The family was all in one place, giving the episode focus.
Grace is adorable. Brandon is hilarious.
Why do the episodes feel out of order?
The Fosters 5×08 “Engaged” feels a little out of place, but more than makes up for it with humor and heart
Freeform’s The Fosters has been tackling the concept of hate speech lately. More accurately, The Fosters tackled hate speech two weeks ago, mysteriously forgot about the storyline last week, and has brought it back up this week. This episode feels as though it was meant to immediately follow 5×06 – it deals with Callie’s protest, Jesus’s proposal, and Mike and Ana’s engagement. The only indication that this episode actually did air in the correct order is Jude’s storyline, which directly references the events of last week’s episode. Also, Callie and Aaron’s relationship is now intimate, which we know is the result of last week’s post waterfall-chasing fun.
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Fortunately, the whiplash wears off rather quickly and we are left with a charming and emotional episode. Callie (Maia Mitchell) is applying for college this week. Her advisor warns her that she doesn’t have a strong enough portfolio to apply as an art major, and encourages her to apply for social work. Brandon (David Lambert) wants to ask Grace to prom, but it ends up being a more daunting task than he was expecting. Meanwhile, The Fosters throw Mike and Ana an engagement party, and Jesus wants to make sure everyone knows that they aren’t the only engaged couple around – after all, Emma (Amanda Leighton) agreed to marry him. (Except, did she?)
Callie may be destined to change the world, but she’s not totally on board with the idea.
Callie’s advisor suggests that her portfolio isn’t strong enough to apply to college as an art major. With only a few pieces under her belt, the advisor suggests she may be better off as a social work major – especially with her compelling application essay about the foster care system. Callie is not thrilled by this suggestion, and when her boyfriend, Aaron, backs it up, she questions it. Callie doesn’t want to change the world, she just wants to be Callie. Luckily, AJ is around to remind her she can do both. Art can influence politics, sway opinions, and change the world.
Aaron: “I’m all for art, but is that the best way for you to change the world?”
Callie: “Why do I have to change the world? Why can’t I just be me?”
Aaron: “From what I’ve seen, changing the world is you.”
Callie has two storylines this episode – she deals with the protest at the school while also debating what major to apply for in college. We’ve already taken a look at her fight against hate speech, so let’s talk a minute about her college plans. Callie’s storyline this episode is incredibly realistic – where most of the issues The Fosters tackles can be exaggerated in order to highlight the point while keeping the show entertaining, this one is spot on. Far too many high school students choose not to pursue their passions due to the advice of misguided advisors. This episode was important for Callie because she, like so many real young people her age, has to learn to believe in herself. She’s the only person who knows whether she can truly make it as an artist, and although the advisor can assist her in getting to college, her future has to be entirely up to her.
Jesus makes things messy by fabricating one engagement and trying to end another
For a couple of episodes now, Jesus has been claiming that he and Emma are engaged. This has been met with a little confusion – Emma seemingly rejected Jesus’s proposal. When he asked, she said something along the lines of “maybe someday, if you go back to school.” Jesus (due to his TBI) has taken this to mean “Yes. If you go back to school, I will marry you immediately.” Stef and Lena are obviously concerned – they decide to find out if Emma is even aware that she is engaged. It turns out, she is, and she’s terrified. She knows she is too young to be engaged, but she didn’t know how to tell Jesus. She lets Lena know that she never said yes, and resolves to tell Jesus. The conversation doesn’t go well. While all of this is going on, Jesus spends his time again attempting to reconcile Gabe and Ana (at Ana and Mikes engagement party!) Fortunately, Ana lets Gabe know that she truly loves Mike, so that storyline seems fairly wrapped up.
“Its out of Jesus’s head and onto her finger!” -Stef
This episode seemed to be the breaking point for Jesus’s TBI. Stef and Lena are more determined than ever to help him, and they realize the way they’ve been handling it has not been working. A great thing about this episode’s storyline is the way it brings two characters who have long been estranged. When Jesus reacts poorly to Emma’s rejection (or, rather, her clarification of her earlier rejection) Mariana steps in. She reminds her brother how lucky he is to have Emma, who has stood by his side throughout everything. Finally, these two ladies have reconciled, and we are all about the this female friendship.
Brandon takes his time with his “promposal” (unfortunately, there’s no flash mob involved)
With so many important storylines happening this episode, Brandon’s attempts at asking Grace to prom are a welcome injection of comic relief. First, he casually brings up the event. She let’s him know that she would love to go, and that he should ask her. Confused, he asks again. Grace, the adorable muffin she is, tells him to “take his time.” Clearly, girlfriend wants a promposal. Mariana translates girl language for Brandon and tells him as much, and he cutely asks if he’s supposed to arrange a flash mob. After giving it a lot of thought, Brandon settles on a callback to their relationship’s beginnings – he handcuffs himself to her bed, “Will you go 2 prom with me?” written on his bare chest. Poor Brandon, because Grace is not the first woman to walk through the door. Her mother is greeted to a nearly naked and totally handcuffed Brandon in her daughter’s bed.
Mariana: “She wants a promposal. An over-the-top invite. A grand gesture.”
Brandon: “Like.. A flash mob..or?”
Mariana: “Like, in the vein of a flash mob, but definitely not a flash mob.”
We need to talk. It’s pretty serious, so let’s get the fun stuff out of the way first.
Grace is adorable. She’s honestly the best match for Brandon we could think of (sans, maybe, Callie.) They have fantastic chemistry, loads of fun together, and their scenes were the best part of this episode. It’s amazing that the “handcuffed to the bed” thing has become so iconic in so few episodes.
Now for the bad part. Let’s think for a moment. When has the Fosters ever let two people be so perfect for each other without some major issue getting in the way? Also, consider Grace’s mom’s reaction to Brandon. It wasn’t the nakedness that bothered her – she reacted with, and I quote, “Grace has no business having a boyfriend, let alone going to prom.” This is going to be hard for us to process, but we are pretty sure (are you ready for this?) Grace is dying. All of the signs are there. She makes it a point to do things that scare her, she wants to go all out for prom, and take a look at next week’s promo. Brandon is planning to make prom special for Grace because she’s dying. Damn you, Fosters, we don’t need this kind of pain in our lives.
Final Verdict: The Fosters “Engaged” delivers an emotional yet fun episode, with hints at devastation to come in next week’s finale
This episode suffers only from a season-wide disconnect. If the past few episodes didn’t feel slightly out of order, we’d venture to say this episode was perfect. That’s two in a row in the “win” column for The Fosters. “Engaged” had focus, purpose, and just enough comic relief to offset the serious stuff going on. It was also realistic – Jesus’s struggles felt real, making them difficult to watch. Callie’s doubts about her future mirror real thoughts that plague millions of teenagers. The Fosters often struggles with overcrowded plotlines, but this episode completely avoids that. In fact, with the entire family converging at the engagement party, the episode felt especially focused.
With an episode so clear cut, it’s hard to imagine that we are misinterpreting things. Still, we hope we are wrong about Grace. Is there any chance she’s not dying? Maybe she’s just, um, moving. Or something like that! It’s possible, right? Maybe she’s enlisting in the Army.
The Fosters is nearly perfect. Although we loved last week’s episode (we gave it an A) it feels jarringly out of place in the context of this season’s narrative. There may be a reason for this, but we aren’t sure what it is. Until it’s made clear, the only advice we offer The Fosters is to smooth out the transitions between their episodes a little. Even an out of place episode can feel right if it’s introduced and embedded well.
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This week’s scene stealer was Grace, and not just because we’re worried about her. She was absolutely adorable this episode. In fact, she was without a doubt the best part of The Fosters this week. She’s never had a tendency toward subtlety, which is great, since Brandon has to be hit over the head with hints before he gets them. Still, the way she indicated her desire for a promposal this week made the ‘scene stealer’ decision easy.
Next week is the season five finale (can you believe it’s already time?) and there’s a lot to look forward to. Next week is prom, and there’s been so much leading up to this. Firstly, we will find out if we are right about Grace (please, no.) Secondly, Mariana’s storyline will culminate in her attending prom with both her neighborly crush and his territorial girlfriend. Jesus’s plans are up in the air due to his fresh break-up with Emma, and Callie is not planning to attend the event, but, hey, maybe she’ll change her mind? Either way it’s sure to be eventful, and we cannot wait.
Questions and Comments:
- Seriously, is Grace dying?
- She cannot die. Poor Brandon. Poor us!
- Will Callie go to prom?
- Will Mariana survive her prom plans?
- How quickly will Jesus regret his breakup with Emma, and how will he deal with it?
- How will we deal with it?
- What are we supposed to do with our lives after next week’s finale?