Tony Rivetti / Freeform

The Fosters Returns With Drama Of Every Variety

A little too much, as usual.

The Fosters is back for its...winter premiere? I don't know. Let's just go with it. Much appears to have happened in whatever time has elapsed between the last episode and this one: Stef's mom came to town; AJ's grandmother died; Brandon did got his composition ready; Mariana and Callie got the Fost&Found website up and running; Jesus got a haircut or something; and the whole network changed its name! It's a lot. Too much. And yet, still, I have questions.

When rebranding itself, could ABC Family have chosen a worse name than "Freeform"?

No. It's awful. "Freeform" sounds like the 24-hour live jazz performance channel! And, as our esteemed site founders have established, there is nothing worse than that! Good God, can you imagine? 3 AM soprano sax duets. A travel show highlighting the pan flute performances at the Peruvian Jazz Festival? Anyway. I'm not a TV executive or anything, but surely we can do better. More on-the-nose options might include:

  • TEEN
  • Domestic Lesbian Network
  • FluidSexualityTV
  • White People Problems: The WP
  • Hair Central
  • Montage

Exactly how will the family "work it out" financially if Brandon gets into Juilliard?

Though he manages to look bored in his big Disney Hall performance -- a life event so major I can't believe they didn't dedicated nine episodes to his prep, fine-tuning, rehearsal and performance anxiety -- and though his general smugness makes me ugggggh on a scene-by-scene basis, Brandon is right to be concerned that his moms cannot afford to send him to Juilliard if he is accepted. They will, as he points out, soon have four kids in college at once, and though we can surely depend on Mariana to win multiple scholarships, the same cannot be said of these other fools.

How will Monte continue to cause problems for Stef and Lena?

Because there is for sure no doubt that she will. Why else would she stay around? Her apology seemed sincere, but...can we anticipate Lena freaking out about Stef's "stage-0" cancer diagnosis and flinging herself into the arms of Monte in a stress breakdown? I feel it is unlikely, but how else can Monte figure in? Lena's whole "we're only colleagues, not friends" thing doesn't ring completely true. Also: shut up, Monte.

Will Sharon become a permanent fixture?

Please let it be so. Annie Potts forever. I mean, did Sharon violate her daughter's trust by outrageously breaking boundaries and illegally handling Stef's medical records? Well, yes. And, does she have kind of a terrible boyfriend now? (At least he's adorable. Rob Morrow!) Yes, sure. But, but, but...Annie Potts, though? I kind of need her in my life on a daily basis. Plus, I love any potential Any Day Now reunion of her and Lorraine Toussaint. Plus, she's Annie Damn Potts. Pluuussss, my mom would have done the same thing, so...I have no perspective whatsoever on meddling moms. I had one and I will be one and the cycle will no doubt continue forever. It's how my maternal line survives! Stef obviously learned from the best (worst) and now practices meddling on a grand scale herself. Circle of life. Each generation can only strive to behave in a slightly less insane manner.

Tony Rivetti / Freeform

Tony Rivetti / Freeform

What's the deal with the "foster care advocate" lady?

Ugh. While it is always delightful to see Kelli Williams, she doesn't exactly put her ill intent on the downlow. And they certainly don't show us enough for it to make sense that Callie would trust her with admin access to Fost&Found -- a name equal in badness to Freeform, if not worse, by the way; why couldn't they have named it FosterFound.com? The play on words still plays. ANYway, I'm impressed by Callie's budding activism, and her speech is moving. Though that Jack kid absolutely has crazy eyes when discussing the paid foster system that is a growing concern, said eyes are obviously justified if this so-called system sends out evil agents to infiltrate teen grassroots campaigns!

Who is the mystery poster on the Fost&Found boards?

Equally disturbing is the idea that the chick above is trying to sow dissent by outing Callie and Brandon's sexcapades. First of all, how would she know? Secondly, if not her, who? Third...maybe whoever it is is talking about Liam? Oh, damn, what if it's Liam? What if it's Wyatt? ...Wait. Why would it be Wyatt? I don't know! Whoever it is, Mariana is sure to see that the question was asked and thus the in-house chatter will begin. So, if you can even believe it, the real question is:

Will Callie's adoption be put in jeopardy?

I know: AGAIN?! I shudder to even type the words. I don't think any of us could take that after what they've put us through, seriously. Just let the girl liiiiive!

Is AJ really gone? And how will this impact Mike and Stef?

I was impressed with Tom Williamson as the truth of his brother's crime dawns on AJ in the funeral home. I was less impressed with both of them choosing to bail before their grandmother's funeral takes place, especially since Mike is ponying up to cover the extra costs. Funerals are so crazy expensive that it has to be at least a few grand. Because Mike is on to Ty, and because Stef is on to Mike being on to him, a shitstorm will now blow into town, blanketing Stef in drama in her time of medical crisis. She's right to be pissed at Mike, and now that they have a reduced chance of bringing Ty to justice, we must wonder how things will sour going forward. If Stef leads some kind of manhunt for AJ and Ty, what, if anything, will that do to her relationship with Callie? Because you know Callie will get in the middle of it, having had her meddling skills nurtured so well by her now-official new mom.

How will Jude handle the absence of Connor?

More than any other part of the #Jonnor storyline, I have enjoyed the arc of Connor's dad. I feel like the show could have flinched many times on that, or at the very least made him a one-dimensional unsympathetic homophobe. Instead, they've allowed him to be far more faceted without obscuring the fact that while he may be kind of backwards in his social thinking, he genuinely loves his son and seems willing to keep going forward on the path of acceptance. His hug with Jude as they both have to face Connor's exit is the most moving part of the episode, for me, and I feel like the show is not getting enough credit for how they've handled that element of these boys' coming out.

I ask again, why did they bother with New Jesus?

The character's cockiness and lothario moves were the most fun things about him when Jake T. Austin played him, but nobody would have missed the guy had he stayed at his boarding school for years -- not even his twin sister! Having him back, now played by Noah Centineo, makes no sense and seems like a waste of a paycheck, especially since...well, Centineo's performance does not appear to offer any dramatic improvement over Jake T. Austin's. I'm sorry! Bringing him back just so the same two girls can fight over him and once again mess up Mariana's life in the process is lame. But even more lame is his whole steroids song and dance -- I can't even determine what part, if any, is true, and I think the reason is just...bad acting? Is this role cursed? The kid is studly, but where have all the real Latino teen idols gone?

Speaking of my girl Mariana, how fast can she kick Lexie's ass?

Because, honestly, it can't come fast enough. Do not let Mariana get lost in all this mess with Stef and Lena and AJ and Callie and Brandon and uuuuuggggh. She and Jude are the best this show has to offer, and I need more of both, pronto.

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