In the eighteenth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, EVERYTHING HURTS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Two Different Worlds
HEY, I’M A FUCKING MESS, Y’ALL. This episode wrecked me? It was so damn raw and stressful and frustrating and then bam. Punch in the fucking GUT right at the end.
I didn’t want to be right. I was into this whirlwind romance. I was into the idea that this horrible mistake had brought these two people together, that Rafael could have a family of his own, that Jane would be so much closer to her ideal partnership. But aesthetics don’t cut it; how a relationship appears is not exactly what it is. It’s still heartbreaking to experience this turn of events because at the end of the day, I want these people to be happy. It would be easier if I could look at this and be angry at one person and place blame into a category, but what if two people are simply incompatible? What if their desires and dreams don’t fit together?
It sucks. A whole lot. And I can’t even begin to imagine how this heartbreak is going to be complicated because it involves a pregnancy, because Jane still has to figure out how to co-parent with someone who ultimately is choosing not to be with her romantically. It’s a disaster! I don’t even know how to imagine this future for her!!! THERE ARE FOUR MORE SEASONS.
Here’s what I’ll say. It isn’t easy to categorize things in general, but there were multiple things here that rubbed me the wrong way. Jane’s doubts were real, and while I’m going to talk about them in greater detail later, I found some of Rafael’s behavior to be disturbing. Like his refusal to turn off his phone until something was important to him. Or how often he left Jane high and dry when she needed him. There’s a really telling scene in the early part of “Chapter Eighteen” that summarizes a major problem, too. Rafael cannot seem to be present and supportive in the ways Jane needs him to be because his mind is always elsewhere. It’s understandable that he’s busy and stressed. But go back to that scene where Rafael tells Jane that he found his mother’s email address. Notice how quickly Jane is immediately there for him. She puts aside herself and devotes all her attention and care to him, despite that is is absolutely understandable that she is busy and stressed. That bothered me so much.
In a partnership, you can’t expect something from a partner that you yourself are not willing to do, especially if that partner has repeatedly communicated that need to you! It’s not like Rafael didn’t know that Jane needed more time and attention. SHE HAS CONSTANTLY TOLD HIM THAT. But it cuts right to the core of the problem: What does Rafael value? Success. Financial in particular. Leaving a legacy! Certainly fair things to want for one’s self. But where do Jane and their child fit into this? Are they signs of Rafael’s success more than things he wants to work towards? It’s complicated, obviously, and while I do think these two people might actually not be compatible in the long run, that doesn’t make this hurt any less.
Which makes me worried for Alba and Edward. While there’s certainly no full story for the two of them in “Chapter Eighteen,” there’s a hint of a parallel: Alba and Edward are both of the same world—in the sense that they are both religious and most likely share a lot of the same beliefs—but are from different ones, given that EDWARD IS A PRIEST. Who also said yes to her date? OH MY GOD. I truly can’t wait to see how this unfolds!
Disappointment and Truth
Part of why I enjoyed “Chapter Eighteen”—as stressful as it was—was because of how multiple themes and stories were woven together in a way that seemed so effortless. There’s a recurring exploration of disappointment here, especially in how people withhold the truth out of fear of disappointing someone they love. The obvious example of that came with the glorious arrival of Liliana De La Vega, portrayed with ABSOLUTE PERFECTION by the stunning Rita Moreno. (Seriously, let this be one of many examples of why I love that I get to do this unspoiled: Seeing Rita Moreno in one of Rogelio’s photos was A JOY TO DISCOVER.) Liliana was onscreen for a minute, and I suddenly understood LITERALLY EVERY PART OF ROGELIO’S CHARACTERIZATION. Bravo, first of all, for the writers nailing that; it’s one of my favorite things in fiction. Shit, in real life, too! Getting to meet someone’s parents and then understanding why they are the way they are? Priceless! I get Rogelio’s exacting, diva-esque behavior; he got that from his mother!
Unfortunately, Rogelio once made a huge mistake: He lied to his mother about Xiomara and her pregnancy so that he wouldn’t disappoint her. And when you realize you’re probably not going to see a person again… look. Rogelio probably thought he’d never have to deal with this lie. Except here’s Xiomara, back in his life and now living in his house, and this lie has TERRIBLE ramifications, especially since Liliana targets Xiomara constantly throughout the episode, all for a wrong that Xiomara definitely did not commit!
Yet this gets even sadder, and I’m now VERY worried about the future of Rogelio and Xiomara. Ugh, I understood Xiomara’s very justified anger at Liliana telling her son to break-up with Xiomara. TO HER FACE. It’s so unnecessary and rude, even if that was how she felt! And I get why she opened up to Marco during their chance meeting. As a fellow self-sabotager (my early 20s were FUN), I get why Xiomara went down the route she did. Doesn’t mean it was the right choice, but I understood it.
Lying to Rogelio, though, when he did the exact thing Xiomara wanted him to do? Oh, that’s not going to go away. It’s not. She is going to feel guilt, and Rogelio’s hurt is only going to get worse as she keeps that lie going. The act has come full circle: Rogelio lied so as not to disappoint his mother. Xiomara lied so as not to disappoint Rogelio. Oh god, and Jane lied so as not to disappoint Michael, who seems very much to be moving on. BUT WITH SOMEONE WHO MAY HAVE STALKED HIM OR AT THE VERY LEAST IS MANIPULATING JANE OR PLAYING SOME WEIRD GAME WITH HER. Holy shit, what the fuck is going on there??? Help me??? That whole plot is so strange and it stresses me out?
And I haven’t even address the lie of omission from Elena, Rafael’s mother. Hi, holy shit, that story is also a massive gut punch???? Elena cheated on Emilio, and he paid her $10 MILLION TO JUST DISAPPEAR and she took it, which… I don’t even know what to do with that. I just don’t. Actually… holy shit, the Solano family is way richer than I thought they were if Emilio just had that amount of money to throw at his ex-wife. But how do you deal with a disappointment like that? There was an actual price that Elena was willing to take to ABANDON HER CHILDREN. That has to sting on a level I can’t even comprehend! While I’m sure this had some effect on why Rafael broke up with Jane at the end of the episode, it’s truly its own beast, and I don’t know how Rafael is going to cope with that in the future.
Ugh, now I’m thinking about Jane breaking down in the hallway after being dumped and it hurts all over again. THIS EPISODE HURT ME SPECIFICALLY.
Faith and Doubt
Oh, I’m still not done talking about “Chapter Eighteen.” Layered over the examinations of love, duty, and disappointment is an INCREDIBLE exploration of the concept of faith, both on a religious and an interpersonal level. The one thing I related to most in this episode—and wow, so much here felt so deeply real—was Jane’s struggle with the tenets of her Catholicism as a teenager. I’ve written about this before in other reviews, but it was one of the hardest parts of my conversion to Catholicism as a teenager. I was already struggling with the beliefs that I was raised in, and it frustrated me that I sought answers in something that only gave me more questions. Like Jane, I could poke holes in anything. This didn’t mean I was being clever or logical, though; I have been such an anxious, nervous person for so long that it’s second nature for me to question literally everything that has ever existed, currently exists, or may exist in our or any other universe.
I think you can see the incompatibility there, especially since the kind of Catholics I was around were not remotely interested in questions. You were taught things to ingest and follow them without question. If you expressed doubt or something didn’t make sense, the problem was always with the individual, not the text or the belief or the tenet or the faithful person. Again: Feels like my inevitable defection from the church is really obvious in hindsight.
To an extent, that’s shown here, especially in young Jane’s experiences. But it’s extrapolated to the present as she struggles with Rafael’s increasingly busy life. She doubts her future with Rafael, and one doubt turns into many, which turns into a serious crisis of faith. Her inner thoughts are insisting that Rafael is heading down a terrible path, and these thoughts conflict with what other people are telling her, namely Alba and Xiomara. (I did want to say that I feel really weird about the portrayal of the voice, as there are moments where Rodriguez’s acting veer a little to close to a blaccent or a sassy Black lady, which is problem both in that association of sassiness and Black womanhood, and because Gina Rodriguez herself has had a number of anti-Black incidents over the past few years. I think they could have still had the voice exist without going down that road at all.)
The tragic thing—of many, y’all—is that I don’t think Alba and Xiomara necessarily gave bad advice. They know that Jane is an overthinker, that she can obsess over an idea until it begins to drastically affect how she views things, so I get why they both encouraged her to stick it out, to try to see things differently! But neither of them saw first-hand what Rafael was doing, and thus, their advice falls short. It influences Jane’s decision to try to repair things with Rafael, and that… well, that isn’t what happened. But also!!! No one knew what Rafael was going through either! UGH THIS ALL HURTS.
I understand the point that the show was trying to make through Mrs. Falco. On the one hand, the Falcos needed to exists so that there could be further conflict between Jane and Rafael. Where this made me feel uncomfortable was how much the show let Jane feel responsible for Mrs. Falco being INCREDIBLY gross. It’s hard for me not to read a racialized element into why Mrs. Falco was so cruel to Jane. Seriously, the pregnant, unwed Mexican mother is about as plain of a racist trope as possible, and that’s exactly what Mrs. Falco was playing into. So like… fuck Mrs. Falco? I kinda don’t care that she’s also a person??? She dehumanized Jane, Jane stood up for herself, and so it felt especially gross that Rafael didn’t even seem to notice or care about this? Jane is the type of person to want to immediately make things right, so I get the decision to have her do that, but… ew. No. Fuck Mrs. Falco. I hope she gets nothing but dirty silverware forever.
WHAT IS HAPPENING. WHAT THE FUCK, I DON’T GET THIS. OH MY GOD. WHERE IS HE TAKING PETRA, WHAT IS THIS SHOW. I AM NEVER READY FOR IT.
The video for “Chapter Eighteen” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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