‘The Fosters’ Season 2 Review “Play”

The Fosters Season 2 Episode 3 Play (7)

I am so accustomed to The Fosters hitting the dramatic notes full force in every episode, I was thrown by the relatively light outing, “Play.” The dramatic portion of the episode was carried out by Lena and Stef, which was a relief in many ways. The kids are all terrific characters, but they have been in the spotlight more often than their parents have lately. Seeing Lena and Stef address the distance between them while on their babymoon was a nice reminder that they are a couple, not just the moms. Getting Stef and Lena away from the kids for a night allowed them to talk to each as adults, work on their communication skills and just be silly and sexy together.

Meanwhile, the kids did what all television teens do when their parents leave them alone and threw a party. The role reversal of having Callie be the responsible one, freaking out about the house getting trashed while their moms were away was a charming note for Maia Mitchell to play. She spent all of season one fearful of allowing herself to be a part of a family, and now here she is a few months later being the responsible big sister who has Wyatt come over to play bouncer. We even got to see Callie and Brandon begin to act like siblings– this arrangement is not likely to be permanent, but for the moment, Callie is encouraging Brandon’s budding relationship with Lou, as well as his new interest in being a “rock” musician (I use quotation marks because they are very obviously a pop band, despite Lou’s insistence to the contrary).

The strongest part of “Play” was Jude’s continued exploration of his identity. He is a remarkably self-assured kid. When Connor tries to label Jude as gay, while struggling to get the word out, Jude is quick to question why he should have to be labelled at all. Of course, Connor does not have that level of trust in himself yet. The only thing he knows is that he does not want Jude to disappear from his life and he proves this by sneaking out of his dad’s house to go to the party at Jude’s house. While there, the boys, along with two of their female classmates, played a game of new age spin the bottle (there is an app for that), and Connor and Jude came close to kissing.

The Fosters is handling the story between Jude and Connor gracefully. The way they are both trying to figure out how they feel and what they want is lovely and well drawn. Having Connor’s father’s homophobia come between their friendship and inform Connor’s thinking is a believable, albeit heartbreaking path to take.

Elsewhere, Mariana found herself babysitting her fellow dance members as they made her feel like an outsider once more. It is a bit disappointing Mariana appears to be finding affirmation from another love interest rather than a female friend (there has been a void in her life since Lexi left), but at the same time her desire to fit in also speaks to the loneliness she likely feels after losing all of her close girlfriends. Having the team continually leave her out and feed her lines about their supposed code is frustrating. It is also extremely high school, so it is not surprising that the situation is uncomfortable.

Weirdly, the party never took a dark turn. Each of the kids had moments of small drama (Jesus hooked up with a member of the dance team, Brandon sang the song he wrote for Callie in front of everyone), but “Play” was an upbeat respite from all of the craziness the Fosters normally have to deal with. As much as I enjoyed the calm, I suspect this is the last light episode we will have for some time.

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