In the tenth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, a tropical storm makes everything even more dramatic than usual. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of ableism regarding mental illness and institutionalizing, anti-immigration policies/rhetoric
“Chapter Ten” felt like a fantastic mix of plot-heavy pacing and some intense character moments, and I am absolutely going to repeat myself at the start of this: HOW THE FUCK ARE WE STILL NOT EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH THIS SEASON. I can’t even fathom what the finale is going to be about, let alone seasons two through five!
Sometimes, we learn about real things from the most unlikely places. As upsetting as this plot was, I appreciated that Jane the Virgin decided to address the concept of medical repatriation. I learned about it in high school, when a friend’s mother was threatened with this exact process after getting into a car accident. It’s one of the most immoral, cruel, and horrific things imaginable because the patient’s health or consent is not the top concern for the people who make the decision. As we saw here, Alba wasn’t ever consulted; Xiomara is just told it was going to happen. It’s also highly, highly dependent on factors like the patient’s financial state, what their country of origin is, and how deeply racist/xenophobic the people are who make the decisions.
It’s one of those things that people think can’t possibly seem real because it feels so obviously wrong. Sort of like civil forfeiture! Another deeply fucked up practice that seems like it shouldn’t exist anywhere, and yet it does. And both are highly susceptible to abuse. So I appreciate that Michael did what he did to protect Alba, even if his motivations are a little misguided. Like… yes, they’re sweet, and there’s a part of me that gets why he wants to fight for her. But would Michael do this for someone who he wasn’t connected to? Probably not.
I know that I’ve had a lot to complain about from my time as a Catholic, but I will say that I did appreciate the meditative property of the rosary. It allowed me to concentrate and calm down, which was something I needed as an incredibly anxious teenager. So I love that this rosary is not only something that drives the plot, but also affects the emotional pacing. It’s the logistical reason for Jane ending up in Mirabella, but it also changes how she behaves when she’s stuck between deciding who should be laid off. Back at the hospital, Xiomara was influenced by Jane, and it’s one of the main reasons she decides to pray for Alba, despite that Xiomara isn’t a very religious character. It’s a neat way of telling a story, too, and it’s only one of TWO framing devices in this narrative.
The other, of course, being the tropical storm. Trapped in an elevator! Secrets revealed! All the dramatic tension! The writers clearly knew what they were playing with here, and it was a delight watching this because you could tell how much fun they were having. Michael, Nadine, Rafael, Jane, Petra, Magda, AND Ivan all trapped in the same building? Shenanigans MUST ensue! And they did. Ivan escaped after failing to get any money, meaning that it’s only a matter of time before Milos comes for Magda and Petra. Mr. Solano left town quickly because of the storm, which is what set Rose on her path. And with Michael still working the Sin Rostro case, this allowed the writers to have him be even messier than usual with Jane and Rafael. THE DRAMA! ALL TIME HIGH!
So, let me dig in to a few of the plots at a deeper level. Y’all, I really don’t like this plot all that much? I should be more thrilled that queer characters get to be part of the story, but this is just… a mess? Okay, granted, the whole show is a mess, but this plot doesn’t feel genuine or sincere. Rather, it relies on some harmful tropes, like… all of Betty? Seriously, did Luisa and Rose have sex with Betty RIGHT THERE. Plus, the lack of specificity here means that the writers have to rely on tropes. What exactly is Luisa in for? What drugs are they giving her? How are they affecting her? Can she be involuntarily committed for this length of time in Miami? I don’t know! We just see visual shorthand to tell us where Luisa is and why she is “enjoying” her time, but it doesn’t give us a complete portrait.
Then, when Rose shows up, this became straight-up infuriating. Yo, this woman GASLIT so many people, she lied to have someone committed, and she has the nerve to show up and be sorry? GET HER OUT. STOP IT. And I feel some type of way about how sex is used here. Both have it as a means to an end: Rose wanted to know more about her husband, and Luisa wanted to escape. But the show seems to ignore the emotional aspect. Would Luisa really hook up with someone who had done something so horrible to her? Luisa’s life is irrevocably changed now; she will ALWAYS have to deal with the ramifications of what Rose did. It just rang so odd to me, y’all. This plot is a mess! It differs, too, because Rose and Luisa are slipping more into caricatures than feeling like real people, which isn’t something you see with Rogelio, for example, who is a hot mess and hilarious, but still comes off as very authentic.
As I said on video, I didn’t think this subplot was very important when the show began, but I can see now that the writers are ramping this up. It’s nice that it’s also something that I’m starting to care about. Rose thinks that Mr. Solano is Sin Rostro; Michael thinks it is Rafael. I don’t think it’s either, personally. It’s too easy. And of the two, Rafael’s dad seems the more likely. But the discovery of that secret surgery wing??? Holy shit, that’s disturbing. Wasn’t Lachlan responsible for that? I recall him working on something with the recovery suites. Regardless: there’s a place in the hotel where criminals are getting PLASTIC SURGERY to hide themselves. I really, really hope that Rafael isn’t involved with this, but I don’t know for sure! I don’t think it’s him, but AHHHHH WHAT IF I AM WRONG.
Oh, this whole situation was so painful. I’m more inclined to sympathize with Frankie because I’ve been laid off, and it’s a nightmare to go through. (Though getting laid off is what gave me the time to finally convert Mark Does Stuff into a full time thing, so… silver lining!) Jane’s friends amongst the staff clearly love her, but this situation put her into a terrible place, despite that her instinct TOLD her not to get involved. I get why her friends reached out to her; I get why Frankie wanted Jane to help. Unfortunately, Jane’s good intentions could never undo this. It didn’t matter how hard she tried; the layoffs were always going to happen, and someone would have been heartbroken at the end of it.
I’m glad that this makes Jane introspective, though, because it shows that she’s willing to consider if she really is changing. Is she a bad person? Is she unable to sympathize with her friends because she is gaining more and more access to wealth through Rafael? That’s a complicated thing, isn’t it? Because Jane and her family themselves are not rich at all, and Jane grew up in an environment where Xiomara and Alba did their best. Hell, their financial situation is why Xiomara struggles so much with her desire to be a singer! It’s not paying the bills.
This plot is not resolved in a way that’s easy, either, and so it’s admirable that Jane still wants to make sure she’s doing the right thing. It’s possible that Jane just lost her friends, and from their perspective, I understand their reaction. Losing your financial livelihood is gutting, and they don’t see this as Jane betraying her boyfriend. She has access and influence they don’t, and they just want to alleviate the fear and stress that they feel. At the same time, she actually doesn’t have the access and influence they think she does; no amount of talking to Rafael was going to get the layoffs to stop. So, maybe Jane herself hasn’t changed, but her circumstances have. The things she now has to think about have, too! But I think if she remains aware of this and does her best, it’s all she can ask of herself.
I still feel awful for Frankie, though.
The video for “Chapter Ten” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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