The Fosters Episode 404 Recap: Anniversary Stakeout

Previously on The Fosters, Degrassi Nick Degrassi-ed all over the place. Callie got suspended from school for punching a sexist in the face and spent the afternoon cruising around town on the back of a motorcycle and pretending to be a whole other person. Jude fell in like with another boy at weekday afternoon church. Jesus became exclusive friends with benefits with Emma, even though I know Emma is in love with Mariana and I want them to get together so bad. However, Mariana has one boyfriend who is Mat and another guy who thinks he’s her boyfriend in jail. Also, Stef began some kind of personal quest to out-gay herself every morning when she got dressed and Lena got even more beautiful and built a giant wall around Anchor Beach and then changed her mind and tore it down with metaphors.

It’s Stef and Lena’s one-year anniversary! They lie in bed on the morning of the year after their big day and talk about how they kissed ten years ago and then became wives one year ago and they’re going to keep celebrating both things — and then Mariana pops her little head up like a meerkat and tells them they should go out to dinner somewhere fancy tonight. Sweet little thing is sleeping in the bed with them because she’s freaked out about Nick. They tell her she can come back and sleep there again tonight, and once she’s gone Lena suggests a restraining order. Stef notes that that didn’t even help with their awful son, and so it’s probably not going to help with a guy who brought a gun to school and then creeped around in every closet in the Adams Foster house until he could get Mariana alone to be a psycho at her.


Who’s Kate McKinnon and why’s she trending on Twitter?


She’s this lesbian who’s turning everyone who looks at her gay.

Stef: Speaking of which monster I birthed into this world, do you think he’s ever coming home?
Lena: Just as soon as he has to buy groceries for the first time, I guarantee it.

Across town, Brandon and Courtney also wake up with a child in their bed. Courtney’s son, Mason, who wallops Brandon right in the noggin with his little foot. Twice! What a damn little hero. Mason is going to hang out with his dad this weekend which means Brandon and Courtney are going to have some alone time which means they can have a housewarming party. It’s weird that their bed is not pushed against the wall, right? How do the pillows not just fall off the back of it when they’re asleep?

Anchor Beach High School for Resilient Schoolchildren

AJ: Hey, it’s me, AJ. I go here to this school again.
Callie: Wait, what happened in your storyline last season?
AJ: I ran away with my brother and your mom came to Arizona to arrest him and we made out in a bounce house and Brandon saw us and had a little crybaby fit and then you slept with him.
Callie: Ohhh, right. So should we, like, start over, or…?
AJ: Good call. I’m AJ, nice to meet you. Do you have a petulant stepbrother dogging your steps romantically?
Callie: I’m Callie and I do not.
AJ: Cool.

They kiss. It’s good to see AJ again! He really gets Callie’s whole deal, I think, and how special she is and how hard her life has been, because he also has had a similarly hard life. He accompanies her after school to begin her third attempt at her senior project so she can graduate in season ten during Stef and Lena’s second wedding anniversary. She’s photographing the seven houses she and Jude lives in during their seven years in foster care so she can write about them and also do a little personal processing on how that upheaval affected her psyche.


No, dude, you need a phone camera to catch Pokemon. 

The first house is a sad one because she thought the family was really going to adopt her and Jude, but the foster police came and took them away in the night. She has no idea why. The second house is sad because it’s where her foster brother raped her. She hops the white picket fence to take some closer-up photos and of course Liam’s mom pulls up in her fancy pants SUV and invites Callie inside. Liam is in prison and she and her husband are getting divorced and she just wants to thank Callie … for ruining everyone’s life! “My son is not a rapist or a thief!” are words she yells. She tells Callie to take her pictures and go, and that’s exactly what Callie does. She goes right up to the bedroom where Liam raped her and takes as many photos as she goddamn well pleases.

Lena’s not having a very great day either. When Stef stops by to visit her at work, Lena says she’s getting fired for hiring a registered sex offender to build sets for the drama club around a bunch of underage teens, which: Lena, that really was the dumbest thing I have ever seen you do in my four years of watching your one year of marriage on this show. But then! Lena has an equally bizarre plan! She wants to use the line of credit on their house to hire a lawyer to get Gabe off the sex offenders registry because if he’s not on it now he’ll never have been on it and therefore she didn’t do anything illegal? Due to time travel? This is truly a #StefPlan, but in an upside-down move, Stef is the one who has to tell her she’s not thinking straight, not thinking straight at all.

They decide to go through with it, though. They have a little meeting with Anna and with Gabe, but he doesn’t want their help. He doesn’t want to owe anyone anything. Stef and Lena get it. Jesus does not. He wants to know: doesn’t Gabe ever get lonely? And so Gabe breaks down in the laundry room and Jesus hugs him from behind and kisses his back and it’s very sweet and terribly sad and Stef sees it and thinks maybe Lena was right but for a different reason.


It’s okay, dad. Dory finds her way back home in the end.

The person who has a problem with this plan is Mike. For one thing, he thinks Gabe is a trigger for Anna, based on her behavior at Jesus and Mariana’s skatepark/dance club birthday party that took place in the warehouse that is now a heap of ashes thanks to Degrassi Nick. For another thing, he thinks Anna’s going back to Gabe if he gets off the list and he wants to be with Anna and not for Gabe to be with Anna. Anna tells him to grow the fuck up. (Anna was so one-dimensional when this show started; I feel very happy that they have written her into a real person!)

While all these drama bombs are falling all around town, Brandon stops by to steal toilet paper and soap from the home of his family and gets accosted. Firstly, by Mariana, who wants to come to his housewarming party; secondly, by Stef, who takes back the toilet paper. Amazing. Hahaha! Amazing! Searching Brandon’s bag and taking the toiletries he didn’t pay for is so gloriously, brilliantly, blindingly Stef. Lena peeps Stef snatching the soap from Brandon’s hands and rolls her eyes but lets it go.


My name is Alexander Hamilton! Alexander Hamilton!


You are Aaron Burr, sir.

The next day, though, she drops by Courtney’s house and gives Brandon some stuff she picked up for him at CVS and side-eyes the two cases of beer they’re unloading from the car. She tells him to please behave responsibly, and this clown who slept with his foster sister after his mothers were forced to take out a restraining order on him and then moved out because he didn’t want to hear about how that was a total asshole move says that yes, of course he’ll behave responsibly.

Callie goes back to visit the family she’d assumed would adopt her and finds out the dad died last year and the mom is grieving their son whom they adopted instead of Callie and Jude. He’s in jail for murdering their elderly neighbor? But actually it was just a bad break because of a public defender? This show! She says they wanted to adopt Callie and Jude too, but they couldn’t because their other foster kid had special needs. She gives Callie some milk and cookies and holds her hand. They both sad.


Can you help me find Charizard with your fancy camera before you go?



Hey, but Brandon is having a party and everyone’s gotta go! The toilet gets clogged and Brandon has to spend the night dealing with that (because they can’t afford a plumber) (and by “they,” I mean “Courtney,” who is the only one gainfully employed in this living situation), and babysitting Courtney who gets super drunk, and trying to navigate the weird social parameters of Courtney’s adult friends hanging out with his high school friends. By which I mean: siblings. Brandon has no friends.

You wanna know who else comes to the party? Oh, it’s Stef and Lena, all right. They stop by after their date night, just for a sneaky-quick look, but then decide to stay and stakeout the place when they realize literally all of their children are inside. Maybe even invisible Jude, who knows. Lena eats her leftovers and Stef sneaks through the bushes to peer into the window like a total boss/crazy person. Mariana spots her and shrieks a little and Stef hustles back to the car and drives away.

THE FOSTERS - "Now for Then" - As Callie begins working on her senior project photographing her former foster homes, each visit brings new perspective on her past on an all-new episode of "The Fosters," airing MONDAY, JULY 18 (8:00 - 9:00 p.m. EDT), on Freeform. (Freeform/Eric McCandless) TERI POLO


The night is still young. A lawyer shows up dressed like an extra on Silicon Valley and serves Courtney with custody papers and she drinks an entire fourth beer and really upsets Brandon. But instead of just admitting how in over his head he is here, he tells Courtney he loves her and her problems are his problems and they’re going to work together to figure out how to get custody of Mason. All this rather than just agreeing with Stef that he made a huge mistake!

Callie and AJ have the most grown-up conversation of the night. He wants to know what kind of things might be triggering for her as a rape survivor, and she tells him that they’ll figure it out together. Rape isn’t sex, she reminds him. And he gets it. I really like AJ.

The very next day, Gabe gets off the sex offenders list, easy as pie.


Touch her and I’ll kill you.


Make eye contact with her for more than two seconds and I’ll kill you.


I’ll kill you.

Seeing how empowered Callie was by facing her past trauma head on, Mariana convinces Stef to take her to see Nick. She mostly wants to tell him that she’s not in love with him, is absolutely not his girlfriend, and will not be waiting for him to go bonkers again on her and her entire family when he gets out of his treatment facility. Stef nearly kills him dead with her stare when she sees him, but as soon as she’s gone, Nick lays it on Mariana so hard about how she’s the only reason he’s alive and he’s so glad she loves him and if anything ever happened that made her give up on him, who even knows what he’d do to himself and everyone around him. She does love him, right? Right? She definitely for sure and forever loves him and will always love him for all of time. Right, Mariana? Right?

“Right,” she lies.

At this rate, it’s going to be fifty more seasons before Mariana gets with Emma. Fifty seasons and two more wedding anniversaries.

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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. I’m getting so tired of these stories where Callie has to be the Patron Saint of All Foster Children and inevitably gets herself into more trouble. I get that she feels guilt about a lot of things but she is not everyone’s savior and the writers need to stop giving her that responsibility. Surely, there are other stories they can tell with her that don’t involve this or her fooling around with Brandon again.

    I also really wish Lena hadn’t went behind Stef’s back and enabled Brandon by bringing him groceries. Let him fend for himself. this is why he will always continue to be a petulant asshole. Because every time he throws a fit or gets himself into trouble Stef and Lena play Good Cop Bad Cop and he eventually gets let off the hook. Let him play daddy for awhile and have to get a job and pay his own bills. He will come running back home on his own.

    That last scene with Mariana and Nick made me cringe. That was so manipulative and abusive and I don’t believe for a second that Nick isn’t well aware of what he is doing by saying those things to her. This is all an act and she is probably going to learn that the hard way.

    • Maybe Lena is bringing groceries because she doesn’t want Brandon back? I wouldn’t blame her, I wouldn’t want him back either

      • That must be it. Have parties! Drink all you want! Can I buy you a TV? I’ll send you a plumber! Don’t you love your new independent life and want to stay foreverrrrr!!

    • I don’t think it’s an act at all. You can be truly sad and needy and still be manipulative at the same time. I feel sorry for Nick, because he really is a mess, and hasn’t had enough love in his life. It’s just that Mariana can’t (and shouldn’t) save him. That’s not her job, especially as a victim of his abuse and stalking.

  2. I think Nick is in a psych hospital, not jail.

    I was more moved by today’s Steven Universe musical episode than by this week’s Fosters. I thought it was considerably braver, bolder, and less predictable. Sometimes I think The Fosters is trying too hard to be normal and I need to live in the world of polyamorous alien revolutionaries to get a break from all of that.

      • It’s not that I found the episode totally unaffecting– I realize it probably looks like that is what I was saying, but I didn’t mean that, and I do still value watching the show. It does a lot of things I like.

        But it’s started to feel somewhat rote to me, and I especially felt that way this week. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because I watched the SU episode the same day, and it totally surprised me and did something I think was completely astonishing for TV. There are times I think the same about The Fosters, too. It just didn’t happen this week.

        I also feel like Stef and Lena are very stuck in their dynamic with each other and with the kids. They don’t seem to have made any progress on correcting the things they have been chafing at, and Lena’s gone back to making disapproving comments which Stef ignores, while Stef has gone back to not negotiating and constantly running roughshod over Lena. It’s my least favorite thing about their relationship, and there wasn’t enough of the good stuff to balance all the things I find least enjoyable about the teen stuff, which I also often appreciate but a lot of the parts of that which I dislike was also on display.

        The main thing I got from the Jesus-Gabe meltdown was that Noah is a slightly better actor than his predecessor, but it still looked stiff and actory (rather than natural and convincing) to me.
        As I proofread this post, I realize it sounds extra bitchy and I don’t mean it to. But it does reflect how I felt while watching.

        On the other hand, I loved the episode we got last week, so it’s not meant to be a global condemnation of the show.

        • There’s a place in the above post where the subject and verb do not agree and I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t at least say I realize I goofed, and I wish I could edit it!!

  3. I love Stef’s “Texting your lover?” Comment. She was joking, but I feel she was lowkey being petty about Monte…who I sorely missed this episode.

  4. The timeline of this show is so weird.
    Feel bad for Callie but I’m glad AJ is back
    Brandon? No comment

  5. I love AJ but I also wish Callie had a chance to be with – I forget the character’s name. The new guy played by Elliot Fletcher. I love Elliot Fletcher and want Callie to prove that she really DIDN’T turn Cole down because he was trans (assuming Elliot Fletcher’s character is, actually, trans).

    Idk, we’ll see how this goes.

    • I don’t think that was the reason. Cole was generally kind of annoying, and they were just friends.

  6. Thanks for the recap!

    I just love this show. Sure, terrible and sad things happen on it all the time but at the end of the day the message is always pro-love, pro-hope instead of cynicism. That is so desperately needed these days!

      • I literally rewound and rewatched the credits on Monday night because I just needed that kind of hug.

        • “It’s not where you come from, It’s where you belong” resonates so much with this little immigrant heart, you have no idea

        • SAME. Every week! Really, every week. Sometimes I’m like “Not this week! This week will be different!” but, yup, every week.

    • I love this show too.
      Yes there are terrible things (Brandon, Brallie, Jesus’ acting skills, Brandon…) but in the end it’s worth it to see the moms
      Stef and Lena forever!

      • You forgot to mention Callie. She’s just as horrible as Brandon on the show. But you guys here always hit at Brandon

  7. Episode Highlight: Lena peacefully eating her doggie bag in the car.

    I could almost hear her going “dooo-do-do My wife is off acting crazy oveprotectative again. Haha. Oh I love her. I also love this vegan burrito I’m eating. dooo-do-do”

  8. Callie’s lines are throwing me through a loop everyday… when she and AJ are sitting on the outdoor swing at the end of the episode and AJ asks if there’s anything he can do and talks about how he’s afraid to initiate intimacy and Callie simply says, “rape isn’t sex.” Mind fucking blown.

  9. “Courtney’s son, Mason, who wallops Brandon right in the noggin with his little foot. Twice! What a damn little hero.”

    HAHAH oh my God, I laughed out loud in the workplace.

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