The episode entitled “Sixteen” appropriately describes the theme of this episode of The Fosters. Jesus and Mariana are planning their 16th birthday party, and they both have very different ideas on how they want to celebrate it. The episode begins with a very happy Jude preparing to go visit his boyfriend Connor after many months apart. Jude receives a certain “type” of picture message from Connor that leads him to start asking questions about sex. The honesty with which this story was addressed was refreshing to see. Teens do begin to question these things at a certain point and usually turn to siblings or the Internet for more information. The dynamic between Jesus and Jude was great too; their relationship is genuinely brother like. This new step in Jude and Connor’s relationship was clearly too sudden for Jude, and it led him to question the bond they have. How Jude will grow from this hardship will be interesting to see.
Brandon and Callie continue to struggle with seeing each other in new relationships and agree on not bringing significant others home or around each other. When AJ tries to show Callie affection at the party, she is clearly uncomfortable because of Brandon. Courtney realizes who Callie was to Brandon, and she is pleasantly surprised at his maturity with dealing with the situation. AJ, on the other hand, can’t help but feel like Callie is still having feelings for Brandon. How this will affect her relationship with AJ isn’t quite clear just yet.
Meanwhile, Mariana and Ana work together to help convince Ana’s parents to write letters that will eventually help Gabe get off the sex offender’s list. Mariana’s determination to help Gabe is partly for the unjust reasons he was placed on it in the first place, but mostly because she knows how much getting to know him means to her brother. When Stef finds out what Mariana is doing, she tells Jesus, in a sweet moment between mother and son, that it is okay for him to be curious about his birth father. The encounter with Gabe was clearly too much for Ana, causing her to start drinking again and showing up to the twins’ party drunk. As fans of the show, we all want to see Ana continue to grow and improve.
The next episode of The Fosters, “Rehearsal” was just as emotionally driven as the last as Brandon continues to prepare for his presentation of Romeo and Juliet. Brandon’s two lead actors seem to be butting heads, and this leads to a heated exchange where Nick finds out about Mariana’s past regrets and history with Matt. In an effort to comfort his sister, Brandon tells Mariana about a past experience with sex that left him feeling regret and shame. Callie overhears the exchange and is hurt because she thinks Brandon is talking about her. When she confronts him about it later, Brandon tells Callie about his experience with Danni and the way she took advantage of him. Another connection that Brandon and Callie have is dealing with the aftermath and emotional turmoil of rape and how they have helped each other through those difficult moments. And that is something neither regrets.
This episode also brings back Callie’s closest friend Daphne. Daphne has been trying to better her life in order to get her daughter out of the foster care system and back into her life. Callie speaks on Daphne’s behalf in a hearing but the chances of the court giving Daphne the win are slim to none, and that leaves her devastated. Callie is able to get Daphne a job with Justina’s foster advocacy office that will hopefully help her case in winning back custody of her daughter. The episode also delves a bit more into Justina’s mysterious past and connection to foster care. Justina shares a touching story about a childhood friend that was the catalyst that led her to become involved in foster care. Callie later finds out that Justina tweaks and uses the story as a means to gain a profit for her organization. Her intentions with Callie are still very unclear and it will be interesting to see her true colors finally shine through.
The twins continue to pursue helping Gabe get taken off the registry by writing letters of support for him. After Stef realizes that he is genuinely interested in forming a bond with his birth children, she invites him to help Jesus with the construction of the sets of Brandon’s play. Through this opportunity, Gabe is able to connect with both Jesus and Mariana. In a moment when Mariana bumps into Gabe at the warehouse the police arrive and arrest him for being around a minor unsupervised. This is clearly upsetting for Mariana who has started to grow fond of Gabe, what will happen to him is left up in the air.
The most touching storyline in this episode was Stef’s continued struggle post-op. Her insecurities about her body and intimacy with her wife pop up as she struggles over the decision of getting implants or not. Lena convinces Stef of meeting with some breast cancer survivors in order to get some varying opinions, and although she is hesitant, they ultimately help open her eyes to the right choice for her. In a beautiful moment, Stef returns home with short hair and the decision of wanting implants. She has finally let go of the fear of what others think about her and her femininity and realized that what makes her a woman is so much more than the way she looks. It is about how she chooses to live her life, honestly and confidently.