Monday, January 19, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Fosters' - Callie and Sophia Fight Again While Jude Risks His Friendship with Connor in 'Over/Under'

ABC Family's The Fosters - Episode 2.12 "Over/Under"

As Callie tries to wrap her head around Robert's change-of-heart, an ambulance shows up at the Quinn's house. Stef and Lena find themselves on opposite sides of several issues. Brandon is offered an opportunity to attend a prestigious summer music program. Mariana struggles when her dance team leader changes the lineup the day before competition. Jesus secretly attends Ana's AA meeting.

Sometimes The Fosters enjoys emotionally manipulating its audience. It teases us into thinking one way only for it to be revealed later that it was just misdirection. That could be problematic especially if done frequently. That's on display in "Over/Under." We were led to believe that Sophia was attempting suicide in the bathroom following the big confrontation with Callie and that's why the ambulance showed up at the Quinn mansion. Instead, they were called because Robert was just having a minor panic attack. He didn't even have to go to the hospital. And then, the show was building up the secret of what Jude and Connor did in their tent during the school camping trip. Even after Jude told Stef and Lena, the conversation was still being told in a vague way. It wasn't until Jude confessed to Connor's dad that it was revealed that they only snuck some girls into their tent. The script is suggestive of one thing and then turns into something else. That's not a strong way to build trust.

However, The Fosters gets away with it - at least in this episode - because it still allows the characters to have emotional ramifications that come out of all that teasing. Even though Sophia didn't attempt anything in the bathroom, that mindset is still very apparent within her. She just wants a sister. And yet, her love is not something that supports what Callie needs. Sophia is so desperate for that connection that Callie's refusal actually does lead her to do a potentially deadly action. She walks out into the street to get hit by a car just to prove that she's not kidding about her threat to kill herself. It's a very sensitive subject. And Callie doesn't let her get away with it either. Robert and Jill come to pick Sophia up and Callie makes sure they know what she did. She doesn't want to support this behavior. Her parents allowed this mindset to grow within Sophia. They weren't aware of the problems she has having. Which then brings up the question: Can Robert and Jill provide a healthy environment for a child to live in? They want Callie to be a part of their family. And yet, they didn't even know what was going on with their other child. That's devastating but fortunately they're going to get Sophia the help that she needs. They need time to fix what's broken in their family before they can ever think about adding Callie to it.

And then with Jude and Connor, it's relieving to get an answer to this suggestive mystery. More importantly though, it brings out something that will challenge that friendship. It's very easy to see why both kids act the way that they do. Jude was only looking out for his best friend when he told Lena about the bruises. He then felt guilty that he was the reason she quit her job. That's not the kind of stress a kid like Jude can handle. So of course, he tells her the truth about the camping trip. He and Connor did do something wrong and she shouldn't quit her job because of her desire to protect him. She gets her job back and has to inform Connor's dad on what happened. Similarly, Connor wants his friendship with Jude to be okay. But it also frustrates him with how much he tells his moms about what happens between the two. Stef and Lena are fantastic parental figures because they foster an environment where all of the kids feel comfortable coming to them with their problems - no matter how big or small. To Connor though, that means he's not sure what he tells or does with Jude will be kept in confidence. Jude has told his moms one too many times and Connor has had to deal with the consequences. How can he trust someone like that? It's frustrating because I love the Jude-Connor friendship. But this seems like a great way for that dynamic to grow.

Lastly, there's Brandon who is being pulled into multiple directions yet again. He made his piece with not being able to play like he used to and found support and a new outlet for his musical gifts in the band. And now, he's presented with a new opportunity that could open that old world to him again. It just comes at time when the family is dealing with so much with Callie's adoption and the possibility of going on tour with the band. What's holding him back is that he has always been a crutch for Callie. Whenever things get rough for Callie, she knows she can rely on Brandon. They do have feelings for each other. But their love isn't the kind of support that Callie needs. Brandon's refusal to give Callie what she thinks she wants is brutal. And yet, he also needed to say it. Life is getting hard for her and he is not the answer to her problems. That's a lesson she needs to learn no matter how painful it is right now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Over/Under" was written by Bradley Bredeweg & Peter Paige and directed by Peter Paige.
  • Mariana is finally getting out of the high school drama that was the dance team. She stays long enough to qualify and then quits to form a new squad with Tia, the only other nice girl from the team.
  • Kaitlyn wasn't even trying to be subtle in trying to cut Mariana's dance solo. Also, where is the dance coach? She is never seen and Kaitlyn acts as the team captain. It's a competition! The coach should be there!
  • Hayley is still obsessive and manipulative. How can Jesus not realize that? Of course, he typically doesn't make smart choices when its comes to women.
  • Although, Jesus does learn a big secret when attending Ana's AA meeting. She's pregnant. That's a much more interesting story than the trivial, high school melodrama with Hayley.
  • Lena and Stef both brought up valid points in their big argument. Lena did spontaneously quit her job just to protect Jude while Stef foolishly went to the Quinn's to force them into letting Callie go. 
  • Was that the whole story with the camping trip though? Or was it just enough of the truth to tell Connor's dad? If it's not all of what happened, did Jude tell Stef and Lena the whole truth? Even when the mystery gets resolved, there's still lingering questions.