The Fosters – Recap: Callie’s Got a Secret
Recap and review of The Fosters – Season 2 Episode 16 – If You Only Knew:
Personal responsibility is often a big theme on The Fosters, and “If You Only Knew” doesn’t really deviate from that narrative path. Here, culpability is the name of the game, as each of the characters are forced to look inward at the effect their actions have on their own lives, and on the lives of those they love.
Front and center is Callie (Maia Mitchell) continuing to face legal problems related to helping Daphne (Daffany Clark) abduct her daughter back in the holiday special. It’s the most compelling story of the episode, largely because it forces Callie to make a decision on how far she’ll need to go in order to protect those she loves. On the one hand, the cops essentially have no case other than the testimony of the store clerk who sold Callie that toy. On the other hand, it’s still a big enough threat that Robert (Kerr Smith) cautions Callie not to tell anyone about the legal problems, especially Stef (Teri Polo), who could jeopardize her career if she doesn’t come forward with what she knows. Granted, you could probably argue that it’s getting to be old hat, as Callie is constantly trapped in a precarious position between crime and punishment. Even when she’s being a good person, she can’t help attracting the interest of the law. Of course, considering she helped abduct a little girl, the detectives are right to investigate her, despite the extenuating circumstances. That said, I hate it when Callie finds herself in hot water with the law, so I find myself hoping this story will pass relatively quickly, even if this week’s episode suggests that’s far from likely.
The reason I feel this is a story that will have a long shelf life is because of the ending to the episode. After being talked into coming clean by drop-in worker Rafael (Alberto De Diego), Callie comes forward to Stef and Lena (Sherri Saum) to…tell them she thinks she ought to live with Robert?! I get what she’s doing, naturally, although it does feel a bit like a retread of the last time Callie did something to protect her family. Running off with Robert isn’t that much different from running off with Wyatt, really. The fact of the matter is simply that Callie’s solution for keeping people safe is to remove herself from the equation, failing to recognize that having a family means having a place to turn when these sorts of things happen. This isn’t to say she doesn’t have a damn good reason for trying to hide the lie by moving in with Robert. But it still feels like deflecting. She’s taking personal responsibility for her actions, and is acting in the way she feels is best for those she loves. In essence, she’s allowing herself to hurt simply so that they can remain safe. It’s similar to the situation Daphne is dealing with, as her daughter’s foster mother storms into her visitation session, demanding that Daphne let the girl go. “If you really love her,” the woman says, “you’ll let her go.” In this case, personal responsibility means putting someone else’s needs before your own. It’s unfair for Daphne to have her child taken away from her, but from the foster mother’s perspective, what kind of life could Daphne provide for the girl? The child is not only attached to her foster mother, she’s also suffering emotional turmoil over this shared visitation situation. Sure, maybe things could change and Daphne could be a great mother. But the narrative seems to suggest that the best thing Daphne could do is let go, since taking personal responsibility can often be an act of letting go of one’s desire to remain unhurt.
By the same token, Brandon (David Lambert) wants Lou (Ashley Argota) to start taking responsibility for her actions. During a show at an empty warehouse, she gets high and ends up forgetting a lyric to one of the songs. She then gets angry after Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) calls the cops and gets the show broken up by the police. Of course, Mariana has a perfectly good reason for doing so, as she discovers an unconscious girl in a storage room. Brandon recognizes that Mariana was doing the right thing, and in chewing out Lou, he forces her to realize it too. But this isn’t even about the show getting broken up and their pay getting voided as a result. This is about Brandon not wanting to see Lou become a victim like that unconscious girl. It’s a strong note on which to build Brandon and Lou’s relationship, whether Brandon ends up going on the tour with Lou or not (and ultimately, I don’t expect he will. I completely expect things to end between them in a matter of weeks now, although I can’t say why other than a gut feeling). Meanwhile, Mat (Jordan Rodrigues) lets Mariana know that he doesn’t want her to come on tour with them. In his mind, rejecting Mariana’s proposal to come on tour is a form of responsibility: he loves Mariana, but when he’s around her, he can’t concentrate on his music. Mat recognizes he’d spend the whole night looking for Mariana in the crowd, and letting his mind wander. While Mariana is devastated, she understands. In both Mariana and Brandon’s storylines, the narrative takes a refreshingly mature approach to teenage relationships, making this one of the more engaging episodes for the siblings (at least in the romance department).
Lastly, we have Stef and Lena doing their best to counteract “Lesbian Bed Death,” as they plan a special night with one another that will culminate in sex — their first time together in ages. It’s a very frank, sexual storyline in a manner I find encouraging for a mainstream family drama. On network TV, this sort of story likely would have been played for laughs, and while there is certainly comedy to be found here (“Last one to bed is the bottom!”), the sex subplot is merely a delivery mechanism for a deeper examination of Stef and Lena’s marriage. Stef sees their sexual troubles as symptomatic of the usual settling of a marriage. It isn’t that they don’t still feel passionate about each other, it’s simply that a marriage can’t always be exciting. Unfortunately for Stef, she inadvertently offends Lena, who says she still gets excited whenever Stef comes through the door at night. Stef apologizes for everything, and they even discuss the possibility of adopting Ana’s baby, since it might be their last chance at a baby of their own. But despite persuasion attempts by Jesus (Jake T. Austin), on behalf of Mariana, Stef and Lena decide against it. Not only do Stef and Lena enjoy what little free time they have, they might not be able to put food on the table for a sixth kid. Jesus tries to suggest they might have one less mouth to feed pretty soon, as he’s just received a scholarship offer for an elite boys school. And with Callie going to live with Robert, it actually does seem like a possibility for Stef and Lena to take in the child. But while I’m sure they wanted a baby, they probably didn’t want to have to lose two of their kids to get one. Then again, taking responsibility for a child’s well-being is something at which Stef and Lena excel.
“If You Only Knew” is a terrific episode for The Fosters. If I had one complaint, it’s that we had no follow-up on Jude/Connor. And after last week’s episode, that’s a particularly cruel omission. But what the episode offered in exchange made for compelling TV, so I ultimately found myself satisfied with what the show offered up here, even if I wish Callie didn’t find herself feeling like she had to run away yet again.