Australia is finally up to date on Jane the Virgin, but “Chapter Thirty-One” doesn’t air for another three weeks. I’m just glad we’re up to date, so I don’t have to keep muting hashtags on Twitter, and it makes my reviews a bit more timely. “Chapter Thirty” is a much better episode than “Chapter Twenty-Nine,” as it balances all of its moving parts much better, especially not having to worry about all of the Target stuff. When you’re not partners with your child’s other parent, what happens at Christmas? This is something that Jane and Rafael need to figure out after the events of last week but also six months previously. Jane also needs to figure out how to pay for her second semester of grad school, and Rogelio needs to find a way to move forward without Michael.
I’ll get the big storyline out of the way first, which is Jane and Rafael’s feud. I may have been a little hard on Rafael last week, but “I had no choice” is bullshit. You always have a choice, and he made the wrong one. The episode flashes back to the first time Jane completely lost her cool, and then back to Jane and Rafael’s fight, which is the first time Alba’s “CALM” acrostic hasn’t worked in a very long time. Jane completely loses it at Rafael, takes Mateo (the new M now that Michael is no longer in her life) home, and tells her mother what happened. Xiomara is just as angry as Jane and is telling her to keep Mateo away from Rafael. Alba’s immigration lawyer tells Jane that Wesley’s piece is grounds for suing for full custody of Mateo, but she stops short and decides to try therapy with Rafael.
At the heart of Jane’s problem with what Rafael did was the lying. It makes sense, because Alba lied about Rogelio for twenty-three years. Michael lying is what led to the end of their engagement, and she was only ready to be with him when he told her the truth about Nadine. However Michael’s truth is different to Rafael’s truth, which is that he killed Emilio. Jane apologises to Rafael for forgetting about Emilio, but had anyone in the audience remembered? Emilio died eighteen episodes ago, and he was never a large part of the show – Rafael only came to respect his father more after he reunited with his estranged mother, and that was still after Emilio’s murder. Jane the Virgin has generally been good about keeping all the plot threads together, but the relationship between Sin Rostro and Emilio’s death hasn’t been given much attention.
Another character who isn’t doing so well with Jane and Rafael’s feud is Rogelio. He sees Xiomara encouraging Jane to push Rafael away, and it reminds him of all the time he missed with his own child. Rogelio de la Vega and Michael Cordero is one of the best character pairings on the show, and this week we learned just how close they were: Rogelio was able to talk to Michael during those times he was angry at Xiomara. He sees Michael at their coffee place and asks if it’s still okay for them to be friends, but Michael heartbreakingly tells Rogelio that it can’t happen. Neither of them want it, but they both know it’s the best decision. So, Rogelio is trying to replace Michael with his intern JD. This plot is amusing for a little bit until Rogelio fires JD for leaking a fake rumour to the press (it was actually one of the pedicurists), and then JD leaves his script with Rogelio, who has found his new passion project.
One of the things that sets Jane the Virgin apart from other shows is the way it deals with money. Jane, Xiomara and Alba have always been financially savvy, in contrast to the wealthier characters on the show. It’s important for Jane that Mateo learn the value of a hard day’s work and not rely on his trust fund. Now we have Rogelio learning to budget, and Jane learning that Rogelio was the one who paid her scholarship for the first semester of grad school. In a panic, Jane goes to Professor Chavez and asks if there are any TA positions available, which there aren’t, but he provides her with information about a writing contest where the genres are historical fiction, thriller and sci fi. It’s great to see Jane out of her comfort zone as she writes other genres (the sci fi one was pretty bad), and after she hands in all her stories, Chavez tells her that she can actually write romance, he just wanted her to learn something by trying new genres. Also he kicked Wesley out of the program for his Curse of the Solanos article, so there’s a TA position available for Jane.
Petra is freaking out after Ivan’s murder, and her doctor tells her that her blood pressure is unusually high. Rafael is startled by her behaviour, and she told him everything. Petra is quite high on my list of favourite characters; she could be one-note, but Yael Groblas plays her with such warmth that I can’t help but feel for her. Rafael tells Petra that he thinks he finally understands her for the first time, and these two kids might just have a chance. He encourages Petra to tell the police about Ivan, but before she can, the police are at her door to arrest her for Ivan’s murder. We all know that Magda is always scheming, so I’m not particularly surprised by this development, but it was really upsetting. Petra never manages to catch a break, and it seems that the only Christmas miracles this year were for the Villanueva family.
Even in its messier, more telenovela weeks, Jane the Virgin always works because it returns to the core of the Villanueva family, which now includes Rogelio. Rogelio and Jane have a conversation about how mad they both get about Xiomara’s lies, but recognise how important it is that they’re in each other’s lives now. Jane goes outside to get the mail, and discovers that Michael has repaired Mateo Senior’s Christmas angel, which Xiomara accidentally broke on the day of the Christening. Michael is a part of this family even when he’s not there, and it’s gestures like that which remind Jane of why she fell in love with him in the first place. Most importantly, Alba’s green card finally came, and the Villanuevas no longer have the spectre of deportation hanging over them, so they can finally have a peaceful Christmas as a family.
- It was strange watching a Christmas episode two weeks after Christmas, but I guess that’s what happens.
- Speaking of which, given that this show is set in Miami, I like that it’s not a White Christmas, even if it’s winter, because I’m from the Southern hemisphere.
- There’s a theory going around that Jane and Professor Chavez will be romantically involved, and I’m not wholly opposed to that idea – she needs time away from both Michael and Rafael – except for the fact that it’s a bad idea academically.
- More stuff happened with the Mutter investigation and Luisa this week, but I wasn’t particularly invested in it.