The Fosters is back and picked up moments after the mid-season finale with Callie (Maia Mitchell), Ximena (Lisseth Chavez) and AJ (Tom Williamson) stuck inside a church with ICE agents surrounding the building.
Things only got more complicated from there as ICE involved the FBI in an attempt to get Ximena out of the church. Callie decided to go on Facebook Live to explain Ximena's situation, which prompted a protest outside of the church, scared off the FBI from getting involved and forced the ICE agents to depart. The lack of enforcement outside of the church allowed Callie and AJ to go home, but Ximena's plight to find a legal way to stay in the country will continue to play out through the season as she stays hidden in the church.
TV Guide talked to executive producer Joanna Johnson about what they'll highlight with Ximena's struggle and what the rest of the Adams-Fosters will be up to in the last 10 episodes.
I feel like there was a version of this where you could have wrapped up Ximena and her story very nicely and gotten her out of the church with everything wrapped up. We're obviously going to be staying with her for a while and following this process. Why did you guys want to take your time telling this particular story?
Joanna Johnson:Well, we certainly didn't want anybody to think that it's an easy solution for these people that are being pursued by ICE. And taking from some of the headlines and articles that we've read, there are people that are living in churches for weeks and months and some for a year or more trying to get their immigration status worked out and afraid that if they leave they'll be detained. So we certainly didn't want to make light of the issue.
When the finale aired, DACA was at the forefront of everyone's mind. It was in the headlines. And now that Trump has sort of backed off it, what do you guys specifically want to highlight so that people are still aware that these issues are happening and are going on, even if it's not on CNN every day?
Johnson: Well, we want people to realize that there is no real legal protection of the Dreamers, kids that were brought here as children to America, and that DACA is still going to expire early next year. And there was a deadline date, that I think has already passed to apply, and they're accepting no more applications. So there's still no actions towards and no guarantee for these kids. Even if Ximena's DACA application is approved, that will only give her two years and then she'll be back in the same boat trying to figure out what she's going to do as far as having to possibly leave the only country she's ever known, that she grew up in. We just really wanted to make people realize that there are something like 800,000 kids, people in DACA, who are really awaiting what's going to happen, the decision on their fate. It doesn't seem like anyone in Congress is desperate to address this issue. So we definitely wanted to keep awareness up.
For the time being, Poppy's going to be staying with the Adams-Fosters. How is that going to affect the house dynamics with a new kid in there?
Johnson: Well, it doesn't have necessarily a negative effect. Of course, it's one more mouth to feed. But you know, Poppy sort of has a crush on his Jesus, which I think we've sort of set up. So her living there under the same roof as him doesn't make Emma feel super comfortable once Emma realizes that Poppy has some feelings for him. That definitely will cause a bit of a conflict.
Speaking of Emma and Jesus, they're in a very happy honeymoon period in the first episode despite everything that's going on. How long is that going to last for them? Because they still have some very serious issues that they need to work out.
Johnson: Yeah. Jesus and Emma have got a great long term relationship. They've had a couple of little breakups but they've mostly survived...She still wants him to stay in school. Jesus is going to go back to school and he'll be struggling with wanting to finish his junior year and not having to repeat — which I think he feels would not be [desirable] to Emma. It's always been an issue that she's more driven as far as academics go and that she's smarter than he is, I mean, at least in school. And that's going to be something that he's going to feel self-conscious about being so far behind and not being a good student to start out with. There's going to be that issue between them as there always is.
Poppy, again, is going to sort of be a little bit of an obstacle even though they're back and they're in love. I think it's always interesting to see that someone like Poppy who maybe understands Jesus a little better on a certain level or doesn't have as high expectations of him academically could be a possible threat to the relationship.
Jude and Noah also had a big moment when they said "I love you" in this episode. What does that mean for their relationship going forward this season and how are they going to develop?
Johnson: I think it is a big step in their relationship. You know, they're young and Jude is going to get into the gaming world and we're going to introduce a new character that is a problem for him and Noah. Noah's not a gamer himself and kind of doesn't really like how much time that Jude spends gaming, anyway. But now that he's going to have this sort of young, cute, gay gamer that he's going to be streaming with, that's going to be hard, really hard for Noah and Jude to sort of navigate. It becomes a triangle.
Well, in another triangle, Callie tells Aaron at the end of this episode that there's nothing there between her and AJ anymore. But I feel like their conversation in the church implied that that's not exactly true. Are we going to see Callie reconsidering whether she still has feelings for AJ?
Johnson: I think she definitely has feelings for AJ. They have chemistry, but I think when she leaves the church and she sees Aaron out there waiting for her — and she kind of looks back at AJ — it's like their time has kind of passed for now. I think she feels like she really does care for Aaron. She loves Aaron, but they sort of need to reset their relationship because when you sort of start a relationship as a rebound situation it sometimes can make people doubtful about whether you're really in or not. They're going to kind of struggle with trying to start over a little bit...It's so hard for [Callie] to trust. So she's not real good at relationships. She tends to either want to pursue something that's not possible or kind of blow up the relationships that are there. She has a hard time just saying yes to happiness and to a peaceful relationship.
I have to say that I was extremely proud of her for making the mature decision. At the end of this episode, I felt breaking up with Aaron was a big moment for Callie and her own maturity. What is that saying about her this season going forward and where she's at mentally about what she wants for herself?
Johnson: Callie is growing and she is maturing and we wanted to show that she's not quite as impulsive as she used to be. She's also not quite as self-destructive as she used to be. She's really trying to pursue this seriously, her art and look at her future and think about college and not be distracted or obsessed with her relationships with boys. Then she will be maintaining, trying to have a friendship with Aaron that's a little bit more than a friendship but keep those boundaries. I think she's really trying to figure out, "I'm almost graduating from high school. What is my future? What is it that I want to do? What is my calling?" She's going to go through a really interesting journey to really figure out what she's really meant to do and how to take her activist spirit and put it in some kind of positive direction.
One could say taking Ximena to the church to find sanctuary was somewhat old Callie. Somewhat spontaneous and not really thinking of the consequences. But it was for such a good cause and I think that her moms were a bit disappointed on one level in her, especially Stef, for not letting Stef help her and figure this thing out. I think they also do admire her for doing the right thing and being a good friend. So we're going to just see a real maturing of her character. I also feel like Callie, and Maia Mitchell are just really growing and I love her work this season. I think that she is also maturing along with this character and she just really is quite a presence on the screen.
In this first episode, we kind of see Mariana repeating some of the same mistakes, like trying to keep Nick texting her a secret and she's honestly hatching a plan to stop Lena from leaving the school. What's going on with Mariana this season and how are we going to see her grow up a little bit?
Johnson: Mariana's still struggling to grow up a bit. You know she's still kind of young at heart and a little young in the maturity department. She's going to find herself. We realize that Mariana hadn't had a boyfriend in 18 episodes or something, so Mariana is going to find herself faced with multiple suitors and she's just in her attempt to juggle them trying to have it all. She gets herself in some binds, which is typical Mariana. But I think Mariana starts to realize in the season that this is her junior year and this is her year to really impress colleges not only with grades but with her activities.
Even though roller derby has been great for her and sort of teaching her about sisterhood and empowering women and being a part of the team, I think she starts to realize that she dropped the ball on some other things like robotics and sort of gotten distracted from preparing for going to college. So she gets kind of serious about that and that is a maturing step for her. But you know Mariana is still Mariana and she has her own way of getting what she wants, which is fun to watch.
What's a little less fun to watch and is a little bit heartbreaking is that Brandon has gotten himself into this situation with Grace and he's now promised that he's going to be the support system for her and her mom. What does that mean in the back half of the season?
]Johnson: It's kind of hard to tell him not to be there to take care of Grace because she's sick. So I think our moms and everybody worried that Brandon will continue to lose himself like he did with Courtney and how he kind of blew Juilliard to help Courtney financially by getting himself in trouble with the SATs that he took for someone to give her money for her legal fees. So we're going to be worried about Brandon. On the other hand, we also, I think, can find him rather heroic and I'm thinking that everyone's going to really fall in love with Brandon this year because of kind of how amazing and how strong he is with Grace and helping her find her way through this.
The Fosters airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.