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'The Fosters' recap: Crime and punishments

Season 2 | Episode 7 | “The Longest Day” | Aired July 28, 2014

When people ask me why an almost-30-year-old (barf) is spending time watching shows on a network primarily catering to teens, I’ll direct them to episodes like “The Longest Day.” What The Fosters is doing, the themes and issues they choose to explore, is rare and revolutionary, and I can’t applaud them enough.

Last week, the Foster clan had to deal with an abortion due to pre-eclampsia. This week, they’re tackling statutory rape and the double standard between teenage boys and girls that exists within that discussion (not to mention alcoholism, guilt after divorce and, most important, trying to remember which side is port side). It wasn’t the biggest episode, in terms of action and pacing; in fact, it was mainly built on scenes with just two characters sharing a dialogue. By TV standards it was fairly quiet, but it was so heartfelt and so well done.

Yes, OK, I’m gushing. I’ve had a lot of pinot noir tonight, sue me. But I have things to say, so let’s dig in.

All of the Foster kids were out of the house for the day, so Lena thought it would be the perfect time for her and Brandon to hold a kind of backward intervention, where B would finally explain the Dani situation to his parents. After some stumbles and Stef, Lena and Mike trying to fill in the blanks, Brandon says the words “we had sex” and everything changes.

brandon

Stef and Mike are outraged and focus their anger and blame on one another. Just as Lena had done when she first heard, Stef immediately reminds Brandon that he’s a minor and what Dani did is illegal. In the eyes of the law, he was raped. Brandon refuses to cooperate; he says he doesn’t want to involve the police and he isn’t a victim. Meanwhile, Mike is in disbelief that Stef would even say such a thing because Mike knows “how 16-year-old boys think.” For Mike, there has to be some other explanation.

Thanks to a visit to Lena’s House of Pep Talks, Stef realizes she’s being extra-hard on Mike, who must be humiliated over this whole thing. Stef still feels the guilt from her and Mike’s divorce in a tremendous way. Mike, too, feels guilty and blames himself and his alcoholism for what has happened with their son. The relationship between Stef and Mike (and Lena) is so complex and nuanced, and Teri Polo and Danny Nucci just get it right every time.

Stef and Mike take a breath and admit to one another that neither was innocent in their failed marriage, and neither is at fault for what happened with Brandon; Dani is to blame. Stef reminds Mike that Mariana is almost Brandon’s age, and if the same situation had occurred with Mariana and some hypothetical teacher, there would be no question that the man should suffer the consequences.

Honest sidebar: This discussion (and the pinot noir) really had me soul-searching. Even when the Brandon and Dani sex happened, I thought it was icky, but I didn’t classify it as rape immediately. Dani is an adult and it was her responsibility; it’s easy to forget B is only 16. Stef is right; if it had been a teenage girl and an older man, it would have been apparent right away. The double standard is so real and this is a story you don’t see on television much. Now, if only we could get a crossover episode where Stef busts into Rosewood and reminds the Pretty Little Liars gang that almost all of their relationships could be considered statutory rape, we’d have ourselves a real good time. Wait a second—IS STEF A?!

Mike and Brandon (another relationship I love for its never-ending layers) have a heart-to-heart that leaves this recapper in tears. Brandon’s guilt over believing he’s ruined his dad’s happiness is endearing, but it’s Mike’s silent worry that he’s failed his son in a laundry list of ways that is truly heartbreaking. In the end, Mike reaffirms what Stef said: Dani is at fault and she needs to be punished. Mike watches as Dani is pulled from her house in handcuffs. Adios, sister!

mike

While Brandon, Stef, Mike and Lena are trapped in a bottle episode from hell, Callie and Jude are off sailing with the Quinns. The Quinns are incredibly warm and welcoming to Jude (was anyone else waiting for Sophia to push him overboard?), just as Callie had hoped. In the end, Callie accepts Robert’s offer to pay for college, and Jude admits to Callie that although he doesn’t like sharing her, he’ll learn to accept it. Everything’s coming up Callie—or is it?

calliesophiasmall

Though it’s a noble thought, Jude may not realize just how much he’ll have to share Callie. After a day at sea with her half-sister, Sophia mentions to her father that maybe Callie could become a permanent part of the Quinn family. Robert seems into it. This can’t end well.

In other family news:

  • Jesus gets manipulated into skipping a team dinner (and an evening with Emma) when Hayley shows up at his door, conveniently crying about her parents’ divorce. Mariana tells him later that the divorce isn’t news; Hayley has known for a while. Are Dani, Hayley and Sophia all members of the same crazy club?
  • Mariana tries to cover up her terrible dance skills with Lena’s position at the school again, but to no avail. After a super-cute run-in with super-cute Mat, she realizes she may have to actually work at being a better dancer and forges a friendship with teammate Tia. I’m now waiting for her lie about her birth parents to blow up in her face.
  • While sailing, Robert Quinn makes a Titanic joke, and I was seriously waiting for Mike (Danny Nucci) to pop up and yell “Bastardo!” A girl can dream.
  • Oh, and that final shot of Stef comforting Brandon in bed as a throwback to the premiere was just perfection.

What do you think, Foster fans: Is this really the last we’ll see of crazy Dani? How long until the other shoe drops on the Callie/Quinn family situation? And we all agree that we need to see a picture of Stef’s Mrs. Brady mullet ASAP, yes?

The Fosters, rated TV-14, airs Mondays at 9/8C on ABC Family.

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