Photo: Eric McCandless / ABC Family

Does Callie Have An Endgame?

And other not-quite-burning questions about the midseason premiere of The Fosters.

Yay, The Fosters is back! One of my favourite new dramas of 2013 picks up exactly where the finale leaves off, but raises more questions than it answers. And here are a few.

Does Callie have an endgame?

When last we saw her, former foster child/daughter of a convict Callie was getting into Wyatt's car and tagging along with him to Indiana, where he's moving in with family now that his parents have lost their house in San Diego. That's a lot of horrible in one sentence, which is part of why I like the show so much — not that I like seeing fictional teenagers put through the wringer (although I guess I don't hate it), but that it doesn't pull its punches in the way other shows about/for young viewers sometimes do. Callie's decision to run away is understandable in the sense that it's short-sighted and dumb in the way that teenagers sometimes are: she thinks she's saving her biological brother Jude's place in a wonderful new family by removing herself from the temptation of her attraction to her soon-to-be-brother, Brandon, after making out with him at her new moms' wedding and getting caught in the act by Jude. And she thinks this because she hasn't considered that if Stef and Lena want to adopt her, then they're probably going to want to find her, wherever she is, and bring her home, and that putting even hundreds of miles between herself and Brandon won't actually solve her problems. And once she discovers that Wyatt has second-guessed her non-plan and told Lena and Stef where he and Callie are, and takes off in a big rig, she ends up in some town up the highway, trying to get a job in a diner without a phone or ID or a credible story for why she's completely off the grid, not realizing that sort of shit only flies in the 21st century if you're in a Nicholas Sparks book. As we leave her, Callie's wandering through a liquor store, helping herself to food and drink in order to get arrested...and then what? Is this her way of getting returned to Stef and Lena while maintaining her street cred? Or is she planning to throw herself on the mercy of social services and gamble on another foster placement that won't involve a foster sibling she wants to fool around with? I'm joking, kind of: I assume that Callie doesn't have an endgame, because she can't actually think further than one move ahead, because she's more like a real teenager than like a super-smart (or at least super-devious) TV teenager.

Is this show condoning big rig hitchhiking?

I hope not. Kids: don't ever get into the cab of a big rig with a stranger. If you want to know why not, please watch the series premiere of True Detective to find out the kinds of awful things that can happen to young ladies who hang around truck stops.

How long are Jude and Brandon going to keep their secret?

Because Jude and Brandon are also kids and also as dumb and short-sighted as Callie, they're both sitting on the secret they share with regard to the real reason Callie ran away. Brandon blames himself for having acted on his and Callie's mutual attraction, with the result not that she ran away from him; Jude thinks she left because he (fairly) accused her of selfishness for having made out with Brandon. At this stage, it wouldn't necessarily make a difference if Jude and/or Brandon came forward and told any responsible adult — yes, even Mike would do — what they know about the last moments Callie spent at the Foster house; Callie doesn't have a phone and no one has any way of knowing where she is. But this is still a gigantic secret for a couple of kids to keep. What consequences will they each face when the truth comes out? How will Brandon deal with his attraction to someone who's supposed to be raised alongside him as a sibling? How will Jude finally come to trust his new parents?

What's the point of Jesus or Mariana anymore?

In my post after the show's midseason finale, I noted that Jesus and Mariana seemed to be coming to the end of their usefulness as characters. Admittedly, it would be hard for any child in the Foster family to get attention when two are trying to get it on with each other and a third is (probably) (figuring out that he's) gay. Jesus and Mariana had some drama early on revolving around their biological mother, and culminating in a questionable shootout. But since then, it's been Snoresville, Population 2. The three resolved their triangle with Lexi — specifically, Mariana's jealousy that her best friend has started hooking up with her brother — just in time for Lexi to move with her parents to Mexico due to said parents' undocumented immigration status. So now what? Mariana's new ethical dietary restrictions are not enough to make her character interesting. At all.

Can a couple of gay ladies ever catch a break around here?

The Fosters has already done the lesbian bed death episode, and that's a phenomenon that (supposedly) afflicts even couples who don't have kids. So when you're talking about a couple for whom the majority of their children come from difficult and unsettled circumstances, naturally those children's concerns and antisocial behaviour would cut into their time together — even like twelve hours after the couple's wedding. I guess Lena and Stef should be grateful that they got to have at least one happy night together before realizing that the most troubled child in their brood had taken off. But still, this show is not the best advertisement for foster parenting. I guess it's the sort of thing you should only take on if you've decided that your happy years are behind you? (I'm kidding. Sort of. It does seem like a slog that only extremely special people should even contemplate.)



Screen: ABC Family

Screen: ABC Family

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