The Beginning Of The End: The Fosters Series Finale, Part 1

Photo: Courtesy of Freeform.
Oh, you thought The Fosters wrapped up every storyline with its March finale? Well, you thought wrong! (I’ve always wanted to say that.) The three-part finale of The Fosters started tonight with an episode dedicated to Brandon’s (David Lambert) engagement party. Everyone who’s ever mattered is present for the party, from Wyatt (Alex Saxon), to Mat (Lady Bird’s Jordan Rodrigues) and Aaron (Elliot Fletcher). In addition, we’ve got Eliza (Abigail F. Cowen), her parents, and Cory, the newest foster child in the Foster family. The whole ordeal unfolds a lot like a Real Housewives reunion show as old feuds are rehashed and characters revisit what just happened. It’s not unlike a recap of the five seasons of The Fosters — you almost expect the characters to turn to the camera and say, “Remember when this happened in season 1?”
They don’t.
Instead, they overload their sentences with info, like when Jesus cries, “I know that you don’t take me building tree houses seriously!” Or when Lena (Sherri Saum) goes around the table congratulating each of her kids for their post-college achievements. Thanks for the recap, Lena! Like a very, very mawkish improv set, the episode struggles to insert all this information while moving the plot forward. It’s a difficult task, but The Fosters has three episodes left to do it. This episode is almost purely devoted to backstory, i.e. not much actually happens.
A lot has happened in the intervening years, though. Callie got both her BA and her JD, and she’s now shopping around for a clerkship. She’s a stuffy lawyer now, replete with a sleek bob and a turtleneck. For all of The Fosters’ adoration for weirdness, the show really chose a traditional route for Callie. Being a lawyer is very impressive, but it’s also a very conventional path to success. It’s the type of success that makes people at parties go, “Oh! A lawyer. Nice.”
Meanwhile, MIT-bred Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) is fielding multiple job offers, but taking the summer off to travel in Europe. Brandon is getting married to a cellist (Eliza), Jude (Hayden Byerly) just finished his first year at UCLA, and Jesus has that treehouse building company with Wyatt. Meanwhile, Stef and Lena are looking to adopt Cory.
The action of the episode limits itself to reveals, which is Fosters currency — The Fosters thrives on lies between loved ones. First, there’s Jude. Jude is struggling academically at UCLA and in danger of losing his scholarship. He doesn’t know what he wants to do yet, which, in Fosters world, is bad. His anxiety surrounding this worsens when he meets Eliza’s little brother, who is studying the classics at Princeton. The classics, he points out, are good if you want to be a lawyer. (Eliza’s other brother Jamie is also a lawyer, a corporate one.) Princeton Classics Boy is also almost certainly hitting on Jude, but he insists he has a girlfriend. Later, Callie discovers that Jude is taking pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP), a preventative medication for HIV negative individuals.
Then, there’s Emma, who’s lying to Jesus about her post-college plans. They’re planning on moving in together (Jesus lives in the Fosters’ basement and pays $100 per month in rent) and Jesus will continue to build treehouses with Wyatt. But, Emma applied for — and got — a job in Bangalore. She and Mariana have a cryptic conversation halfway through that goes something like this:
Mariana: “You have to tell him.”
Emma: “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
Mariana: “It should be easy. You’ve been here before.”
Emma: “I’ll just get rid of it.”
Given Emma’s history — she aborted Jesus’s child without telling him — this conversation has “second pregnancy” written all over it. It’s a tribute to The Fosters’s relentless red herrings that this conversation is just about a job. Emma tells Jesus that she’s not taking the job and that she’ll stay, but Jesus rejects her, effectively ending the relationship.
Then, there’s the reveal that Brandon is marrying a woman whose parents are conservative. They’re conservative in an insidious way: They may not be hollering about Trump, but they did make a comment about how their friends probably won’t be keen on Stef and Lena. That is to say, their friends are homophobic. They’re also planning a “family dance” for the wedding, a heterocentric tradition in which members from opposite sides of the wedding must dance with one another. Eliza’s parents helpfully suggest that, in lieu of having two women dance together, Stef and Lena can switch off dancing with Eliza’s father. The Fosters then takes the opportunity to mention Trump. Stef, incensed, tells Lena: “They probably voted for that orange Twitter twit.”
Eliza is ultimately a Good Thing, though, according to their retelling of events. Both Eliza and Brandon tell their “How We Met” stories to Stef and Lena and things are, well, just a little boring. For all that Brandon’s been through — remember when he slept with his father’s girlfriend — maybe a boring cellist is good for him. Here's what we know about Eliza: She’s great at cello, even though the actress is blatantly terrible at it, and she doesn’t like coffee. She also thought that she asked Brandon out. Meanwhile, Brandon thought he asked her out. What a funny little story!
Callie and Mariana both don’t like Eliza, which speaks more to their brattiness than anything else. Callie, for all her lawyer posturing, has become a self-righteous boor, and Mariana is the same melodramatic teen she was in season 1. Callie, apparently, spent five years making friends with textbooks, so she hasn’t dated anyone since Aaron. (Aaron is just a friend these days. Aaron, come back! Anything to keep Callie and Brandon apart!) Mariana dated Mat during college, but, after he picked up an STI touring with a band called Dark Veil, she ended things. In her words, he’s a “bag of dicks.”
Wyatt, the Other Guy, doesn’t have Mat’s bravado or accolades — Dark Veil is, according to Jamie, a great band — but he’s one of the show’s greatest characters, and it feels important to bring him back. He was initially Callie’s love interest, but he later fell in love with Mariana. Mariana, ever mercurial, chose Mat over Wyatt, leaving Wyatt to become a proto-Jesus. He’s building treehouses now, far from the spiffiness of someone Mariana would want to date. In honor of all the stay-at-home-and-build-treehouses people in the world, I desperately want Wyatt to win out in the end. He won’t. In the words of Mat, he’s Mariana’s plan B. Mariana, being cold and cruel and knowing what she’s doing, invites Wyatt to travel across Europe with her. Later, when he brings it up as a point of pride, Mariana scoffs. She didn’t mean it, Wyatt. She was just using you to not feel alone!
The last two reveals are A) that Stef and Lena may just be selling the house they’ve lived in for years. After the party, as they crawl into bed, Lena laments that the engagement party might have been the last they’ll throw at that house. Then, B) Eliza’s family is about to slap Brandon with a pre-nuptial agreement. Eliza seems cool, but her family is decidedly not. And, as Mariana so conveniently reminds us, Brandon was Callie’s first love. The Fosters just can’t resist the allure of an adopted brother-sister romance.
It’s Not Where You Come From…
— It’s the new guy, Jamie, who’s really into Callie, even though he’s a corporate shill.
— It’s Jude’s new bouffant, which looks very nice!
— It’s Ana, who’s 8 months pregnant and therefore not in this finale.
— It’s Callie telling Brandon that she’s “very generous with [her] likes” on Facebook when it comes to Eliza, who’s nervous the family doesn’t like her. (They don’t!)
— It’s the bridesmaid dresses, which are black, but not all that bad! Callie and Mariana hate them, though.
— It’s where you beeeeeloooongggggg...

More from TV

R29 Original Series