Watching Daphne self-destruct is a frustrating experience, because as an outside observer everything she’s doing is ridiculous. Blaming Regina for causing Angelo’s accident even though she wasn’t even there? Ridiculous. Turning this anger into an internal excuse to make decisions that only hurt herself, and not the person she’s actually angry with? Ridiculous.
The thing about grief, though, is that it’s ridiculous. It makes no sense to an outside observer, as grief by nature is an internal process; the only person who understands it is the person going through it (and maybe not even them, sometimes). So while watching Daphne grieve so awkwardly and outwardly is frustrating and ridiculous, I get it. I get that she’s young and dumb and dealing with real loss for the first time in her life. I get that she has nowhere to properly funnel these mixed-up feelings, so they’re going to all the wrong outlets. But it was starting to feel like the writers were wallowing in Daphne’s self-destructive behavior without really advancing it, right until the show does something really smart in this episode: It finally has people react to Daphne’s behavior. Noticing Daphne’s behavior is one thing—Regina, for one, has been noticing it since Angelo died—but reacting to it is something completely different, narratively. It turns the story from a monologue into a conversation, deepening it for everyone involved along the way.
When Bay finally confronts Daphne about her reckless behavior, Daphne’s story becomes real in a way it wasn’t when she was trashing Regina’s worksite, organizing senior ditch day, or smuggling in beers while saying choice after-school special lines like “Why is everyone such a drag?” Bay brings perspective to the story by pointing out that everyone is just as devastated about Angelo’s death; Daphne is not some special flower. Daphne’s fight with Regina does the same thing, when once again Daphne is faced with the hard truth that she doesn’t have a monopoly on grieving Angelo. It can’t be a coincidence that Bay points out Angelo wasn’t even Daphne’s father, right before Daphne in turn tells Regina she was never her mother. There’s a lot of tricky emotions tied up in the mess that is in this family, and it’s used to the story’s greatest advantage here.
As much as I get Daphne’s story, and as much as it advanced nicely in this episode, it is still tough to watch at times. This is mostly on purpose, as Daphne’s “tough girl” schtick is just that—schtick. She’s just a girl trying on other personas because she can’t quite deal with her own at the moment. The real Daphne can’t help but shine through a bit, which we get a glimpse of when she is so vulnerable in Sharee’s car, asking about how Sharee can forgive her own mother for all the things she’s done. In that moment, Daphne is beautiful and fragile and scared. It almost makes the bravado posturing worth it.
- Carrie Wikis Some Art: You Will Not Escape, Francisco Goya, 1799, etching on paper.
- Angelo had a million-dollar life insurance policy? Hey, big spender. It’s nice that Regina is going to use some of the money to invest in Melody’s UMKC Gallaudet program.
- Bay does not have an aneurysm, at least not now. Thanks, Clarence Wiedman!
- I love Kathryn’s story of meeting smart people who think she’s smart in turn and enjoy her writing, but the fake lesbian story was… strange. Sometimes this show just likes to be a little odd. I did enjoy John’s amusement at the whole thing, and Regina’s nice moment of laughter.
- Emmett is going to go to USC film school and Bay is going to follow him? I am confused as to why Bay thinks there is only one art school in the entire country worth going to. I guess we’ll see how this progresses.
- Travis, however, gets a very nice moment where he accepts Melody’s help and decides to stay in Carlton and go to UMKC.
Oh, how I loved this episode. Callie’s story in the group home last season is one of my absolute favorite things The Fosters has ever done, so returning to that setting here was bound to be a good thing. Other than a few awkward, overly-simplistic beats, that was definitely the case. Can we get a girls-home spinoff, please?
Callie returns to the group home for “Community Day,” which is basically a front for “show the neighbors we’re not serial killers so the home doesn’t get forcibly evicted.” When Callie returns she is exalted as a model success story and an inspiration to all girls still living in the house, which both hurts and helps Callie in her time there. The plot itself inside the house is rather complicated and intricate, which could derail the entire thing. What makes it work is that seeing Callie interact with Rita and all of the teens we got to know last season (Becca, Cole, and Kiara are back) feels like putting on a particularly comfortable pair of slippers; this setting just fits the show perfectly. Callie immediately picks up where she was when she left last season, being a trusted confidante for the residents, helping them make important decisions. Rosie O’Donnell’s Rita is the glue that holds this story and setting together, but it’s easy to see Callie as almost a mini-Rita. She’s good with these girls, and good for them. I would love to see The Fosters run with the idea that Callie’s calling in life is helping young people who are in the same position she used to be.
True, the story gets a bit melodramatic with the one-note introduction of troublemaker Devani, who doesn’t exist to be a person as much as a human-like obstacle to cause conflict for Callie. (Though Devani does get an interesting line about not seeing Callie as the house’s “great white hope.”) True, the story gets even more melodramatic when Becca almost burns the entire house down, displacing all of the girls in the process. But it’s the subtleties where the girls home story shines, like when Callie reveals she’s really there because she can’t quite figure out how to get over her rape, and this was a place she felt comfortable figuring out how to get over things. Like how Rita immediately realizes Callie decided to help out for the weekend because she’s working through something, but doesn’t press her on it. Like Callie says, she might not be the person she wants to be right now, but she’s working on it. Isn’t that as much as any of us can ask of ourselves, and of others?
- Rosie O’Donnell is seriously great as Rita. I am not kidding when I say I’d watch a spinoff focusing on a group home with her as the house mother.
- Vichyssoise for teenagers? Sure. (I still think this Hayley story is headed somewhere scary.)
- I like that Lena’s emotional recovery isn’t being ignored, even in an episode she’s barely in. Her Skype call with Stef was beautiful.
- Stef’s sex talk with Jesus was lovely, especially because it was way more about the emotional ramifications of sex rather than just “consequences.”
- Brandon and Lou are almost a thing. Mariana and Christian from Dance Academy are basically a thing. I don’t think this band is going to make it for the long haul. Too many messy relationship ties.