Last Monday’s episode of “The Fosters” ended with a gun shot after Stef and Mike entered Anna’s house to rescue Jesus. The shocking reveal in “Vigil”: Stef was the victim.
“Vigil” focuses on Stef as she lies unconscious in a hospital bed struggling to survive. Her life flashing before her eyes tells the story of how the Foster-Adams family came to be, and how she is the glue that holds the family together.
First, Stef and Lena. Stef met Lena while she was touring an elementary school for Brandon and still married to (albeit separated from) Mike. Meeting Lena made Stef realize that she was a lesbian and that she would never be happy with Mike (or any man, for that matter), whether or not he was able to overcome his drinking problem. The flashbacks of young Stef show a much weaker and more timid woman, a woman who is uncertain with her words, uncertain with herself. They show a woman who is playing wife and mother but has no real identity of her own. It isn’t until Stef confesses her love for Lena—when she is finally happy and not living a lie—that she gains her voice and becomes the strong self-assured woman she is today.
Second, Jesus and Mariana. Stef first meets Jesus and Mariana at the police station after their last foster family has dropped them off. They are young, innocent and lost, and Stef recognizes something familiar in them: Like she was before meeting Lena, they are missing something; they are missing love. One can infer that after that first meeting in the police station, Stef took the twins home as foster children, and she and Lena eventually adopted them.
What is remarkable in this episode is that despite her critical condition, Stef is concerned only about the welfare of her family; in particular, Jesus and Mariana. Whereas Lena and Brandon resent Jesus and Mariana at first for putting Stef in a position that jeopardized her life, all Stef is worried about upon waking up is how her “babies” are.
“Vigil” is about family and love, but it’s also about choice. It’s about choosing to be let go of relationships that are toxic or insincere, about choosing to be true to oneself and to be happy in one’s own skin, about choosing to love and be loved. Lena summed it up best when she says to Mariana, “All I know is, we chose you, and you chose us. DNA doesn’t make a family; love does. We love you, and that is never going to change.”
Despite her desire to never marry again, “Vigil” concludes with Stef asking Lena to marry her. After nearly dying, Stef wants to get married to the love of her life. Perhaps she has realized that her marriage didn’t work the first time not because of the institution itself, but because it was a sham, and she is finally happy and with the person with whom she’s meant to spend the rest of her life. What a great way to end the season and to celebrate California’s recent victory at the Supreme Court.
Watch Lena and Stef get married on the season finale of “The Fosters” next Monday at 9 p.m. on ABC Family.