Indeed, no better title could have been more suitable for an episode where old wounds and memories swim to the surface, begging to be addressed. This episode is a unifier, such that it integrates the stories of Aaron, Stef, Tess and Grace’s mother (Susan) through a similar struggle associated with a lingering connection to their past.
Juggling multiple issues can be challenging, even for a well-established show like The Fosters; it is, therefore, no surprise that every episode now addresses just a fraction of stories and leaves out others for a later episode. Nevertheless, they make up for it by giving depth to that small fraction. On The Fosters Season 5 Episode 14, the underlying cause of Stef’s panic attacks is revealed, Grace’s mother receives valuable parenting lessons from Brandon, Tess seeks separation from her husband, Aaron finally decides to come out as transgender, Jude struggles to merge gaming with his love life, while Callie continues her rescue mission.
The Trigger Next Door
Stef’s anxiety with Tess living next door is quite relatable, given their history, and the fact that for many years, Stef was oblivious of Tess’ feelings for her. Finally gaining knowledge of that, probably has her considering the ‘what-ifs’. What if they had established a relationship back then? Would things have been different? Would they have ended up as a couple? Stef has done a decent job of concealing her true feelings from Lena and only revealing it to the therapist, which is true to her character. She also claims a sense of guilt at being a catalyst for problems in Tess’ marriage, which is not surprising given how she advised her to be truthful to her husband.
This sequence of events could result into issues with Lena, especially if the latter realizes that Stef’s breakdown had been about Tess all the while. Critically speaking, however, Stef and Tess’ back story happened over two decades ago, thus, building up Stef’s panic attacks for something that could best be considered a cold case seems like an excuse to drum up drama for the Mamas. There’s barely any chemistry between Stef and Tess from a viewer’s perspective, and, at this point, the show needs to avoid plunging into infidelity with that story. Now that Tess is seeking separation from Dean, apparently to find true love and live out her truth, it is time to rest that case. Stef should get that therapeutic help and return to the “tough-love” champion she used to be. Lena could use some help on the home front.
The educational value of this episode—with respect to the challenges of being transgender—cannot be overemphasized. For the first time, Aaron has become not only comfortable in his body, but also with the world knowing him for who he really is. It is no longer enough to love his body. He wants to embrace the scars from his surgery and, most importantly, he wants to tell his story. Visibility opens up meaningful discussions about transgender issues—one of which Aaron himself experienced by being locked up in solitary confinement for lack of an “appropriate” correctional facility to accommodate people like him. Elliot Fletcher’s portrayal of Aaron is a rare gift to this show, and each episode he nails every appearance with passion and commitment.
Any Future For Grandon Canyon?
When Grace started talking about seeing dead people, alarm bells were triggered as to her chances of survival. Her father makes an appearance, amidst a heated battle with her mother, who has been unable to forgive him for cheating in the past. She was surrounded by her immediate family, yet was more attached to Brandon because of her parents’ feud. Grace has always felt trapped in the middle, which could explain her unwavering attachment to Brandon. Brandon, taking on the responsibilities of an adult and a loving boyfriend, gives Susan valuable advise about not being too overbearing like she has been with Grace and letting go of the past. It is still unclear how Brandon has been able to combine his senior year with taking care of Grace because he seems to be around her all the time. For someone who is expected to be headed to college soon, he appears neither interested nor ready.
Staying “In Character”
Noah has assured Jude of his unwavering trust, which is a green light for Jude to continue “flirting” with Declan for the benefit of their fans. Jude loves his newly acquired fame and fortune, but he also loves his relationship with Noah. But what are Declan’s intentions? He has demonstrated his interest in Jude which signals caution. With Declan being assertive, how long can Jude remain “in character”? Is there no possibility that he may give in sometime soon? Even Taylor seems to think there is need to worry.
There is no way to pretend that Callie and Ximena’s kiss did not happen. This episode, Ximena is seen asking Callie if she wants to get back with Aaron and further affirming Callie’s love for Aaron. However, for those two distinct comments, there was a certain tone behind her concern for Callie’s relationship with Aaron. She is probably treading cautiously without allowing her feelings get in the way of her friendship with Callie. On Callie’s side, she has not been seen processing that kiss or what it meant, so it is difficult to say how she feels about it. However, when she decided once again, to remain friends with Aaron, the door of opportunity was thrown open. Whether they choose to explore a bisexual storyline for Callie or not, that kiss with Ximena – albeit brief – can simply not be ignored. They should at least, have a discussion around it sometime in the near future.
A Strange Ally
Unexpectedly, the ICE Officer trailing Callie during the last episode ended up becoming a friend, gave Callie tips about pending immigration raids in schools, and even helped put in a word for Aaron, which led to his release from detention. While this alliance feels like a laudable stroke of luck for Callie (and, by extension, Ximena) there is still need for Callie to exercise caution until his true intentions are verified.
What did you think of The Fosters Season 5 Episode 14? What are your predictions for next episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.