Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Eleven”

At this rate, we’ll have to recap the recap.

The Latin Lover Narrator, and specifically the recap, has become my mother’s favourite part of Jane the Virgin. It speaks to the meticulous way that this show has been made that even the “Previously On” segment is an essential part of the experience. This week, Rafael has dinner with Xiomara and Alba, which doesn’t go well; Michael follows Rafael around believing he’s still Sin Rostro; Lachlan continues to torture Petra; and Xiomara tells her mother (and Rogelio) that she’s made a vow of chastity.

What I love about Jane the Virgin is that now the characters and their relationships to each other have been established, we can get into the more meaty material (although as someone who hates love triangles, I’m really into this one for some reason). We have the Sin Rostro plot, Michael’s obsession with Jane and Rafael’s relationship, and whatever’s going on with Petra, who is still the most fascinating character on the show. What always seem to stand out however, are the strong familial bonds between Jane, Xiomara and Alba.

Jane and Xiomara, who rarely disagree, are having a serious disagreement over Rafael. I’m with Xo in that I think it was way too soon for Jane to move on from Michael, but she needs to let Jane figure that out herself. So, Jane brings Rafael over to dinner with her mother and grandmother, and trains him in how to flatter her mother; Xo tells Jane in Spanish that she knows she trained Rafael, but Rafael speaks Spanish (as established last week, not every Latin American character on this show speaks fluent Spanish), so he knows exactly what is being said. In addition to choosing between Rafael and Michael, Jane is also offered two jobs; she’s offered a permanent position at the school where she’s a student teacher, and a position as a writing intern at The Passions of Santos. Oh, and she’s also still waitressing at the Mirabella.

What has been part of the subtext, and also the text, of Jane the Virgin is the difference between making the safe choice and the brave choice. Xiomara doesn’t like Rafael because she thinks he’ll run off, which is what Rogelio did, and Michael still loves Jane – he’s the safe choice. The safe choice between writing and teaching is obviously teaching, and as someone whose chosen industry offers a lot of short term contracts, a permanent position isn’t something I’d turn down. Xo is worried for Jane so she wants her to make the safe choice when it comes to men, but she also wants her daughter to make the brave choice for her career, which is in itself a contradiction. Xo can say that she thinks moving on with Rafael after being engaged to Michael is a mistake, but if she was being honest with Jane and herself, it’s because she knows what it’s like to get hurt. Two weeks ago, Jane told her mother to stop using her protectiveness as an excuse to be safe, and even though Xo wants to be with Rogelio, her dislike of Rafael is her subconscious telling her that it would be a mistake to give Rogelio another chance.

Speaking of Rogelio, Xiomara wants to start a relationship with him, but she made a vow of chastity last week when she was praying for her mother’s life. What Xo doesn’t know is that Alba woke up from her coma before she made this vow, so Alba is pretending not to know about it. Alba’s reasoning is that if Rogelio is willing to wait for her, it’s a good sign; but then she lets it slip that she knew about the vow of chastity. It’s not a big deal, but there’s a nice callback to the apology letters Jane wrote to her grandmother so that her mother wouldn’t be kicked out of the house. When Jane’s caught out, she just says “It was all for a good cause!” I like that Xo and Alba know it was Jane’s doing and look at her rather than say “you wrote those letters, didn’t you?”. A good show doesn’t talk down to its audience.

Over in the pulpy side of the show, aka the Mirabella, things are getting interesting. Rose is trying to convince Rafael that his father is Sin Rostro, so Rafael goes to try and find out how the underground tunnel was built in the hotel in the first place. He wants evidence before he goes making claims about the identity of international drug dealers, which is more than can be said for Michael, who thinks it’s Rafael because he wants it to be. When the contractor that Rafael tried to pay off asks Michael “Are you with the other guy?” and then punches him in the face, that should have been evidence enough for Michael that Rafael isn’t the guy he’s after, but he’s too blinded by his love for Jane to see that. At least Nadine, his partner/rival/lover (wow it must be really confusing to be a cop in Miami) asks if this is all about Jane, and when she misinterprets Michael’s face when Jane tells him she wants to be with Rafael, she calls her supervisor to tell him that Michael’s been disobeying orders, which is the right thing to do. Michael is out of control, and I really want to like him but I can’t.

Over in Petra land, her hostage escaped last week, so she’s even more terrified that Milos is coming to kill her. In desperation, she goes to Lachlan for help. The key to the idea that Lachlan isn’t too fond of Petra is the onscreen text: Lachlan – Petra’s ex-fiance*    *she dumped him. Also the sex tape that Lachlan pretended to delete a few weeks ago suggests that he’s getting back at Petra in her own way. This is why it wasn’t too surprising that Lachlan was the one who planted the yellow tulips in the penthouse suite when Petra was having her bath. The thing I don’t understand about the Lachlan storyline is his motive. He’s using Petra, and she’s willing to be used, to annoy Rafael, and he’s also using her vulnerability against her. What’s his endgame? For one second I thought that maybe Lachlan was Milos and he just got some plastic surgery done in the underground tunnel, but he’s probably just messing with her. I like my version better though, it’s more telenovela.

Other thoughts:

  • Libby Hill wrote a great piece over at The A.V. Club about the true love story in Jane the Virgin being the relationships in the Villanueva family. I haven’t read all of it because we’re three weeks behind the US over here, and while I know some spoilers, I don’t want to be spoiled on everything.
  • I find it really hard to decide whether I like the onscreen text or the Latin Lover Narrator more. The best of the onscreen text this week was:
    Milos = Petra’s Ex
    A really bad guy
    Forgot Petra’s birthday – twice
    Threw acid at Petra’s mother – once
  • Jane: “I didn’t ask for the job though.”
    Rogelio: “You didn’t have to. Everyone wants to work in television”
  • Carla from Scrubs is the head writer on Passions of Santos!
  • It’s interesting that Petra actually trusts Lachlan (probably because she’s so scared of Milos), whereas I thought she was just using him. Listen to your mother, Petra! Maybe Petra just thinks that Lachlan isn’t as cunning as Milos and Rafael, but she was in on Lachlan’s plan to mess with Rafael’s head, so I have no idea.
  • When I heard that Rogelio got Jane the writing internship, I assumed the writers would hate Jane because of nepotism. Instead, they pretended to love Jane’s ideas because Rogelio instructed them to. Classic Rogelio.

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