In the nineteenth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, Jane struggles with grief and tries her best to put things back on track. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, kidnapping
Hi, this episode, like so many others, personally attacked me.
The 7 Stages
I think I would have had a different take on this show if I’d watched it a couple years ago. Well, it also wouldn’t have been over, so I am glad that I waited so that it would be complete. I say this because I had never really experienced a messy, complicated breakup until last year. It had always been so clean-cut for me. Yet now that I’m (somewhat) on the other side of it, there’s a level of personal experience that made “Chapter Nineteen” feel so much real to me.
I had a therapist tell me something last year. (And I’ll get to the therapy stuff next.) She said that as a society, we often don’t treat the loss of a relationship as a form of grief, even though it very much follows similar patterns. So yeah, again: felt personally attacked as the show brilliantly used the seven stages of grief as a means of telling a story. Jane cycles through them quickly, but then loops back around before getting to acceptance. Which is also very common! That same therapist said that people mistakenly believe that we all follow those seven stages in chronological order, and then we’re done.
Nah. Grief is so much more complicated, messy, and unexpected than that. The stages are a guide, a means of understanding common reactions and emotions in the wake of grief, but like Jane goes through here, there’s no linear path. Sure, she followed it over the course of the day, but then she looped back to bargaining. Then she was angry. Then she was sad. Then she was back to having hope, then… well, you get the idea. It’s through this that she comes up with the idea of couple’s therapy, a means of stopping this path she doesn’t want to go down.
I appreciated that “Chapter Nineteen” is honest about therapy. There are a lot of people reluctant towards doing it, and they often have their own ideas about what happens in a session. I’m not going to say that this episode gives us a detailed experience, either, since we only see two sessions. For me, therapy is always about the long game. While you might make progress in a single session, I’ve found that therapy needs multiple sessions spread over a long period of time. (Based on a person’s relative need, of course.) I’ve been with my current therapist for almost three months now, and I have two sessions a week. We are just now getting to stuff that we barely scratched the surface on in those first sessions.
That being said, the therapist here is presented as a calm third party; she’s not portrayed as a “quack,” and she does something almost all my therapists have done: Asked questions that cut to the core of a problem, but then make me come to my own conclusions. There’s even a great sense of humor about the couples’ therapy session, since any summary of Jane and Rafael’s history would sound absurd out of context. Yet even then, the therapist still takes them seriously!!!
I also liked that she gave homework, that some of the homework seemed ridiculous, and GUESS WHAT. Even though they didn’t do exactly what she said, it led to genuine revelations. In fact, Rafael, who seemed mostly uninterested in doing therapy, returned to that therapist. His work with her led him to an important epiphany, too: He cannot provide for Jane emotionally because he is having the hardest time providing for himself. He’s dealing with his own grief and trauma, and that doesn’t even cover the whole problem with how he values his time with his financial success over Jane.
That’s part of what makes this so hard. Rafael’s ultimate conclusion—that Jane and Rafael should not be together—so damn difficult to watch. Jane accepts it because… shit, it looks very much like he’s right. He can’t be what Jane needs anymore, and he’s very afraid he won’t be what she needs in the future. Seriously, that whole bit of his where he’s convinced he’ll drag Jane down into the darkness? It’s heartbreaking. It’s gut-wrenching. It would be so much easier if this was cut-and-dry, but it’s not. Interpersonal conflict can be so damn complicated, y’all, and as much as I wanted this relationship to work, it really might be better that they’re going to try to move on.
I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I don’t. How will these two be parents? If Jane has her kid by the end of this season, does that mean we’re going to see a toddler by the end of the show??? Michael seems to think that he still has a chance with Jane—however small that may be—but is that a good idea? I feel like Jane is not going to want to jump into seeing ANYONE in the immediate future.
Telling the Truth
Lies are part of the drama that fuels telenovelas. This show has PLENTY of them, and they’re often used to give us dramatic moments when the truth finally comes out. And wow, A LOT OF TRUTHS COME TO THE SURFACE IN THIS EPISODE. Like… where do I start? How about with Xiomara and Rogelio? Because holy shit, this went to such an uncomfortable place. I’m glad the show didn’t drag out Xiomara’s lie, but they also did something interesting with the Amanda subplot. It seemed easier on the surface for Xiomara to tell the truth about what she’d done when Amanda misinterprets a situation and kisses Rogelio. Now they both kissed someone, and everything can be cleared up!
Except that summary strips out the context and the agency. Xiomara chose to kiss Marco, and she did so during an understandably vulnerable moment. But she still did it. Rogelio was kissed, and there’s a difference there in intent and direction. Rogelio’s outburst comes from that place because he was betrayed, all while he was trying to do what he could to show Xiomara that he was devoted to her. It’s simply not the same situation. IT STILL HURTS A WHOLE LOT, OKAY. Ugh, I want them to work out, too! I will say that I do think that they still can, but maybe Xiomara and Rogelio can start couples’ therapy too.
Well, that is if Rogelio wants to work on this relationship. 🙁 🙁 🙁
Another parallel: Michale and Andie. Something tells me that this is it for Andie. Michael is justified in not talking to her anyway, since she weirdly stalked Jane in order to get closer to him. That’s just… bad! Bad decisions all around! So I get him never talking to her, but we all know that he sent that text message because he found out Jane was single again. Dude. Don’t make a move. FOR A WHILE. Give her space!!!
So, I get why this happens for plot reasons. Petra discovered the truth of Roman’s identity, so he kidnapped her to protect her identity. But this whole subplot felt super underdeveloped. There’s so much time spent on other stories, so I think that’s part of the problem. I also suspect that this is an element of what might be Petra’s future characterization. After events with Milos (WHERE IS HE), Petra has become increasingly isolated, and I will say that I appreciate that she was given space here to be freaked out by everything. That scene where she calls Rafael and is brushed away was painful to watch. She just experienced trauma—being kidnapped, having sex with her kidnapper in order to get to a cell phone, then accidentally impaling him and killing him—and she needed someone to talk to. Despite the trauma that Magda brought into her life, Petra ultimately reached out to her mother for help. Where will this lead her, then? How will these events shape her? Because the Petra we see in “Chapter Nineteen” is certainly not the same one I met in the first episode, you know?
At the same time… man. They really did the Zazo brothers dirty. I still feel uncomfortable with the fact that the three existing Black characters are now either dead or will surely disappear due to betraying white people. Seriously! Aaron Zazo existed on the show to literally be a dead body and nothing more. We don’t know a single thing about him. Was Roman’s portrayal of his twin what he was like, or did he just make that up? (Also, as a twin, I find it super weird that they didn’t once address the emotional ramifications of murdering your own twin.) What about the potential in developing Roman beyond a one-note character? He was trying to go up against Sin Rostro! That’s interesting. Well, too bad, now he’s dead.
Then there’s Nadine, who we discover was blackmailed by Sin Rostro. The evidence of that is actually really solid; I always thought Nadine was directing Michael away from proof because she was annoyed that he was obsessed with Jane. NOPE. I could be wrong about the future of her character, but if this is her last appearance, it’s gonna suck. Because now we have this big part of her character that could make her a more complicated character, but Michael lets her disappear. Ugh! No! She just got more interesting!!! I hope I’m wrong about this.
Magda and Alba
H E L P. OH MY GOD, ALBA RECOGNIZED HER, I’M NOT READY FOR THESE LAST THREE EPISODES.
The video for “Chapter Nineteen” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
– Not only that, but my very first pre-order campaign is now live for North American readers! If you submit proof of pre-order, you can get a limited edition print that comes with the book.
– If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.