Poor Jesus (Noah Centineo) is bearing the brunt of that “no good deed goes unpunished” theory: In the midseason cliffhanger at the end of August last year, he got protective — as anyone would — when he saw twin sister Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) chilling with her active shooter/stalker ex, Nick (Louis Hunter).

Remembering that Mariana always has things under control can be hard — especially when she’s been sneaking Adderall in a rare misfire of judgment, resulting in some spaciness and looking like hell — but this is a guy who literally put their school in lockdown, burned down the school play and secretly creeped it up around their home, all on the same day. Launching a fist-first offensive isn’t the most “good” a deed can be, of course, but his intentions are pure as ever… And an ideal paving material for the road to hell.

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For his troubles, a drugged-out Mariana throws him under the bus while describing the incident to the cops, pegging Jesus as the instigator just as he’s going into a seemingly unending series of convulsions thanks to the nail he recently nail-gunned into his own head. By episode’s end, it’s gone from bad to nail-biting, inferno-circle levels of worse: A medically induced coma, a bolt inserted into his skull serve to relieve the pressure in his head merely a stopgap, and Jesus’ life (and former personality) now hang in the balance.

When Mama Lena (Sherri Saum) hits the hospital chapel with the half plea/half demand “Don’t you dare take my son,” it’s a relief to see her staunchly atheist wife Stef (Teri Polo) take a knee right beside her: Dark territory, watching a child’s life on the line, and an effective way to draw lesser forms of life’s BS into stark contrast — for both the characters of that fictional world, and for the audience.

So you’d think that’d be enough of a hand-wringing storyline for one episode, wouldn’t you?  But of course, when “The Fosters” comes back from a midseason break, it likes to kick the door down when making its entrance. As the show ages, the calamities constantly befalling the Adams Foster family do get more and more hilarious — but only in theory. In practice, it remains hard as hell, and wildly nutritive, to watch.

Having lured amateur detective Callie (Maia Mitchell) into his car, probable murderer Troy (Levi Fiehler) starts getting twitchy. When Aaron (Elliot Fletcher) calls to confirm their theory, she’s got no choice but to run for her life… As soon as he pulls over. But with Troy freaking out more and more, screaming at her about digging around in his family’s painful history, it’s not too long before he causes an accident. While Callie is horrified by the injuries sustained in the other car, she doesn’t stick around to help — Troy’s shambling after her like a zombie — and then he takes off.

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Aaron and Callie get the call about Jesus and hasten to the hospital, where the Moms are flipping out, and the story of the hit and run she abandoned plays out over the waiting room TVs as Jesus goes from bad to worse. After an awkward moment with Callie’s boyfriend AJ (Tom Williamson) Aaron gives Callie a stern but loving talking-to about the issues around telling people he’s trans — do not tell other people’s stories, especially when it can get them killed, especially right now — which of course Callie takes on board and synthesizes, with her usual grace and respect. She also takes onboard his strong recommendation that she hit the police station to make a statement about the crash…

Which would be a good thing, if leaving the scene of an accident weren’t a felony, and if she weren’t putting herself right into the hands of Stef’s corrupt nemesis Joe Gray (Alex Skuby) — the same nasty detective who fudged the murder case in the first place, threatened Stef’s career, and has a highly vested interest in maintaining the official story.

In romance news:

  • Mat Tan (Jordan Rodrigues) is as quietly horrified by this latest Mariana drama as always, though we can’t even remember if they’re technically together at this point, and Emma dumps Mariana as a BFF again, this time for selling Jesus out to the cops (and for being a drug addict, which she tells Lena like the first chance she gets, which is awesome) — but our fave girl-power satellite character never strays too far. Here’s hoping Jesus’s recovery or lack thereof doesn’t drag Emma into the undertow, which is the the most “Fosters” thing that could happen…
  • No news of trainwreck-in-progress Mike and Ana (Danny Nucci & Alexandra Barreto), because — why would Jesus’s biological mother show up for something like this? She’s only dating his mom’s ex-husband and carrying his biological sibling as he lays there with an exploding brain, choking on barf and/or possibly transmogrifying into a third Jesus.
  • Brandon and Cortney (David Lambert & Denyse Tontz) simmer in their breakup for a while, have some intense sex, and then break up again, causing Brandon to intensify the face he’s always already making. They are the grossest couple in history, but it’s not their fault; they’re just young. And Brandon is a fairly broken individual, for no real reason.
  • MVP: Jude and his pothead boyfriend Noah (Hayden Byerly & Kalama Epstein) get pretty close to third base after stealing onto a boat in the marina, and it is wonderful! More bad behavior from these two, we love it! (xo Connor forever, of course.)

Thing is, it’s very nice to see guys kissing on TV — and always remember that for a large percentage of the population, and probably the majority of this show’s audience, it’s not titillating, any more than seeing a lesbian couple kneeling in a chapel like any other pair of terrified parents: It’s getting a piece of their/our souls back that the world didn’t need to steal in the first place.

Take every moment you can to affirm a trans person’s gender, in word and deed, and use every precious moment you can to bring yourself and everyone else toward a world where boys kissing is just one more kind of kissing, gay marriage is the same thing as real marriage, and your fellow human beings are recognized as such. It will get worse before it gets better, but being alive guarantees you the right — promised in the credits, every week — to never feel alone.

“The Fosters” is very much back, and airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.

Posted by:Julia Diddy

Julia Diddy is a freelance writer and critic in Los Angeles.