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‘The Fosters’ Season 3 Episode 15 Review: Love Is a Battlefield In ‘Minor Offenses’

Recap and review of The Fosters – Season 3 Episode 15 – Minor Offenses:

Romance is harder than it looks on The Fosters, as some couples manage to make things work in spite of some major obstacles, while others completely fizzle out. The differences in the romance subplots that work and those that fail lie in communication. “Minor Offenses” is an interesting episode because it shows us how taking the mature approach, and talking out your issues, can lead to better results than keeping everything bottled up inside.

On the successful side of things, there’s Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum). Although Lena is dealing with work-related anxiety when Monty (Annika Marks) bends the rules to help a promising student with her senior project, the real stress is centered on Stef, who’s recovering from her double mastectomy, and a near total loss of feeling below her sternum. On the one hand, Stef isn’t exactly acting any differently, still laying down the law with her kids (such as warning Callie about Justina, and reprimanding Mariana and Jesus for prying into their birth father). On the other hand, the weight of this cancer experience is writ large on Stef’s face. She needs the strength of a united front. And so it’s not a surprise when Stef is upset to find that Lena turns away from her when she changes to go to bed. But here’s the thing: instead of using that for fodder to create another blowout argument between spouses, Lena is honest with Stef. She explains that she didn’t want to make Stef feel uncomfortable, noting that she still feels a certain guilt about her body being intact, whereas Stef had to go through the hardship of surgery. Stef doesn’t judge Lena for feeling the way she does, because she knows it comes from a good place. By communicating, the marriage is made stronger, as Stef reiterates that Lena is her strength. It’s a beautiful, candid moment in a season where such instances aren’t as often as I’d like, honestly. But that’s not all, as communication proves to be the key to success for Callie (Maia Mitchell) and AJ (Tom Williamson), who seal their rekindled relationship with a kiss. Granted, it’s at the sight of cemetery where AJ’s grandmother is buried, so it’s probably not an ideal place to smooch. But at least the kiss comes as a result of AJ being honest with Callie.

Credit: Freeform/Eric McCandless

Credit: Freeform/Eric McCandless

This week, Callie inspires Stef to speak up for Ty in court by arguing that no one is a lost cause. When Stef finally realizes just how badly the system has mistreated Ty, she’s moved to defend him to the judge in his sentencing hearing for the hit-and-run. Not only does she manage to get his charges reduced, her plea gets him an eighteen month sentence. Sure, it’s still over a year in the slammer, but it’s far less than the five year sentence he was looking at before Stef spoke up for him. And so AJ has gratitude to Callie for what she did, even though it was more out of principle than anything else. I had initially figured Callie was speaking up for Ty as a way of making it up to AJ for getting both Hensdale boys arrested. But as it turns out, AJ was never mad at Callie about that. Turns out, the reason he didn’t have her on his visitors list is because he was ashamed. He ran away from people who only ever tried to do right by him. And what did that get him? A stint in juvie. It’s understandable why AJ wouldn’t want Callie to see him that way, particularly since he still carried such a huge torch for her. But Callie doesn’t care about any of that. She knows who AJ is, and cares about him in spite of his past. She kisses him to prove to him that he hasn’t blown it with her, and it’s one of the more endearingly sweet moments of the episode, even while I get the sense this relationship is going to divide a lot of fans, especially the ones who’d rather see Callie with Brandon (David Lambert). The show will likely work its way back to that pairing, but for now, Brandon has a romance of his own brewing.

Brandon is still trying to get Cortney (Denyse Tontz) to go out with him, and so he creates a little work-date for them in the fifteen minutes of break time she gets. However, that all gets interrupted when the father of her child arrives with their kid. The man drops the kid off, leaving Brandon to volunteer to babysit. It’s a moment that shows what a genuinely decent man Brandon is, although it also illustrates how he’s in over his head. Sure, he’s pretty good with Cortney’s kid, even if he does seem exasperated by the end of it. But that was just a few hours. Could Brandon really be the kind of man a single mother needs? Their kiss at the end is certainly sweet, and I really like the chemistry the two share. But there’s just no way I could see this realistically working, considering who Brandon is, and the types of goals he has in his life. That said, I’m definitely up for seeing where this goes, since I really like Cortney (what? I find her charming!). I’m far less interested in watching Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) get courted by the sleazy Nick (Louis Hunter), although that seems to be a relationship that disintegrated due to a total lack of communication. Instead of asking Mariana what she likes, Nick chooses to ask Jesus (Noah Centineo), which leads to Jesus taking the opportunity to get back at Mariana by suggesting a double date at a burger joint (Mariana is a vegetarian, for one; for two, being on a date with her brother and the best friend she’s awkwardly avoiding is a surefire recipe for an unpleasant date). To make matters worse, Nick ignores Mariana’s objections and decides to drag race some jerk at a stoplight, causing cars to veer off the road, and nearly causing another accident. It’s a complete disaster, and it’s a miracle Mariana even speaks to Nick at all after getting out of the car. The only silver lining in any of this is that the impromptu end of the date leads to Mariana making peace with Lexi (Bianca A. Santos).

Credit: Freeform/Eric McCandless

Credit: Freeform/Eric McCandless

But there’s no peace to be made for Jesus and Gabe (Brandon Quinn). After learning that the only reason he was put on the sex offender registry was because Ana’s parents had him put there sixteen years earlier (you know, since Gabe was an 18-year-old dating their 15-year-old daughter), Jesus wants to take back some of the rash things he said to his birth father. But Gabe doesn’t want to hear any of it. “I don’t know what you want from me,” Gabe shouts. “I’m not your father, and I never will be.” Jesus is pretty broken up about it, but…well, Gabe’s question was a good one. What does Jesus want from him? Hell, what does he expect, that Gabe is just going to ignore the court-ordered mandate to avoid him? I get that Jesus is an emotional, impulsive kid, but he’s also depicted as someone with a decent amount of book smarts (at least, if we’re to believe he was making high marks at that private school they shipped him off to). He ought to be thinking more critically than this, no? Honestly, I felt the same way about Callie this week, who’s STILL getting completely snowed by this Justina (Kelli Williams). Even after finding out that Justina is secretly in favor of a bill that would privatize the foster care system, and using her in an emotionally manipulative commercial that she hopes will get that bill passed, Callie still sticks up for Justina, even when it means insulting Rita (Rosie O’Donnell). Suddenly, Callie thinks she knows better about how the bureaucracy of the foster care system works than someone who’s been working inside of it for the better part of 30 years. Granted, this isn’t to say that Callie doesn’t have a valid opinion as someone who suffered in the system herself, but she only knows one facet. So for her to tell Rita that she’s little more than an opponent to reform who’s happy to just keep things the way they are is especially harsh. I kind of hope the show just hurries up and gets to the point where this house of cards with Justina comes tumbling down, because it’s already kind of wearying to see Callie get warned about this woman every week yet refuse to listen. I guess a trip to the White House can make a smart kid overlook anything.

Credit: Freeform/Eric McCandless

Credit: Freeform/Eric McCandless

But even with my distaste for Callie’s side of things this week (well, the AJ plot excluded), I really enjoyed “Minor Offenses”. It showed romances that work (Stef/Lena), romances in bloom (AJ/Callie, Brandon/Cortney), and romances that are pretty much withering on the vine (Mariana/Nick). It’s interesting to see the ways communication factor into how these relationships operate, since exploring personal connections is the sort of thing The Fosters does well.

But what did you think of The Fosters Season 3 Episode 15, “Minor Offenses”? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on The Fosters, read our review of last week’s dramatic episode, “Under Water”!

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