Back at the zoo/museum/outdoor play space, Cole is getting hassled for wanting to use the men’s bathroom. A teacher tells him he has to use the women’s bathroom. A guard grabs him and Cole shoves back. Another kid calls him a “freak” and the girls come to Cole’s defense before Rita jumps in and breaks the fight up. Cole has a hard edge and is quick to fight back but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch people refuse to see him for who he is.
Stef and Huckabee are talking to a kid who is getting sent back to juvie for the fourth time. Huckster says kids in the system are a lost cause, especially the older they get. Stef has a lot of feelings on the subject but refrains from saying anything other than kids just want to know that they are loved. Huckles says, the trouble is that no one does love these kids. You sir, are wrong.
Back in Timothy’s class in hair care for the modern mullet, they are chatting about Gatsby while Mariana and Kelsey trade harsh whispers about Chase. Kelsey is ready to bounce on over to Captain Underoos but Timothy tells her she’s got detention. Mariana, however, is free to go romance Zac Efron.
In the wrestling room, Jesus is watching a scrawny kid get his ass kicked by a kid 30 pounds heavier. Emma says wrestling up in good practice and they get shushed by a Karofsky type. Next up is Jesus versus Karofsky and the match is about as even as if Kurt wrestled Karofsky. Emma cheers for Jesus and sounds a little like Rach at the soccer match before Luce teaches her how to yell. The coach congratulates Jesus for “holding his own.” Too many inappropriate jokes!
Timothy runs into Lena and starts with “I don’t want you to worry” so I am going to tell you about this police shooting that I am sure didn’t involve your wife. Lena tries not to look worried. Timmy, having you been hanging out at the Byron Montgomery school for jerky teachers? Lena tries to call Stef again but she still isn’t answering.
Mike calls Brandon over to help with the car he still hasn’t fixed. Brandon starts mouthing off about Mike and his drinking. He dredges up Mike’s past sins, which are numerous, and Mike apologizes. Brandon isn’t wrong to be mad at his dad for drinking or being an absent parent because of it but lashing out at Mike now doesn’t change the fact that Brandon is making some truly terrible choices.
Zach has fixed the sewing machine and is pleased to show off his mechanical prowess to Mariana. She isn’t exactly effusive with her praise because she’s preoccupied by thoughts of Chase and Kelsey. Zach says that Kelsey does none of the work but takes all the credit for what Mariana does. He tells her that she’s not invisible. Zach you are Ducky reincarnated. Maybe he’ll do a nice rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness” later in the season with Annie Potts. Chase wanders over looking for Kelsey (or really any warm body with boobs) and Mariana says she can take Kelsey’s place if he’s still interested. Mariana, Cooper here would shag an open wound.
In the wrestling room, Emma tells Jesus he did well and gives him an organic, dye-free cookie. Either she really likes him or she’s super gay. She asks if he’d like to run with her and he says “whoa, I’ve got a girlfriend” she rolls her eyes and makes a crack about his giant ego before it’s time for a little friendly, and illegal, hazing to welcome him to the team. Mostly the “tunnel of love” (seriously, how much innuendo can there be on the wrestling mat?) involves friendly pats on the back but Karofsky hauls off and punches Jesus in the face.
Lena is worrying in her office and jumps when the phone rings. Stef apologizes for leaving her phone at the station. She asks if anything is wrong and Lena covers by saying she just wanted to know if pasta was alright for dinner. She doesn’t say I was wrong about being OK with your job. I was wrong, I know I promised but I was wrong. I worry and I’m embarrassed for worrying but I just love you too much to think about living without you (not to mention dealing with our zoo of teenagers on my own).
Into this swirl of emotions walks Jesus with a black eye. Lena loses it, storms into the wrestling room and screams at the coach. He’s like “oh, that’s funny, what’s a little ‘initiation’ among friends?” Oh dude, you don’t talk to Tami Taylor or Lena Adams Foster like that. She tells him it ends or he loses his job. Sorry about never making friends again, Jesus, but your mom is right.
Chase and Mariana are running lines and blurring the lines between where Chase and Mariana end and Jim and Laura pick up. Things get blurry enough that they start making out while waiting in the wings are Zach and Kelsey. By Mona, I think Kelsey’s going to make Mariana pay for this!
Back at Girls United, everyone seems pretty well united against Cole for having the audacity to be himself. Everyone is pissed they had to leave the field trip early because Cole wanted to go pee. Callie stands up for Cole and points out that everyone wants to Cole to act in whatever way makes their own lives better, not how he wants to act. Oh hey there, awesome Callie, we missed you.
Lena brings Jesus home with ice on his face only to get scolded by Mariana who informs her it’s not easy when Mena Lena the Vice Principal is your mom. Jesus screams like a baby when he sees ants in his bedroom. Lena take a look and finds the Chamber of Secretly Stashed Food under Jude’s bed.
Stef proves she and Brandon share DNA by showing up at Girls United. Rosie O’Donnell and Teri Polo are delicious to watch in this scene. She meets Rita and tries to explain what she’s doing there. Rita tells Stef that she can’t just drop by, she has to wait for family days when Callie has her privileges. You can see Stef fighting against herself. She knows she’s breaking the rules but she just wants Callie to know they care. Stef, love, you are such a giant softie under all that gruff exterior. Callie watches Stef from her window as she gets back in her car.
Lena asks Jude what he was thinking, there’s plenty of food in the house and he can eat whatever he wants. He explains that not all foster homes are like that and Lena asks if he’s worried he’s going to go somewhere else. He says when Callie acts out, that’s what happens. Lena sinks into her chair and unleashes a pep talk for both of them. She understands what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under her. She felt that way when Stef was shot, but she says she won’t let that happen to Jude. She can’t promise smooth sailing with no surprises but he’s not going anywhere and you can’t live your life dictated by fear.
God I loved this scene. I don’t have teenagers (yet) but I do know that having kids has probably taught me more about myself than anything. Talking to them about their thoughts and feelings sometimes makes sense of my own in the most magical way. So Lena telling Jude not to be scared of the unpredictable, and to try to trust even though the rug has been pulled out from under him before, felt so real to me. My daughter, my five-year-old, is me all over again. Watching her grow up and be difficult and funny and smart and utterly infuriating makes me understand the way other people see me, because I am all those things too (but especially the difficult part). If you’re any good at being a parent you can open yourself up to those learning moments, those times when history or circumstance slaps you across the face and you think “holy shit, that’s why people treat me that way!” And if you’re really good you can take that experience, and you can share it and help your kid navigate better, to live a little better, and to avoid those rough places that snagged and left a scar on you as a kid.
Meanwhile, Kelsey is unburdening her soul of its secrets of stolen hats and drugs dealt on school grounds to Principal Sanchez. Mariana you are totes in trouble. Gabi and Daphne are waiting outside the bathroom when Cole comes out. He thanks Callie for what she said in group. Callie joins Daphne who is happy to be leaving to go live on her own. She says you only have to be 16 and you don’t have to be emancipated to do it. Daphne has a plan to get her diploma and to take parenting classes so she can get her two-year-old daughter back. She doesn’t want her little girl to grow up in foster care the way she did. Callie sneaks out of line to go get her phone from the hole in the wall but Cole catches her and takes the phone.
Mariana is dancing and ironing in her room while wearing the stolen fedora when Stef and Lena walk in. You’re in a heap of trouble, young lady. She’s done with the play and with school while she’s suspended. So much before ovaries before brovaries, right?
Next door, Mike talks to Brandon and apologizes for his drinking. He tells Brandon he’s sorry and that he had hoped Brandon was too young to remember it. He says he’s sorry about the restraining order and that he understands how hard it is to be kept for the person you love. He says Brandon is the love of his life and not seeing him everyday is really hard. Perhaps he isn’t inept at fixing cars, maybe he just likes seeing his kid. Then, he tops off this touching moment by doing something stupid. He hands Brandon a wad of cash for his piano lessons. Brandon takes it and picks up the phone to cancel the lessons.
Stef and Lena climb in and talk about their days without actually talking about their days. It’s all surface stuff with no mention of Lena’s worry about Stef being back at work and not even a whisper about Stef going to Girls United because she’s just not tough enough for “tough love.” They go to sleep without a good night kiss, without hands held across the center of the bed, without even being on the same level. The day sucked all the zing out of Lena being turned on by Stef’s uniform and Stef leaving with a sly wink. Worst commercial ever for a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed ever.
Meanwhile, Brandon is texting Callie but who is texting back? Oh it’s Cole.