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.
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.
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.
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.
Mike: So it turns out my foster kid, A.J., his brother is the one who smashed into y’all and nearly killed you to death.
Ana: Oh wow, that’s a—
Brandon [creepin’]: What did you just say?
Mike: You heard me whispering that just now but did not hear the brass band playing a song about your mom’s cancer earlier? Sure, that checks out.
Brandon: Listen, don’t be too hard on A.J. I’d honestly be in the same position as him if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a straight white guy whose parents are both cops.
Mike: Are you … checking your own privilege?
Brandon: Don’t worry, I’ll use this information later by lording it over Callie’s head to fuel my feelings of superiority in every way.
Mike: Oh okay, good. Still Brandon, then!
It’s election day at Anchor Beach. After canvassing tirelessly and even handing out homemade buttons (I want one of those buttons!), Mariana loses the election to Lexi, after all. She consoles herself by trying out for Brandon and Mat’s rock opera. The first audition is for Talya and she sounds good, like a Disney channel star. Hang on, I want to tell you some lyrics to this song. They’re so gloriously teenagery and exactly the kind of takeaway a 17-year-old would have of Romeo and Juliet. Okay: This love would be great, but they say it would be wrong! I don’t care ’cause I’d be lost without you! We live because we love, we love ’cause we belong, oh, I swear, you heal the scars and never fail to wound!
One thing I love about this show is how really, really right it gets teenage romance. It does feel that overwrought and fatal and profound. I still remember what it feels like and I am a hundred thousand years old.
Anyway, Mariana auditions next and she’s better than Talya. Mat shoots her down, but Brandon chooses her, and so Mat acquiesces. Mariana’s gonna be Mat’s Juliet, and whooo wee, Emma will not be happy about this! I’m picturing her training for the track team and listening to the Indigo Girls’ cover of Dire Straits Romeo and Juliet on her iPod and huffing and puffing and shouting into the wind.
After school, Callie goes to meet up with A.J. on the sly in a coffee shop, but he doesn’t show. Instead that guy who fired her at the foster care resource center, he’s there and telling her how great Fost and Found is and he’s so proud of her and blah blah blah. Callie’s not trying to hear it. She jets out onto the street to look for A.J., but he’s definitely not there. He calls her when she gets home, though, and explains about being in Arizona. Then how come his IP address is in San Diego? He doesn’t know what she’s talking about. He hasn’t been chatting her on Fost and Found at all.
Callie does right and tells Stef about A.J. being in Arizona. She gives her the number of the landline A.J. called from, and so Stef whooshes off into the night to go arrest everyone who ever hurt one of her kids. As she’s zipping out the door, Brandon’s over there in the corner clucking his tongue about how he knows more and better than Callie, for now and for always, and she is 16 going on 17, and he is 17 going on 18, and she needs someone older and wiser telling her what to do. She’s like, “What the fuck are you even talking about?” And he tells her about the stolen car and the accident and Jesus having to get a new head and all that because of A.J.’s brother.
Meanwhile, Jude is trying to make friends with that kid Jack who accosted Callie a couple of weeks ago when she was giving her speech on Fost and Found and ripped into her about how she hadn’t completely dismantled the foster care system and rebuilt it as an adoption utopia. Jude doesn’t like him because he’s “too weird.” See, and Callie thinks that’s kind of rude. Just because he doesn’t blink when he plays video games for a hundred hours at a time and falls asleep in Stef and Lena’s bed, those things don’t make him unlovable. But what Jude is having trouble articulating is that his unicorn senses are telling him something’s off about this guy, in an “I want to wear Callie’s skin as my own skin” kind of way.
And in fact that is exactly what he wants. After Stef goes to Arizona and arrests Ty (and tells A.J. she knows he was just hanging out with his brother and had no idea Ty was wanted on felony charges, so don’t say otherwise!), Callie gets a new message on Fost and Found from “A.J.” and actually it is Jack, hanging out in Jude’s room, weirding him out while Jude tries to figure out how to love him.
While all of this is going on, Jesus wanders down to the construction site where his dad is working and gets a job assisting him with building a house. What ultimately made him decide to do it was Grandma Annie’s boyfriend asked him to pass him a screwdriver and Jesus couldn’t identify such a thing in the tool box. When he thought about it more, he realized he didn’t know how to shave or drive a car or grill a hunk of meet or drink a Coors Light. He can’t do a single one of those things men are always doing in NFL commercials!
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 and she thinks that Grandma Annie is probably right and she should have that double mastectomy. She tells Grandma Annie that too, sitting on the steps of her RV, and asks her not to go. And she doesn’t. Because she’s a mama bear’s mama bear and she was never going leave anyway.
Next week: I’d normally try to make up something funny, but I don’t need to today because this is for real what’s happening next week.