Alas, the widely advertised two-hour, 100th episode finally makes a landing, bearing the love, the struggles, the tears, the laughter, the grief, the triumphs, the lessons, the music, and all the cinematic processes that have manifested in the emotional rollercoaster known as The Fosters.
For every memorable journey, an equally memorable destination is completely expected, which is what The Fosters brings to the table in this grueling, thrilling, intriguing whirlwind, a night of TV that reflects a carefully thought-out plan to pacify the fans of the show, while maintaining the realistic elements that make the show totally relatable. Frankly, however, the buzz outshines the content, and a very lengthy screen time is devoted to the events that lead to Grace’s demise. The Fosters Season 5 Episode 18 and 19, simultaneously dubbed the 100th episode, are a combination of past events and an unexpected time jump into the future, which is both a natural progression and a likely introduction into the spin-off coming up in the foreseeable future. Stef finally combats her self-loathing and reconnects with Lena, Grace takes a terminal bow, Stef works to rest her feud with Detective Gray, Jude reconnects with his old self and there is a fast forward to the kids graduating high school and moving to college.
Back To The Roots
One of the outstanding characteristics of this episode is the fact that it is an attempt to return the show to the origins—a full circle. In doing so, some scenes from Season 1 are reenacted and some characters that have not been in the picture for a while make a brief comeback, all adding to the emotional undertone of the farewell journey.
Stef finally discovers and addresses the reason behind her internalized homophobia, which is to blame for her trust issues and the lack of intimacy in her marriage: her father. At some point, fans on social media expressed disappointment at the lack of screen time allotted to the Mamas and called out the romantic drought in their relationship as opposed to how the teenagers were treated. It felt like every time they were about to get intimate, one of the kids or a situation would interfere. An exploration into Stef’s problems could be a response to said backlash, but it is not clear whether those fans will buy the alibi.
During the previous episode, it seemed like they had put an end to all her troubles, but the show makes it a point to have her confront the ghost of her father; however, in the end, she discovers that she never really needed her father’s affirmation as much as she needed her own self-affirmation. It was very necessary to address this issue because it gives a clear picture into Stef’s psyche and the motivation for most of her actions. It is also this resolution that gives her the opportunity to reconnect with Lena, giving their marriage a fresh start by proposing to her a third time—although there will be no third wedding, hopefully. The couple’s retreat they go for feels like the getaway they so badly needed a few seasons ago. However, the part where they’re doing goat yoga feels painful to watch and cringe-worthy. Granted, it is an unfamiliar concept on TV, but there isn’t really much significance to showing the goats jumping on the participants, especially given the looks on their faces. The part of the entire exercise that bears some weight happens afterwards, when the stray goat Stef rescues, ushers in her light-bulb moment, which is the calming effect the goat yoga is supposed to deliver.
The episode ends with Lena receiving a call about a stranded kid needing a home, and, from her response, it is expected that they will foster him. This goes both ways. First, it reinforces the idea that Stef and Lena cannot give up helping kids in need, hence, the tendency to keep fostering. After all, they are The Fosters. On the other hand, it also justifies Lena’s statement that kids have been the glue holding their marriage together. Having them foster again, especially now that all the kids have left the house, feels like a defeat to the entire retreat and reconnection exercise and casts the same old layer of doubts on the strength of their relationship. With the last three episodes airing in the summer and the ongoing rumors of a spin-off involving the Mamas, it would be interesting to know how they handle this discrepancy.
The Kids Are Alright
All is well that ends well, right? Jesus, by a collective effort, is able to become a senior after all, makes it through and heads out to a community college. Callie follows her true calling into the five-year UCSD Law Program, which she was told she had to wait a year to apply to, while he other kids also find their way into respective colleges, which is a very good happy ending. But, the time jump feels weird and makes the episode seem like a proper series finale. It would have been great to show a glimpse into their first years in college, the emotions, and how the family, especially the Mamas, adjust to each one of them leaving, since it has been a source of concern for them.
The actors playing these characters would heave a sigh of relief at finally getting to play roles that match their ages in real life. Most of them are in their twenties playing teenagers and it must feel liberating to approach the coming episodes as adults. Kudos to them for playing their roles as teenagers exceptionally well with hard work and dedication. One major plot hole that is not addressed here is Mariana’s dating dilemma. So much screen time was devoted to that build-up only to have it fizzle away like it never existed. I hope they find a way to rectify that in the coming episodes, otherwise it would all have been an exercise in futility.
The case with Grace and Brandon is the story that bears the heaviest emotional weight of this episode and eats up the most screen time. Through several episodes this season, her health condition and Brandon’s involvement with her (at the expense of his future prospects) garnered fans’ admiration as well as criticism. At the end of last episode, the general perception was that she would survive, but what a plot twist! The events leading to her death are so elaborate that when the news of her death is finally revealed just thirty minutes to the end of the two-hour episode. However, it falls flat and sheds most of the heartbreak because it was already imminent from the build-up.
The Next Chapter
There are still a few stories that are not entirely addressed in this episode. Stef finally took her case with Detective Gray to Internal Affairs at the risk of jeopardizing her job. With the four-year time jump, there is no word on how she maneuvered that situation and what became of her job, or Detective Gray, Patrick Molloy and Kyle. Another missed point is the kids’ relationships. Mariana’s case aside, fans of “Calmena” would want to know what happened to Callie and Ximena’s suggestive connection. By the end of the episode, we learn that Brandon will be getting married to his new love, Eliza, destination Turks and Caicos, which the cast flew to recently to apparently shoot the scenes.
From the preview shown afterwards, there is conflict, of course, revolving around someone trying to ruin the marriage… most likely Callie. Fans are torn in two about the possibility of making Brallie—the ship name for Brandon and Callie—endgame because, while some consider them siblings, others see them as star-crossed lovers, destined to be together. The reason this show is beloved is because of the potential for drama and intrigues. As sad as it is to let it go, let the countdown begin. Bring on the finale!
What did you think of The Fosters Season 5 Episode 18 and 19? What are your predictions for the series finale this summer? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!