In what has been an emotionally driven, life-to-art season, The Fosters has solidified there place as a television family drama committed to and successful in portraying genuine and deeply honest storylines. Having taken on important societal and political issues this year, the season’s finale this week left no stone unturned. Not only that, wrapped up (and in cases) untied each characters current situation. This episode was balanced, from family drama and sadness to successes and moments of pride, The Fosters ended its third season brilliantly. After a heartbreaking end to last week’s penultimate episode, we rejoin the Fosters family on the beach, where they are celebrating and grieving the loss of Jack. Titled “Kingdom Come” the opening monologue spoken by Jude (Hayden Byerly) was so fitting, able to tie in faith, religion and the value of life all into one.
Callie’s (Maia Mitchell) story begins this week with a discussion about postponing the launch of Fost and Found due to Jack’s death. Justina (Kelli Williams) however disagrees. Of course she does, that woman has had ulterior motives all along. Anyways, with a solid little pep talk, Justina seems to calm Callie’s nerves. It is key to note how wary Daphne looks in this scene, she isn’t stupid, she’s catching on to the charade. Elsewhere on the beach, recently returned Taylor is standing with Jude who is not only coming to terms losing Jack, but also with what the kiss between them meant. He’s obviously struggling to work it all out – “not really sure I’m into guys” – and when Taylor asks about Connor, Jude states that he believes it was just the person. Furthermore, when asked if he’s into girls, he responds with a “maybe”. Hayden Byerly has done and continues to do an eloquent job at delivering the evolution and intrinsic struggles of a teenager discovering who they are and what it means. More so even, when in the closing moment of the episode, he asks Callie “what if God doesn’t want me to be gay?” The places The Fosters go and the stories they tell continue to add layer upon layer to these already established and loved characters.
Brandon (David Lambert) starts this week off very adult-like, fitting as he is turning 18, by laying down the law to his Mamas and Dad. After Jack’s memorial, Brandon takes a quieter moment to let his Moms know that Cortney has a son, and he is 3 and that it’s not up for discussion. Talk about SMACKDOWN. Oh the look on both Teri and Sherri’ face of “oh no he didn’t” was so understated yet so completely there. So with no room to argue, Stef (Teri Polo) approaches Mike (Danny Nucci) in the hope that a father/son talk may be just what Brandon needs to see the light. Identifying that Mike and Brandon may share some common traits (being attracted to needy women), Stef lets rip that she doesn’t want to see Brandon be distracted from his dreams. The needy women comment is that much more hilarious when a clearly “I’ve just woken up after sex” looking Ana exits Mike’s room. Are we really doing this?
The Mamas this week are doing what they do best, parenting, guiding and attempting to protect their children at all costs. However, Lena (Sherri Saum) has another situation that requires her attention – Sally vs. Monte (Annika Marks) – and when she is called in to front the Education department, her and Monte are hoping that Sally sticks to her story. Monte gives her version of events and owns up to her mistakes – I’ve got to give it to the writing staff and creative team as well as Annika Marks. The progress that Monte has made and the entire journey from regal business-minded Principal, to a curious, some what confused middle-aged woman, they’ve given us facets of this character that are so human, so real, and so visceral.
As Monte leaves the room, Sally and her mother enter. The trepidation is evident in Lena as Sally starts to talk. Everything seems to be going well up until Sally starts to offer up a story of how Monte would recommend her to college if Sally gave her what she “wanted”. Having about enough of this, Lena pipes up, but not before Sally’s mom brings Lena’s lifestyle into question, as well as accusing her and Monte of being lovers. Slow. Your. Roll. Eventually, Lena defends Monte and assures the board they are NOT lovers thus saving her job. However, the department has caught wind of Gabe – a registered sex offender – working on the sets of R + J. Seriously! Lena can’t seem to catch a break, and Sherri Saum is phenomenal throughout this episode with as little as her eyes and physicality able to illustrate emotion and reaction.
After laying down the law to his moms, Brandon pays Cortney a visit – and by visit I mean sex – to celebrate his birthday. The celebration is cut short when Cortney’s ex barges in, and kicks her out. He also cleans out her bank account leaving her pretty much homeless. Not wanting to ruin his birthday, Cortney ensures Brandon that this isn’t his concern. But we all know what Brandon is like and after receiving money from his mom
Callie is on a mission to find the people who placed Jack back with Pearson (Callie’s previous foster father), and with the help of “Police Officer Stefanie Adams Fosters” they get a break through. What they discover is a total scam, run completely separate from government foster care agencies, the ones that placed Jack are profiting off each foster child they place. This entire storyline had me, and I’m sure the rest of the audience gasping in disbelief. Not only does The Fosters deliver unbelievable entertainment, they use the platform to shed important light on issues such as those with elements of the Foster care system.
When Callie confronts Justina about “Abiter” the private company involved in these so called legal scams, she flatly denies it. But don’t worry Daphne has her back — she remembers seeing a letter with that name on it. After a little bit of a mingle with some big wigs, Daphne seeks out Callie to fill her in. After finding the since hidden letter of Justina’s Callie has all the proof she needs. What follows is one of Maia Mitchell’s best performances this season; her speech is one of passion, with her desire for justice living in her words. Her speech, the emotion and the strength it took for Callie to speak up and out about the deceit of Justina is such a representation of how far she’s come. She tells her story – every struggle, every detail – powerfully and heartbreakingly. Stef and Lena look on, a mix between uncontrollable pain for what their daughter has gone through and hints of pride, for the strength she just displayed (Note: Stef stepping in when Justina touched Callie, let’s just stand an applaud).
Mat (Jordan Rodrigues) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) this week, are still trying to figure out whether or not the love they have for one another is worth blowing up the relationships they currently find themselves in. As we follow Mariana throughout the episode she increasingly becomes more guilt-ridden, especially when Nick presents her with a diamond necklace. But let’s remember last week, Nick saw Mat place the letter in Marianas purse so we can assume he read it and is now trying to make his strongest play for his girl. Right? Mariana accepts, with Cierra Ramirez illustrating through her eyes the regret and pain Mariana must feel to find herself again in a similar situation. And when Mat and Mariana are seen kissing and embracing at Brandon’s party we can only presume they are rekindling; well that’s what Nick assumes when he catches them. But in true fact, they aren’t and all Nick saw was a goodbye.
As the finale picks up speed, each of Adams Foster clan are faced with two options – interestingly it’s a choice for most to either follow their head or their heart. After Callie’s impassioned speech – one so poignant and captivating – the dominoes start to fall. She receives calls at the house from reporters and is accosted by a news team at the school. After this confrontation, we see a distraught, emotionally exhausted Callie sitting in Lena’s office. While Stef does her best Mama Tiger – we all wish we had someone like Stef in our corner – and Lena attempts to calm her down, Callie sits silent. Maia Mitchell has evolved this season as a force of nature; inhabiting this role and delving deeper into the true nature of the Foster care system her performances have continually soared. None more so than as she sits, quietly sobbing, the weight of holding onto this secret finally too much. And with a subtle yet honest admission, the truth is revealed. And oh do Teri Polo and Sherri Saum deliver silent yet nuanced responses of shock. Meanwhile, a disheveled Nick finally pulls up to school, ash covering his skin (after he just burnt down the R + J sets). Looking broken himself, he sits, tears in his eyes. As he opens the glovebox, he reveals a handgun. End scene. End season. Talk about cliffhanger, and if my hunch is right, the opening of Season 4 will be one not to miss; one that I am sure will leave our worlds a little shaky but our Fosters loving hearts still beating strong.
Bradley Bredeweg, Peter Paige, Joanna Johnson and their entire team at The Fosters have created a vehicle for such love, and acceptance, and representation. Teri Polo and Sherri Saaum continue to beautifully portray the in and outs of marriage, raising a family and that a deep, deep love and devotion can withstand anything. Not only that, the entire ensemble has really grown as a unit this season with the chemistry and artistry, next level. Bravo Fosters family, on a wonderfully executed, heart-awakening season. And here’s to Season 4.
Other key points going into Season 4:
– Ana and Mike are now, officially a thing
– Nick’s dad is kind of an asshole.
– The repercussions for Brandon after he gave his money to Cortney
– The possibility of Gabe going back to prison.
– Nick and the gun. It’s not looking good. – Lena, Gabe and the education department debacle