The Fosters Recap S4E13: Cruel and Unusual

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Stef and Lena are dealing with more these days than most couples have to in at least three lifetimes, and understandably so. The latest revelation that one of her sons has cheated on the SATs, ruining his chances to be accepted into Juilliard, has pushed her close to the breaking point.

“Cruel and Unusual” opens with Brandon and Stef in a face-off after Stef learns about Brandon’s academic breach, and she abruptly stands up and digs into the family’s tool bag, emerging with a hammer. As Brandon frantically follows her up the stairs asking what she’s doing, Stef begins to work the hinges off his bedroom door, explaining to the rest of the crew (well, the ones who aren’t in the hospital or juvie), that none of them have earned the right to privacy these days and will have no doors on their bedrooms until they’ve proven they deserve it. Preach Stef!  (My fiancee’s daughter came home from kindergarten last week claiming she has a ‘boyfriend’, and we promptly decided that the removal of bedroom doors is a completely appropriate, feng shui approved method of parenting).

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Not only does Stef make the kids go doorless, she hands Brandon the hammer and directs the kids to remove their own doors like the boss she is. Cue Robert’s always timely and welcome arrival to confront Stef about not informing him of Callie’s arrest and placement in juvenile detention. During a tense disagreement over both of their parenting skills, Robert insists on being kept in the loop and claims he has a better lawyer for Callie to use. Stef brushes Robert off, because who’s really the parent here?

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Callie is still facing the pressure we got a glimpse of last week by one of the guards, who is determined to recruit her for his drug-infused teen parties he throws at night. During recreational time outside, another inmate approaches Callie and aggressively directs her to stay away from her man Joey, the same guard who had approached Callie about the parties. It’s becoming pretty clear that as far as juvie goes, Callie is going to be damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

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Next, we bounce over to A.J., who is begging his foster father to get him on the list to visit Callie in juvenile detention. Meanwhile, Mike brushes off the request and sits down to dinner and asks Ana and Isabella to move in with him and A.J. so they can be one big happy family.

Later on when Mike and Stef are chatting outside, Stef reminds him that Ana has a criminal record, which might be a blemish that CPS won’t be willing to ignore if she is living in the same house as someone who is being fostered.  Mike tackles this issue head on by expressing his love to A.J. and telling him that he would like to legally adopt A.J. as his son. This would have been a tearjerker of a sweet family moment if the looming black cloud of ulterior motive was hanging right over top, making us all wonder if this adoption is completely genuine, or a backdoor method of sidestepping potential speed bumps in his plan to bring Ana and Isabella into their home. Can’t anyone around here to something just out of the goodness of their heart?

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Why yes, thank you for asking, Stef and Lena the super moms can! Mom and Mama continue to fight their uphill battle on their rotation to put out fire after fire, arriving at the hospital to have a consultation with Jesus’s doctor and chat with him for the first time since he awoke. The doctor explains to Stef and Lena that traumatic brain injury can manifest itself in many forms, and that it is still possible for Jesus to make a significant recovery. He emphasizes the importance of positivity is when around Jesus, and how even if they seem small, every victory needs to be celebrated.

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When Stef and Lena finally get to be with Jesus, they realize the seriousness of his condition. Jesus can barely pronounce his own name, and has difficulty distinguishing various objects, such as calling a hammer a screwdriver. When Lena asks when Jesus can be brought home, his doctor explains the Jesus will need 24-hour care and proposes his admittance into an inpatient rehabilitation program the hospital has. That’s going to be a bitter and expensive pill for the family to swallow.

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Just because the rest of the Fosters aren’t in the middle of a legal or medical crisis, doesn’t mean chaos isn’t surrounding them too. Apparently sabotaging his own shot at a prestigious school isn’t enough to Brandon to focus on, so he feels motivated to stick his nose into his sister’s business, asking Mat if there’s a chance Mariana could be pregnant since he saw Emma buying a pregnancy test and handing Mariana a bag from the pharmacy. Perplexed, Mat insists that the couple used a condom, so if Marian is pregnant, it definitely isn’t his baby. Hey Brandon, mind your own business, please and thank you.

Lena also unexpectedly shows up at school to gather some paperwork to do from the hospital while with Jesus. Her boss stops in to ask about a budget report that Lena forgot to complete on time, then offers the option of Lena taking a leave of absence from work to focus on caring for her family. Although gracious for the offer, Lena declines, explaining she and Stef need both incomes to keep up with the fees surrounding all of the issues they have at the moment.

While at the office, Lena looks out the window and sees Noah all snuggle with Jude. Lena watches Noah hand Jude an envelope, which she assumes is more pot, so she uses Jude’s code to break into his locker after he leaves to investigate the envelope, which turns out to contain a poem from Noah. After a brief discussion with Lena about allowing Jude to hold on to something that he cares about, they give Jude permission to continue seeing Noah again, but only if he promises not to smoke pot with him anymore. This decision sounds like it’s going to go really well.

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Callie, who can never catch a break, lands herself in a world of trouble during her brief stint in juvie. After witnessing the same inmate who threatened her not to move in on her hunky, drug dealing guard become violently ill after presumably taking drugs with him the night before, Callie calls for help. The guards rush the inmate to the emergency room and interrogate Callie over who provided the drugs, but Callie knows better and keeps her lips sealed. However, Joey doesn’t take too kindly of Callie’s decision making and crashes her mop bucket through a window, claiming Callie tried to throw it at him, which causes the guards to toss her into solitary. This altercation is really going to improve her case in court, right?

Speaking of, Callie’s public defender explains to Callie and Stef that if she pleads guilty to manslaughter and vehicular assault, Callie will stay in juvenile detention until she’s 18 and will have a clean record when she gets out. If she decides to fight instead, Callie runs the risk of being tried as an adult and possibly going to prison for at least five years, spending the rest of her life as a convicted felon. At a loss over what she should do, Callie asks her father for advice when he comes to visit her, love letter from A.J. in tow. When Callie asks how she should handle her fitness hearing, Robert is visibly angry, unaware that the possibility existed that Callie could be tried as an adult.

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Meanwhile, Mariana goes against Stef’s wishes, as usual, and visits Jesus to see how he’s feeling. Shocked by the seriousness of his condition, Mariana starts crying, only to be busted by the badass blonde Mom. Stef explains to Mariana that 1) Jesus has a long road ahead of him, and she will only make it harder by crying in his face instead of being supportive, and 2) For the love of god will one single child start listening when their mother gives them an instruction? Teenagers. Mariana moves on to more teen-like drama and is confronted by Mat over whether she had sex with Nick or not. After vehemently denying it, Mariana resigns to Mat’s decision to break up with her as he comes to terms that she’ll never be able to earn his trust back. Mariana storms into Brandon, telling him that she was in fact buying tampons and not a pregnancy test, which leaves them both to wonder who Emma was buying a pregnancy test for?

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Callie is released from solitary to sit down with her public defender, both moms, her father, and his big shot lawyer. So. Many. Adults. Despite what both of her moms say, Callie sides with her father, insisting she refuses to go back to juvenile detention, and we the people know it’s not just because she’s being stubborn, her safety is on the line with guard Joey drug dealer breathing down her neck all the time. So, unfortunately the dudebros win this round. Cut to Callie’s fitness hearing, and all of her friends and family are there to support her. The prosecuting attorney brings up Callie’s past, and of course, mentions the altercation with Sir Lies-a-Lot Joey, which is likely the final nail in Callie’s juvenile coffin. The judge decides that juvenile detention has failed to help Callie grow and learn how to not be a criminal, finding it necessary to have her tried in adult court, because that makes sense. ‘Merica.

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The only plus side to the ruling is that Callie gets out on bail thanks to her bio dad and gets to spend the night at home, canoodling with A.J. Lena and Stef also have a tender moment both before and after the visit the rehabilitation center for Jesus. It turns out that the idea of Jesus being away from home and his family is a dealbreaker, so Lena decides to sacrifices her career and income and take Monte up on that leave of absence offer to stay home and care for Jesus. As the family is all celebrating Jesus’s return home, the joyful presentation of pepperoni pizza is met with total catastrophe when Jesus suddenly decides that he hates pepperoni and throws his plate on the floor.

We end with a look of both resignation and exhaustion on Lena’s face. Stef and Lena seem strong and solid together now, but here’s to hoping stress and resentment over all of these trials doesn’t drive a wedge between their love for one another. Jesus’s at home care and Lena’s struggle and paused career is bound to lead to some tense moments in the Foster household.

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