The Fosters (S05E06) "Welcome to the Jungler"

Review:
With all the talk about dropping out of school, this week’s episode “Welcome to the Jungler” opens on both Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) having a frank discussion with Jesus (Noah Centineo). He’s still adamant that he wants to drop out, but when he hears that it is in fact illegal to drop out before the age of 18 in California, reality hits him hard. Not hard enough however, when the option of a proficiency test is given; he pass that, and he will be able to drop out. Either way, Lena insists that if he goes against anything they’ve agreed upon, Stef will arrest him. The seriousness in Lena’s voice startles Stef, as she very rarely sees her wife so stressed out. Can the audience blame Lena though? Between everything else, she’s run down and exhausted, a little tough love is the one thing the Adams Foster family may need right now. Outside, Gabe is hard at work building the tree house when Mason sneaks out and latches onto one of his tools. Jumping into action, Gabe grabs the tool out of the young boy’s hand just in time for a grateful Cortney to witness. Add to this knight in shining armor moment, Gabe comes bearing donuts for young Mason. Is this a start of a beautiful romance? Could be, but if Jesus has anything to say about it, Gabe’s feelings for Ana still have some weight. It’s important to note, that Gabe has really stepped into his own when being a new role model for Jesus, specifically when he encourages Jesus to not follow in his footsteps. What he did was nothing to emulate.
 
Elsewhere, Stef and Mike (Danny Nucci) catch up – there has been a break in Stef’s case and a suspect has been identified from the memory drive footage. More importantly, Mike informs Stef that he proposed to Ana and she said yes. Bravo Teri Polo, in the contrasting reaction; parts happy for her ex-spouse and others concerned as to whether Ana is really marriage material. It’s subtle, and that is the brilliance of Teri Polo bringing Stef’s true feelings to light. Ultimately though, Ana is no lesbian, so Mike is already doing better than he did last time. Touche writers, on a hilariously crafted line. Meanwhile, Aaron and Callie (Maia Mitchell) find themselves attending the protest; a storyline I find so relevant and timely with the current political and social climate. What the Fosters continue to excel at is bringing to the forefront, the reality of life as it is. They don’t sugar coat it or alter it for storytelling purposes, but in fact, use it to drive conversation, inspiration and remind us that within the sometimes-stark climate of reality, there is hope, strength and so much to fight for. Interestingly, Aaron and Callie then find themselves on either side of the debate, with differing opinions on what to do to act.
 
Within the walls of the school and college this week is where all the drama occurs. Starting with the smooth reveal by AJ to Brandon that Mike and Ana are engaged. Hang on, what? AJ is so excited that he doesn’t even break the news gently, but Brandon (David Lambert), noticing how over the moon AJ is, plays along. Elsewhere, Sean — passionate activist — is leading the rally where we see Aaron and Callie watching on. Much to Callie’s surprise, Aaron doesn’t agree with what’s going on. More so, it serves to initiate a heated debate between Sean and Aaron. Callie, standing up for Aaron, ends the conversation quickly before it gets any hotter just in time to answer an unknown call. It’s Kyle, he’s out. Meanwhile, Stef having followed up on a lead, is seen questioning a suspect; he’s not giving anything up, but when given the opportunity to give up the names of the other men involved, he backs down. Back at the house, still riding the positive vibes from his conversation with Gabe, Jesus asks Ana whether she still has feelings for him. Ana is shocked by the question, even more so when Jesus reveals that Gabe still thinks about her. The look on Ana’s face says it all; this admission from Jesus has thrown her off, especially seeing as Mike and her are now engaged. Upstairs, Noah is trying his hand at the gaming thing, unfortunately his lack luster attempt is made worse when the language used by a gaming icon utterly offends him, and understandably.
 
After Ana having failed to share her exciting news, Brandon is the one who tells the twins of her engagement to Mike. Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) is wondering why Ana didn’t mention anything, however Jesus knows exactly why. When he admits to his sister about the conversation he and Ana shared, it all makes sense. Mariana, using all the logic she can, reminds her brother that even if Gabe and Ana were each other’s first love, it doesn’t mean they belong together. On the topic of belonging together, Grace confronts Brandon and insists that it’s time for her to meet Cortney, specifically because she’s living in his backyard. The realization of what this means, is written all across Brandon’s face; a testament to David Lambert and his ability to communicate distinct fear with just his face. And when the moment comes for the two women to meet, during an open mic night that Brandon and Grace are performing in, it’s just as weird as predicted. Thankfully, Cortney came bearing wine used smartly to dull nerves and the definite unresolved tension between the three parties.
 
After visiting Kyle, who Callie reported back as being too afraid to leave the house, Stef pays him a visit. She’s checking in, but also asks whether he’d be okay with wearing a wire to try to gain a confession off Patrick Molloy. He’s nervous, but Stef assures him that he’ll be okay, that she’ll be right there to keep an eye on him. That night, Aaron and Callie are hanging out when their conversation turns to the protest once again. This exchange may have been my favorite of the entire episode; raw, passionate and beautifully crafted. Aaron expresses his concern over the entire situation, and just encourages Callie to be careful, as some people aren’t always as levelheaded as we’d like. Callie takes the opportunity to apologize for what Ximena said earlier, how Aaron wouldn’t know what its like. This is the moment, the writing is as accurate as it comes; Aaron states that sure, people see a privileged white male yet that can be taken away immediately if he’s ever arrested. He continues on to say that he is on Callie’s side, however, when Callie states that Ximena can’t hide that she’s Latina, Aaron is understandably offended. He’s not hiding; but regardless, it is not deceptive of him to choose not to disclose his personal medical info. The conversation hits every pocket, with every side to the story told; Callie has her turn to get defensive when Aaron reminds Callie to be careful how she stands up and fights. Gaining some confidence, Callie stands up to him and responds that she is exercising her right.
 
Leaving soon after, Callie is free to build bridges with Mariana as the sisters finally resolve their issues. Sadly, Lena interrupts the exchange with bad news; her and Stef have decided that it is a “no” for roller derby. Downstairs, Brandon and Cortney arrive home (post Animal Crackers rendition) and share a nice exchange after Grace wrote herself off with the wine. It seems there are still unresolved feelings between Cortney and Brandon, and Grace wasn’t oblivious to them at all. The next day, Jesus surprises Emma at school to apologise again for his behavior. This time, he came bearing a gift – a wooden ring. Jesus made it, and it’s a promise ring; he doesn’t want to have any regrets in life and she is the one. Thankfully, Emma logically responds to Jesus stating that they are only 16 that so much can change in the years to come, not only that, Emma isn’t sure that she wants to be with someone who so willingly would throw education away. The Foster’s continue to champion leading with the heart, but also using logic to wade through the ever-changing waters of life. Cut back to the Adams Foster home, and we watch as Ximena (summoned by Callie) arrives pretty annoyed at Mariana about forging the permission slip. So much so that she demands to speak to her mom’s. If we are to talk about empowerment, this entire monologue, collectively by Ximena and Mariana, personifies it. Trained in recognizing the signs of concussion, Ximena ensures Lena that Derby is so much more than rough and tumbles. She’s witnessed confidence in young girls grow and they feel safer within the world.
 
As the episode comes to a close, Jude and Taylor take all the negative energy from earlier and channel it for the positive. Broadcasting together, as “Girl and Gay Guy”, they are a shining example of what it means to stand up for one’s self. With no room for negativity, Jude and Taylor say no to the haters in the only way they know how, and it pays off. With fellow gamers stating how inspiring they are. Meanwhile, Stef reassured a disappointed Kyle that she is going to get Patrick Molloy, but the young boy doesn’t seem to have any faith left. Back at the house, Jesus arrives home not disappointed but motivated when he informs Lena that he is no longer going to drop out of school. The reason being? Emma won’t marry him if he drops out of school, and just like that Sherri Saum delivers no words but a shocked, yet “did I just hear that correctly?” face that no doubt had the audience in stitches. Talk about hilarious. On a more serious note however, Callie discovers that getting arrested is all part and parcel with protesting; that if in fact you do get arrested, they’ve succeeded in what they set out to do. This evidently doesn’t sit well with Callie, because we all know, she gets arrested and it could mean a plethora of negative consequences. Lastly, speaking of possible negative consequences, Mariana expresses to Brandon how she hopes Jesus didn’t confuse Ana when he revealed that Gabe still has feelings for her. This concern, is quickly quashed when Brandon walks in and interrupts Gabe and Cortney making out. Um, could this episode have any more awkward moments? 
 
Other Key Notes:

  • Brandon introduces Cortney and Grace, it doesn’t go too well but we discover he completely has a type
  • Mike asks Brandon to be his best man
  • Patrick Molloy doesn’t give in to Kyle’s attempt to get the truth
  • Noah and Jude are on the outs when Jude’s gaming lifestyle gets in the way