Happy 40th Lena Adams Foster (Sherri Saum)! This week’s episode was celebrating all things 70’s as the extended Adams Foster clan came together to honour one of our favourite Mama’s. Titled “Forty” the episode opens on the entire family, Dana and Stewart included, getting ready to enjoy dinner. The banter is witty and light, with sass from the kids flying back and forth. But interestingly, there was more tension between the grandparents then the kids, especially when Stewart suggest they cancel their hotel and stay at the house instead. As Stef (Teri Polo) arrives home with pizza, the banter continues, Jesus (Noah Centineo) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) driving the jokes home. But when they jokingly put their feet in it – mentioning Brandon’s (David Lambert) new living situation and married girlfriend – the tone immediately shifts. Luckily Stef and Lena have that red wine close by (Bravo Teri Polo, Bravo).
Soon after dinner has finished, Lena and Dana share a frank discussion about Brandon. Dana is nothing short of shocked, but when she questions how it even happened Lena assures that they aren’t “allowing” anything to happen, he is an adult after all. I have to give another mention to Teri Polo here, her shade as Stef throughout this entire arc is comedic gold and the way Sherri bounces off it, gives the audience some genuine laugh out loud moments. None more so than when Lena suggest Stef invite Cortney to the party. Hah, okay honey. This all occurs while Stef attempts to position the mattress for her In-laws, eventually directed just to take it downstairs. Reason? Dana suspects Stewart is having an affair.
This week, Brandon’s focus was paying rent and all things adult especially with Cortney’s divorce now in play. A divorce that will cost her/them $5000, in which Brandon is advertising his piano playing skills as well as looking into some tutoring gigs. Elsewhere, Mariana and her STEM class are set a task – build a robot which has the ability to pick up a block – a task that if successful in, would see the winning team picked for competition. Interestingly, The Fosters take this opportunity to explore gender stereotypes and social roles with all the male students grouping together, leaving the females out. Callie (Maia Mitchell), refusing to take AJ’s (Tom Williamson) advice, continues to pursue Kyle’s case with the help of Aaron. We first meet them this week flirtatiously discussing Callie’s possible make believe boyfriend as they wait to visit Kyle. When Kyle arrives Callie and Aaron inform him that if they are to re-open the case, they need to turn upside new evidence. Offering information about someone named Patrick Malloy is as good as Kyle has so far – he was at the Rec centre when Kyle was there, around the time of the murder. The direction of this scene, and the camera angles are perfectly placed and time communicating a contrast between dark and light. Callie assures Kyle that she believes him and that she’ll visit but when he says he may no longer be there (turning 18 soon has him being sent to Folsom prison), the importance of finding new evidence increases. Talk about a jam-packed day, to finish it off Stewart shows up at school wanting to talk to Lena “alone” while Brandon may or may not have been hired to sit someone else’s SAT test. Can anyone smell trouble?
That night, Lena fills Stef in on her conversation with her Dad, in which she discovered he’s not in fact having an affair but organizing a tribute video for Dana’s retirement party. Cue another flawless piece of acting by Teri Polo, as with no words she communicates confusion and possible fear that maybe she should have thought of that for Lena’s party. Rushing downstairs, Stef interrupts Mariana and her STEM girls as they continue to struggle with their robot construction, not to mention Jesus trying to flirt with Emma. Stef wants/needs Mariana to help her make/edit a video, but after a typically hilarious exchange, where Mariana refuses, Stef resorts to asking Jude who doesn’t mind to help. Taylor also sees this as an opportunity to ask Noah to help our. Oh the matchmaking and let me not forget to mention Emma’s swift denial of anything for Jesus.
After heeding Lena’s suggestion to invite Cortney to the party, Stef pays the young mom a visit. She’s understandably shocked to see her, stressing about the messiness of the house. Stef ensures her it’s fine, but when Cortney leaves the room Stef spies a certain cheque book open on the side table. With a closer look, Stef discovers Brandon has written a cheque for $5000. Oh golly, not good, not good. Cue the understated look of disbelief and disappointment, also the tiniest shred of anger that Teri Polo gives to Stef in this moment. Meanwhile, Callie and Aaron have tracked down Patrick Molloy to ask him, again, his recollection of the night Kyle is thought to have murdered someone. Callie’s sadness over another dead end manifests itself in defensiveness towards Aaron as she questions why exactly he wants to help. Maia Mitchell has evolved leaps and bounds throughout the series, with her work late last season and early this season absolutely outstanding. Speaking of success, Mariana and the STEM girls actually achieve success, or should I say Jesus does. He works out a design that eventually gets the girls the win; not before Mariana and her fellow teammates dispute the ruling, identifying obvious gender bias. Sassy Mariana is by far my favourite Mariana. In other news, Brandon is seen arriving to take the SAT test for that other student; successfully making it inside without a problem, but unfortunately being seen my Jenna on his way out.
Let the 70’s montage commence; from the costumes to the entire party set-up the Fosters creative team did a glorious job of transporting us back to the disco of it all. But really, can we stand and applaud the costume department? Hitting every characters costume just perfectly. From Lena’s hair to Brandon’s “Greg Brady” no flare was left unturned. Killing a moment of hotness between our Mamas, Stewart informs them that he is having their house appraised – cue another moment of awkwardness for the Moms. It seems as though the theme being explored here is secrets and evasion, with members of The Fosters clan all hiding something. When questioned about the house appraisal, Stewart ensures them it’s just about retiring, getting his ducks in a row. Regardless of any other tension, the Mamas most certainly start to enjoy themselves; it’s the quiet moments and the subtle touches that Sherri Saum and Teri Polo execute that continually remind the audience how deep their love is. Speaking of love and at times jealousy, Mike (Danny Nucci) and Ana arrive, shortly followed by Gabe. Oh the tension, and the attempt at pea-cocking by Mike is absolute gold. Delivery on point, Danny Nucci.
Throughout the party, The Adams Foster kids continue to deal with their individual struggles; Jude continues to deal with the discovery of Connor and his new boyfriend and being in San Diego, while Callie gets a visit from Aaron whose been able to find some helpful information for Kyle’s case. And let’s not forget Cortney and Brandon; after finding out from Stef that he’s using his money to pay Cortney’s bills, Dana confronts the young Mom with such poise and sass I would have been shaking in my boots. Meanwhile, Jesus is a little hurt when Emma suggest she start tutoring him again. Girl, ouch, I know you meant well, but give the boy a break. He eventually makes a stand and calls an end to their “friends with benefits” arrangement. In contrast to the earlier episodes this season, this week’s installment most certainly gave us a lighter 45 minutes illustrating the casts ability to deliver comedy. Jenna returned and Susan Cryer is a comedic force, from the awkward “ex-encounter” with Monte and then the awkward “ex-stalking” of Kelly she was an MVP. And her timing, during all moments of seriousness made for a joyful episode.
As the party continues, Jenna accidentally puts her foot in it when she asks Brandon how his SAT test went. This is made worse when Lena is there for the conversation, and her look is of complete confusion. Did she just hear that right? Yes, Lena you did, Brandon is up to no good. I can’t help but feel as though Lena’s big night is continually being overshadowed by discovery after discovery. The biggest I think, when she finally discovers why her Dad is acting so weird. Stewart reveals he’s in trouble with the IRS, and from the conversation, it’s big trouble. In contrast, and on a happier note, Mariana unintentionally finds out that Ana is in love with Mike yet after promising not to mention it, encourages him to dance with her; she loves him after all. With the theme of love continuing, Jude goes ahead and posts a photo of him and Noah on Facebook, even changing his relationship status to “in a relationship”. Oh young love and jealousy, the life and times as told by social media and status updates. Noah is initially upset, but when he tells Jude to ask him out, and he does, it seems to resolve all that was said before (side note: I’m such a Noah fan already).
Lightening the mood, Stef surprises Lena with the video; it is super adorable, and a nice reprieve from the other drama going on. But when police show up, the party stops for just a minute; that is, before the music starts and the officers turn out to be strippers. Oh, Fosters Family, did we ever think we’d get a lap dance scene? Well we did, and the innocence of Lena and not knowing where to look is pure joy. Oh Sherri Saum, that was just magic. Keeping the love fest going, the Mamas share a dance; the touches, the love, the searching hands, Teri Polo and Sherri Saum know these characters so well and each other, that moments like these, simple but sweet, allow the audience a look into their profound love.
Other key notes:
– AJ’s dancing is my most favourite thing. And can anyone sense another love triangle on the horizon?
– Montes side eye to Jenna was hilarious. Touché Annika Marks
– Lena and Stef could lose their home
– Brandon isn’t doing a very good job of lying/hiding, doesn’t he know the Mamas always know?
-Mariana thinks Jesus should join the STEM team