Monday, December 25, 2017

Review: The Fosters 5x01 "Resist"

Originally written: July 13, 2017


Brandon:  Jesus!

Jesus:  Just leave me alone!

Brandon:  Come on!  Stop!  Jesus!  Hey!  [Brandon loses Jesus at this point]

Tonia:  So…Jesus can outrun Brandon in the dark…in the rain…with balance/stamina issues?  Okay then.  I guess I’ll suspend disbelief.

Tara:  I’ll take Disability As A Plot Device for $200, Alex.


[There's a knock at the door]

Gabe:  Hey.  Hey, thanks for coming.  What's wrong?

Ana:  Nothing, I--

Gabe:  Don't worry.  Nobody else is here.

Ana:  So, uh, what's going on?

Gabe:  I don't think living here is a good idea.  Jesus is already pissed at me 'cause I told his mom he wasn't taking his meds!  The kid was having seizures.  Seizures!  

Tonia:  Okay Gabe.  First of all.  There’s this thing when you have kids.  They’re going to be pissed at you sometimes.  Secondly, while it was a great call to tell Lena Jesus was not taking his meds, it’s not a great call to share Jesus’s medical information with Ana.  It’s called privacy.

Tara:  Unfortunately, disabled people are too often viewed as public property. The wider population feels entitled to our medical histories and diagnoses.  We are also viewed as objects of pity and/or inspiration.  We exist for public consumption.  

Ana:  Yeah.  That's serious.  You can't just--

Gabe:  Yeah.  I can't just turn my back, right?  And now he's not even talking to me.  And I live here, you know?  I mean, it's not like I can just go home or whatever and forget about it.  [Takes a drink]  What am I supposed to do, huh?  I mean, I never wanted to be a dad...and now here I am.

Ana:  I get it.  Trust me.  Look, I mean, I want to be a part of the twins' lives, and they seem to want to know us.  But they just have all this anger at us.

Tonia:  It’s a good thing you’re not their dad, then, Gabe, right?  And OMG Ana!  Their anger at you is legit!

Ana:  I mean, I have Isabella to think about.  I'm not sure we should even do this anymore.

Gabe: [sighs, resigned]


Brandon: We're never gonna find him...

Emma:  I never should've gotten you involved in all of this.  I wish I'd just--

Brandon: I wish you had just left me out of it.

Tonia:  I wish you'd just been honest with Jesus from the start, rather than actively lying to him for weeks.  That's what got you here, driving around looking for Jesus in the dark, not Emma asking for help.


Ana:  I mean, how are we supposed to know what's okay and what's not okay?  And what's crossing the line?  And what's expected of us?  It's not like there's a book out there on how not to raise your biological children...

Tonia:  Um, I don’t know, Ana.  It’s a little thing called boundaries.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.  You defer to Stef and Lena.  Their parents.

Gabe:  What if we're not supposed to?  I mean, I know we share the same, you know, biology or whatever but I mean, we don't know them.  We didn't raise them.  We weren't fit to be their parents and we're still not.  

Ana:  [sits quietly, looking down]

Gabe:  I least I'm not...  I don't know.  I think I oughta take that job in Tahoe.


Gabe and Ana:  [set down their drinks; go to the door to investigate.  They see Jesus walking in the back door, kicking over patio furniture on the way.]

Tonia:  Just in case we'd forgotten, the Fosters is quick to remind us here of the old and incorrect tale that TBI = AGGRESSION.


Emma:  You know what?  Why don't you take me back to school?  It's probably best if I just go home and--

Brandon:  No, I can--  Okay.  [Brandon pulls over.  Parks.]  I know I shouldn't have said all that.  Okay?  I'm glad that I was with you, and I wouldn't change it if I could.  And I know Jesus is gonna feel the same way, too.

Tonia:   Brandon, inquiring minds would like to know where you got these mind-reading powers.  Because if my memory serves, the last time you tried predicting what Jesus would feel, you were very, very wrong.


[Eerie music plays with the lyrics "Don't you know I've lost control?"]

[Outside, Gabe and Ana flinch at the noise, then look at each other and rush toward it]

Jesus: [Bashes through his/Brandon's bedroom door with the bat.  Smashes all the stuff off the top of Brandon's dresser.  Smashes a bookshelf repeatedly.]

Gabe: [Arrives and moves behind Jesus grabbing the bat from him and tossing it away.]

Jesus:  [Rips a poster off the wall]

Gabe:  Hey.  No.  Come here.  [Wraps his arms tight around Jesus, restraining his arms]

Jesus:  [Screams and fights the restraint]  No!

Ana: [Stands in the doorway, looking terrified]

Gabe:  [Brings him down to the ground, still holding on]  Hey.  It's okay.  It's okay.  I got you.  It's okay.  Just breathe.  Shhh...

Jesus:  [Still fighting the restraint.  Still clearly upset.  Crying.]

Gabe:  It's okay.

[Eerie music continues with the lyrics: "Weeping and gnashing of teeth..."]

Tonia:  So…how is restraint supposed to de-escalate Jesus’s stress here?  How is ignoring his saying no and struggling supposed to help?  Also it strikes me just how this is shot to make Jesus look big and imposing, bashing THROUGH the bedroom door with the bat.  (They’ve apparently done enough telling the audience that TBI = AGGRESSION and now they’ve moved on to showing us.)  We get the outsider’s perspective here, not Jesus’s own, so he looks unreasonable.  Irrational.  Out of control. When his anger is legitimate.  No one has told him the whole truth.  Of course his brain is going to fill in the gaps the best he can.

Tara:  I’ll take Harmful Representation for $800, Alex.  And Super (Bio) Parent for $1000.

1. Gabe grabs and physically restrains Jesus, and never actually says the word “Stop” at any point.  The assumption is Jesus Can’t/Won’t Be Reasoned With when actually he hasn’t been given that chance.

2.   Bodily restraint is not acceptable.  Bodily restraint is violent.  No amount of property damage is worth the physical and/or psychological damage caused by restraint.  Bodily restraint framed as comfort is especially egregious.

3. Verbal DeEscalation Techniques 

4. We are meant to view Gabe as the put-upon, sainted and heroic (bio) parent.  Be aware of the narrative the show is promoting.


Ana: [Looks at Gabe, nodding]

Gabe:  [Clearly uncomfortable]  So, uh...  What was all this about?

Jesus: [Quietly]  Emma is pregnant...or...was pregnant.  She got an abortion.  

Gabe:  Oh.  Why are you mad at Brandon?  

Jesus:  Because.  He was the father.

Gabe and Ana: [Exchange a freaked out look]

Brandon [Arriving at the front door with Emma]  Hey!  Jesus!  Are you here?

Gabe and Ana: [Still looking at each other]

Jesus: [Is quiet]

Tonia:  Well isn't right now just the perfect time for Brandon to arrive on scene....


Brandon:  Jesus.  I promise.  Nothing ever happened between me and Emma.  Ever.  

Emma:  I love you, Jesus.  I would never cheat on you.

Jesus:  But, but--  You guys have been, like, whispering, and--and--and looking at each other.  You know, like, shooting each other glances.  And you were touching her!

Brandon:  When?

Jesus:  When we were playing piano.

Emma:  He was just trying to show me where to put my fingers on the keys, because I am so bad at it.

Brandon:  And anytime that you saw us looking at each other?  We were just trying to figure out how to help you.

Tonia:  Oh my God. Where can I go to escape all the patronization?  It burns….

Tara:  Brandon, framing himself and Emma as nondisabled heroes who did no wrong and thereby dismissing Jesus’s anger again.

Jesus:  No.  Wait.  Because you guys were--  I had a dream, and Emma told me that you guys were together, and-- and--

Brandon:  [Looks at Jesus pityingly]

Gabe and Ana: [Seem uncomfortable]

Jesus:  Okay.  I guess, just because I had a dream doesn't mean it actually happened...

Emma:  [Has the most pitying of all pity faces for Jesus]

Gabe: Well, that's okay.  I think dreams are our brains' way of trying to put together all the stuff going on in our lives.  It sounds to me like your brain was just trying to put together a story as to why Brandon and Emma were so close.  When the real reason is, how much they care about you.

Tonia:  Oh Gabe, you were so close to not boarding a train at Patronization Station.  Telling Jesus his dream made sense was so right on, but then you had to go and board that dang train…

It also strikes me that - knowing what Gabe knows about what Jesus did to Brandon's things?  His remark here could serve to put Jesus in his place or to make him feel ashamed for his actions.


Emma:  My mom's gonna be here in a second.  

Jesus:  [Nods]

Emma:  I'm sorry that I didn't tell you.  Not that I did it.  You were just so messed up from everything, I didn't wanna--

Jesus:  No, it's okay.  I get it.  

Tonia:  Ableism, meet your not so distant cousin Internalized Ableism.  (Emma, that was some apology…)

Tara:  Perhaps you could have told him earlier and avoided this whole mess?

Jesus:  I'm sorry that I yelled at you.  [Reaches out to Emma.  She takes his hands and steps closer.]  I hope that...that we're okay.

Emma:  Of course we are.  Of course.  [They kiss.]


Lena:  So, what happened?

Gabe:  Uh...  Jesus had a, uh, pretty violent reaction to finding out what Brandon did.  You know, taking Emma to...

Lena:  What do you mean, violent?

Gabe:  Well, we found him taking a baseball bat to some of Brandon's stuff.

Lena:  Are you serious?

Gabe:  Yeah.

Jesus: [Comes inside]

Lena:  Jesus!  You took a baseball bat to Brandon's room?  What the hell is wrong with you?  What are you thinking?!

Tonia:  And it’s this right here that I have not been able to get over in two days.  Lena Adams Foster.  Assistant Principal.  PhD in Child-Whatever (according to Mike.)  Took all the training to become a foster parent and to stay current on that license, but you’re gonna speak to your kid like this?  Lena, who never, ever speaks to her kids like this?  I don’t know, this just felt glaringly obvious to me and devastating that Jesus is continuing to deal with this level of ableism from his family.  It feels very realistic, don’t get me wrong.  But when it flies under the radar for literally everybody as okay and a reasonable reaction for her to have?  It’s just really upsetting.

Tara:  This is what ableism looks like when you have an invisible disability.  Lena realizes her error when she hears Jesus attempt to speak, and she apologizes.

Jesus:  Well, I--I--I didn't--  I meant...

Lena:  Okay, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry, honey, I know that this is just a symptom of your TBI.  But, honey, we've got to figure out a better way for you to express your anger.  You can't just go around destroying things.

 Tonia:  Please exit Dismissal Drive, Lena.  Jesus’s anger is legitimate.

Tara:  I’m going to just leave this here, because it is perfection:

“TBI doesn’t ‘cause aggression’, TBI can cause disinhibtion of emotions, and constantly being around a bunch of ableist assholes can cause aggression.” (x)

Brandon:  Destroying what?  [Brandon looks at Jesus, who is tearful and not looking Brandon in the eye.  Brandon rushes upstairs to discover his door and possessions smashed.]

Tonia:  And just like that, the focus is once again on How Hard Disabled People Make Nondisabled People's Lives :/


Gabe:  That was intense.

Ana:  Yeah.

Gabe:  Thanks for hanging in with me through all that.

Ana:  [Nods]  So?  Still think you're heading to Tahoe?

Gabe:  Not right now.  I kinda feel like Jesus needs me, you know?

Ana: [Nods]

Gabe:  So...what about you and Mariana?

Tonia:  Needs you to...restrain him?  Because I don't think Jesus needs anymore of that, Gabe.  (One of the most horrendous things about this episode is how an act of violence is shown as loving/comforting.)


Ana:  I never should've stormed out of therapy like I did.  Just too much.  And to be honest, I don't remember leaving you and Jesus alone overnight when you were babies.  I'm kind of amazed that you do.

Mariana:  Well, it was pretty traumatic, so...

Ana:  Right.

Tonia:  Tell her, Mariana.  Seriously.

Ana:  Yeah, sure.  But there are a lot of things I don't remember from those days.  I know that sometimes I would leave you to go out and score drugs.  So, as much as I hate to say it?  I probably did what you said.  I probably left you alone overnight.  Just add it to the list of things I'll never be forgiven for.  

Mariana:  No.  That's not why I brought it up.  I don't want you to beat yourself up over it, I just...I just needed to know that you knew.  

Tonia:  I’m really glad there was some follow-up here.  It needed to happen.  Even if it feels a bit too neat and tidy…

Ana:  I just wish there was something I could do.  Some way I could make it up to you and your brother.  

Mariana:  Just take good care of Bella.  That's enough.  I promise.  [Lays her head on Ana's shoulder.]

Tonia:  Seriously, though?  Who is the parent here and who is the child?  I'm asking.  Because Ana's reaction is all about her feeling bad for what she did, not about being sorry about what she did.  She never apologizes.  Not once.  Instead of taking responsibility here, Ana puts all her own guilt on Mariana and gives Mariana the additional job of absolving her for something Ana never actually apologized for in the first place.


Brandon: [Is inside, cleaning up.  Pauses, looks at Jesus, then closes the door on him]

Jesus: [Walks to the room he shares with Jude.  He walks across the floor littered with broken pieces of Brandon's keyboard.  Jesus is in his boxers.  Moves Brandon's pillow off his bed.  Jude watches, and says nothing]

Tara:  When Brandon shuts the door to his room, he is also cutting off Jesus’s access to the hospital bed still inside.  :/

For more: Disability on The Fosters


  1. Great review. Although it may be a violation of Jesus’s privacy I still think that is an entirely believable instance where the information would get out between Gabs and Ana. The running in the rain however is not. The restraint reminds me of an “Autism Speaks” video where I saw a mom restrain a kid with autism when she could have just read his body language to avoid the whole thing. There are cases where people may need to be restrained from hurting themselves and/or others and I haven’t seen the episode but I imagine restraint may not be as needed here. I see jealous characters on TV trash stuff a lot without being restrained. There's a lesson in another show that goes "The truth is always better than a well meant lie" and I think the characters need to learn that. I think Jesus means “I get it” in regards to the abortion itself like Emma not regretting the abortion, not that she was right about lying.

  2. Great review. Although it may be a violation of Jesus’s privacy I still think that is an entirely believable instance where the information would get out between Gabs and Ana. The running in the rain however is not. The restraint reminds me of an “Autism Speaks” video where I saw a mom restrain a kid with autism when she could have just read his body language to avoid the whole thing. There are cases where people may need to be restrained from hurting themselves and/or others and I haven’t seen the episode but I imagine restraint may not be as needed here. I see jealous characters on TV trash stuff a lot without being restrained. I think Jesus means “I get it” in regards to the abortion itself, not the lying.

    1. Yes, definitely believable that Gabe and Ana would talk about Jesus between themselves, I agree. Running in the rain? Not as much. Agreed again.

      I can see restraint as a last resort kind of thing if somebody is hurting others especially and not responding to any verbal redirection etc. Jesus was very clearly destroying property here, in a room empty of other people. And Gabe never even spoke to him before grabbing him.

      And maybe it comes across differently in the scene, but I never got that Jesus meant "I get it" in reference to Emma's abortion. Maybe this is because it comes RIGHT after Emma says, "You were just so messed up from everything," that it feels like he is agreeing with her that he IS messed up :(

      Thanks as always for your comments!

    2. It does feel that Jesus was a few beats/lines behind and also that he was responding to the most emotionally salient thing in the situation/what needed to be resolved in his mind and with Emma.

      I don't know that I see Gabe and Ana running in the rain either.

      Yes, Margot and Tonia, reading body language is important. Is it the "Autism Every Day" film or one of the successors? I know that in some of the material about Muppet Julia, there was a boy called Samuel who was restrained.

      Jesus was probably responding to the "I'm sorry" part from Emma.

      Lena-the-principal - what a moment for me.

      And what she says reminds me of what a relative said to me. It is a very fine line between validating and dismissing and I have just read the Rooted in Rights post about Gaslighting.

      I appreciated the Verbal Deescalators very much.

      And it felt like we were in an Ian Dury story/music clip. Or I am thinking of Ian Curtis and that song "She's lost control". If you know your British New Wave/punk/New Romantic bands as well as the ones which are a little bit alternative. Tom Shakespeare mentions him in his blog.

      And that point, Margot, about "jealous characters on TV" - and in books - "smashing stuff without being restrained". And once one thing is trashed, you can't stop. And then as many as is needed to make the point to Brandon.

      The vigilance with the subtle and sub-vocal is something I can identify with when Jesus shows it.

      And, no, Jesus has not been given that chance.

      How does he outrun Brandon? Too much like Mice and Men and if Lennie were in that situation - with or without rabbits. I seem to remember Curly was fairly fast and wiry.

      Loved the Jeopardy game you two played, Tara and Tonia.

      I think internalised ableism and external ableism are twins. Faces of the same coin. Though they develop away from one another.

      Feeling bad for and sorry about... that is another pairing /parallel too.

  3. Hi Tonia and Adelaide,

    You’re welcome! I never saw the full episode so I don’’t know the verbal subtleties of the “I get it” line. Sorry. The sad thing is some people with TBI do feel damaged or messed up and if Jesus feels this way Emma’s comments are not helping. Yes I remember talking to an autistic filmmaker who said his brother and himself had to be physically restrained during a fight that got out of hand(after they were verbally asked to stop) for their own safety. To contrast his experiences with a more ableist one he showed me this “Autism Speaks” video where an autistic child got upset due to his food sensitivity but the ableist mom took the complaint as a reason to restrain the kid. I don’t remember what video it was as I last saw it back in 2008 so I’m not sure if its still online.