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'The Fosters' fan recap: It's not what you think

Season 3 | Episode 17 | “Sixteen” | Aired Mar 7, 2016

There are some episodes of The Fosters that feel like giant steps forward as far as dealing with topical social issues and telling important stories. This week felt like a bit of a step backward in several ways.

After setting the groundwork for an exploration of the abuse of power by a school administrator, The Fosters instead gave us a young girl making up a story in order to avoid dealing with her overbearing parents. There’s an important story in there too, and had the pressures of Sally’s life and the consequences of them been presented differently, it could have been a compelling story in which Lena served as the role model Sally so desperately needs.

Monte’s behavior the last few weeks has been questionable at best, and now, rather than dealing with that, she is going to come out as the wronged party. If Sally made the story up, what excuse is there for the special treatment Monte has been showing her? Why did Monte entertain the crusade against Shakespeare? It feels like The Fosters brought us to the brink of something big, only to tiptoe quietly away from it.

Along those same lines, I’m wondering where this story is going with Gabe. Originally, it seemed as though there was going to be a real conversation about the sex-offender registry and the way that it ruins the lives of people who arguably don’t deserve to be on it. They’ve mostly danced around the topic so far, though. This week, we see just how much power was imbued to Ana’s family as far as Gabe’s placement on this list. Their ability to wield that power in light of blaming Gabe for Ana’s relapse is exceptionally unfair. Gabe may be a really bad guy, and he may be a terrible influence on Ana, but that doesn’t make him a sex offender. The fact that Ana’s parents can choose to have him labeled as one just because they don’t like him highlights a major flaw in the system—a flaw I’d like to see The Fosters tackle head-on.

One question remains: What happened after Mariana left Ana with Gabe? If things did devolve in the way we were led to believe—Gabe offered Ana a drink and then drugs—then he’s got some serious nerve showing up at the house to bring Mariana and Jesus presents. But if that isn’t how Ana’s relapse went down, then what happened?

Meanwhile, one of the strongest stories from the first half of this season is now unraveling, and it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch. Connor and Jude’s friendship evolved in a natural way when Jude needed it badly. Watching it develop into something more was beautiful and inspiring. The decision to move Connor away made their chances of success slim, and now that reality is unfolding. Connor sends Jude (what I presume was) a dick pic, unleashing a ton of fear and insecurity in Jude. Jesus’ suggestion to watch porn only heightens his discomfort, leading him to cancel his plans to go visit Connor. A video chat later between the two boys reveals that the whole incident has Jude wondering if maybe they aren’t that compatible after all. Maybe they only found each other because they were the only two gay kids at school. Connor asks Jude if he wants to break up, which Jude turns back on him. We don’t see the resolution, but it seems likely that they decided to end their relationship. Total bummer.

Fost and Found

  • The Callie and Brandon saga continues, and it’s officially giving me a headache. They try unsuccessfully to avoid being with their new significant others in front of the other, prompting Brandon to come clean with Cortney. She’s bizarrely understanding of the whole situation, and things seems to be moving forward with them. AJ is less understanding.
  • Stef didn’t seem happy to learn that Mariana was helping Gabe get off the list, and it was really nice to see her do something useful with that information. Stef has been dealing with a lot lately, which has led to some flying off the handle. Cool, calm, and collected Stef is a fantastic parent, and her conversation with Jesus was exactly what he needed.
  • How long will this Nick and Mariana thing be happening? #TeamMat
  • What was the deal with everyone completely ignoring Brandon when he was worried about them using the warehouse?
  • Lexi kissed Jesus. So I guess that’s a thing again?

The Fosters airs Mondays at 8/7C on Freeform.