In the fourteenth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, terrible truths come to light and alter the lives of everyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of death, grief, emotional manipulation, alcoholism, ableism, domestic abuse
Everything is a MESS and we still have so many episodes to go before the end of the season? Whatever this cliffhanger is about to be is going to RUIN me, I just know it.
This still feels so strange. If you examine Petra’s characterization merely as someone who will manipulate and lie her way into anything that gets her power, prestige, or money, then what she does here makes a whole lot of sense. Indeed, a significant portion of how she’s been written falls into this. We’ve seen her do this repeatedly over the course of the season! So, yes, in that sense, it’s perfectly within character that Petra would rely on spite in order to torment Rafael. It’s also believable that she would lie to emotionally manipulate someone who is already in a vulnerable state in order to guarantee her position of power.
What I don’t get is how much this episode seems to ignore the other part of the story. Petra was so terrified of Milos that she and her mother fled to the US, and Petra was also willing to do anything to stop Milos from finding her. We had on-screen confirmation that even after Milos explained himself, Petra had no interest in him and still saw him as both abusive and needing to work on his anger issues. We also got confirmation of Milos’s intense and inappropriate fixation on Petra. Now, it’s possible that a future episode will show us more of this. What exact arrangement does Petra have with Milos? And why is it that Petra’s need for money and power overwrote her intense fear and hatred of Milos? If this wasn’t playing into some weird, unfortunate tropes surrounding women and domestic violence, I think it would be easier to write off Petra’s characterization as being totally devoted to selfishness. But now that I’ve gotten to see this other side of her, it seems to have vanished.
At the heart of “Chapter Fourteen” is the theme of trust, something that can easily be read into Petra’s arc, too. She trusts only herself, and that’s who she serves throughout the episode. But the main plot concerns the plot twist from the end of “Chapter Thirteen”: the arrival of Aaron Zazo. Look… I had doubts. I did. I started to worry, and I am still worried, about what Rafael was involved with. I just want the best for Jane! So even though it wasn’t necessarily the most practical thing, I understood why Jane was being nosy. Part of it is, of course, her love for telenovelas. This was all so dramatic and secretive! (By the way, I love all the stylized telenovela moments, complete with the lightning and the terrible backgrounds.) At the same time, the story made a great point: Do Rafael and Jane truly know one another? They had that cute night where they stayed up all night talking, but even then, that doesn’t place weeks or months or years of dating and getting to know one another. To put it frankly: Jane does not know Rafael nearly as well as she knows Michael.
Which isn’t to say that she can’t. So, while Rafael understandably feels hurt that Jane had a doubt, I enjoyed where they took this. Jane does what she can to make amends for how she hurt Rafael, and Rafael makes an effort to increase how much the two of them trust one another. Part of that comes from the act of vulnerability, and lord, what an episode for THAT. This was, at times, a dark episode, and I felt like there was a proper emphasis on how disturbing it was that Emilio was not only found, but how he was found. It’s fucking upsetting. Luisa and Rafael lost their father in a terrible way, and that doesn’t even address the fact his murderer is Rose. That part makes this a million times worse!
So, in this state of grief, Rafael has to deal with Petra taking over the hotel, Jane not trusting him completely, and the unknown idea of what comes in the future. When it came to Jane, it was nice seeing him open up to her and to accept that they both had a lot to work on. But I also admit that I will always feel awful about how he treated his sister and refused to believe her. More on that in a second. My concern at this point isn’t about the intentions of Jane and Rafael; it’s clear that the two of them are genuinely willing to work on their relationship. It honestly seems like they’re going to be fantastic parents.
However: Can their relationship survive the drama around them? What if it’s an external that pulls them apart? Rafael just lost controlling power in the hotel; I have no idea why Aaron Zazo is around; Petra is certainly going to interfere as much as she can. UGH. IT’S A LOT.
I still feel so weird about this plotline! I’m glad that Luisa has finally been vindicated, that the truth of her affair with Rose is out, and that she’s no longer being institutionalized. At the same time, the show writes her so strangely. She’s got this chaotic weirdness to her that we don’t see in any of the other characters. I’m all for messiness, but often Luisa is portrayed with an insincerity. At this point, there are two lesbians on this show: Luisa and Rose. One is a homocidal abuser who emotionally manipulates the people around her in order to maintain her criminal empire; the other is an alcoholic disaster who committed medical malpractice, has “wacky” beliefs, and routinely makes terrible decisions. She’s also one of the main victims of Rose’s manipulations. Both of them, like Petra, feel like telenovela characters, whereas pretty much everyone else feels like real people. (Well, then there’s Rogelio, but he’s in a world of his own, isn’t he?)
Maybe this is the show just trying to figure out what to do with these characters. I suppose I wouldn’t even necessarily notice this if it weren’t for the fact that almost no one else on the show is one-dimensional! Hell, even Petra’s gotten some depth, though I still struggle with what that actually means. Look, I don’t need queer characters to be perfect people, and truly, I’m here for messy, selfish, and complicated queer rep in fiction because frankly? We need it. At times, Luisa feels like all mess and nothing else, as if she’s here for us to laugh at or for her to veer the plot in a new direction. I want Luisa to be just as beautifully complicated as everyone else. Look at Rogelio, who manages to be comedic and yet still feels whole.
I’m worried as well because it’s also clear that Luisa hasn’t realized how toxic her relationship is with Rose. UGH, ROSE IS MANIPULATING YOU! Of course, I’m not judging her; I’ve been in relationships that are toxic, and you can’t see the forest for the trees when you’re in them. I just want so much better for her! AND I AM SCARED WHAT ROSE IS GOING TO DO TO HER.
Xiomara and Rogelio
One last bit about trust: Oh, this subplot was such a RELIEF. Finally! Finally!!! The two of them have said the truth to one another! I love how Jane played this. Y’all, she sat them down, she didn’t move herself, and she just used the power of awkwardness to her advantage. I also admit that I kinda can’t wait to see Rogelio on that ridiculous space telenovela??? It looks awful, and you know we’re gonna get some of the best scenes ever with him and Esteban. But mostly? I want Xiomara and Rogelio to find happiness. And with one another!!!
The video for “Chapter Fourteen” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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