Jane The Virgin Review: Babysitting and Big Choices

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By Andrea Merodeadora

After three and a half seasons, it’s rare that a Jane The Virgin episode leaves me genuinely surprised with the writers’ ability or the actors’ talent, but this episode really stood out. It had everything that the show shines for: romantic entanglements, heartfelt confessions, Villanueva women time, ridiculous puns and some truly hilarious Jane alter egos. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind!

As you all remember, last episode (which I reviewed here) ended with Mateo barging in on Jane and Rafael kissing, and that makes two episodes in a row that end with these two making out. This one begins with a flashback to their first kiss, back in the first season, which is swiftly interrupted by Mateo dragging us back to the present and them back to reality with some loud, high pitched expressions of joy. Nobody could accuse the kid of not being Rogelio’s grandson.

During a text conversation from their respective beds, a scene format in which Gina Rodriguez’ expressive and hilarious facial acting always gets to shine, Jane and Rafael share some minor flirting and some major concerns. They agree to keep their relationship on the down low, but when have things been so easy for these two? By the time they get to breakfast the next day, Mateo has managed to let the whole family know that his parents are exploring their feelings, or rather “exploring each other with kisses”. But Alba doesn’t get a chance to celebrate, not Rogelio a chance to object, because a phonecall interrupts their family breakfast. Due to low sales, Jane has been dropped by her publisher.

Though her family tries to convince her that these news aren’t as bad as she thinks, Jane’s usual optimism has been dimmed by heartbreak and disappointment. In a very Petra-like moment of harsh realism, she reminds her loved ones that “very few women of color get published and, when [they] do, [they] cannot afford to screw it up, because [they] don’t get a second chance.”

This newfound sense of realism clashes with Jane’s writing. She tries to start working on a new project, but her romantic novel alter ego doesn’t get to flirt with the charming horse-riding teacher who looks just like Rafael for long, instead getting interrupted by worries about Mateo’s expectations and what Jane and Rafael’s relationship will mean for their son. Meanwhile, Rafael is also trying to appease Mateo, promising that Jane is welcome to visit at his new apartment anytime she wants after he’s finished moving out of the Villanueva household.

He doesn’t try for appeasement when he cancels his standing brunch with Petra over an email. Petra is visibly hurt when she’s texting him, but hides her vulnerability away when she goes to ask Jane for help. She expects that Jane will help her win Rafael’s forgiveness, but Jane refuses. And, not just that, but she cancels on the family brunch too! Jane is always ready to see the best in people but, she says then, Petra might have pushed just too far. (No, the scene didn’t cut to Anezka falling off the balcony, and I personally found that to be a missed opportunity.)

Realist Jane also has more than a few doubts about her blooming romance with Rafael. Yes, Mateo is a big factor, even more so when the kid misinterprets Rafael and Jane’s words and decides that his mom is the one who doesn’t want them to be a family. But she’s also thinking about her recent breakup, her flaking career and, mayne most worrying of all, Rafael’s relationship with Katherine and what that means for him, and thus for them. Rafael promises he won’t be going back to that greedy, destructive, angry place, but Jane isn’t so sure.

The other Jane, Jane Ramos, sternly refuses to let Petra call her “J.R.” no matter how annoyed Petra is by mentions of Jane, Jane, Jane at every moment. She tells Petra that the police need some blueprints for their investigation, and in discussing the case, Petra mentions Law & Order, which gives way for the Narrator to use the Law & Order theme and classic zoom at least a dozen times through the episode. (He promises he will stop each time, but he never does.) It also allows for Jane Ramos to mention that his ex girlfriend was a TV writer, and that TV writers are big liars. Should we take it to mean that, unlike what the writers at Jane The Virgin might suggest, not every gay and bisexual person is an evil conspirator? Because, with this one-line confirmation, this makes Ramos… what? The sixth morally questionable or straight up evil LGB character in the show?

Ramos is recapping all the hateful things Petra has said to or about her sister in her emails when Krishna interrupts them, letting Petra know that Rafael is outside. Krishna is, coincidentally, the only gay character who’s been in the show regularly for a long time and has at no point been shown to be evil, but that might be because we know absolutely nothing about her outside of her sexuality and the fact that she’s basically a stepping mat for Petra. But I won’t lie: after Krishna’s snarky response to Petra in this scene, I’m actually rooting for her to get fed up with her shitty boss and do something, maybe not villainous, but mildly bad, like egg her car or alter her schedule so Petra will be fifteen minutes late to all of her meetings.

Elsewhere, Rogelio has no meetings to be late to. He’s announced his decision to be a stay at home dad to everybody, and he begged Darci to let him take care of Baby while she’s working. Today, after Xo and Alba leave for work, his first day as a Dad-Nanny begins. He spends it posting selfies to social media, and Darci calls to remind him that only B-list celebrities use their children to boost their social media presence. And to remind him that Baby needs to poop, too!

Finally, Rafael takes Jane and Mateo to meet his new apartment, warning them to set expectations low. Mateo is disappointed, and when Rafael reminds him that he did tell him to keep expectations low, Mateo replies, deadpan, “I didn’t know what that meant.” The kid is really shining this episode, and he’s cute enough that his moods and tantrums don’t get annoying. Still, Jane and Rafael do need to do something about their son’s anger, and so they stage a goodbye in which Rafael pretends to “kick out” Jane of the apartment to be alone with Mateo, so he won’t think that his mom is the mean one. A flawed plan, but we do appreciate the good intentions.

Another case of good intentions and poor execution? Rafael’s plan to cheer up Jane. See, he’d asked Petra to arrange a meeting with that one book agent (the one that Jane and Petra literally wrestled over), and that meeting is tomorrow! But Jane has no idea of what she’s writing next, so she’s decided to pull some popular market trends and pitch Jeffrey Mullins from there. As it turns out, those trends are reincarnation, vampires, and… 50 Shades Of Grey.

None of Jane’s ideas appeal Jeffrey nor the other agent having lunch with him and Jane, Leslie. But something does catch his eye, and that something is Petra, sitting by the bar nearby. He calls for her, either excited to see her or desperate to stop hearing Jane’s frankly terrible pitches, and Leslie turns out to be a fan of Petra’s “momtrepreneur” image and her tragic backstory. To Jane’s dismay, Leslie suggests that Petra should write a lifestyle book, and Jane can’t do anything but support the idea. But she’s not so supportive once Leslie and Jeffrey have left the Marbella, clearly furious even though she tries to hide it. Petra says that she’ll turn down the book if it’ll get Jane the forgive her, and Jane throws back at her that real relationships aren’t transactional. Faced with the reality that there’s no easy way to buy Jane’s affection back, Petra gets angry and says she’ll write the book. Jane storms off.

Compelled to do something nice to convince herself that she doesn’t see all of her relationships as transactional, Petra remembers that Jane Ramos had told her that she couldn’t find treatment for her mother’s Alzheimer, and orders Krishna to get her a place with the area’s top specialist.

In the Villanueva household, love and understanding are given without asking for anything in return, something that Petra obviously has never experienced. Sitting on their swing, our favorite women open up about their struggles and get the advice and support they need. Alba confesses that her breakup with Jorge has left her wrecked, because she loved him but she couldn’t bring herself to accept his proposal and now he’s gone back to his ex. Xo admits that running her studio doesn’t make her happy, and gets the encouragement she needs to consider seeking an alternative. And Jane tells them that Mateo has been acting up at school, and that means that the decision of whether to try the romance thing with Rafael or not has become urgent.

But Petra does get some support, even if it comes from an unexpected source. While she’s trying and failing to write the damned lifestyle book, Jane Ramos shows up at her apartment, with a gift wine to thank Petra for her help with Jane’s mother, and she ends up joining Petra for drinks. In this surprising intimacy, Petra opens up about her relationship with Jane. She even cries, explaining that Jane is a good person, and the fact that a person as good as Jane is mad at her must mean Petra is a bad person. And, with an earnestness that would be endearing if we didn’t know that she’s conspiring against Petra, Jane Ramos suggests that Petra should go ask for Jane’s forgiveness and not take no for an answer.

It’s actually good advice. Petra bullies her way into Jane’s home for Sunday brunch, and manages enough honesty to admit that she considers Jane to be a sort of moral compass, and that she really values her regard and her forgiveness more than Rafael’s. And not only do they make peace, but Jane agrees to ghost-write Petra’s book too! In the good timeline, this would be the beginning of their great romance.

But alas, we are not in the good timeline. In reality, the writers insist that Jane doesn’t like women, and so #Jetra is never happening. Instead, Jane talks to Rafael, and though she’s finally come to realize that she might actually be ready for the whole relationship thing, he realized that he’s not in a place for it. Together, chatting like friends on Rafael’s firescape, they come to see that they can’t really explore whether their relationship will work or not, because they simply don’t have the time and the freedom to try and fail when Mateo’s wellbeing is on the line. Is this the end of #Jafael, then?

What’s ending for sure is Xo’s dance studio project. She tried, and she tried hard, for three whole years, but she just isn’t making it work. And so, she tells Rogelio, after giving it her best shot and still not finding her place as a studio owner, she’s taking a teaching position in another studio. I think that this is actually good news, as it might mean more scenes of Xiomara dancing, and maybe even a shift back towards her singing dreams. We haven’t seen her sing since the first season! Rogelio, on the other hand, isn’t so excited, but it has little to do with Xo’s announcement.

After a whole day of lonely, boring, tiresome babysitting, Rogelio had decided to quit his “stay at home dad” project and go back to acting, but Xo’s speech about how she tried as hard as she could seems to have made him realize just how flakey he was being. Are we about to see some real growth for Ro? Honestly, who the hell knows.

Finally, the confirmation. Presenting a united front, Jane and Rafael announce to their family that #Jafael is officially ending, and they’re deciding to remain as just friends. But don’t weep so soon, shippers! This episode has only one final plot twist, and it will make that half of the fandom very happy: the last shot of this chapter is of Jane and Rafael, hidden from their family’s prying eyes by sitting in a car, sharing a passionate kiss!

What an episode! Hell, even I, a known #Jadam supporter, am excited for the prospect of Jane and Rafael having a secret romance while their whole family thinks they’re just friends! Those plots are always fun! And Jane Ramos, despite the show’s bad streak with LGB characters, is compelling as hell and has some really good chemistry with Petra. If the original Jane and Petra can’t date, who says this Jane and Petra can’t have some torrid, ultimately doomed romance? I sure would eat that up!

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