Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Twenty-One”

“I don’t want to be just a mom” – Jane’s fantasy reunion speech

I was fully prepared to dislike this week’s episode of Jane the Virgin. A five year reunion? These are some of my least favourite episodes on television – in real life reunions are just a thing that happened and then you go out and get drinks with people you really want to spend time with. Thankfully the reunion didn’t take up too much of the running time (this is Jane the Virgin, there’s too much going on to just focus on one thing), and if that’s the thing that leads to Jane and Michael reuniting, I am going to be 100% okay with it. Unfortunately that’s not what happens, and I’m going to be annoyed if the majority of next week’s episode is taken up with the love triangle. There’s going to be a baby! This episode was, once again, full of fantastic character moments, and Jane got a lesson on how to be a mean girl, which meant she was using Solano levels of manipulation.

I love that this show can make me invested enough in a love triangle that I have been in favour of both of Jane’s potential suitors at different points throughout the first season. I’m just really annoyed at myself for getting so invested in them. So at the start of the show I was #TeamRafael and now I’m #TeamMichael. Jane the Virgin has been really good at using flashbacks to show (not tell) the audience how great Jane and Michael work together, and their phone call after Jane’s reunion was perfect. They were lying on the opposite sides of their respective beds so that if they did a split screen (I can’t really remember whether they did or not), it would have looked like they were a couple in bed together at the end of a long day. The direction on this show is fantastic, and to show real intimacy between two characters who are on the phone is a work of art from the writers, director and actors. Michael is honest that he would like to be more than friends with Jane, but that he’s just happy that she’s in his life again, and Jane keeps lying to herself. She’s got way too much going on.

At the heart of tonight’s episode is the question of whether you can be friends with your ex. In my experience, it only works if both parties genuinely want to be friends. The people who seem to be making the most progress with this are Xo and Rogelio, even if Rogelio is surprised that Xo would pretend she’s the one who has a fear of heights. Rogelio covers up his fears, but Xo is making an effort not to stand in the way of his dream of playing Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. That is something that friends do, and while Xo and Rogelio’s relationship is complicated, if they make a genuine effort to be friends, being a couple might be easier if they try again. Aside from the Jane and Michael adorableness (it’s a good thing Rogelio doesn’t know about the potential for Jane and Michael to get back together), we have Rafael pining for Jane and Petra pining for Rafael. Rafael and Petra say they just want to be friends with the person they want to be more than friends with, but they’d make life a lot easier for themselves if they were honest. And that’s how Jane is able to get her mean girl revenge on Petra: exploiting her weakness.

Jane was dreading the reunion for a number of reasons (mainly her pregnancy), but one of them was Stephanie Kovokobitch Kovokovitch, in my favourite onscreen text moment of the episode. She’d been mean to Jane in high school, and Jane thought it was because her dad briefly dated Xiomara (it didn’t end well). It turned out that Jane was asked to the junior prom by the guy Stephanie liked, so she spread a rumour that Xo was a slut so that the boy’s ultra-conservative mother wouldn’t let him go with Jane. It’s super convoluted, but it also makes sense. Jane had something that Stephanie wanted, so Stephanie exploited Jane’s weakness, in this case Xiomara, to take it away from her. So high school. Five years later, Stephanie apologises for being a bitch and is decent enough to tell Jane why that was the case, as well as letting Jane in on her tactics, which Jane used to get Magda in jail. When Petra spoke to Jane before the reunion, she was begging Jane not to sue for custody, and Jane realised that Petra’s weakness was Rafael. So Jane asked Rafael to give Petra some hope that they might one day get back together, and voila! Petra makes Magda turn herself over to the police. So Rafael knows what Petra wants, but Jane doesn’t know what the father of her child wants, but now it’s too late. I wonder if Rafael left Jane a message. Too late “Raf”, I’m all in on #TeamMichael.

As much as I’m a shipper, the most important team on Jane the Virgin is #TeamJane, which is why “Chapter Twenty-One” is such a good episode for Michael. He tells Jane to slow down with her writing and make a plan that is longer term. If she wants to write, she should write, but just writing ten pages of her novel a day isn’t the answer. So Jane decides to go to graduate school and do a writing course. She thinks she’s going to have to defend it to Xo and Alba, but they’re family and they’ve seen Jane’s colour-coded planner. She doesn’t want to be “just a mom”, which is what she really wanted to say in that five year reunion speech, and I love that television is allowing women to be more than one thing. My review of yesterday’s Orphan Black was about how the female characters on that show are rarely given choices, and Jane the Virgin celebrates the fact that women are more than just mothers. Xo really wants to be a singer, so she’s doing a show in Las Vegas with Rogelio; Jane wants to be a writer, so she’s going to apply for Masters programmes. This show doesn’t just allow its characters to be more than one thing, it encourages it, and that character work is what makes Jane the Virgin special.

Other thoughts:

  • I like that Michael is conflicted about his decision to turn/not turn Nadine’s name over to his CO (we never actually saw him do this). Sure, he was sleeping with Nadine for a bit after Jane dumped him, but the emotion on Brett Dier’s face the other week when he learned that Nadine was working for Sin Rostro showed that Michael really did care about Nadine as a partner.
  • Timeline notes: It’s been two weeks since “Chapter Twenty”, which means it’s been a month since Rafael and Jane broke up.
  • It’s good to see Rafael and Luisa talking, I think Rafael’s character has suffered from not having people to interact with who aren’t his girlfriend or ex-wife.
  • In the comic relief runner, Jane is nesting, which means she’s trying to get as much done as she can before the baby arrives. Alba points this out to Jane, who tells her that there’s no colour for nesting on her planner, and Alba says “I’d go for brown. Like a nest.” (Alba has great lines this week). And then Jane gets distracted by tiny shoes. I mean, who wouldn’t?
  • Rogelio: “Cool people like Bradley Cooper do plays”
  • Rogelio: “EGOT. Once I’ve got the Tony, all I need is an EGO.”
    Alba: “Seems like you’ve got that covered”
  • Rogelio: “I am only scared of two things, acne and leprechauns”
    Alba: “Leprechauns aren’t real.”
    Rogelio: “I know what I saw!”
  • #mostlikelytoscrewoverPetra
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