The Fosters (ABC Family) Review “House and Home”

The Fosters Episode 12 House and Home (3)

It seems strange to call group homes, homes. With their structured rules, assigned rooms and mandatory meetings, they’re not a home in the traditional sense, but for some kids they are as close to a home as they will ever get until they are expelled from the system. After her act of defiance last week, Callie is sent to a home for girls, only because Lena and Stef work hard to get her into a place they feel will give her the help she needs. After Brandon comes clean about the kiss, Lena and Stef go to court to speak on Callie’s behalf, but they also tell the judge they are not yet prepared to take Callie back into their home.

The entire situation is heartbreaking, but Lena and Stef’s point of view is understandable. As long as Brandon and Callie insist on pursuing a relationship they can’t adopt her. Likewise, until Callie realizes her addiction is to pressing the self destruct button anytime things become complicated she can’t go home. However, seeing the group home through Callie’s eyes, and hearing her lament she “doesn’t belong there,” didn’t make the situation any easier to accept.

The home itself is run by a woman named Rita, played with great confidence by Rosie O’Donnell, and the girls and transgender teen Cole, who populate the home were all instantly compelling. In an interesting twist, Daphne, a character last seen in the pilot attacking Callie during her stay in juvie is among the home’s residents. Because getting privileges depends on all of the residents working together, Daphne tries to make peace will Callie, but Callie isn’t so eager to forgive and forget. Her anger only intensifies after she shares the reason she ran away from home and left Jude behind during group. The other residents in the home are all there for serious offenses: drug addiction, violence, gang related incidents. One girl who was suffering from a serious drug problem calls Callie out for leaving her brother for what she perceives as a selfish reason. After being warned not to lay hands on her housemates, Callie leaves the room and walks in on Cole wrapping his chest. Cole pushes Callie and Callie shoves him back,and in the process he falls through the glass shower.

While neither Callie nor Cole are willing to reveal what actually happened, Rita is smart enough to know their description of the events is wrong and so she assigns them to share a room. With so few transgender people represented on television, it’s refreshing to see The Fosters introduce the character of Cole– who is assigned to a girls home, despite his desire to be placed in an LGBT home. Putting Cole and Callie together also opens up an intriguing new avenue of storytelling, as they both identify as outsiders within the group and are both newcomers to the home.

Elsewhere, Brandon continued to insist he is in love with Callie and listen to emo music because no one understands, man. His teen angst is hard to emphasize with given what it’s costing the family. In a standout scene, Jesus and Mariana confront him about his behavior. Like Jude, Mariana compares him to Liam, and Brandon lashes out at Mariana because she has never been in love. Oh, Brandon. If that kid was over the age of seventeen he would realize he sounds like a complete idiot. Still, he comes through for Callie in the end, showing up on visitor’s day even though her privileges were revoked and he was told to stay away. The two hug, a small act of intimacy that Callie needs, but will no doubt pay for later.

Mariana, who is continuously being told by her peers and siblings that she is somehow lesser for not having had a boyfriend yet, is also putting herself on the path of heartbreak. Her infatuation with a hot, but dim senior who asks her to help out with the play is not going to end well, especially with her “friend” back from rehab and slipping items into Mariana’s bag while they’re out buying props for the play together. On the other end of the spectrum is Jesus, who spent much of the first half of the season in a relationship. After a small heart episode due to his ADHD medication while playing basketball with Mike, Jesus decides to take Mike’s advice and join a wrestling team in hopes of getting his aggression and energy out without having to continue with his medication. This is a subject I’m looking forward to the show tackling, so hopefully it won’t devolve into another teen love story– which is a real possibility given how quickly Jesus is taken down by his female team member.

The most painful aspect of the story, outside of Callie’s situation, is watching Jude try to deal with his sister’s absence. Seeing him in his suit and tie, eager to visit Callie, only to be told he can’t go was the sort of “give me all the tissues” moments that The Fosters specializes in. As badly as I want Callie back home, it’s hard to deny the storyline is offering up some meaty material for the series to explore.

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