So after a fairly overwrought Season 1 finale—pretty much everything that could've gone wrong did, indeed, go wrong—The Fosters' Season 2 premiere, "Things Unknown," settled into some less intense rhythms. It was a smoother, more typical episode of the series, with a more normal mix of ups, downs, secrets, and one very big surprise. It didn't pick up all the threads from the finale—Timothy's sudden cold feet about signing away his parental rights for Stef and Lena's baby went unmentioned, ditto Zac's move to Arizona—but that's probably for the best. The show has enough big things going on that it doesn't need to address everything in every episode.
The episode still kept plenty busy as it set about establishing a new storyline for Mariana, keeping the Jesus and Emma relationship chugging along, putting Stef on Ana's trail, following Brandon's recovery, and, of course, dealing with the lingering question of Callie's adoptive status. The last two stories understandably drew the lion's share of the focus, and I'm mostly just glad it didn't involve the rekindling of a Callie/Brandon romance because oy with that poodle already. There may still be some feelings on Brandon's side of that pairing, but thankfully Callie seems disinterested in exploring the option any further.
Brandon's been recovering from the beating that Vico doled out, which included smashing the young pianist's hand with a car door. Physical therapy appeared to be going well, but I suspect that another type of therapy might be necessary to get Brandon back on track. For better or for worse, the second half of Season 1 put Brandon through a wringer, what with his "YOU CAN'T STOP OUR LOVE!" mentality regarding his relationship with Callie and his squirreling away of piano-lesson money to help Callie, which he used to buy off Ana. And then he came clean about that, broke up with Callie, bore the brunt of Mike's alcoholic relapses, and slept with Dani. While Jude conceived of anchors as something that provide you with stability in rough waters, anchors are also things that weigh you down, and Brandon's got himself a whole mess of them.
Which is why his inability to play the piano as he once did is such a big deal. Everything else is a mess for Brandon, but the music has always provided a sense of identity, a good anchor in the choppy waters of his life. Without it, as he asked Mike after failing to play his signature composition, who is he? He's the guy who lost the girl, stole money from his father, and then slept with his father's girlfriend. It's not a good person to be. I may not have liked how Brandon rather quickly shifted from the most together Foster kid to being the one who's the hottest of hot messes, but I can appreciate the show not wanting to make Brandon all better with a series of quick fixes, like his hand being back to normal, Dani disappearing, and a pretty new girl stepping in to help him rebuild his self-esteem.
In contrast, Callie enjoyed a couple of quick fixes so that the the Robert Quinn plot could drive her stories for a while. Issues like Callie being placed in a new foster home with an old pro of the system—in a physical house with doors that only lock from the outside and bars across the windows—and Robert Quinn being served with abandonment papers were all resolved off-screen. I'll happily accept Stef and Lena receiving the necessary extension on their fostering license so quickly and getting Callie out of the other house because, well, been there/done that, no need to rehash the struggles of Callie not being able to be home.
I'm burying the lede, however. The lede is that Callie has herself
what looks like a twin sister a half-sister who is presumably in the care of Robert Quinn. The development had me going "HOLY COW!" upon the initial revelation, and then once the shock began to wear off, trying to form a more nuanced reaction to it. And that latter reaction is this: Okay. Let's see where this goes. Had Robert Quinn just been flying solo, I don't see Callie being all that interested in reconnecting with him beyond determining why he left her and Callie's mother behind. But with a prospective sister in the picture? That opens up another familial connection, one that doesn't have the built-up baggage that Robert Quinn may've already taken on in his brief existence. Regardless, it should be interesting.
In other storylines...
Mariana: She's joined the dance club at the school (which is having budgetary problems, and is looking for a new principal) and has dyed her hair blonde. Both Mariana and The Fosters tend to flit from story to story, so I have no idea how long we'll stick with this particular issue. It is one, however, that the series is giving its cultural due by creating an analogue between Mariana's current hair issues and Lena's own hair issues during her teenage days. Pile on some girls thinking she only made the cut for the group because she's Latin, and there's potential for good racial identity conflict here.
Jesus and Emma: Not much happening here. Jesus lied to Emma about his plans to go play paintball but ended up 'fessing up, thank goodness. Emma was mostly struggling with the fact that the other wrestlers began treating her like a girl because she started dating Jesus, but she intended to address the issue after Jesus quit the team so she could feel at home again. It was a nice gesture from Jesus, but I like that Emma slapped it down and wanted to deal with it herself and keep Jesus involved in something that's giving him some stability.
The adults: Nothing much on the pregnancy front except that Lena is craving potato chips and spaghetti for breakfast. Stef was the busy bee this week, looking into Ana's disappearance only to have some of our suspicions from the finale confirmed: It appears that Mike was involved, due to his desire for Stef to drop the issue and a witness saying that Mike was getting into things with Ana. Messy, messy, messy. Oh, and Dani's moving with Mike. Because that'll go well.
What did you think of "Things Unknown"?