There were no fatalities in the car crash that ended The Fosters' second season, but the repercussions of the accident are still reverberating throughout the Foster home in the premiere. Throughout the episode, character after character makes choices based on raw emotion.
Stef is determined to find the driver of the truck that hit Ana's car because she can't stop thinking about what he could have taken from her; Lena tries to distance herself from Monte, even as it is clear something is drawing them together; and Jude refuses to define himself as gay because he just wants to be Jude for a while. It is Callie and Mariana who make the worst choices in the premiere, though, and watching them make these honest, teenage mistakes was heartbreaking.
Last season, Mariana was teased by her siblings for being the last of the older kids to still be a virgin. With Mat preparing to leave for a tour and Ana pushing her away, Mariana decided to lose her virginity no matter what. After Mat had shot her down, Mariana found herself drinking with Wyatt, and they had sex.
For a character who prides herself on being in control, this was a huge moment for Mariana. Not only did she lose her virginity, but she cheated on a boy she cares about and put herself in a potentially awkward situation with Callie. The sisterly bond between Callie and Mariana is strong, and Mariana could use her sister more than ever now that her life has become so messy, but Callie is the last person Mariana can turn to now that she has slept with Wyatt.
Both Callie and Mariana have faced too much rejection in their young lives, and they react strongly when they are pushed away. Callie finally has stability in her life, but AJ, the latest foster kid to join the show's canvas, instantly becomes a threat by playing on Callie's vulnerabilities. It is clear The Fosters is setting AJ up to be Callie's new love interest, and he is already an interesting character.
Unfortunately, he is also already a negative influence on Callie. As a foster kid herself, Callie knows what it is to be bounced around from home to home with no one but her brother to call family. AJ played on her sympathies and cost her the work-study job she needed to graduate on time.
For Callie, this is a huge blow. For once, her life was on track, and she was providing a valuable service to the foster kids at the drop-in center. When AJ broke her trust and stole from the shelter, he not only hurt Callie, but all of the kids she could have helped. Callie did not have to choose to let AJ spend the night in the shelter, but she let her emotions guide her. Now she has to pay a price.
Callie and Mariana are not biological sisters, but they are so much alike when it comes to matters of the heart that it hurts. They need to feel wanted and needed, and they go to great lengths to find that acceptance. By the episode's end, both of them were left brokenhearted for very different reasons.
Mariana lost her virginity in a way that was as unromantic as possible. Her fantasies were exchanged for a sad, drunken reality. She cannot take her choice back, and she will inevitably feel like the only person she can turn to is Ana. The hard truth is even now that Ana is raising a new baby, she is still not Mariana's mother. She can't and won't give Mariana the support she craves. That leaves Mariana to spiral out as the feelings of isolation that were clearly creeping in by the time she confessed to Callie she had, indeed, lost her virginity are free to take hold.
Callie can turn to Stef and Lena, but her trust has once again been violated. Since the show began, Callie has come so far in overcoming her trust issues. She has a family now, two families, in fact, but AJ proved to her that the world is still full of people waiting to take advantage of her. The last thing Callie needs is another person to shake her belief in humanity. Her future is uncertain again all because she tried to help out a boy who reminded her of herself.
AJ is set to recur throughout the season, so the character will continue to be a factor in Callie's life. He could end up being a decent kid, but right now, he is just another liar in a long line of liars who have taken advantage of Callie's kind heart.
Even though the premiere never delivered on its life-or-death stakes premise, it gave each character a powerful starting point for the season. The duality in Callie and Mariana's stories was the most poignant part of the hour. These lost girls are stumbling their way toward adulthood in fits and starts, and it is both wonderful and terrifying to watch. Season 3 surely holds more heartache for them, but Mariana and Callie are fighters. They can learn from their mistakes. They always do.
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