. He says he did not tell anyone he had sex with Callie, and so maybe Callie was the one who told someone. (She was.) Whatever. The important takeaway here is that Lexi’s campaign slogan is Lexi For Prexi, which is second only to Naomi: Get To Know Me when it comes to TV teenagers running for office.
A new day dawns and Grandma Annie’s boyfriend prepares a vegan breakfast for everyone. Stef tries to be cool about it, but she basically spits her tofu sausage onto the floor. This guy’s got all kinds of solutions to Stef’s problems. Cannabis oil, for example, which will clear up her psoriasis and cure her cancer. But not even weed can help poor Jude, who is being forced to read Romeo and Juliet while nursing the pain of his first heartbreak. Brandon says it’s a story about missing the person you love, as opposed to what it actually is, which is a story about two lusty teenagers killing themselves and each other in a spiral of obsessive self-destruction.
After the children leave for school — Jesus on fire with the knowledge that he can’t play sports this season due to using steroids at Wrestling Academy — Grandma Annie decides it is time for her to share some opinions. She doesn’t agree with punishing Jesus, just to get that out of the way real fast. She reminds them that every time he has downtime he gets into shenanigans (but only because she is unaware that every teenager in this house is in a constant state of shenanigans, regardless of their extra curricular schedules). And then she presses Stef about getting a mastectomy because it’s the only 100 percent absolute for sure way to prevent stage zero cancer from developing into a full case of Homosexual Cliches. In fact, she’s not going on vacation until she’s positive Stef has decided to heed her feedback.
If there’s anything Stef likes less than being forced to process her emotions with another human being, it is being told her business. She tells her mom to dial it back, but Grandma Annie only knows one way to dial it, and it is up.
School days! Some guy whose face and eyes and car make him look like a drug dealer at Degrassi High parks beside the Foster Adams family at school and starts heckling them about how they live in a circus car. Jesus is five seconds from handling his problem like a Real Man and beating the guy with his fists, but Mariana calms him down and gives the guy a flyer and asks him to vote for her for student council. But Lexi for Prexi is not making it easy! They decide to settle it in a debate on the quad at high noon, but things don’t really go according to plan. Lexi steals Mariana’s platform, Emma interrupts everything to do some slut-shaming, Mariana tells Lexi she doesn’t understand the problems facing Anchor Beach’s student body because she was deported to Honduras. It’s all very bizarre and mean and I don’t like it! They end up just hollering at each other about how they’re in love, basically.
Brandon and Mat enjoy some sandwiches by the sea and some talk of broken hearts. While Brandon is in the middle of a particularly depressed diatribe about how hard it is when life won’t ever even give you a single break, the ocean spits a beautiful woman up onto the shore for him to romance. She’s the bartender from the restaurant where he plays the piano to earn his millions. She’s a surfer and so she clowns on him for not being a surfer, but also offers to teach him how to be a surfer. Lesson number one: Don’t use the word “rad.”
Callie dips out of school to go ask Daphne if maybe she told anyone that she slept with Brandon, but Daphne is way too loyal for that. She’s also been forced to deal with the worl’s darkness at a really early age, so she knows humans can be monsters. She asks Callie if maybe the person who posted asking if she’d had sex with her stepbrother was actually talking about Liam. Liam who raped her. Callie is so grossed out, but she admits it’s a possibility.
Alas, there’s no time to stay and talk it through; her benefactor is holding a photo shoot for her for Fost & Found publicity. She bought Callie a bunch of fancy designer clothes and hired a professional makeup artist and a whole lighting crew and like Annie Leibovitz is there. Callie feels uneasy about it (probably because her bullshit senses are tingling because this woman is a creeeeep), but agrees to do the thing anyway. Oh, you know what? I wonder if her dad is behind this. Maybe he made a few calls from his yacht. Maybe he owns some kind of privatized foster care corporation.
When Callie gets home, she is confronted with two of her siblings.
Mariana: Look at you, sexy!
Brandon: You look like garbage.
Callie storms out to the garage and gives Brandon the what-for. He thinks she’s holding him back (lol, from what? the actual Pacific Ocean just coughed up a girlfriend for him), but she tells him that actually he’s the one holding her back. He tells her to stop being scared to stop being a victim (at which point I am the victim of a brain explosion), and she tells him to — I really don’t know. I yelled, “Shut the fuck up, Brandon” at my TV during this part and then couldn’t find the remote to rewind it.
Also at home, Jude is wandering around in a brokenhearted stupor, reading more Shakespeare, and generally feeling like the guts of an entire Taylor Swift album. Grandma Annie refuses to talk to these children like they’re babies, so she tells him the truth: Long-distance relationships suck because so much of love is in the day-to-day building of a life, but also, long-distance relationships afford you the opportunity for some of the best sex of your life. True and true, Grandma Annie. Your wisdom is timeless.
To wit: When talking to Jude, she is reminded that the only way she could ever get Stef to follow her advice when she was younger was to do a double-tricky reverse-logic flip-smash on her. She had to tell Stef to do the literal exact opposite of what she wanted Stef to do, so while Stef and Lena are getting ready for bed and Lena is trying not to push Stef to talk and Stef is trying not to push herself off a cliff because she can tell Lena wants to make her talk, Grandma Annie bebops on in and tells Stef her revised feelings about the cancer. She thinks Stef should eat a lot of vegetables and do a lot of sit-ups and not worry about the mastectomy. Maybe the lumpectomy, if she absolutely must, but not the mastectomy at all ever.
Stef and Lena have a super-sad conversation where they’re both saying something out of pure devotion but the other one is hearing it through the filter of their own insecurities. What if Stef has an unnecessary mastectomy and it sends her spiraling into a depression because she ends up hating her body? Okay, but what if it’s Lena who’s gonna hate Stef’s body? It takes Lena exactly seven-tenths of a snail’s breath to say, “No, absolutely not!” to that one, and it’s true, it’s so true, and Stef knows it’s true, but she still can’t bring herself to believe it in her heart. GOD. I hate that! I hate it when you’re saying a thing to the woman you love most and that thing is rooted and cushioned in love love love love, but the stupid horrible world has conditioned them to hate themselves and so they can’t hear you! Stef and Lena are the realest, y’all.
When Stef shows up at Ty and AJ’s grandma’s funeral, they’re not there. She blurts out to Mike about the cancer and he doesn’t ask her to talk about it or tell her what to do about it, and it’s the first time I’ve ever been like, “Oh.” I mean, of course someone like Mike is who Stef would go for before she realized she’s a lesbian. He’s a sweet, dumb guy with noble intentions who doesn’t know that’s Stef’s greatest strength is also Stef’s greatest weakness. A turtle’s shell protects and isolates, you know? You’re just as likely to die in there where no one can get in to help you as you are to die from outside enemies trying to attack you! She tells him maybe she’ll get that boob job she always wanted; he says she never needed a boob job.
When Stef gets home, she has finds a letter telling her she’s got an increased likelihood of drying because her mom also has increased likelihood of dying. Or something. A letter! Next thing you know, your doctor will be tweeting you the results of your pap smear! Lena sees her opening the mail and asks if there’s any life-threatening medical diagnoses in there or anything like that, but Stef says nah, it’s just bills and a check for Brandon from the queen of Genovia for one million dollars. She’s excited for his Romeo and Juliet rock opera, and there’s more $$$$ where that came from.
Next week: Brandon discusses Harry Potter with Jude, that fantasy story about the nagging bushy-haired girl who couldn’t let Harry have five damn minutes to reap the sexual rewards of his constant heroism. Jesus joins a drag-racing cult with his new Canadian drug-dealing pal. Emma suggests she and Mariana practice kissing — you know, for their future boyfriends. Grandma Annie teaches everyone a thing or two about surfing. Callie starts a YouTube channel to do tutorials about how to take off a full face of makeup and fake eyelashes in under five seconds. And Stef and Lena make out as much as the actresses who play them. (I WISH.)