“The Fosters” Episode 313 Recap: The Mama Bear’s Mama Bear

Previously on The Fosters, Stef’s stage zero cancer morphed into for-sure-gettin’-it cancer, which she found out through the United States Postal Service, while Lena and Grandma Annie battled it out about what she should do, surgery-wise. Stef’s main distraction from thinking about TV lesbians and their doom-filled cancer storylines was to chase down Ty and A.J. and arrest the former for stealing a car and smashing into her kids; except for the brothers skipped town to keep that from happening. Brandon made a list of reasons Callie was keeping him from reaching his True Potential, realized Romeo had suffered the same tragic fate at the slutty hands of Juliet, and decided to write a rock opera about it. Mariana’s girlfriends continued to fight for her love as she campaigned for junior class president. And Jude felt a moment of sweet relief when Grandma Annie reassured him that LDR making out is the best making out, like the three perfect days of every year’s spring.


Our kids need some intellectual agency, honey. You can’t force them to believe what you believe.


No. No child of mine is shipping Bellamy and Clarke!

Stef and Lena have not yet told their children that Stef has cancer, and instead of doing that right now this morning, they just yell about it so loud the kitchen ceiling almost falls in on them again. Same old: Grandma Annie wants Stef to have a double mastectomy to wipe out any chance of the cancer reaching a critical stage, and Lena wants Stef to take a more cautious, level-headed approach. Also in on this conversation are Mike and Grandma Annie’s boyfriend. And the UPS guy. And the gardener. And two random folks who were walking down the sidewalk and heard the ruckus. And Stef’s old college roommate. And that lesbian plumber. And Anna. And the recruiter from Wrestling Academy. Connor’s dad is there. Monty. Mr. Mansplainy, the teacher Lena fired last year. It’s a parade of strangers, and no Foster Adams kids, all weighing in on Stef’s cancer treatment options.

Stef tells Grandma Annie it’s time for her to go on her RV trip with her boyfriend, and then she gets down to the business of filling out an online form to get an arrest warrant for Ty and A.J. Mike thinks they should just arrest Ty, but Stef says A.J.’s aiding and abetting, and Mike says he agrees but if this were a situation involving Brandon, Stef would do a Pretty Little Liars-style evidence bonfire to keep him out of trouble.


I honestly don’t see what the big deal is about Clarke and Lexa.


It’s that kind of thinking that’s led The CW to overtaking us as the Gayest Network, Callie.

Mariana can’t decide what to wear for election day and no one is being any help. Callie’s on her laptop chatting frantically with A.J. through the Fost and Found portal; Jesus and his giant rambunctious friend are ducking and dodging and diving all around with Nerf guns and knocking shit over and casually chatting about the whereabouts of Jesus and Mariana’s birth father; Brandon is in his room picking out all the parts of Romeo and Juliet that prove what a B Juliet was; and Jude is whimpering lonely-like in the corner of his bedroom. Despite her frustrations with being ignored, Mariana pauses to help Callie track the IP address of the guy claiming to be A.J. It’s weird because he’s supposed to be in Arizona, but this ping is coming from inside the house here in San Diego.

Ana stops by for a visit with one of Jesus and Mariana’s cousins, and this girl is a world class meddler. First she tries to get Jesus to hook back up with Lexi. Then she tries to get Ana to hook back up with Mike. Then she corners Jesus and sneaky-whispers in his ear the geographical coordinates of his birth father, who, by the way, she just happened to overhear someone say that this guy was one time Ana’s boyfriend and also he works for her dad.

fosters313-6 fosters313-8 fosters313-9


Juliet, take a breath.

Out on the lawn, Grandma Annie gives a glorious goodbye performance, walking slowly toward her RV and monologuing about how much she loves them all and wouldn’t miss seeing them through all their hard times for all the gold in the world, just as long as she could be sure she was wanted in their space, that she was treasured and loved as much as she treasured and loved. She gets into the RV and smooshes her face against the window and waves and does kisses to the glass and makes heart shapes with her hands — but then the RV won’t start. I laughed. I really laughed. This show doesn’t make me giggle a lot, but that was a brilliantly acted and edited scene.

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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. Terrific write up. Thanks so much. Nothing much to add other than a desire for a major countdown for the next episode.

    Maybe we can prove that AdamsFoster gets more viewers than Brallie for the hundredth time?

  2. Holy crap I haven’t been keeping up with the Fosters (but I still read everything you write) so I had no idea about the cancer thing.
    FEELINGS. I have so many. Mostly about mastectomy and the fact that there’s an actual conversation in the show about what to do about it. It’s beautiful, you guys. My mother and my aunt went through breast cancer, and this was 10 and 20-ish years ago, and there was no discussion at the time, especially not in France where the authority of the Doctor reigns supreme.
    Cancer meant a death sentence and chopping off bits + chemo + radiotherapy was the only way to make sure you would make it, it seemed. I never actually questioned this logic, but the recent discourse both in the media (about early screening possibly being bad, because it makes you treat cancers 5 years earlier than necessary for example with the same mortality down the line) AND in the mouth of my mom (who has become quite critical of how little conversation was actually allowed between herself and the doctors at the time) has made me reconsider so many things, mostly what I’ll do if (but most likely when) I get it.

    I guess I need to get caught up on the Fosters now ! Yay gay shows.

  3. Heather, I have resurrected myself from the death that I died when I saw next week’s preview, if only to send you some love for this line, which made me cackle:

    “And Stef. Stef, Stef, Stef. She teleports home from Arizona and finally tells Lena that she got a letter in the mail the other day with cancer in it and now she’s infected…”

    The fact that none of those damn kids have any clue what’s going on re: cancer is too unbelievable to make me even feel sad or anxious for them.

    • just, like, ok: I have learned a lot of things via the mail, and I also have a LOT of experience finding out cancer-related news, and the two just DO NOT OVERLAP. The venn diagram for mail and cancer is two separate circles. They should be waiting with baited breath for the phone to ring re: test results, jumping at every sudden movement.

      Cancer just doesn’t arrive in the mail. Right?? I am right, right?? Someone tell me if I’m wrong and sometimes it does.

      Ok, clearly I’m having feelings about this now. Neat.

      • Maybe she both got a result from the lab + a call from the doctor ? (that’s how it happens in France: they sent lab results to both patient and doctor, and if there’s anything significant, the doctor’s practice calls you to tell you to come in). So she already got the call and just hid the lab results ? IDK IDK. I JUST WANT HER TO BE OKAY.

      • My cancer diagnosis, in fact, arrived in the mail. I was affraid I would miss a call so I requested good old snail mail. Maybe Stef did, too?

        • maybe she was afraid the kids would pick up the phone. UGH.

          thank you for your input, happy buttered roll! sending you good healthy vibes, and i wish you’d never had to wait for results in the mail OR from the phone in the first place <3

  4. I spent at least ten minutes laughing at the comments about everyone who could hear the kitchen conversation. I’m glad Stef told Lena about her chances of getting cancer and I loved the goodby scene. The fact that no one spoke when the RV was wouldn’t crank up but all had these crazy looks on their faces made my day. I’m glad they solved the AJ and Ty issue it was beginning to annoy me. And I have nothing to say about creepy kid wonder. I knew from the beginning that it was him Callie was messaging. He can go, he is just yet another crazy man Callie has to deal with.

  5. For me, the one saving grace of this cancer plotline is that Stef’s cancer is progressing very differently from my mom’s, so at least I’m not overwhelmed with the parallels. But they seriously need to tell the kids ASAP.

    Brandon checking his privilege threw me for a loop – I’m almost glad he turned it around so fast. Not hating Brandon would be so weird for me!

    Also, I know this is not a The 100 recap but OMG CLEXA I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS WEEK’S EPISODE. Any Bellarke shippers who still exist after Lexa basically proposed marriage to Clarke need to check themselves, basically. Gotta say though, I kind of love watching all the heteros freak out about the fact that for ONCE the gay ship is canon and the hetero ship has to survive on fanfiction alone. It’s like when McDreamy died – now they all know how WE FEEL. :D

  6. As the final minutes of The Fosters was winding down, I remember thinking to myself- “This felt a lot more serious and weighty than I’ve come to expect from this show. Usually, almost everyone’s happy by the concluding minutes. But there is no happiness on the horizon here”

    THEN I saw the preview for next week and Lena carrying Stef and now I want to curl myself up into a ball. I can’t handle this.

    So glad that at least Annie Potts is hanging around. She is such a talent. That scene with Stef- my goodness. Wow.

    I hate all catfishing plots, but at least this is going better than when Glee did it? Ryan Murphy has given me low standards.

    I refuse to believe that any child of Stef’s couldn’t properly identify the necessary tool out of a tool box. So, that made the entire catalyst for the Jesus plot feel forced for me. I’m still hoping it’s not the last of AJ, I really like him for some reason.

    They have to tell the kids about the cancer next week. This can’t continue.

  7. Also, didn’t Jesus construct an entire light up Christmas Village on the front lawn and roof of the house a few seasons back?? He knows the basics of tools!

    This whole “I don’t know how to do the ‘man things’ because I have two moms! Woe is me!” is coded and quite frankly, gross. I expect more from this show.

    You want Jesus to meet his dad? Fine. But find another way.

    • Totally gross and coded, completely agree! Stef knows how to use tools – if Jesus doesn’t know, it’s because he never cared to learn before. If he’d told his mom’s he wanted to learn, Stef would have taught him, or Lena would have signed him up for shop class at school or something. That whole thing with his dad was forced, and pretty sexist, and also a total rehash of the season 1 Anna subplot. Ughhh. I don’t like new Jesus (or his jock friend) at allll.

    • I agree! Ditto!!

      Also, are they not able to find a more age-appropriate looking friend for him? Altho he *acts* like a kid, alright.

      More thoughts:
      – What’s Jack’s deal? I don’t like his face haha I’m not sure I am glad Callie is having yet another boy problem to handle / deal with. Plus Jude can do better than that, he can find a better friend! LOL
      – At first I was like “yeah Brandon how many times does Matt need to tell you to suck it up?” – I was enjoying it because goddammit Brandon you privileged boy, but then not even 10mins later, it is him who tells Matt to suck it up.
      – I really wish at the end it’ll turn out that Mariana won! #MarianaSings – more like #MarianaSlays! *Loved Lena’s remark on “cocky versus confident”!!* #crushdoublestandards
      – While Ty was being arrested I legit thought “come on I just want AJ to be home safe and sound” and just then the song went “saaaafe aaand sound” so there’s that!

      Thanks for another awesome recap!!! ^_^

    • also it’s hilarious that they basically let a random person on a construction site. Seriously site manager ? No induction ? (Are hard hats not a thing on construction sites in the US?) No signing paperwork for insurance purposes in case something goes wrong ? You just let ANYONE use tools ?!

  8. Thanks for resuming these recaps, Heather! I know it’s a lot of work, but they always make my day – besides, it’s way better than watching actual TV ;)

  9. So Jack suddenly becomes Jude’s friend right after he finds out he’s Callie’s brother, then he ends up in the AdamsFoster house and now he sleeps in their moms bed…

  10. I know it turned out Jack is probably a creep, but when Jude found him in Stef and Lena’s bed his reaction was way off. Jude is the magical unicorn of empathy and kindness, remember? Or he used to be. I understand he can’t be perfect, but right now he doesn’t even feel like the same person.

    It makes sense that Mariana can sing better than anyone else. She can do anything.

      • Oh my god that is obviously it! Come on people, BRANDON IS RUINING ALL THE GOOD THINGS HE MUST BE STOPPED.

    • I was so hearbroken when Jude was so rude to Jack after finding him on the bed! I’m glad that Callie scolded him for it. I don’t like (though I can keep trying to empathize) the ways that heart break over Connor has turned my sweet Judicorn into a bitter teenager.

      • We must always try to understand Jude, because Jude always (used to) tries to understand others. But it was an ugly moment. :(

  11. I get sooo nervous whenever Stef and Lena start talking about the cancer. It’s been a while since Jude overheard something he shouldn’t have, right? My money’s on Jude overhearing first.

    I have a lot of sad feelings about Jack and I feel like his storyline is bound to end in tragedy. When Callie said, “People used to think we were weird too, Jude. Remember that?” it killed me in the heart.

    I agree with everyone else about Jesus meeting his dad feeling forced (if that even is his dad. I have my doubts!). I feel like there should have been a lot more build-up to that moment, but it went directly from, “Do you ever think about your birth dad?” to Jesus literally building a house with him. Come on, Freeform.

  12. Read this as, “Mike and Grandma Annie’s boyfriend” and realized how even more interesting this show could get. But also I need to bleach my brain, because Mike.

  13. Ugh at the whole Brandon/Mat/Ex-Girlfriend stuff! Like Brandon’s comparing his mutually ended relationship with a girl he barely liked to Mat being cheated on by the girl he was in love with and who is still upset about the breakup. “Suck it up, Mat.”

    • True! I agree!! It was fun to rub it in Brandon’s face but alas, he reclaimed his privilege real quick -_-

  14. UGH When Callie told Brandon that she told Steph about AJ and he says, “Oh, so you made that decision for him?” I wanted to punch a hole in my laptop screen. Of course, if I did that every time Brandon said something awful I would need to replace my laptop screen several times per episode, but that was such a particularly cringe-worthy Brandon moment. This kid thinks he has the fucking weight of the world on his shoulders. The look on his face after Talya auditioned was just ridiculous. WOE IS YOU BRANDON now please like get rejected from Julliard and self-righteously join the Peace Corps or something and disappear from the show forever.

    I love Steph and she’s going through a lot…but arresting AJ? A black foster kid in his late teens? Yeah that’s realllllly going to keep him out of trouble in the long run. I also hated how the excuse initially was that he should be arrested because he was helping his brother escape. He is years younger than his brother, and a minor. How on earth is he helping? And like, it’s easy to say “Oh, well the judge will understand the extenuating circumstances and AJ will be fine because I told him to be quiet about his brother.” But obviously the system is horribly broken and his chance of getting a break is basically zero. The court IRL would be happy to send him to juvie so that they don’t have to try to figure out where to place him anymore. And like, gooodbyyyye budding support system he had with Mike, Callie and the rest of the Fosters. Because you know, kids with a record and no family always make an easy transition from foster care to independence when they age out. Hmmm…

    Anyway, my point is Steph KNOWS THIS and she should use her magical empathy cop powers to forsee how this will all go down, and then prevent it from happening by making sure he ISN’T arrested. I’m just tired of watching AJ’s life get shittier and sadder. I really like him and I want to see him thrive, not languish in the system forevermore while his remaining family members die or are put in jail.

    I’m also so sad that Mariana didn’t win class president! She deserved it. But props to her for immediately seizing the next opportunity on her to-do list. I wish I had her ambition!

  15. Uh, spoiler in the main website???? Was definitely waiting for netflix to watch this season, but damn thanks for the twists.

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