The Fosters Episode 316 Recap: Nope.

Previously on The Fosters, Stef had a double mastectomy, but that did not cause her children to slow their rolls. They splayed their drama all over the place, same as always. Jesus especially, because he’s got a new best friend who has even less impulse control than him and also a lot of money and a fast car. Callie got into a snarffle with Rita about this foster care bill that’s making its way through the ranks and which her new benefactor is sponsoring. Brandon wooed his new girlfriend with a little jingle he wrote about a surfer girl. And, at some point — about a hundred million years ago, it feels like — Stef and Lena went skinny-dipping.

Oh man, Stef is teaching an emotional intelligence class. She’s sidelined from active duty until she’s fully recovered from her surgery, so she’s teaching EQ to teenagers who either have to sit through her sessions or go to juvie. It’s an interesting match-up, Stef and that class. Like a matchbook teaching fire safety. Like a hurricane teaching you how to swim. Which is weird because talking about how to talk about feelings is like half of the entire experience of being a lesbian.

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It says here that Donald Trump is expected to lock up the GOP nomination before the end of March.

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Pack your shit; we’re moving to Iceland.

Other things going on this morning include: Mat designed a poster for Brandon’s Romeo and Juliet rock opera, which they are not just calling “R and J.” Callie confesses that she and AJ are kind of dating, because he’s coming to stay with them this week while Mike is out of town, and so no closed doors and please expand your dating pool! Jude is still missing, or else hiding under an invisibility cloak. And Jesus says he doesn’t have a first period so that he can stay behind and steal his moms’ booze when everyone scatters. He dumps practically a whole bottle of vodka into some orange juice (so real! I don’t know a single adult human who can stomach even being in the same room with vodka and orange juice because of the memories! It’s every teenage idiot’s go-to!), and fills the bottle back up with water.

As always, the only place more theatrical than the Adams Foster kitchen is Anchor Beach High. Today we’ve got Sally protesting “R and J” because she thinks it promotes teen suicide, and her best friend’s sister committed suicide last year, so this issue feels very close to her. Brandon goes ballistic because this is his senior project and he’s put so much work into it and no one has ever told him no, etc. He does not handle the situation with very much EQ, which lands him in Lena and Monty’s office. Monty says the student council will have to vote on whether or not he should be able to put on his play in the gym.

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Raise your hand if you’d rather watch one of those Netflix movies that’s just a fan blowing instead of a story about me and Callie.

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Sally’s argument is Romeo and Juliet is held up as the gold standard of what love us, which means it’s glorifying suicide. The most romantic gesture being a murder pact and all that. Taylor Swift’s over here singing about it how it’s the story of picking out a white dress, and baby just saying yes. No one understands how bloody that dress is gonna get! Brandon’s argument is that Romeo and Juliet were some teenage idiots. Their brains weren’t even finished growing yet and they got so hopped up on lust and promises, and with absolutely no life experiences to temper their hormones, and that’s why it’s called a tragedy. He’s right*, but the student council votes him down anyway.

*Did you need to go to your fainting couch when I said that?

Luckily, Mariana’s suitor, Nick, has a rich dad who owns a warehouse and so he offers that space for the rock opera. This seals the deal for Mariana. She was furious as balls at him for the stunt he pulled with the drag racing last week, but he read about EQ and also took her hoverboarding and also made her interests his interests. So she smooches him.

Hey, speaking of suicide, Rita’s daughter calls Callie and leaves this message about, “Tell my mom I said goodbye and I forgive her and I love her” so Callie goes zipping over to Rita’s house to try to convince her to reach out to Chloe. Rita explains to Callie about enabling, but Callie can’t hear her (and probably, honestly, unless you have a family member like Chloe — and oh I do — you can never really understand why cutting them off is the best thing for you and for them). Callie thinks Rita’s callousness is just further proof that she doesn’t care what’s best for kids, and that’s why she’s opposed to the foster care bill Callie is now all about.

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Hummus is butts.

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You have insulted the food of my people. Prepare to duel to the death.

Callie’s next step is to track down Chloe. She’s living in a shady hotel but she doesn’t even know how long she’ll be able to stay here because she got fired from work (for no reason, by the way, probably it’s because her boss was jealous of her) and it’s not like Rita’s going to come through for her. All she needs is first and last month’s rent and she can get a room at her friend’s place. Does Callie have $600 she can borrow? She’ll pay her back, she promises. Callie knows enough at least not to give Chloe any money.

That night, Chloe downs a bottle of pills in one go and leaves another message for Callie explaining what she did. Callie calls 911 and the paramedics get to her just in time. She goes with Rita to collect Chloe’s things from her hotel room, and Rita says she really believed Chloe this time when she asked for help. This story is way too close to my own life experiences for me to really joke about it in a recap, so I just want to say explicitly what this show did not: You are not responsible for the actions of a manipulative and emotionally abusive person. Anything they chose to do after you decide to stop enabling them and to save yourself is not your fault. To suggest that it is is your fault is just another layer of abuse.

Jesus isn’t doing so good. He gets blitzed on the vodka and orange juice in his lunchbox thermos and Nick has to drag him home. Then he gets trolleyed again the next day and stumbles down to the construction site where Gabe is working and Gabe has to drag him home. Gabe begs Stef and Lena to keep Jesus away from him. He made some huge mistakes, did his time, and now he just wants to keep this job that was so hard for him to get. They promise they will rein in Jesus, but on his way out the door, he bumps right into Mariana. It’s heartbreaking. She knows exactly who he is.

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One day the kids will move out.

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Stef clomps up to Jesus’ bedroom and lights into him very meanly. And then the next day she yells at him again and says she’s gonna kick his ass. (I have a lot of problems with this episode, and one of the main ones is: Stef would never threaten physical violence against her children; give me a break.) Lena swoops in and tells Stef she needs to dial it back to an eleven, at most.

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Do you think this is plaid enough to indicate to Emma that I’m gay for her.

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Our first gay baby!

Stef heeds Lena’s advice and brings Jesus with her to EQ class. She kicked out a kid in the first class for saying “tits” when she listing her attributes, and then made fun of hummus. But now she tells him why she was so upset: She had a double mastectomy and she’s feeling very self-conscious and also she’s angry and she’s in physical pain and she’s just not handling it well. She asks the class how they think she could have handled it differently, and they say she could have made a joke, or just straight up told that kid he hurt her feelings. All true things. She agrees with them and apologizes and Jesus feels, quite rightly, like a jerk.

At the end of the day, Lena is at school doing school things when Sally comes and says that Monty kissed her. Sally cries and Lena makes a, “WHAT” face. And so do I. Because we’ve either got a lesbian teacher predator storyline going on here, or a teenage girl lying about sexual assault storyline. Either way, it’s a really irresponsible thing to put into the world and out of character for both of these women and I hates it, Precious, I hates it.

I am so tired of explaining to the people who make TV that what happens on TV has enormous, far-reaching real world ramifications. TV shapes public perception more than literally anything else in America. When there are a bazillion story possibilities at your fingertips, why on earth would choose to tell one that will make life harder for a historically oppressed and scapegoated minority group? I just do not understand. I really, truly do not understand. I expected so much more from this show.

Next week: I hope Stef remembers the donuts.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 853 articles for us.

47 Comments

  1. I no longer have the time or energy for this show (only so much Brandon a gal can take u kno), but I read your recaps religiously, Heather. Thank you for this:

    “I am so tired of explaining to the people who make TV that what happens on TV has enormous, far-reaching real world ramifications. TV shapes public perception more than literally anything else in America. When there are a bazillion story possibilities at your fingertips, why on earth would choose to tell one that will make life harder for a historically oppressed and scapegoated minority group? “

  2. This recap came out literally within minutes of me finishing the episode. WHAT DID I JUST WATCH.

    First of all, I feel like there were 8 episodes worth of plot lines smushed into this one episode.

    Second, Jesus’ sneak drinking story line is so believable, I’m almost surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Hopefully it stops being an issue soon though, because in general I think his character is super boring.

    Third, Mariana bumping into her birth dad in the hall, then going up to Jesus and being a sweetie to him and sharing in his pain – it got to me. She is truly too good for this world, what an angel.

    Fourth (lol why did I decide to number these), they need to stop aggressively over-writing Steph to be this emotionless rage monster. I get that she’s the “bad cop” in the family, but her actions have always been tempered with love, compassion and reason. The past few episodes (well, ever since she found out about Monte and Lena) I feel like they’ve just turned her into this erratic, jealous, angry woman, but it’s so at odds with all of the character building they did in the first two seasons.

    Fifth, I agree that censoring Shakespeare would be almost as stupid as referring to the play exclusively as R&J, but I hate that the way they framed a conversation about censorship in school was around trigger warnings. I feel like there is a huge amount of push back on trigger warnings, and I really think they could have done an anti-censorship story line without denouncing trigger warnings as being little more than an excuse for censorship.

    Sixth, obviously, WHAT THE FRESH HELL, MONTE??? And you’re totally right – there is nowhere for this story line to go that isn’t super damaging to either victims of sexual assault or lesbians. It was literally a jaw dropping moment, I was expecting the girl to say something about suicide or self-harm since that was the theme of the episode. When she said what happened I was just staring open mouthed at my computer being like “NONONONONO.”

    Please be better next week The Fosters!!! Bring back Jude from his “school trip” and let him learn a heartwarming lesson about inclusion or something!

  3. I for sure thought this would be the week where Monte’s name is spelled correctly. Maybe next time!

    I actually didn’t even consider the fact that even if Sally is lying, which seems most likely, that’s a problematic issue by itself. I really can’t see them going down that route with Monte…villianizing Her even more.

    It’s not ideal to showcase someone lying about sexual assault, but it does happen. I don’t think the show should shy away from that just because people may or may not get confused with reality based on the fact that an irrelevant character on a teen show lied about being harassed.

    • For me, I just feel like this show has enough GOOD examples in such a diverse slew of protagonists that it counterbalances the bad guys. If Monte were the only queer woman on the show (and we don’t really know her deal yet, she just divorced a man and dated Lena’s friend mostly because of Lena, and clearly has MAJOR boundary issues), then I could see it as a problem. As it stands, they’ve got my attention.

      And the alternative, that Sally is lying, is the same for me. We’ve seen enough true allegations on this show for me to think it’s not irreversibly damaging to portray an allegation that isn’t true.

  4. What High School student is referring to their principal by their first name? Not only that, but to another principal at the school.

    Part of me thinks this is all going to turn out be some sort of red herring where it turns out Sally is lying but because of Monty’s past behavior Lena and Stef don’t believe her. As you said, we are either getting a Lesbian predator storyline or a girl lying about sexual assault storyline and both are horrible options that I don’t want to see on a show like this.

    One thing that is always consistent with this show is the characterization of Stef. She rarely does things out of character and I love that. Same with Jesus in that I always expect complete idiocy from him, even with a new actor in the role. Marianna, however, has really grown on me as a character. Especially this season.

    I have always liked Callie whenever she is not around Brandon but it does annoy me that this show constantly puts her in the unfair position of being the savior when it comes to other people’s problems. She is the vessel they use in which to tell their lately Foster System PSA storyline. Let her have some other stories that aren’t about her having to be the support system for some other tertiary character’s sob story. This show has enough teen characters as it is without this constant pile on that we’ve been getting all season.

  5. I’m sorry about your family member thats like Chloe, Heather. I have one too and that plot line hit really really close to home.
    I was on the edge of my seat with my phone in my hand.
    And Thank you for that disclosure about another layer of abuse. Seriously

  6. – I can’t believe I agreed with Brandon Foster on something. Broken clock… Twice a day….
    – But Chloe can rent a room for $300 a month? In San Diego? Wow, that’s cheap.
    – Can we send Jesus back to Wrestling Academy?
    – I really disliked this episode. And I couldn’t agree more with Heather about the Monte/Sally thing.

  7. Maybe I’m confusing different high school kids they’ve barely introduced, but I think Sally is the student who Monty got the plants for as part of her senior project. If they are the same student, then that whole plant story line definitely seemed to be foreshadowing some inappropriate boundaries between Monte and students. I wish they just wouldn’t go there with this story line. There so many other things they could do instead.

  8. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but in the context of this show, I don’t think the plot line of Monte being a predator is the huge mistake it would be on any other show. This is a show centered around two in depth positive representations of lesbians, and they’ve previously told stories of other pretators, male and female, all straight. Within that context, it doesn’t bother me to see one predator be a queer woman. Particularly because Stef and Lena will be reacting to the situation as voices of reason and, I’m guessing, will probably speak specifically to the idea that a queer woman acting in this way harms all queer women (especially those who have and/or work with children as both characters do) by playing into the harmful stereotype. The predatory lesbian is such a cliche trope, but at the same time, the fact that women can and do perpetrate abuse is kind of an invisible issue, and the fact that queer women abuse seems like it’s even more invisible, somehow. I think The Fosters is in a position to actually address this in an indepth way, rather than the homophobic ways we’ve seen so many times before.

  9. Not sure how this will come off and I don’t want to sound aggressive, but… Monte isn’t necessarily a lesbian. A few episodes ago she explicitly stated that she might be lesbian or might be bisexual and that she didn’t yet have a label for her identity, so we don’t know her orientation.

    Monte saying that was the first and only time I’ve ever heard someone on TV use the word “bisexual,” which is really important to me. Everything you said about the impact of TV—all of that applies to bi people too, and there are even fewer of us than the already-tiny number of lesbian/gay people. So the fact that the producers/writers/whoever chose to write this storyline with not just an LGBT character (which would be awful enough) but with a possibly-bisexual character, matters. It matters because of the slutty-predatory-bisexual trope and because if Monte does end up being bi, then they would be doing that to one of the only explicitly bi characters on TV right now. And talking about all of that, and talking about the possibility of Monte being bi, also matters, at least to me.

  10. To be honest, I am glad to see the issue of women who abuse their power (sexually and otherwise) addressed, and I think this show is the perfect place to do that, because it has so many more positive portrayals to ballast it against the stereotypes.

    I want to see lesbians cleaning house, refusing to allow other women to sexually harass or otherwise abuse.

    There is a ridiculous conspiracy of silence around lesbian battering, female to female harassment and rape, and other bad behaviors, and it is ruining our community. Showing Lena (and Stef, if she gets involved)calling woman-on-woman abuses of power for what they are, and not excusing them out of fear of backlash from straights, or from a bizarre ideology that women are “the gentle, righteous, non-abusive gender that can do no wrong” is a great service, actually.

    I understand why people would be bothered by seeing a “lesbian predator” (I don’t think it’s clear that Monte is a lesbian, but a woman-on-woman predator usually gets branded as a lesbian predator, which is in itself a tropey bummer), but at the same time, there is a huge silencing effect happening on our community, about lesbians who ARE abusers. Whether it’s adults sexually abusing children, or partners battering their partners, or female authority figures abusing power in professional roles, it does happen. I personally know of several examples of each of these types of situations, and the worst part of it is that other lesbians are so busy defending the collective honor that the victims have nowhere to turn. One the one hand, you don’t want to “shame the community” by bringing it to heteros for help, and heterosexual institutions can’t be counted on to help you anyway. And if you take it to the sisterhood, and still get told to shut it, what do you do? At some point, we have to be willing to admit we know we aren’t all perfect, and let the world know we condemn bad behavior. I think this is a better way of overcoming stereotypes than sweeping problems under the rug.

    “Naming the Violence” (book) talked about this decades ago, but it’s still a problem. We have very low standards of accountability in some places, and it causes the community to rot from the inside, because people who abuse get to stay and people who are harmed are forced out.

    I agree that it’s a very delicate project for a tv show to take on, but I am willing to wait and see how they do it before I decide whether the show is villainous and doing more harm than good.

    I will be much more angry if they give us a story about a girl making a false accusation than if they give us a story about a woman who made sexual overtures to her subordinate at work (and a married one at that) who also has no sexual boundaries with her students– in my experience, people who are out of control and lacking boundaries in the way Monte has been before, are almost always serial abusers of power, which is what kissing a student is about. It’s rarely a one-time-only thing, especially when there are not consequences for the person doing it– they continue to find their own behavior exciting and often get off on getting away with it as much as anything else, and are thus encouraged to escalate and continue with the BS.

    • Hey Em! You made a wonderful point when you mentioned that women can be abusers too. I’m doing a report for school about abusive relationships, and I was wondering if it would be okay if I used a few lines from your comment as evidence? I would be sure to give you credit, don’t worry ?

      • By all means, if you think it would help, quote away!

        I’m thrilled to see more attention paid to this topic, so if you have a way to put your paper online, send me a link because I’d love to read how it turns out– not a requirement just because you’re quoting me, it’s just that I’m interested in reading it with or without me being quoted.

        The more attention to this topic the better! Painful as it is, I think it’s more painful when it’s not addressed.

  11. Even though I agree no matter the direction they take the “Monte story” it has tremendous train-wreck potential. I’m willing to bet Sally is lying considering the universal text, or posting on social media that accused Lena and Sally of having an affair a few shows back.

  12. NON SEQUITUR ALERT

    There was a link to a very reassuring piece in an ‘Also Also Also’ a little while ago, it had an ‘everything is going to be okay’ kind of vibe

    Does anyone remember it?

    I remember there was a line reassuring the reader it was okay they didn’t apply to grad school.

    I can’t find it and I neeeeeed it.

  13. The brightest spot for me was the set of images at the end of the recap with Stef and Lena’s reactions to their new baby gay. I’m choosing that as 100% canon. I love their faces. Both generally and in that specific image/context/caption.

  14. I’m a little upset that you were very quick to take Brandon’s side without delving deeper into the issues. It seems like it was commentary on “safe spaces” which is very lazy and dangerous and this is the last sort of show we need rallying against them. They could have had a much more reasoned and mature debate about this. I feel like while it did make out Brandon to be a bit of a jerk we’re ultimately meant to take his side and I don’t feel comfortable with it. I wish they’d have made Sally and her argument a bit more sympathetic, calling out Brandon rather than calling for a ban.

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