‘The Fosters’ Season 2 Review “Things Unknown”

The Fosters Season 2 Episode 1 Things Unknown (4)

The Fosters returned last Monday with a quiet, but vital catch up episode. We skipped a few months forward in time to the day Jude received his birth certificate to find every member of the family facing new challenges. After the beating Brandon received his future as a pianist was left up in the air. The subtle transformation of Brandon from the responsible, eldest member of the family into a kid spiraling out of control appears to be just beginning. Brandon can longer feel the keys with his damaged hand and his relationship with Mike is strained by the secret he and Dani are keeping about the night they spent together. With his entire life plan suddenly falling apart, how is Brandon supposed to deal with the possibility that he may never play the piano as proficiently as he once did? The Fosters has created an opportunity to tell a terrific and painful story with Brandon this season. Seeing how far he falls before he can get back up again will not be easy, but it will be rewarding.

The other member of the family who had the most impressive new storyline was Mariana. Since we last saw Mariana she has joined the school’s dance team and dyed her hair blonde. At first glance, her actions appear to be typical teen girl fodder, but as usual with this series there was more at play. I cannot recall another series that has addressed issues of race as authentically as The Fosters, at least not in recent memory. Mariana is trying desperately to prove she is worthy of her spot on the team and is not just filling a quota as the token Hispanic girl. Thanks to overhearing the other girls insist that was the only reason she earned her spot, Mariana is not just working harder, she is also trying to look like her white, blonde-haired teammates in order to better fit in. Seeing Mariana alter her appearance is driving Stef crazy, but Lena gently explained how many years she spent straightening her hair in order to standout less. The moment between Stef and Lena was a completely honest conversation about racial identity and allowing teens to grow in their own way, and it was almost overwhelmingly touching.

Of course, Callie’s struggles continued to be vital to the series. After having her adoption denied on the grounds that her biological father may not have known she was abandoned, she was temporarily removed from the house and forced to stay with a woman who locked her in her room at night. Callie had decided not to pursue her biological father assuming that she could be a part of the family without being an “official” member, but when she was ripped away from them, Callie realized how vital it was to make her place in the home official.

Then we met her dad (played by a silver-haired Kerr Smith) and her half-sister and it was one of those flawless The Fosters‘ moments because Callie’s father walks into her place of work and sees his daughter without her having any idea who he is. It opens up the possibility that she could have had another life, a life where she was loved by a father who took her out for milkshakes– and it made me want to know who that Callie would have been. At the same time, the Callie we have is such an amazing person, built from so much adversity, I cannot imagine her any other way.

“Things Unknown” was a stunning opener to the second season. Check back in the morning for a review of episode two, and in the meantime, please share your thoughts on the premiere below.

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