The Fosters' 'Father's Day' shined emotional light on unique family dynamics
Callie, Jude, Brandon, Mariana, Sophia and AJ all learned new truths about their families in a wonderful episode centered around the Fosters' Father's Day traditions.
Stef and Lena are amazing parents who truly give their five children everything they need. The Fosters has never shied away from depicting the love, support and strong guidance their two-mom home brings to the kids.
This week, The Fosters did something a little different, though, and turned the spotlight onto the fathers — biological, surrogate and otherwise — who also have had a hand in shaping the kids, and the results were emotional to say the least. The undeniable truth is for all of the kids, including Callie's sister Sophia and the new kid, AJ, their fathers' presence and absence from their lives have played a huge part in how they interact with the world.
Mariana never knew who her father was, so her journey into discovering what her biological mother's family is like is opening new doors for her. Mike is there for all the kids, not just Brandon, and his growth as a parent is put on full display when he agrees to foster AJ. It's a huge step for Mike, who struggled to be there for Brandon due to his alcoholism, but during the moment Mike tucked in his grown-up son it was clear he had matured enough to take on AJ, a young man who is full of secrets and in desperate need of a family. For the rest of the episode's fathers, mending and building relationships with their children did not come so easily.
It was Donald, Jude and Callie's father, who stole the hour. In his previous appearances, Donald has appeared to be a well-meaning but largely inept father figure. He just never pulled his life together after the car crash that killed the kids' mom. Seeing Jude so eager to bring his father back into his life while also being unwilling to tell Donald he was gay or share Donald's prison past with Connor was heartbreaking. It was not nearly as heartbreaking as Callie's complete denial that Donald, the man who raised her, was in any way her family, though.
Donald is clearly not cut out to be a full-time parent. The best thing he ever did for Jude was to allow Stef and Lena to adopt him, but he is still part of Jude and Callie. In "Father's Day," he proved why he deserves to stay in their lives. When Connor's dad once again screamed at his son upon finding out Connor and Jude went public with their relationship at school, it was Donald who stood up to him. Rather than result to violence or raised voices, Donald simply reminded Connor's dad that love and acceptance is a parent's first job, and that all he wanted for Jude was for Jude to never be ashamed of who he is.
Callie's reluctance to acknowledge Donald led to the episode's most cry-worthy moment. If you didn't shed tears as she rushed to the bus stop to hug her father, then you may have a robot heart. Robert once again demonstrated just how amazing he is by not only being courteous to Donald, but by helping Callie realize Donald has paid for and will continue to pay for his mistakes for the rest of his life whether Callie forgives him or not.
For this reason, the culmination of both Robert and Donald's influence on Callie's life were present in the scene when she told Donald how much she loved him. Callie has come a long way, thanks to Stef and Lena, but Robert's impact on her life should not be underestimated either. All of her parents have made her a wiser, more open young woman, and it is absolutely beautiful to watch her continue to open up.
The Robert the show introduced last season was so determined to get Callie under his roof he was willing to try to buy her love, but the Robert of Season 3 is more confident in his relationship with his daughter. He has gratitude for Donald, and he wants Callie to know he supports her staying in touch with the man who was there for her when he couldn't be.
"Father's Day" was light on plot, but it more than made up for that in emotion. The Fosters is primarily a story about mothers and their children, so to see the show step outside its comfort zone and explore the bond between the kids and their fathers was commendable. It may not have been a thrilling hour, but it was powerful all the same.