Did you enjoy Christmas at the Coterie?
What Good Trouble Season 2 Episode 9 and Good Trouble Season 2 Episode 10 managed to do were give us some of the best dynamics, provided a mini-Fosters reunion, and color in some of the things we don't get to see when the rest of the storyline has to unfold.
The Christmas special worked as a standalone event.
It didn't further the storyline-- it only touched upon the events of Good Trouble Season 2 Episode 8 via Mariana reading the Dear John letter Callie left her as she departed the Coterie and moved in with Jamie.
It also closed with Callie unpacking at Jamie's gorgeous penthouse while reflecting on her sister's Christmas gift only to be faced with another potential issue.
Standalones are great for character studies. They slow things down and focus on a few individuals to dissect them or peel back more layers.
The event added texture and more context to things we've already known, and it worked well for some characters more than others.
The timeline was slotted somewhere between the back half of the season and the midseason finale and gave us a peek into some significant events that happened while the series was focused on other things.
It was a necessary choice, but it also was a difficult narrative to grasp when there were such impactful changes that happened amidst it.
For starters, Callie's relationship with Jamie has had its ups and downs. It's been evident that Callie is someone who doesn't make herself emotionally available in her relationships, these days.
She and Jamie are nice, but it always feels like she has one foot out of the door and like she's in it because of what she thinks she should be doing as a responsible adult of a certain age.
Mariana: Jamie's going to ask you to marry him.
Callie: Why would he even think that we're ready to be engaged? It's crazy.
Mariana: Well, he's crazy in love with you.
Jamie is a solid choice; he's a great guy, but she's not as serious about him as he is with her, and it's clear.
So Mariana snooping through his belongings, (which, really Mariana? His underwear drawer?) and finding an engagement ring was a huge deal.
Callie spent most of the time with him in the aftermath of her sister's discovery internally mulling over if she wanted him to propose to her or not.
To Jamie's credit, he does seem aware of Callie's reservations, so it never felt like an engagement ring was in the cards so soon into their relationship.
Jamie: I really didn't think it was going to be this hard to give this to you. It was supposed to be more romantic. I hope you like them.
Callie: They're beautiful.
Jamie: The big part of this gift is underneath the velvet. Callie Adams Foster you already have the key to my heart, have a key to my place where you're welcome anytime.
We didn't have any indication of it from what we've seen; it was not a surprise when he revealed earrings and a key to his apartment instead.
We knew he gave her a key to his apartment at some point, so it was nice to have the background on it. Jamie is such a romantic.
However, Callie end-capped the special going through Jamie's drawers (literally) to find the box her sister mentioned before, and she did find a ring.
It's not something Callie is ready for, and we know the only reason she moved in with Jamie at all was to flee the Coterie issues.
Being with you feels like Christmas Day everyday.Jamie
What's more likely the case is the ring isn't Callie's. Jamie is aware of the type of woman he's involved with, even if she doesn't give him the same benefit of the doubt that he extends to her.
Based on the awkward interactions between the Hunter and Foster-Adams family, Jamie's mysterious ex-girlfriend Heather is probably who the ring was for in the first place.
Diane couldn't stop raving about this woman we never heard about before, and she's making her preference known. Callie never heard of Heather, and Jamie was evasive about her when his mother brought it up.
It has to be a story there, and it's something the series will probably delve into upon its return.
Christmas was the first time the Hunter family and the Foster Adams family were together again after Brandon and Eliza's wedding during the three-part The Fosters series finale.
Not sorry to say, but the Hunters are still intolerable damn near all around. How Jamie is cut from the same cloth as them will forever remain a mystery.
By the end of The Fosters Season 5 Episode 22, it seemed as though the Hunter and Foster Adams family had accepted their differences and could get along well for the sake of Brandon and Eliza.
Jim: Since all of our kids are here volunteering.
Diane: Instead of at home with us.
Jim: We decided to come help out.
However, it was back to seeming like they hated each other during this special. The inconsistency with the political aspect of this family remains frustrating.
Callie was acting as if she had never met the Hunter family before, despite spending multiple family dinners, events, and a destination wedding with these people.
She wanted to make a positive impression with them as Jamie's girlfriend instead of as Brandon's sister, but what difference did it make?
She reminded him not to let her moms know he was a Republican, but it was literally where much of the tension was between the two families in the first place. She and Jamie used to have political banter and debates at the dinner table with their families present.
Callie: Oh that's odd seeing a Republican actually want to register new voters.
Jamie: Oh yeah, we are more focused on moving polling places too far for Dems to get to.
It's such an odd nitpick; perhaps, it's not as grating for those who weren't familiar with any of this before Good Trouble, but it's so glaring for those of us who are that it's irritating.
It's also bothersome that the series began by taking a nuanced approach to political differences with Wilson, Ben, and Rebecca, but has since made most of their Conservative characters "bad and misguided," unlikable, or forcing them to "see the light."
Jim was the one who connected Lena to some Democratic contacts for her run, so resorting back to more of the blanket statements about her giving people free stuff and socialism was weak.
Diane: I never thought that washing other people's feet would be so --
They backtracked on the little progress the Hunters made, and they remained frustratingly stagnant caricatures.
It was a small glimmer of something when Diane almost learned about being kind to the underprivileged after washing their feet. Then she went to share it with Jim, who cut her off in what only came across as "eww, poor people."
Weren't they philanthropists or involved in charity or something?
Callie was in a position where she didn't want to lie about quitting the clerkship with Wilson, but she felt compelled to because of the Hunters potentially judging her.
Stef: Sweetheart, why didn't you tell us?
Callie: I didn't want you to think I was being the old impulsive me.
Lena: There was nothing wrong with the old Callie that a little maturity couldn't fix.
It was a reasonable assumption to make.
They couldn't tear her down for her career choice and still managed to make her feel inadequate compared to whoever Heather is.
Of course, they're livid that they have two children involved with kids from the Foster-Adams family. Based on everything they said and did to Brandon, they have yet to accept him.
Brandon's arc -- even as a peripheral character on a spinoff devoted to his sisters, is tragic.
Callie: So you're willing to give up on your career to support hers?
Brandon: No, I'm willing to make compromises. You know it's what you're supposed to do in relationships, right?
He was always a guy whose romantic relationships came at his expense. He put too much energy into them. He would lose himself in his relationships, and now he's married to Eliza, and it's the same thing.
Callie was right; his life is not how he envisioned it. Nothing about his life went according to plan. He never bounced back from most of the things that have happened to him over the years.
It's something sad and disappointing about it. The franchise sprung Eliza on us for The Fosters finale, so we never had any attachment to her. The love between Eliza and Brandon doesn't feel believable.
Brandon: I don't want you to get an abortion unless that's what you want.
Eliza: I don't think that's what I want.
Brandon: Then we're having a baby, maybe, and you're not going to Amsterdam alone.
It feels like more of Brandon sacrificing pieces and parts of himself and his wants and needs for his relationship. He's once again playing a supportive role with little benefits.
The Hunters are harping on how he's not financially taking care of Eliza, as she's the successful one of the two, but he's tending to all of her other needs at his expense, constantly.
Every time they show him again, he seems miserable, and he's trying to convince everyone he's fine.
Eliza: So what did Callie say about me maybe being pregnant?
Brandon: I'm sorry I just needed someone to talk to.
Eliza: You can talk to me.
Eliza earned a dream position in Amsterdam, while Brandon is getting by in an area he's not invested in.
The plan was for them to be apart while he stayed in LA and worked as an assistant for the musical composer of The Bachelor franchise, and she went off to play in the world's greatest orchestra in another country.
But then, for some reason, instead of taking a pregnancy test first thing, she had to tell Brandon she thought she might be pregnant so they could work through all of what that means for them.
Brandon: Are you alright?
Eliza: I'm sick to my stomach.
Brandon: Do you think you have the flu or something?
Eliza: I think I'm pregnant.
Pregnancy scares are always so damn contrived. A couple of days of being late leads to the near destruction of a relationship before anything is confirmed.
Brandon confiding in Callie caused more tension between him and Eliza, and his past with Callie notwithstanding, at what point does one accept that their significant other might have a "person" and it won't always be them?
The result was Eliza's disappointment over not having a child neither of them is prepared for, and Brandon decided to give up his assistantship to move to Amsterdam for Eliza to pursue another dream.
If Brandon's marriage to Eliza is his happy ending, then it's not convincing.
We also saw another angle of which the Hunters are out of the loop with the Carter storyline. He's closeted, but he's dating Jude.
The two of them seem happy, and Jude is doing well at college. He was walking around like a very fashionable baby Yoda.
Carter: I'm coming out to my parents tomorrow.
Jude: On Christmas?
They're not going to kick their son out on Christmas.
Our wise Jude has grown up big time. He and Carter are happy together, but Carter is in the closet.
They hit it off at the wedding, and it's something Jim was wary of, but Carter hasn't come out yet, and they still act as though he's interested in girls when they probably know he isn't.
Someone choosing to come out is personal. It's for no one but themselves.
He wasn't ready; that's OK. Jude was supportive of Carter, and he reminded him that coming out to his parents is about what he needs. It's not about Jude at all.
Jude: I saw your dad. Did you tell him?
Carter: I just couldn't get the words out.
Jude: Look, you don't have to come out to your parents for me.
Carter: I just feel like Eliza and Jamie are so perfect and straight.
Jude: They're not perfect, and just because they're straight doesn't make them any better than you.
Carter: Tell my parents that.
Jude: I will. If they try to make you feel ashamed for being the amazing man that you are, I sure as hell will get up in their face. I'm sorry, I hope that one day everyone will understand, and it doesn't matter who you love.
It's always a treat to have the family together again, but the reunion wasn't as exciting as one hoped. The family barely spent time together.
Jesus phoned it in since Noah Centineo was probably unavailable to shoot. But we got a quick glimpse of him long enough to announce that he and his high-school girlfriend got engaged (again).
Jesus and Emma ended things for the right reason. It almost feels like a step backward and a rushed happy ending for them. However, there are a lot of Jesus and Emma fans, so yay for them.
Moms were more subdued. Stef got a nose ring, which was awesome, and she and Lena were moving somewhere else for Lena's job.
Mariana: My boyfriend is in India.
Jesus: That's so funny because so is my girlfriend.
Emma: Um, don't you mean fiancee?
Jesus: And it's for real this time.
Lena was concerned when it seemed Stef wanted to go to Venezuela for a relief opportunity, but as they said, their love is f**cking timeless. It's love for the ages. Nothing and no one will get in the way of moms.
They brought the maternal energy the Coterie needs sometimes, and it was sweet. It turned out Malika was the one who spilled the beans to moms about Callie quitting her clerkship.
Of course, Malika and Lena hit it off when they met, so it's no surprise they keep in touch. It's nice. To borrow from the late Orphan Black, Malika craves maternal energy, and there's nothing wrong with the galaxy of women who can be a support to her.
Lena: Hey, if you want to go to Venezuela, you have my blessing. We swapped phones again. I want you to have your new chapter too.
Stef: It's for a year, Lena, it's for a year.
Lena: Our love will survive the ages.
It especially was evident in the aftermath of her mother's death. She had to face the holiday without her mom, and while they were estranged, it didn't hurt any less.
She accompanied Dom to church, and it made her reflect on what it was like growing up with her mother.
It's fascinating how we choose to remember things. At first, Malika could only associate the church with this place that condemned her mother for being an addict trying to take care of kids on her own.
She saw the hat-wearing church ladies as the gossipers who judged her mother. She had negative connotations and associations with the church.
Dom: You OK?
Malika: Yeah, I'm just thinking about mom.
Black churches are part of black culture, and it comes with a convoluted history. Everyone has a different experience with them, and it often carries into adulthood.
You can sense that church isn't Malika's thing, but she went along with it for Dom, and once she relaxed and reflected, she realized it wasn't the enemy.
The pastor wasn't condemning her mother to hell, and the church ladies she assumed were judging them were trying to find the best way to help out their family without offending Malika's mother.
Malika: Wait, why aren't you with your fam?
Isaac: I was, you know I have two families now.
Dom, and her father, and Isaac helped her get through the holidays. It was a time of reflection, and it seemed like Malika found some peace with her mother and her past.
It's going to take some time for Dom and their father to work through things.
Hopefully, when Dom finds out more about their father's motivations, Dom will realize his father did love all of them.
Isaac continues to be all the Boyfriend Goals.
Did anyone else melt a little when he said he spent time with his family, and then he was coming to spend time with his other family? He's such a good guy, which means it's going to hurt all the more when Malika misses out on meeting his family.
It seems like the Martinez family is on the mend too. One of the best moments of the special was when Mr. Martinez held Jazmin's hand while they stood over Abuelo.
Abuelo brought them together, finally. Unfortunately, it took him getting sick and having a scare for them to all come together, but I'm glad they did.
You may never be invited, Jazmin, but it doesn't mean you can't show up.Gael
We learned more about the relationship Jazmin had with her father before she became her true self. They were/are similar, and Mr. Martinez felt like he lost that when she became Jazmin.
It was a slap in the face when she realized that Gael had been "forgiven" and invited home for the holidays. As messed up as it sounds, it comforted Jazmin that their family disowned both of them.
It meant she wasn't alone.
Jazmin: Mami called. So you're talking to them?
Gael: They're talking to me. Mami wants me to go to Nochebuena.
Jazmin: Of course, you can do no wrong.
She and Gael are close, but it must've been hard, and there had to be some ill feelings there.
Gael still had the family and went home for the holidays, while Jazmin was alone for years. She thought things were different that year, but Gael was welcomed back home despite coming out as bisexual.
Gael attempted to do the honorable thing and stand by his sister for the holidays instead. He struggled with the holiday not being exactly as he's accustomed to with his family, though.
Mr. Martinze: I signed the DNR.
Jazmin: It's the right thing to do.
Mr. Martinez: I'm not ready to lose my father too. I'm never going to stop missing my son Alejandro.
Jazmin: I was never Alejandro. I was just trying to be for you and Abuelo. Maybe you can learn to love your daughter, Jazmin.
It turned out, they never got beyond the coquito, though. Abuelo's health scare changed everything.
After the progress made, what will things be like with the Martinez family? Will Mr. Martinez go back to his former ways?
Moments with Stef, Davia, and Dennis were also great ones.
Davia: Isolation isn't safe for you right now. You're depressed and grieving, and I'm scared you're just going to disappear. Please.
Dennis: I'll be OK. Alright?
It was so much in the small head nod of acknowledgment between Stef and Dennis. It was enough to make one emotional.
She knew before anyone else did about his son, and she picked up on more, too. It was the only scene they had together, but it was one of the most special.
But Stef put on both her mom and counselor hat when she spoke to Davia about Dennis. She was right about everything she said.
Stef: Does anyone else here know?
Davia: Just me.
Stef: Oh honey, that's a lot just you on your own right?
Davia: Oh, I don't mind.
Stef: It's wonderful that you're there for him. Have you ever considered that maybe that's the reason that he hasn't gotten professional help because he has you?
Davi: I can't just turn my back on him now.
Stef: Or maybe you need him to need you.
Davia was worried about Dennis and afraid of him leaving the Coterie and moving somewhere else. She was scared for him about so many other things, but Stef reminded her that he wouldn't get the help he needed as long as he had her.
Yes, she was doing a wonderful job of supporting him, but she was also his crutch.
Stef hit the mark with precision. For as much as Dennis was using Davia as a crutch, Davia loved that he needed her. She liked being needed, especially by him.
She was thrown off by Stef telling her about herself, but Stef planted the seed and left her mulling it over.
Dennis: I didn't have three weekends to put the galaxy on your ceiling so.
Davia: I'm sorry. I didn't get you anything.
Dennis: That's not true. I don't know where I'd be without you.
Of all the context added to dynamics and characters, the Dennis and Davia portion of the hour was the strongest. They remain captivating together.
Davia is such a likable person when she's around Dennis, which isn't always the case when she's on her own. She made a holiday commitment that she would be a better person, and given the circumstances surrounding how Callie left, we're still waiting for that to come to fruition.
But she's a good person when she's around Dennis.
She bought him a guitar for Christmas in hopes that he would play music again. It was something he stopped doing after his attempt.
Dennis: Sometimes I think I don't want it to get any easier because I'm afraid I'll forget his face. The more time passes, the further away he gets.
Davia: Do you ever dream about him?
Dennis: No. So .. I'm going to move out of the Coterie.
Thinking about that makes the performance at Malika's birthday more special than it already was. He took up playing the drums for a bit, but he picked up the guitar and played for Malika's birthday, and it was a duet with Davia.
The tapestry of Dennis and Davia's relationship and how it unfolds and expands is mesmerizing.
Dennis had plans of leaving the Coterie behind, but now he's tied to it in a whole new way.
We learned more about Alice becoming manager of the Coterie, and the circumstances surrounding the lease. Colette was a kooky character; Stef was a saint for pretending to be her.
Davia: The oven isn't working.
Dennis: Did you try turning the dial to 350?
Davia: Yes, Dennis.
Alice was an overly emotional wreck, but she was stressed out over the possibility of losing the place, and none of them being together again.
But Dennis saved the day. He's a household staple. He's this combination of the Den dad and the antisocial uncle of the group, but none of them know much about him.
He could afford to be anywhere else, but he chose the Coterie. It gives him something he desperately needs, and in the end, it's why he couldn't leave it.
Now, he's tied to it permanently. It's just like Dennis to purchase the place and not want anyone to know about it. Only Alice is in the know.
Alice: Thanks for saving the Coterie.
Dennis: The Coterie saved me.
Alice: I love you so much
Dennis: I love you too.
May I add that Dennis and Alice's relationship is one of the cutest and most underrated dynamics of the series? He spends most of his time with Davia, but he has these special bonds with Alice and Malika and even some cute moments with Mariana that will make you smile every time.
The Coterie is his home, and it's a comfort that he took a step toward solidifying it as such instead of pulling away.
Can you imagine the Coterie without Dennis? I can't. For one, who's going to do all the cooking?
His exchange with Davia over the stove was hilarious. Most of their scenes swung from wrought with intensity and emotion to being funny as heck.
Davia: The oven isn't working.
Dennis: Did you try turning the dial to 350?
Davia: Yes, Dennis.
The moments where he returned to his old house or had flashbacks of his son were solemn. He focused on the darker parts; he thought about when he wasn't there for him. Fortunately, he later thought about the good times too.
He told Davia he doesn't dream of his son. However, the moment he recognized the positive memories and how he was a good dad, he was able to dream about his son.
It was touching all around.
He got to share these pieces of his life with Davia, too. She's become such a confidant for him, and it's the type of bond that he hasn't allowed himself to have with anyone else.
He couldn't talk to his wife like he does with Davia. You get wrapped up in their moments. Suddenly, it unexpectedly turns on its head.
Like the funny moment when they got stuck hiding in the closet listening to the new couple who bought the house having sex and "christening" the rooms.
It was so unexpectedly funny and broke through some of the heaviness.
With their scenes, we saw the progress Dennis made in his battle with his depression. He took steps toward not alienating himself. He was opening up and facing his grief.
We also saw how Davia was falling in love with him. We saw how she struggled with the idea of him not reciprocating the feelings.
She was hurt when they joked about their X-rated adventure, and Dennis dismissed the idea of it having to do with them being together.
But he also gave her jewelry -- a necklace of the stars as a reminder of the quiet moment of intimacy and vulnerability they had at his home, in his son's room, as he recounted how he painted galaxies on his son's walls for three weekends.
It was a meaningful gift; it's something that shows how much Davia means to him, but it's confusing too. Her feelings are understandable
The special gave us a way of looking at their relationship from a different angle.
The Christmas event used Mariana as a vehicle for other storylines. She orchestrated the Christmas festival to prove she was a good person to Raj.
It was so childish.
Eventually, she figured out her service shouldn't have been about proving something to Raj, but it was an uninspired arc for her.
Callie: You're not going to answer him?
Mariana: Anonymous was right, be a good person, but don't waste your time trying to prove it.
They squeezed in an Evan appearance, though. So, that's cool.
The woman speaking about prison reform was another highlight of the special. It wouldn't be Good Trouble if they didn't manage to incorporate social justice in some form.
It was a fantastic cause, and the only downside was the lack of time spent on it.
When a loved one does time, so do we.Activist
Nevertheless, it was a special treat having a little Good Trouble to hold us over until the season returns.
It had some holiday magic with some of our favorite characters. They had small touches of other holidays thrown in (Malika's kinara, the Martinez's NocheBuena and traditions, and I think there was a menorah in the background too), but was anyone else surprised they were so understated?
It held us over and gave us a Fosters reunion too, but let the countdown until the second half of the season begin. I'm impatiently waiting for more.
On that note, Good Trouble returns with all-new episodes on an all-new night and time: Wednesday, January 15 at 10/9c.
Until then, you can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic.
Now, let's hear all of your thoughts in the comments below. Did you enjoy the holiday special? Did the Fosters reunion satisfy you?
What are your thoughts on the Foster arc? Will the Martinez family stop ostracizing Jazmin?
Will Jamie propose to Callie? How do you feel about Dennis and Davia's relationship?
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.