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.

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