The Fosters – Recap: Pinky Swear
Recap and review of The Fosters – Season 2 Episode 15 – Light of Day:
At the risk of being the world’s most inconsistent recapper, I loved this episode for all the same reasons I didn’t love last week’s episode. Whereas “Mother Nature” felt disjointed and cluttered despite the captive setting, “Light of Day” was equally cluttered, with the ensemble all off doing his or her own thing.
And yet, I thought The Fosters did a great job of illustrating that while these people are a family, and arguably work better together, they’re still compelling individuals in their own right, with issues of their own that demand attention. It’s kind of like the Oscar-nominated movie The Kids Are All Right, where the script was so strong that the movie really could have been about any one member of that family. “Light of Day” is an episode that could have centered on any one of the Fosters, but it ultimately divided its time in somewhat equal increments. It really should have hurt the narrative, but I thought it worked here a whole lot better than it did last week, mostly because each storyline shed some sort of light on what drives each of these characters, moving forward.
For instance, one of the more interesting plots of the episode focuses on Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) confronting Ana (Alexandra Barreto) about her fitness for motherhood, tearfully saying she doesn’t want another little girl to feel like she’s not enough. She goes as far as to tell Ana that she should allow Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) to adopt the child, and it’s a proposal Ana ends up seriously considering — so much so that she actually visits Stef and Lena at the end of the episode to propose the idea to them directly. The story ends on that cliffhanger, but in getting to that point, we get some wonderful moments from Ramirez, who is trying to avoid internalizing her angst over her mother by confronting it directly. On the one hand, she’s right to question the maternal aptitude of a woman who was a criminally unfit mother, and who’s barely a few months sober before becoming pregnant again. But Mariana likely doesn’t know just how hard Ana has been struggling to better herself, at least not in the same way Mike (Danny Nucci) knows. Mike passionately defends Ana to Stef, when she pries into his relationship with the woman for reasons that…well, okay, I get that Stef wants to look out for her children, but it just felt like she was being really invasive for reasons that seemed more personal, as if she was offended by the notion that Mike would associate with Ana at all. It all just felt really uncharacteristic for Stef, since she’s normally a more level-headed character than this. In some ways, Ana asking Stef to adopt her child was a logical direction for the story to take, since Stef’s lack of faith in Ana’s motherhood practically invited this twist in the road, from a narrative perspective.
Similarly, Callie (Maia Mitchell) finds it increasingly difficult to keep Robert (Kerr Smith) at arm’s length, since circumstances in her own life necessitate his involvement. At first, it’s simply that the court is mandating she spend time with him. But later, it’s Callie who’s actively reaching out to Robert. Granted, it’s not out of daughterly warmth or affection that she does this. Rather, it’s because a pair of detectives come sniffing around at Callie’s workplace to question her about the abduction of Daphne’s daughter in the Christmas special. Daphne (Daffany Clark) is finally getting visitation, but it’s not as if the abduction went unnoticed, despite the child being safely returned. So, when it comes time for her to call a parent to come to her rescue, she calls Robert, since she can’t allow Stef and Lena to know what she’s done. And Robert is all too happy to step in and be her father, even if only for this. But it’s likely to end up being a confusing situation for Robert, every bit as much as it is a tough situation for Callie. She and Robert do have shared interests, such as photography, as we discover in their dinner together. But as Callie notes, a few shared interests won’t make them father and daughter. Nor will emotional discussions about Sophia’s personality disorder. But who knows? Maybe this shared hardship will help them forge a relationship together, as they’re in a position to become closer over whatever legal troubles Callie might be facing.
But as some characters grow closer, others grow farther apart. Brandon (David Lambert) might not get to go on the tour with Lou (Ashley Argota) and the rest of the band, since Stef is only letting him go if he stays in a motel at every stop along the way. Naturally, the band can’t afford the $2000 that staying in a motel every night for three weeks is going to cost, especially since they’re just as happy to crash with friends and strangers along the way. The band members basically imply that they’ll go on tour without Brandon if they have to, which brings about some of Brandon’s bitterness, as he essentially says the band wasn’t any good before he joined it. He also claims that they won’t be able to do the songs he wrote unless he’s with them. For her part, Lou admits that the band is certainly better with Brandon in it, but she also tells him that the band existed long before he joined it. The implication here is that it could survive without him, and it’s this implication that seems to compel Brandon to reconsider the offer of a scholarship to Idyllwild Arts Academy. Brandon is basically at a crossroads, with none of the certainty of someone like Mariana, whose relationship with Mat (Jordan Rodrigues) is stronger than ever: after a brief fight compelled by Mariana’s stress over Ana, she recommits to Mat after he tells her he loves her, reciprocating with those three little words.
Jesus (Jake T. Austin), as always, isn’t anywhere near as lucky. He makes a play to get back with Emma (Amanda Leighton), then dials it back when he offends her. Granted, he doesn’t exactly make things better by showing her the Hayley tattoo he’s in the process of getting removed. He does this in an attempt to prove they can still be friends, since he knows showing her the tattoo will prove his recklessness and, thereby, kill any attraction she ever had for him. It seems to work, and Emma agrees to stay on as his tutor, but I can’t help but feel like there’s still a romance here somewhere. But even if there isn’t, I’m glad to have Emma back. She added a certain spark to all of the Jesus storylines, and she was sorely missed during all this Hayley business. But Jesus isn’t the only one with confusing romantic entanglements, as Jude (Hayden Byerly) goes on a double date with Connor (Gavin McIntosh), only for Connor to make a move on him. Well, sort of. Essentially, Connor reaches his pinky out across the armrest and hooks it around Jude’s pinky. Their dates don’t see it, but the two boys are pretty much locked in a pinky swear. Although the implication is that of a connection that runs far deeper than a pinky swear. I’m interested in seeing where this goes, and how the show will handle Jude’s burgeoning sexual identity, since his confusion is as compelling as his struggle to figure out who he really is, and find acceptance for it no matter what that answer ends up being.
“Light of Day” is another characteristically busy episode for The Fosters, but I thought it was very well-done, owing to some strong scripting, and a very able cast. Everyone is searching for answers, and while none appear to be forthcoming, it’s really more about the journey for each of these characters, and the struggles that compel them. All in all, it makes for some excellent TV.