It’s not like we’d expect anything less from a “Fosters” season finale, but Callie’s (Maia Mitchell) luck is most definitely of the “one step forward, fifty steps back” variety, and explosively so.
But Callie’s not alone — in perhaps the prototypical finale move for this show, we leave our beloved Adams-Fosters in a multiplicity of crises, some of them the most dire yet. Nobody’s safe. It’s a good thing the show’s only on hiatus until Season 5 begins July 11!
Naturally, the secret abortion story explodes in Emma and Brandon’s (Amanda Leighton & David Lambert) faces, as expected. Jesus (Noah Centineo) soon pieces it all together, first by getting the truth from ol’ grandma (Annie Potts, by phone) about the letter she read to him… And the part she omitted. There’s a beautiful moment when Jesus tells Stef and Lena (Teri Polo & Sherri Saum) that he knows, and furthermore, that it was Emma’s body and thus her choice — made even more poignant by the Mamas’ subtle attempts to pretend surprise about any of it — but his attempt to rise above his personal heartbreak about the situation leads to some serious turbulence.
Jesus next confronts Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) about those not-so-subtle, not-so-secret tweets, and finally, when he later sees Emma and Brandon talking together at the school rally, he can’t contain himself any longer. They’re face to face with the angry, upset, betrayed reaction that was inevitable — and justified, given that Jesus was the last to know in the entire sprawling family. After exploding at Emma and Brandon about keeping such a momentous secret from him, he runs off into the night, with Brandon in pursuit. Without a doubt, “Fosters” deserves serious kudos for delivering an even-handed and poignant exploration of a sensitive storyline like this one.
The vile, vindictive Mr. Stratos (Mark Totty) and toady Principal Drew (Jared Ward) succeed in passing board approval to turn charter school Anchor Bay into an “elite” private academy after all. It’s an obvious vendetta against the Adams-Fosters (and their ilk, meaning anything other than the traditional, privileged white hetero) — and one Drew enthusiastically joins in with, telling Lena to get in line or get lost.
A last-second switcheroo makes this a closed-door meeting, which means all of the activist citizens and kids are gathered around outside, in the storm. Mariana isn’t a “toe the line” type exactly — she confronts Stratos outside the school before the board meeting to critique his parenting, among other very Mariana points issued in a perfect ratatat. With almost unbelievable — but sadly not quite unbelievable — evil flair, Stratos underlines explicitly just how many different kinds of power he still wields over her. It’s sobering, and telling.
Lena’s impassioned plea to the school board in favor of equality for all behind those closed doors ultimately falls on deaf (and likely bribable?) ears. And in the blink of an eye, Anchor Bay has swiftly fallen victim to the one percenter plague… While outside the building, an enraged — and of course, devoured by anxiety about Callie’s situation; another kind of powerlessness that is all too similar to what they see happening to their school — Jude seems intent upon starting a literal riot.
And finally, we have Callie’s trial: Leave it to the “Fosters” to hand us Troy’s (Levi Fiehler) long-awaited murder confession and give us a scant thirty seconds to savor it before Callie took a running leap and belly flopped right into the deep end once again. Damn it. Stef and Mike (Danny Nucci) do some kick-ass police work and haul in first creepy curb-painter Doug Harvey (Hugh Scott) and then Troy’s formerly married lover and employer Vanessa (Kelly Albanese) in for questioning, which pokes some serious holes in Troy’s fancy lawyered-up alibi. And just like that, Troy crumbles. It’s a beautiful sight!
…And a frustratingly fleeting one. Poor Callie can’t catch a break, can she?
While all of that’s going on, Callie is wandering around shell-shocked by the prospect of spending a minimum of three years in jail — which is what the D.A. is offering, upon seeing the footage of her breaking into Doug Harvey’s house for that toothbrush evidence. And they’ve given her all of twenty-four hours to accept the deal, or take her chances. So when she and Daphne (Daffany McGaray Clark) spot Diamond (Hope Olaide Wilson) en route to her pimp with her new girl in tow… Callie jumps in to sacrifice herself, figuring she’s got nothing to lose and nothing better to do with her last day of freedom: Hoping Stef will track her phone in time, she agrees to meet with the pimp and be his new girl.
And so we end the episode and season in a seedy motel room with pimp Leon stroking her face, asking her if she’s a good girl, dunking lean down her throat — which explains Stef’s Ice-T-esque Q&A about lean a while back! — and encouraging Callie to call him “Daddy.” In a bittersweet callback, after Callie duets with Brandon earlier in the episode in the comfort of their safe and loving home, Leon demands Callie sing him a song, mistakenly hoping to encourage her belief in his music-industry connections.
As Stef zooms past the motel, tracking Callie’s phone which has now found itself accidentally part of a drug deal far away, we fade out on Callie, terrified, singing to the man who is about to attack her. Especially considering Jude’s (Hayden Byerly) near-brush with similar — albeit hypothetical, in his case — danger earlier this season, not to mention Callie’s own history of sexual abuse and control, it’s as ugly and terrifying a moment as the show’s ever chosen to go out on… Especially for a story that so regularly piles car accidents, mortal danger and other calamities into its high-stakes finales.
But the sad fact is that it’s not the clear and present danger we’re worried about. There are a million ways these situations can and will turn themselves around. But for “The Fosters,” the devil’s in the trauma: The long-term effects of this night — on Jude, Lena, Stef, the Twins, the entire family; but most especially on Callie — will linger no matter what happens next.
And while that’s almost as scary a thought as the knowledge that the credits would arrive before the cavalry, in this bleak but temporary ending… It also means the story will continue, forever moving upward — always giving us the chance to see how they, and we, can heal.
Season 5 of “The Fosters” begins July 11 on Freeform. We’ll just be holding our breath until then.