The Fosters (S05E02) "Exterminate Her"

Review:
With a fairly strong title to this week’s episode in “Exterminate Her”, we watch as Callie (Maia Mitchell) attempts to figure out what she wants to do with her life. The episode opens and we quickly learn that the family are getting new neighbours but as the pull up to the house drama unfolds when Callie questions whether she will be required to testify in Russell’s trial. Stef (Teri Polo) isn’t quite sure, especially with how things went down, but Callie remains optimistic in the fact the Russell is off the street. This statement pushes Stef over the edge, she snaps back at Callie that regardless of positive outcomes it could have been much worse. Callie taken aback by the outburst is comforted by Lena (Sherri Saum) who informs her how terrified Stef was. We all know The Fosters family never really has the best timing, so when Stef, Lena and Callie arrive home to a collective congratulations led by Robert (Kerr Smith). It seems all charges have been dropped and Robert organised a surprise celebration, understandable of course but a little uncanny nevertheless.
 
The tension in the room during the celebration was an indicator that the timing just wasn’t right with Brandon (David Lambert) and Jesus (Noah Centineo) still not talking, as well as Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Emma (Amanda Leighton) still at odds. Adding to these tumultuous relationships is Jesus’ decision to complete his senior project alone, without Mariana. He assures his sister that it wasn’t Emma’s idea, but an opportunity to prove he can do something himself. Meanwhile, Robert, sensing the moms aren’t too happy with his spontaneous celebration questions what else he isn’t aware of in regards to Callie. This question leads into the next scene in which we watch Lena and Stef admit to Callie that they just don’t know what to do anymore. Taking this admission as them saying they want her to go live with Robert, Callie is a little hurt. However, that’s not what they are suggesting at all; they love her so much but there is only so much they can do. Stef, still feeling the effects of having Callie nearly taken away from her, encourages her daughter to decide who she wants to be.
 
Following this, we get our first real mama moment of the season; full of witty banter as they try to decide what gift to get their new neighbours, Sherri Saum and Teri Polo illustrate just how multifaceted their chemistry is. It’s effortless in a way that the audience doesn’t feel like they are watching a television show, but a real-life relationship. Noticing a change in Stef’s persona, suggesting that Robert being more involved may be a good thing, Lena questions it immediately. It’s not like her; yet with everything that has happened recently Stef is at her wit’s end. Realising her wife is hurting more than she knew, Lena approach Stef and nuzzles into her neck from behind. It is these moments, vulnerable and simple with moments of humor that personify Stef and Lena. The next morning, catching him half asleep and naked, Mariana urges Gabe to support her in doing the senior project with Jesus although it’s hard to tell whether he really understands what she’s asking.
 
Elsewhere, Callie is meeting with the art Professor to understand what is required for her to attend. Overwhelmingly it involves a portfolio of 20 pieces, something that Callie just does not have. It’s understandable that she feels dejected after the meeting, with no solution for it in sight. As the day moves forward, Stef must reiterate to Gabe (when he has an opinion about Jesus) that it is she and Lena’s call what they tell Jesus. Talk about awkward, not to mention the runner who passes by reminding Stef they are in a drought. Seems like she’s not having much luck, but when new neighbour Dean comes over to introduce himself and offer to fix their fence, things begin to look up. Later that night, the mamas are talking through their day when Stef informs Lena about Gabe – there’s the Stef Adams Foster we know, and love. Interrupted by an ecstatic Callie, the moms are thrilled to hear that their daughter has been given the chance to put a portfolio together and shadow at the art school. Our hearts burst when they pull Callie in for a mama sandwich and the young girl relishes in the reality that she’ll be going to college. Shortly after, Brandon and Callie share a sweet moment when she’s trying to decide what item defines her. The joke about her and a salt shaker was perfect, while the support for each other continues to grow.
 
The next day, Lena and Mariana meet the other members of the family next door – Logan and his mom Teresa – with awkwardness happening when the mention of Anchor Beach have a bad reputation. Meanwhile, Robert drops Callie off to art school with the gift of a new art case – touché Robert, touché. The gift doesn’t seem to help squash her nerves, as she fumbles her way through her first class, unsure of what to do and where to begin. Brandon this week is called to Grace’s apartment when she says she has an emergency. He arrives to find her handcuffed, in lingerie, to the bed. The audience knows exactly what is happening, but Brandon? Not so much. David Lambert is hilarious in these scenes; the moments where Brandon is totally unaware and naïve. Back at the house, Jesus and Gabe are getting started with the tree house and when Jesus’ excitement begins to become more palpable, Gabe just doesn’t feel comfortable lying to him anymore. Coming clean about Mariana and the whole situation, Gabe unfortunately causes Jesus to devolve into anger and frustration. Again, becoming extremely confrontational Jesus demands to know why everything is happening this way. Noah Centineo is shockingly brilliant in this new storyline, with the other characters reaction to Jesus enough to illustrate how volatile it’s getting.
 
Callie, after an inspiring experience at roller derby and motivating pep talk from new friend Ximena, rushes back to Anchor Beach in the hope of salvaging her senior project. I must not forget the quick word she has to Brandon about him totally missing all the signs from Grace. It’s a beautiful thing to watch Callie and Brandon still be able to have a friendship and sibling relationship after everything, even more so hilarious when Callie can’t believe how out of touch Brandon actually is. Later on, when she arrives back at the school she learns that her senior project has been taken down and placed at the dumpsters. Rushing to hopefully save it, she arrives to find it gone. The emotional turmoil doesn’t stop there, especially when she arrives home to a deeply concerned Robert, Stef and Lena. Not wasting a minute, Callie ignores his concern and states that she is not going to be the kid with the rich dad. That she isn’t going to be the girl whose dad pays someone off to get her into school. Maia Mitchell continues to expand as Callie Foster, going from strength to strength in scenes that call for emotional and passionate vulnerability. Robert, shocked by the outburst, ensures his daughter that he didn’t do anything of the sort, all he did was encourage the Professor to give Callie a chance.
 
As the exchange continues, all of Callie’s deep seeded feelings rise to the surface specifically when she blurts out that the Mom’s think she’s unacceptable. Torn apart, and horrified that their daughter could feel this way, Stef jumps to attention and attempts to clarify what she meant. Instead, Callie continues to say how when she first arrived at their house they told her she wasn’t disposable, and that she’s trying her hardest to believe that. This statement, these words, not only relevant to what Callie is going through but a universal theme for all those who have ever struggled. The Foster’s brings to life again, another issue rarely spoken about; the inner pain someone may feel about not being good enough, or worthy enough. Stef, undoubtedly shaken by the admission from her daughter, ensures her that it’s not the case. In fact, she’s scared for her; she’s scared of losing her. Lena, adding to it, reassured Callie that they aren’t trying to make her forget what happened to her, that they don’t want her forgetting her past. As Lena leads Callie to the backyard, Callie senior project is there; intact and on display for her family to see. Restating how much they both love her, and sandwiching her between them, there is no doubt about the love these women have for Callie. Sherri Saum and Teri Polo, with the chemistry they have as mothers, wives and parents is ignited even more when Maia Mitchell brings to life Callie’s deepest fears.
 
After the discussion with her moms and Robert, Callie seems to find what exactly it is that defines her. Sending Ximena a photo message of a pendant, she tells her new friends that is was her birth moms’ and that it is the only thing she has left of her. With the survival of her senior project, the belief from Robert and her Mamas’, Callie may have now turned that corner. She’s slowly but surely discovering who she is and what she wants. Elsewhere, Brandon and Grace share an awkward but adorable moment when he apologises for not completely realising her come on. She tries to play it down (do we blame her?) but eventually admits to trying to get him to bed. This conversation is a fantastic Segway into a frank discussion about their obvious feelings for one another and when it’s finally agreed upon that they like each other, the handcuffs make another appearance.
 
When I think about final moments, and the questions they leave us with, I always reference The Foster’s as their creative team has perfected that “cliff-hanger” feel. This week was no different. As the mom’s, plant/cactus in hand, walk to officially welcome their neighbours, the witty banter is refreshing after an episode of high level emotion. Dean answers the door as the all explain pleasantries, but it’s when Teresa moves to the doorway that an interesting twist take. Not much is better than Teri Polo and her ability to tug at your heart-strings, yet Teri Polo illustrating Stef’s instant frazzled state when met with Teresa may just beat it out. There is obvious history there; they know each other, and by all accounts, very well if Stef’s awkward, unable to form words reaction is anything to go by. Better than that even, is Lena’s look of intrigue, as her wife is completely rendered incoherent. We’ve met one of Lena’s exes but could this season see us meet and get to know one of Stef’s? I think yes, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m very much looking forward to seeing jealous Lena.
 
Other keynotes:

  • Jesus tells Mariana that even after everything, he wants to his project with Emma
  • Gabe over steps when, after warnings from Stef and a breakdown from Jesus, suggests scrap wood to make the tree house after funding is cut to Jesus’ project
  • Could there be a new romance on the horizon for Mariana and Logan?
  • Drew continues to be somewhat of a jerk regarding ABCC, going as far as to shut down the school newspaper