SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Prom,” the summer finale of “The Fosters” which aired Sept. 5.
“The Fosters'” summer finale opened with the continuation of the protest against a conservative speaker coming to a local college. Ximena (Lisseth Chavez) grabbed the megaphone in front of her peers and supporters, as well as police officers and those protesting against her group, and declared herself undocumented. While she had been shown all season to be a strong woman who was not hiding who she was, her public declaration pointed an arrow at the target already on her back.
“She was standing up for what she believes is right: not to be afraid to speak, not to be afraid in general,” executive producer Joanna Johnson tells Variety. “Illegal immigrants have rights. They have civil rights, and they have the right to freedom of speech, and they have the right to peacefully protest. And they should know what their rights are. We wanted to show that she wasn’t afraid, and she wasn’t going to hide.”
The decision for Ximena to “come out” as undocumented so publicly came with repercussions, though, as ICE agents tracked her to her roller derby rink to bring her into custody. Ximena’s friend Callie (Maia Mitchell) covered for her, then helped her get get to a church that would grant her sanctuary. The episode ended with them, along with Callie’s ex-boyfriend AJ (Tom Williamson), behind the church’s doors, vowing to stay in there as long as it takes to get ICE off Ximena’s back.
Obviously, the fight is far from over for Ximena, but also for Callie, who has been dating Aaron (Elliot Fletcher), a law student who surprised her — and viewers — when he announced a few episodes earlier that he wasn’t against the conservative speaker coming to campus in the first place. “He believes closer to what the ACLU believes, which is that if you don’t protect the right of people to express views that other people may find offensive, then when is it going to turn on you? He believes, what many people in this country believe, which is you have to protect both ways or you won’t protect anything at all,” Johnson explains.
Whether or not Aaron will end up using his more intimate knowledge of the law to help Ximena remains to be seen when the second half of the season resumes early next year. Given the rough patch he and Callie experienced as a couple due to his fears she might cheat on him if he took a job that would take him out of Southern California for a few months, such a big gesture might be the thing he needs to do to re-solidify their connection.
“I think that they are kindred spirits in some ways, but they’re both very stubborn and strong, and they both have fears of trust and intimacy,” Johnson says. “I think that’s why they bump heads at times. They each, for their own reasons, have a fear of being vulnerable, so that’s what bonds them, but it’s also what pulls them apart.”
But Callie has made bigger strides this season toward figuring out who she is and learning to value herself first. (In the finale episode alone she finally thought of her future when fleeing from the protest just as it turned violent, and she also stood up for herself when she was referred to like “property” in her relationship.) To continue making such progress might result in her taking a break from relationships for a little while.
“Callie is getting tired of dealing with jealousy and distrust when it comes from her relationships with boys,” Johnson says of the character’s future. “Callie does take two steps forward and one step back, and that’s going to be her journey for many, many years. You don’t just get over your trust issues or your intimacy issues quickly. She still has certain walls up, and she still tends to be defensive about certain things. But she will continue to look inside herself to learn about those things.”
And while the summer finale of “The Fosters” saw the return of fan favorite characters and Mariana’s (Cierra Ramirez) old flames Wyatt (Alex Saxon) and Mat (Jordan Rodrigues), the second half of the season will see Nick (Louis Hunter) back, too. As the students and school board struggle with whether to turn the local public high school into a charter academy, the kid who once held Mariana at gunpoint is claiming he can help keep the school open to all. He texted his ex as much in the finale, though the chaos of bigger events didn’t allow her to really follow up. Johnson says they “wouldn’t have him texting if he wasn’t going to come back into our world!” The political implications of him being back in the Adams-Fosters’ lives have the potential to be just as life-changing as the ICE storyline.
“The Fosters” will return to Freeform with the second half of its fifth season in 2018.