It is safe to say that this week’s episode of The Fosters, titled “The Show”, aligned with other television events such as Grey’s Anatomy’ “Song Beneath the Song”, in that there was not a dry eye when the closing credits rolled around. Some people may have called it a risk, to have coupled a piece so infamous as Romeo and Juliet with a television series, but after watching, it is obvious that this combination was a winner; specifically with the underlying themes of family, loyalty, devotion and love. The Fosters is known for its beautiful collaboration of song and scene, but this week that was taken to a whole new level; a level of tragic, everlasting love woven into each storyline for the Fosters family. The musical itself acted as the vehicle, with each musical number evidently resonating with each member of the family.
The episode opens backstage as Brandon (David Lambert) gives a speech of thanks and encouragement to the entire cast. Before heading out, Nick greets Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) with a bunch of flowers (totally cute) and Courtney visits to wish Brandon good luck with a small packet of animal crackers. These two new pairings are completely adorable – but there is a little apprehension from Brandon, he didn’t think Courtney would come after what happened. What happened? To make matters worse, Callie (Maia Mitchell) in all her perfect timing interrupts this moment to get the go ahead to open the doors. As the audience assembles – Lena (Sherri Saum) flying solo with Stef (Teri Polo) stuck at work on a domestic violence call, scarily enough at the last foster home of Jude and Callie – the anticipation we have all been feeling about this episode finally hits its peak.
The opening number of the musical has Brandon, guy-liner and all, seated at the piano playing and singing. But who too? Callie? Courtney? Flashback to Mariana and Callie in their room, Mariana is talking about how dumb she thinks the play is, and that if Romeo and Juliet were just honest, maybe they would have lived -“secrets are the worse”. Touché on the foreshadowing writers, touché. The song “Unbreakable” is cut with a flashback of Jude crying in bed. Jack is sleeping over and offers the most subtle of supportive comments, this friendship for Jude has been a saving grace. To add some more missing pieces to the Fosters storyline, we learn that Courtney and Brandon have somewhat broken up. After an argument that stemmed from Brandon disregarding Courtney’s child as his own when asked by a stranger, the two are at loggerheads. Courtney lays it down for Brandon, stating that if he isn’t ready for this, if he’s not ready to get over Callie, she’s done. Back with R + J the two families begin their dual, the choreography and singing throughout “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” was next level. Corbin Bleu was unstoppable and Ashley Argota has the voice of an angel.
As the show continues, Stef is still nowhere to be seen. Still at the previous foster home of Callie and Jude, her and other fellow officers are attempting to plan how to breach the house. He has taken a hostage, believed to be his wife. With her previous experience and knowing where she can gain a clear line of sight – the back door – the team jump into action. However even with this knowledge Stef looks scared, a look oh too familiar for us as an audience this season. Hayden Byerly has been a quiet achiever this season, with moments short and sweet yet meaningful. This week, with the theme of love, we revisit a lot of his healing process regarding Connor. After the night time talk with Jack, the two are now seen head banging, quite violently, to some heavy metal. With Jack encouraging him to let it all go, that is exactly what he does. When it all becomes too much, Jude is broken; sitting down on this bed head in his hands, sobbing. Hayden Byerly performed the hell out of this scene, illustrating a pain so deep and so insular that when released cuts like a knife.
Back at the warehouse, “Love Will Light the Day” has begun and as Mat (Jordan Rodrigues) and Mariana perform the duet in real time, we are gifted with a flashback that sees Brandon and Callie together. Up late practicing, Callie finds Brandon in the garage and after rejecting the idea to wake Mariana up, convinces Callie to sing with him (Hello, #Brallie). As the remainder of the song follows both Mat and Mariana as well as Callie and Brandon, the audience gets an insight into the true chemistry both partnerships have. Maia Mitchell has an understated tone that sits perfectly for ballad type songs like this and with David by her side, the duet is beautiful. As the song ends, Callie, always the one to ask the hard questions, asks Brandon if he ever thinks about what may have happened if they told? Coming back to the present day, Stef is now making her way to the back of the house; radioing that the suspect has a gun, she learns that his wife is not in fact the hostage. With a deep, deep breath and obvious hesitation, Stef bursts through the door and is the first to fire her gun. She definitely hasn’t lost her touch. After he is subdued, a body is found in the kitchen, what has he done?
Before tonight, there was doubt that Mariana and Mat could pull together to deliver an honest performance, but moments in, the underlying feelings that have been there all season finally begin to bubble to the surface. Both Jordan Rodrigues and Cierra Ramirez have pipes definitely suited to this type of production, add to it the chemistry between the two young actors and the characters current dynamic, you have the ideal Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the production it is obvious Mariana is grappling with her feelings for Mat, especially with the deep connection she must portray as Juliet. So hard for Mariana that at one point she runs backstage and with Mat close behind, the two finally confront the elephant in the room. Mariana confesses that she still loves him, and confused as to why she’s waited this long (he left a note for her that she never received) to talk to him, he replies “I love you too.” Cue another awkward ex entrance, this time it’s Nick – can anyone say drama on the horizon? Not only that, Zoey does her best to psych out Mariana as well, giving her details about Mat and her sleeping together. Really? Cierra and Jordan were stand outs tonight, between their singing, dancing and overall performing dynamic, they were fabulous.
As Romeo and Juliet’s last stand begins, significant moments for the Fosters clan flash through. Brandon and Callie continue to bicker about the “what ifs”, both still very much in love with the other but both recognizing that they’ve missed their chance. It’s too far gone. Jack packs his bag to leave, and as he is honest with Jude about just thinking of him as a “friend”, Jude thank thanks him for helping him realise that he will move on, that there will be others after Connor. Intermittently cut with both Mat and Mariana performing spine-tingling solos, the direction of this episode is nothing short of fluid. As the well-known end of Romeo and Juliet occurs, with a closing number that made me stop in my tracks, Mike and Ana are seen holding hands and Lena looks overwhelmingly proud of her children. Elsewhere, Stef has made her way into the kitchen where a dead body lays covered. Teri Polo once again proves to us why she is a master act; with no words at all, the emotion she finds and delivers, has our breath hitching in our chest. As tears fall, the camera moves down to reveal a pale, unresponsive Jack. The tough, in control persona that Stef so proudly wears is once again dealt a horrific blow. As a mother in real life, Teri Polo does justice to this role that is unparalleled. The visceral nature to which she illustrates such pain makes the stories told by the Fosters that much more real. More honest. More trying. Bradley Bredeweg’s first outing as director was seamless, with shots making it feel like we were there, in the audience, watching it live. And the ability to weave the themes of R + J with those currently being explored through the Fosters, is a testament to his direction and the whole creative team.
Other key plot points:
- Nick knows about the love letter from Mat to Mariana – could this be the start of something quite dangerous?
- Ana seems to be on the mend, not to mention her and Mike