Stef and Mike enter Ana’s house once they see drug paraphernalia on the coffee table. Mike closes the door and covers for Stef while she looks through the living room and the first bedroom, which are clear. The two split up then, however, and Stef gets shot in the chest by Evan in the bathroom; Mike hears the gunshots and runs into the bathroom where he shoots Evan multiple times, killing him instantly, and tries to comfort Stef. She attempts to talk, but he tells her to save her strength and calls for help on his radio.
Jesus meets Ana in front of the shelter he wanted her to go to and informs her that there’s a bed open tonight for her. Since she claims to have climbed out the bathroom window with nothing but the clothes on her back, she asks for (and receives) money from her son to help her get on her feet. At the Foster house, Lena is trying to talk to Mariana about why she felt the need to see Ana, especially when there was an offer on the table for supervised visits. Before they can get into the meat of the issue, though, Jesus calls and informs them where he’s at so they can come pick him up. Just as they find him, Lena receives another call, this time from Mike; he tells her that Stef’s been shot and that they’re at the hospital.
Brandon arrives home to find the house almost completely deserted, with only Callie home. The two small talk about their evenings with their significant others (or something resembling a significant other) and get a visit from Officer Juarez, Mike’s co-worker who informs them of what happened to Stef. Bloodied from the shooting, Stef is fighting for her life on the operating table at the hospital, her blood pressuring falling and her lung collapsed. It’ll be up to the trauma team if Stef is to make it out of there alive, leaving Lena stunned.
The Fosters don’t know how to act with the power to help Stef out of their hands. Mariana and Jesus pass the blame back and forth, while Lena is the only person allowed to see a non-responsive Stef before she heads up to imaging, seeing as how Mike has to wait to give his Internal Affairs statement. Once by her partner’s side, Lena flashes back to the first time they met, a sunny day when Brandon was in kindergarten, Stef was still married, and the force that brought them together was school-related. Lena comes back to the waiting room and has to deal with insurance information on top of everything else, which includes Brandon exploding on Jesus and Mariana for their role in the shooting. He gets talked down by Callie, though, and leaves the room, but not before hurting his siblings’ feelings.
Meanwhile, Mike is talking to the two men from Internal Affairs about what happened in the house, but there are two main points that they’re focusing on. Neither of them called for backup and it could seem like they were trying to intimidate Ana with their presence/guns; Mike is told not to see or speak to Stef until she’s conscious and coherent enough to give her corroborative statement. While Brandon is upset that Stef entered the home without her vest (and that Mike allowed her to do so), he tries to atone for his knowledge of Mariana’s involvement with Ana to Lena, claiming that he thought it was a one-time thing rather than something ongoing.
The family continually grows antsy about Stef’s condition and ways to pass the time until they know something concrete about her condition. Thankfully, Jude is spending the night at Connor’s and doesn’t have to hear talk about collapsed lungs and Ana’s thievery, as she left the women’s shelter almost as soon as she entered it – with Jesus’s $16 in hand. He claims that it’s good that Mike shot and killed Evan, but Mike assures him that any loss of life isn’t good in this line of work. They finally get some information on Stef’s condition from Dr. Aldicott, who informs them that her vital organs (minus the lung) are okay and that she’s up in ICU at the moment. The only problem is that the bullet is near the spine; it didn’t hit anything, but one of the fragments could potentially cause neurological damage and, eventually, paralysis, so they have to get those out as soon as possible. While the rest of the family goes to see Stef, Callie and Mike wait out in the waiting room.
After a quick moment with Stef, where they encourage her by telling her she’s doing really great and that they love her, Lena sends the kids home with Brandon, who she urges to step up and bring her some extra clothes for the night. Once alone, she confides in Stef that she’s trying her best to forgive the twins for their role in the shooting but isn’t doing a very good job. There’s another flashback, this time to when Stef first met Jesus and Mariana after their then-foster parents dropped them off at the police station. She gives them two pieces of candy and seems to immediately charm them, with Jesus being the more responsive.
Back home, Mariana is stress cleaning and gets joined by Jesus. The two find her “Nite-Nite” and the letter/poem that Lena and Stef gave them on the day their adoption became official. She then wonders what they would do if their mothers didn’t want them anymore. Elsewhere in the house, Brandon can’t think straight enough to pick out the clothes for Lena, so Callie does the job for him. While making her decisions, she clues him in on one aspect of foster life that he doesn’t seem to understand – that inner voice always questioning why the one person who was supposed to protect them didn’t. Taking her words (and perspective) to heart, he apologizes to the twins and reaffirms his love for them and the fact that they are his siblings, regardless of whatever labels they might have on them. There’s a knock on the door and it turns out to be Jude, too nervous and upset over what happened to Stef to sleep. He didn’t even tell Connor that he was leaving the sleepover; he just left a note and hopes that it will be enough to make things right.
The morning after they all went to sleep in the living room, Brandon wakes up to find Callie making biscuits and gravy, something her mother used to make a lot. He asks to hear more about her story and she obliges with the story of how her mother died in a car accident facilitated by her father; he was drunk and drove into another car, killing more than one person in that vehicle in addition to his wife. Being that there was nobody to keep them, Callie and Jude went into the foster system. Wyatt then shows up with donuts just as Stef is being taken into surgery, so Brandon wakes the rest of the family up, everybody eats a bite, and they all head to the hospital, where Jude changes seats just to hold Lena’s hand in comfort.
Meanwhile, Mike’s boss lets him in on the news that even in the worst case scenario, he and Stef will only be suspended for a day or two due to not calling for backup. However, she tries to talk to him about his drinking, only for him to bristle and promise to take care of it himself. He goes to get some coffee, instigating another flashback; this time, we see Stef telling Mike that their relationship has gone past a separation phase and that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. The reason? She’s finally accepted the fact that she’s a lesbian and met someone who she wants to be with. Rather than attempting to be someone she’s not or feel the unhappiness that comes from not being able to love him in the same way that he loves her, she’s decided to go for it. Back in present day, Mike spikes the coffee that he’s drinking out in his vehicle.
Outside the hospital, Wyatt and Callie are sitting together and he tells her that he knows she’s using him and that she’s got a thing for Brandon. Though he could have been upset, this situation has made him realize that everybody has to seize their own days; if being with Brandon would make her happy, he wants her to go for it. Callie gives him a kiss on the cheek and goes inside to talk to Brandon, only to see him being comforted by Talya the day following their concert date together. Additionally, Brandon catches on to the fact that Mike’s been drinking when the two hug and tosses the laced coffee into the garbage before leaving the room to clear his head.
Lena pays Stef another visit and kisses her head, flashing back to when they decided to be together. Lena didn’t want to be involved with a married woman, but Stef had told her father, Mike, and most of her friends that she was a lesbian and that she had met a woman that she wasn’t sure she could live without. In present day, Stef removes her breathing mask and asks about the kids, specifically naming Mariana, who Lena goes out to talk to again. She tells her daughter that she understands why she kept in touch with her birth mother and was so desperate to keep her in her life. She wanted more than the supervised visits that had originally been promised; she wanted to have a relationship with the woman who gave birth to her, the woman who she looks like, the woman who gave her up all those years ago and chose a self-destructive lifestyle over being a mother. Lena reminds her that she and Stef love her and chose her, that families aren’t about DNA but love.
Mike’s boss informs him that Ana has been picked up and is on her way to the hospital to identify the body of her boyfriend. She maintains that she was in the house at the time of the shooting and crawled out the bathroom window knowing that her boyfriend was going to/did shoot Jesus’ mother. While Stef gives her statement to Internal Affairs, Brandon and Mike have a confrontation over the drinking and Ana gets brought in at the same time Lena and the kids were leaving. Lena runs over to her and warns her not to go anywhere near the children ever again.
The episode ends with Callie being unable to sleep, Mariana climbing into bed with Lena, Brandon playing the piano, Jesus tossing the information about the shelter out, and Mike walking into his first AA meeting.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-The song that was playing over the final montage of the episode was “St. Christopher (On My Way)” by Michael Logen.
-So, this was wonderful. One of the most problematic aspects of The Fosters has been how much plot they try to stuff into an episode, so to have this focused on one event worked extremely well and explored the dynamics of the characters we’re only scratching the surface on.
-The flashbacks could have been time waste-y, but they were used really well here, filling in a lot of the past history of the characters and providing context for the foundation of the relationship between Lena and Stef. And frankly, they made the entire episode that much more emotional, not like this show needs any help in that area.
-I’m surprised that Callie would let herself think that she could be with Brandon, especially after all the talk of Liam, but I’m guessing that her emotions are so heightened right now from what happened to Stef that she had a moment of “carpe diem.” Does Wyatt essentially throwing in the towel mean that we won’t see him again?
-Props to them for explaining where Jude was and giving him what might be my favorite moment of the episode when he held Lena’s hand. Similarly sweet was Callie holding Mariana’s hand, a sign of how far they’ve come since the early episodes when the two hated each other.
-All the difficulty that Lena faced in dealing with her partner in the hospital (the mix-up of Ms./Mrs., the comments from Internal Affairs, the nurse going to Mike first) was very well-played and just subtle enough to make a point without being preachy. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this type of issue portrayed on scripted television before.
-I’m betting that we see Callie’s father get out of prison sometime in the winter season of the show. Any casting ideas?
-Next week on The Fosters: The Foster house is descended upon by Lena’s parents and Stef’s parents, while Callie must decide if she’s going to lie in her case with Liam in order to get justice.