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'The Fosters' fan recap: System malfunction

Season 2 | Episode 13 | “Stay” | Aired Jan 26, 2015

The Fosters has never shied away from acknowledging the problems inherent in the foster care system. But perhaps those problems have never been addressed so plainly as they were on the show’s latest outing, “Stay.”

Callie Jacobs is angry. The system has failed her time and time again. She’s had to endure terrible foster homes, stints in jail, being ripped away from her brother, and now, just when she thought she had found a way out of that system and into a stable, loving home, she’s pulled back in by way of Robert Quinn.

To add insult to injury, Callie is informed that some of her credits from previous schools won’t transfer over and she may not be able to graduate. The girl can’t catch a break. Callie is frustrated. Stef is frustrated. We’re all frustrated.

More problems arise for Callie when she gets an urgent call in the middle of the night from her Girls United pal Kiara (Cherinda Kincherlow). Kiara’s foster parents have let a drug addict into the house, and he’s holding them at knife point. Callie quickly gets Stef up to speed, and Stef, backed by the San Diego police, diffuses the situation and gets Kiara to safety for the evening.

Later, Lena and Stef have a powwow with Kiara’s case worker, who pretty much tells them what they already know: No, Kiara’s placement isn’t ideal, but there’s nowhere else to put her—Kiara has to go back. Stef calls out the case worker, and Child Protective Services in general, for approving unqualified foster parents solely for monetary incentives. Sadly, there’s nothing to be done—it’s just how the system works.

Well, now Stef is angry, too.

Stef makes it her mission to get Kiara’s foster house shut down. First, she and Mike pay the couple a visit at home to get them to admit they’re dealing drugs; it backfires and Stef’s anger almost gets her and Mike in trouble. When Stef regroups, she realizes she can attack the couple from a different angle: their landlord. Stef and Mike alert him to some of the illegal activities going on in his tenant’s house and wave their shiny badges around for good measure. This seems to do the trick: The couple is evicted and the foster house shut down. Stef and Mike! Partners (please say yes, Lena!) getting things done!

Callie (Maia Mitchell) takes on the foster care system on ABC Family

While Stef is fighting the system with the tools she has at her disposal, Callie is attempting the same. To prevent Kiara from simply taking off, Callie brings her to the center where she attends group therapy, a place that also provides legal aid and counseling for foster kids. Unfortunately, Callie’s plan to get Kiara removed from an unsafe home is stopped before it can even really begin. Kiara’s paperwork will take weeks; she’ll be placed on a waiting list, basically. There is nothing they can do for her in the immediate future.

So, yeah, we’re all still frustrated. If Callie were a cartoon character, her beautiful little head would completely explode.

Speaking of beautiful little heads, Wyatt’s back! He’s still nursing a little heartache, but does offer Callie a way out when she downloads all of her recent troubles: run away with him (again).

We all know in our heart of hearts that Callie won’t actually run, but she does indeed show up to see Wyatt before he drags that glorious head of hair out of town for good. She has two parting gifts for him: first, the drawing from his parent’s house he had given to her, and second, an empowered speech about only having two choices in life—give up or keep trying. Callie isn’t one to give up and neither should Wyatt; he should stay and finish school.

Perhaps Callie should have given Kiara that same speech. It turns out both Stef’s and Callie’s attempts to help Kiara were all for naught: Kiara decides it would be better to take her chances as a homeless runaway than in another foster home—she’s gone.

The episode, thankfully, doesn’t end on that sad note. Callie meant it when she said she would keep trying. She takes her anger and frustration and decides to do something good with it—volunteer at the center in order to make up her school credits and graduate on time.

The Callie we met in episode one never would have made such a positive choice. She’s growing up, y’all!

In other family news:

  • The Brothers Adams-Foster are politely forced to attend an Alateen meeting by their mothers because, let’s face it, they could use it. The two make a quick detour for pizza and bonding: Jesus reveals his hellacious “Hayley” tattoo to B, who does what older brothers do best—first makes fun of him (as B should) and then assuages Jesus’ fears by admitting he’s done worse (but stays mum on the fact that “worse” = sex with his father’s crazytown girlfriend—NEVER FORGET.).
  • Turns out Mariana is top of her class in math, but she worries that if Mat finds out how smart she is, he’ll get scared off. Luckily, Lena intervenes and reminds Mariana that she should never have to dumb herself down for a guy. (DO YOU HEAR THAT, TEENAGE GIRLS?!) Mariana finally comes clean to Mat, who is totally cool with it.
  • Rejoice! Teacher Timothy has returned and is making amends with Lena. Looks like the renewed friendship may be short-lived, though: The principal (seriously, we’re still going with Monty??) wants Lena to fire Timothy if he doesn’t cooperate with the administration and make changes to his curriculum.
  • Oh, and Hayley is totally going to tell Mariana about Ana because Hayley is undoubtedly THE WORST.

Looks like next week we’re going camping (or glamping!) with the whole fam! I, for one, am hoping for a little lightheartedness after two intensely sad episodes. Who’s with me?

The Fosters airs Mondays at 8/7C on ABC Family.