In the fifth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, Jane struggles with the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of domestic abuse, and a very brief discussion of child abuse.
You know, I relate to Jane’s struggle here, but from a completely different direction, one that I got to speak about in a previous review. Being adopted can be a strange enough experience, but I know what it’s like to discover that you’ve been lied to for many, many years about who you are and who your family is. An example: Until I was in my early 20s, I did not know that one of the major reasons my family moved me from Boise, Idaho down to Riverside was because my mother was convinced that our adoptive mom was going to “steal” us. And it explains so much of her irrational strictness when I was a kid, too. If I started succeeding in something, my mother would pull me out of it. She’d make excuses about how I was being “used” by teachers, who were all trying to ride on my coattails, but the truth was a lot creepier. She thought that if my name made it into the newspaper, my biological mom would find me and my brother and take us away. Which… was never going to happen? Also, I can’t ignore how much of this behavior either thrived on or caused the abuse my brother and I went through as kids. One of them fed off the other in this endless cycle of paranoia and control.
And then, I found out some truths about my family as an adult. Like I mentioned before, I probably won’t ever learn everything about my biological parents; there are too many anecdotes that contradict one another, and now that I’m more or less estranged from the bulk of my family, I don’t see there being some big reunion any time in the future. The point I’m leading toward is that when you find out you’ve been lied to for DECADES, it stings. Which is why it was so satisfying to see a similar motif pop up between Jane and Rafael: Both of them reject the notion of what happened to them being a “mistake.” Initially… maybe. Maybe these actions could have been excused as mistakes as long as there was an apology. But with years and years of lies built on top of one another, it starts feeling calculated. It stops feeling like a momentary bad decision and rather, more like a legacy of bad decisions. It’s why that notion of the “right” time to tell the truth often fails so miserably. The “right” time implies there’s a moment when a person who has been hurt will magically NOT be hurt by what someone did. And every moment you wait? That hurt risks compounding into something new.
That is what Jane is dealing with. Is she harsh and quick with her judgments? Oh, absolutely. But that’s one of the things I find so fulfilling about watching this! Jane is written as a devout Catholic who has used these quick judgments her whole life to get by. It’s part of her characterization, and thus, I felt all of her actions in “Chapter Five” to be entirely believable. Jane has an incredibly strong moral code, but part of the problem is that she’s been forced into a situation that her code doesn’t really address. It’s all a grey area, and yet she’s trying to find stability in the black and white. Thus, her actions feel tangible. They feel real and believable and consistent with who she is as a person. That doesn’t make this any less frustrating, of course. I actually found “Chapter Five” a little overwhelming because there were so many heavy moments spread out over the episode. But if I was overwhelmed, then that means that the writers and the actors did a fantastic job giving the viewers a sense of what it’s like being in this mess.
And what a MESS this has become. I feel like “Chapter Five” clears out multiple lines of deceit, though, since nearly every “truth” has come out. Michael finally told Jane about his relationship with his brother, Billy, and why it is complicated. (Though I sense that there is something more to it?) There’s no hiding the affair from Rafael, either, and after Petra attempts to seduce her way back into her marriage, Rafael still delivers divorce papers. Xiomara is dealing with the fallout of her own lies, since Jane now knows that Rogelio is her father. And the final scene is of Jane storming out after accidentally discovering that Michael knew Petra was having an affair.
(This is all the FIFTH episode of ONE HUNDRED. How the fuck?????)
For what it’s worth, though, my GODS, these people are trying. This isn’t a show about messed up people being messed up because it’s entertaining. It’s so damn genuine, and these characters sincerely want the best for themselves and the people they love in their life. Take Rogelio, for example. He is perhaps the HOTTEST mess here, someone who is vain, arrogant, oblivious—I could keep going. I should hate him! And yet, I can tell he’s thrown himself into the life of being a telenovela star, and suddenly, this beautiful, perfect wrench has been tossed into the machine, and Rogelio will do practically anything to make this work. What he does choose to do here is not great because he doesn’t know any other way to relate to people. It’s all through the identity of being famous, which Jane doesn’t give a shit about. So, his first attempt is entirely absurd, but then he swings the pendulum completely to the other side in his second attempt. He tries to be “normal” and talk to Jane about her mother, but his timing and technique are… well, they’re not good. And it doesn’t work AGAIN. Like Jane, he went into each of these moments with expectations: that his fame would cover his nervousness. That being “relatable” and talking about Jane’s mother was more down-to-earth. That he could catch up on all that missed time in TWO HOURS. All Jane actually wanted?
For him to just be himself. For the chance to get to know someone she should’ve known a long time ago.
Jane wants nothing more than stability at this point in her life, and all these recent events have thrown her into chaos. So even though Michael, to some extent, had to keep his work and Jane in separate worlds, I also understand why she’s so upset with him. The timing of it all certainly doesn’t help, but again: there’s no right time. Look, I genuinely do not know what is going to happen with Jane and her baby. I really liked that Rafael and Jane were so honest with one another and their intentions. Actually, they’re perhaps the only two here who are just upfront with the truth, even if that truth is messy and uncomfortable? Jane wanted her baby to go to a happy home; Rafael cannot be with Petra anymore and wants to raise the child alone. I think Jane’s claim at the end of their conversation is more optimistic than she might see it, but I, too, would like to think that while this situation isn’t perfect, they could work it out. But how does that work? Who gets majority custody of this child? How much of this will throw Jane’s life into chaos again?
There are, of course, the unknown variables. (Well, not unknown to the audience.) So, “Chapter Five” confirms that Petra is taking care of her mother, Magda, and that also means financially. They have a VERY weird relationship, y’all, and I need a backstory IMMEDIATELY. Does Magda know about Petra and the past she is running from? WHAT IS HER DEAL? I admit to feeling very hesitant about the fake domestic abuse storyline, though, because it’s such a common misogynist rebuttal against domestic abuse. You know, that whole thing that women are faking it in order to get men in trouble? Except that’s what is LITERALLY happening, and it’s super uncomfortable???
And then there’s the whole Sin Rostro plot line, which I admit is not all that intriguing compared to everything else going on. I mean… yes, two murders in Rafael’s hotel. But all the interpersonal conflicts are way more interesting than this subplot. Truthfully, I’m only looking forward to more exploration of it because I just KNOW it’s going to affect the main cast of characters. But how???
The video for “Chapter Five” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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