TV Review: The Fosters (4×01) “Potential Energy”

THE FOSTERS - "Potential Energy" - Tensions run high as Stef and Lena are called to action when the school is put on lockdown after it's discovered that Mariana's boyfriend Nick brought a gun on campus, on the fourth season premiere of "The Fosters," airing MONDAY, JUNE 20 (8:00 - 9:00 p.m. EDT), on Freeform. (Freeform/John Fleenor) DANNY NUCCI, TERI POLO, SHERRI SAUM

The most riveting and heartbreaking episode of The Fosters to date! Season four begins with the cliffhanger with which the last season ended; Nick arrives at Anchor Beach with his father’s gun. With the events that occurred in Orlando only a little over a week ago, this episode mirrored the frightening reality our country is living. Mass shootings in schools occur too often and The Fosters addressed, with thrilling emotion, the events that many people have had to face.

The episode takes place entirely in the school as confrontations and revealing secrets become the center of the story. Callie finally tells her moms about the true nature of her past relationship with Brandon, although the situation is pushed off when chaos ensues at the school. Of course Brandon and Callie end up in the same classroom and are forced to talk about their uncertain future. They worked so well together, helping to calm the younger children they ended up in the classroom with and making sure to keep them safe. Brandon telling Callie not to apologize for wanting to let go of the burden she has carried for so long shows exactly the selfless person he is, always putting others before himself.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ encounter with Nick doesn’t alarm him too much as we see that his focus is on Emma, the two come back to school in Nick’s car after their escapade. During the lock down, an all too real reaction of laughing out of fear from Emma leads the pair to talk about Emma’s recent breakup and reconnect in spite of the day’s events. After all is said and done though, it’s clear that Jesus was only a rebound for her and he clearly is distraught to hear her say so.

While locked in with the rest of his classmates, Jude turns to the person who still makes him feel safe and feel loved, Connor. He isn’t able to read his response because Daria scolds him for having his phone out. Breaking up with a first love is never easy and it seems that Connor will continue to affect Jude. Jude then finds comfort in Taylor and the way he expresses himself to her might be confusing her, who knows what will come of their relationship.

Finally, it is time to talk about the events that had us all at the edge of our seats during the episode. Nick is clearly distraught when he goes to class, his eyes red and distant. Props to the actor who plays Nick, Louis Hunter, for capturing more than an unhinged and aggressive guy but really showing the pain and frustration Nick has. Mariana’s conversation with Nick, explaining why what he had seen had been a misunderstanding, definitely left her uneasy. After discovering that Nick is on campus and armed, the school is locked down. Mariana is left in the empty halls, desperately trying to get into a classroom but not being let in by the fear-filled students. As the viewers witness the actions a school must take when in a situation of this magnitude, Lena receives the final roll calls of the students and sees that Mariana is not in a classroom. The fear that the moms must feel when they come to that realization must be terrifying and we see that in their reactions; Lena’s feelings of helplessness at not being able to do anything to get her daughter out of harm and Stef trying to do her job while dreading that something could’ve happened to Mariana.

Throughout the episode, three words seem to ground the events the family is going through; I love you. We hear the moms tell each other and the kids tell their moms. The feeling of wanting to tell your family that you love them, because you don’t know what will happen, is exactly what so many people did not get a chance to do. The emotion in those scenes and in those three little words made the performances that much more powerful. After having gotten all the students and faculty to safety, Mariana is found hiding in a bathroom. As Stef walks her out and she runs into Lena’s arms, Jesus runs to embrace his sister and the rest of the siblings follow suit. Seeing the family reunite after the trauma they experience was a beautiful moment that reaffirmed what this show is all about, a family that loves each and will do everything to protect each other.

The episode doesn’t end on that happy reunion however. The last scenes show that Nick has found a way into the Fosters’ home. If he’ll end up hurting someone or himself is yet to be seen, until next week’s episode.


Melissa is a 22-year-old English major at Florida International University in Miami. She has been passionate about storytelling for as long as she can remember. She loves literature, film, and television; any great story that can make her cry really. Her dreams include working in film or publishing in order to get great stories told. She is an unashamed and unapologetic fangirl of way too many fictional characters and is still waiting for her Hogwarts acceptance letter to arrive in the mail.