One of television's greatest mysteries is how a series like The Fosters has graced our screens and touched our hearts with transformative storytelling, authentic characters, and capable actors, but greater award recognition and accolades have eluded the series for half a decade.
They've rightfully been nominated and/or won GLAAD, Teen Choice, and Television Critics Awards, but to have never been considered for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, or if I may be audacious, the prestigious Peabody, is confounding.
The final season of The Fosters has resolved itself to not go out with a whimper, and The Fosters Season 5 Episode 15 was no exception.
Sure, this series is groundbreaking and progressive -- transgressive even. It's bold, topical, and occasionally controversial. It hasn't taken on some of its subject matter flawlessly. There were times when it was melodramatic or clumsy, but it has been all the better for having tried.
As we near the end of this series, it feels like an end to an era. It's such a small, quiet show that dared to shake up status-quo simply by portraying a family, not unlike many other families.
I don't think the full gravity -- the magnitude -- of how groundbreaking this series is has hit yet. You need only listen to the fans of the series over the years to comprehend how a series about an interracial couple -- a lesbian couple, with children of varying ages, races, sexualities, mental and physical states has transcended the family unit.
It has solidified itself as one of the greatest family dramas of all time like This is Us is set up to be, or Parenthood, or 7th Heaven, or classics like The Wonder Years. The family will be remembered by name alone, like the Pearsons, or the Bravermans, or the Camdens. It has forever left its impact.
And while every show needn't set out to be a thought-provoking, influential, exceptional piece that sets out to change the world one viewer at a time, or hold a mirror up to the audience to reflect society, or simultaneously be realistic and hopeful, those involved with the show can rest assured that they took part in something that did whether it was intended or not.
I'll try to reserve the rest of my thoughts on the show as a whole for when it takes its final breath this summer. It was difficult to avoid nostalgia when the past few days the cast and crew celebrated their final wrap up by flooding their timelines with heartfelt sentiments, memories, and emotional goodbyes.
There are still a few episodes of the series left, but I already miss it. We're in a muddled area of celebration and grief, not unlike this Mother's Day installment.
It's only right that the show honored the moms with a Mother's Day episode, but it was especially sweet that Callie and Jude honored their birth mother.
Callie and Jude are happily living with two women who love them to pieces, but the show never loses sight of the fact that they are adopted children and that they lost their birth mom. Callie wore the woman's locket around her neck every single day.
It was how she kept her mother with her at all times and remembered her, and it was a refreshing plot point for Callie, watching her grapple with letting the locket go. Jude's innocent inquiry about visiting their mother's grave sent Callie on a beautiful, thoughtful path of dreams, memories, and quiet contemplation.
I loved that she realized that she wouldn't forget her mother if she took off that necklace. She didn't have to carry it around as a relic of her grief. I also loved how Jude's father came into the picture towards the end.
The three of them at her mother's grave was a beautiful scene, and Jude introducing them to his new partner and extending an open invitation to their home for dinner was lovely. It was one of many emotional moments of the hour.
Grace's entire arc at this point is emotional, heartbreaking, and at times frustrating.
Fortunately, she did tell Brandon that she made him her healthcare proxy. He didn't have to find out in some harrowing manner. It's just frustrating that this poor kid has to endure so much responsibility so often.
In another moment that made the eyes water, he had another one of those special sibling moments with Callie where he confided in her about the situation with glassy eyes. He's such a precious puppy, and I wanted to hug him.
That's a lot of responsibility for someone so young. He can handle it, but he shouldn't be in the position where he has to be the one do it.
Susan tactlessly confronting Brandon was tough. She's desperately trying to keep her daughter alive, and the thought of her daughter's boyfriend of a year taking over is too much for her to bear.
Susan's default is always to blame Brandon, so it was a fantastic moment when she and Grace hashed things out in the hospital room. Their hug was another moment that undoubtedly left you teary-eyed.
Don't kid yourself, honey. When it comes to whether my daughter lives or dies, you are not capable of making a decision like that.Susan
Lena is still the connoisseur of emotional talks and sage words that cut to the very core of you. She notably had some of the best quotes from the series. She's like Grandmother Willow; wise, gentle, and aspirational.
She brings out the best in her children, as was the case with the twins in this installment. She was most effective with Jesus, however.
Jesus' response to his beautiful new para, Priya, and his buddies crude comments about her was, as the kids say, disappointing but not surprising. His comments were abhorrent, but the status quo.
Sexual harassment is such a commonplace that Lena not only engaged in some sexism, but she accepted Jesus' behavior as "boys will be boys" and was willing to make room for it. Thank God Stef got through to her though.
In turn, Lena got through to Jesus in one of her greatest speeches to date. You can find it here.
Jesus, on the fly, gave his mother's the best gift of all.
Again, this entire installment was an emotional sob-fest. Were your eyes watery by the time Jesus read his paper?
Jesus who has severe ADD and is battling his TBI every day; Jesus who for a brief moment couldn't read anymore, as a result, read an excerpt from the paper he wrote about his mothers, and it was the best gift of the night.
His words perfectly expressed how much he and Mariana have gone through in their short lives, while also expressing how much Stef and Lena changed their lives for the better. There could not have been a dry eye in the house.
Jesus: My moms saved me and my sister from more nights of despair and terror. They gave us the one thing that we dreamed of but didn't dare actually hope for: family. They made us feel safe, and for the first time in our young lives, loved. So loved. They made us feel like we were worth something. That we mattered. That someone in the world wanted us. And I know that there's nothing that I can ever give back to them that can equal what they have given to me, but I want my two strong, beautiful, brilliant moms to know that they don't have to hope I'll be the man they raised me to be because that's the man I want to be, and I'll always do my best to never let them down
Lena also had to remind Mariana that the situation happening with the Bayfield family is none of their business. Mariana cares about Logan, and she figured out what the crux of their marriage issues was, but she had no right to threaten to expose Tess.
Tess is still coming to grips with her sexuality, but it's up to her, and her alone, to talk to her own family about it. It doesn't concern Mariana at all, and while I typically disapprove of an adult approaching a child in the manner that Tess approached Mariana, I understood why she did it.
Tess is still grappling with her sexuality. I understand that, but she does need to speak with her family before she wanders around lesbian bars and flirts with women. She's still technically married.
I cannot be happier with what this storyline has done for Stef's character. Stef Foster is one of my favorite characters ever. Her therapy sessions with her therapist have been fruitful, and I'm grateful that we have seen them in action.
But I'm at my happiest when Annie Potts guest stars on the show because each time, we're in for a masterful performance and this one was the best yet. I'm emotional just thinking about it.
Stef's relationship with Sharon is one of the most complex relationships the show has to offer. What makes it one of the best is the fact that it's evenly balanced. Initially, we understand their bond from Stef's perspective because she's the character we're most familiar with, but it never stops there.
If we think for a moment that we're on Stef's side, or that there are sides to be on at all, the two of them will have a heart-to-heart and the audience, and Stef will have a moment of clarity because Sharon's perspective is given weight and consideration too.
Sharon isn't just a "mom," she's a person with flaws and insecurities. It reminds me of this In Plain Sight quote: "One of the most difficult moments in anyone's life is when the fog of childhood lifts and we see for the first time our parents as people."
Sharon's visit was difficult for Stef for many reasons, but one of the biggest ones was that Tess' reappearance and sexuality struggles, and Stef's anxiety, has brought about Stef's ongoing struggles wither own sexuality.
The shame Stef felt for being homosexual never went away. The guilt Stef felt over breaking up her family and hurting Mike never went away. She has been carrying around all of that for years.
Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong, and this assault on the self it can cause deep depression and severe anxiety.Therapist
Tess has brought all of that up again. We know that Stef's father was homophobic and did not react well to Stef coming out, but we also know that for most of her life he was the parent whose approval she always sought. We also know that the Sharon that we see now is not the same Sharon of Stef's childhood.
Stef has been in hell battling decades worth of internalized homophobia because of her parents, and there Sharon was this free-spirited woman who encouraged and supported Tess, went out to gay bars, and flirted with other women for fun.
In Stef's mind, it was a shame that Stef had to be bruised and broken and piece herself back together so her mother could learn and grow. Stef was a stepping stone to her mother becoming an open-minded woman.
Tess was on the receiving end of all the progress Sharon made as a result of having Stef come out. Stef had to wonder why her mother and her parents couldn't be that way while she was growing up, or why her mother couldn't have that same approach to sexuality and sexual liberation back then that she does now.
I'm dangerously close to composing a love letter to Teri Polo for another thousand words, so I'll try to keep it simple. She and Annie Potts beautifully executed one of the most fantastic scenes of the year, and it's only February.
Stef's panic attack will go down as one of the best moments of the entire series. At some point, Stef was gasping for air, but I stopped breathing. It was a mesmerizing scene where everything stopped, and I was transfixed by this stunning performance between a legendary Potts and underrated Polo.
Some scenes stick with you long after they're over. What a compelling, provocative, revolutionary display.
Stef's harried assault on her mother as she unleashed her frustrations and the culmination of her attack as it got to be too much was jarring. The way Sharon calmly soothed her, not with cooing words and affirmations, but imploring her to breathe and using the sensory system to ground her was incredible.
STEF: I tried so hard mom. I tried. I tried to be...
SHARON: To be what?
STEF [crying and panicking]: I tried to be straight, mom. I tried. I tried to be normal. I tried to make daddy proud. I tried to not be ashamed of myself.
SHARON: What's happening to you? You're having a... you're having a panic attack.
STEF [gasping]: I ca- please!
SHARON: OK. No. No, I need you to breathe. It's a stress response. Just breathe, ok? Breathe from your abdomen, not your chest.
STEF: Just, please!
SHARON: Alright, listen to me very carefully. I need you to touch four things. Touch four things.
STEF [touching objects]: Please, I can't...Chair. Pillow. Curtain. Wall.
SHARON: Ok, three things that you hear. Three things you hear.
STEF: I hear your voice. Hear my breathing I hear a really annoying bird.
SHARON: Ok, good. Two things you smell.
STEF: Your breath.
SHARON: Ok, that's uncalled for.
STEF: I smell bacon. Bacon from brunch.
SHARON: Good. One thing you can taste.
STEF: Fear. [sobs] Fear.
Stef and Sharon had an honest conversation woman-to-woman rather than as a mother to a daughter. Stef never realized how much pain she caused Sharon. It's unfortunate that the best way Stef and her father bonded was through ganging up on Sharon, but Sharon sacrificed her feelings for her daughter's sake.
It was through that conversation that Stef realized that Sharon experienced para-menopausal anxiety, too. Did I mention how much I love it when Sharon and Stef have moments?
A celebratory dance party was the perfect end to a perfect episode.
Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Hit the comments below!
Don't forget, you can watch The Fosters online right here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.