Monday, January 20, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Fosters' Moves Callie to a Group Home as Brandon Tries to Track Her Down in 'House and Home'

ABC Family's The Fosters - Episode 1.12 House and Home

Callie feels the harsh consequences of running away from the Fosters' home; Brandon comes clean about the reason Callie ran away and sets out to track her down; Mariana volunteers to help with the school play to impress a cute boy (Garrett Clayton); and Mike convinces Jesus to try out for the wrestling team.

Things really are coming full circle for Callie right now. "House and Home" opens with Callie walking down the hallway of juvie - just like the opening shot of the pilot. She finds herself here for the second time. Have things changed? Not really. She's still trying to run away from her actions and the consequences that result from them. Once again, she finds herself in a relationship with her foster brother - except this time she's actively engaged with it. Plus, Jude is now in a caring and loving home. She no longer has to be the only person looking out for him and making sure he doesn't get abused by the system.

Over the course of these first two episodes, multiple references have been made that Brandon is no different than Liam. Everyone sees them together as something that just should not be happening. Stef and Lena are left speechless once the revelation comes to light - leading them to make the only decision they can. Bringing Callie back into their environment would only further encourage the problem. Not help them confront their issues. It doesn't mean that they don't love Callie. Callie is just not ready for them. She say's she mature and doesn't need to be adopted. But as all the adult characters see, she needs a big shot of reality.

And the group home is just an interesting new environment for the series. Stories about the foster care system are the stories this show can tell well. That has always been true - even when it wanted to tackle more pressing social issues during the first half of the season. Callie's new surrounds are filled with inherent complications. She's compelled to spend time there - and yet is trusted not to run away again, and thusly land back in juvie. I was skeptical of Rosie O'Donnell when her casting was first announced. Yet, she brings just the right amount of earnest and caring energy to this role of the referee at the group home. 

Some more thoughts:
  • The show is very wise for showcasing how this entire situation with Callie is affecting Jude. They easily could have made Brandon the clear focus - since they want us to care about the Brandon-Callie relationship. Instead, they bet huge on Jude and Hayden Byerly took that encouragement and went with it. Loved his quiet performance when Lena & Stef told him he couldn't go see Callie. He went from happiness to disappointment all while trying to keep it together.
  • Still can't bare Jesus and Mariana. They were bearable when interacting with the main plot - their confrontation with Brandon and her offering Callie's bed to Jude. But ask them to carry their own stories and it's just a disaster.
  • The second time watching the screener for this episode I actually fast forwarded trough all of Jesus and Mariana's stories.
  • Like I said in last week's review, I don't know when I'll get to cover this show in the foreseeable future. I know I'll check back in for the season finale or if ABC Family feels like sending out a screener. Otherwise, there's just other things I want to discuss on Monday nights.
  • But in the end, it's just a story about a girl running - to be held in the arms of a boy. Plus, everyone's reactions to that.