In the twentieth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, IT’S ALL EVEN MESSIER THAN BEFORE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For gaslighting, racism
I’m not ready for these last two episodes of season one. I’m just NOT.
Well, just when I was starting to like Petra again… whew. It’s hard not to be frustrated with both Magda and Petra, Magda more so than her daughter. Even then, Petra still makes decisions here to protect herself and get herself closer to Rafael, and she does so by throwing Jane and Alba under the bus. Magda’s return is very telenovela in tone and style, but one thing I enjoyed about it was that the writers didn’t shy away from showing the emotional toll of this return. Yes, Magda brings DRAMA, but that drama is rooted in some very real things.
Like all the threats towards Alba and her undocumented status. I’m an actual citizen and I cannot possibly recall the number of times a white person has threatened immigration (or ICE specifically, since its creation) on me whenever they felt threatened or particularly vengeful. I’ve had them sicced on me numerous times and had to “prove” my citizenship, too, which is a lot harder than it sounds. (Especially when the organization is deadset on believing that all your documents are fake, too.) Alba’s fear is a terrible thing, and the show treats it that way. So it makes perfect sense to me why she doesn’t want to report an attempted murder. It’s not worth the risk if she’ll be deported.
Which is why Magda’s behavior is so deplorable and one of a number of reasons why I don’t like her. She knows what she did, and she knew how to be cruel in a way that would be effective. She threatened the power of the state on Alba specifically because she knew it would work. It always has.
It’s just so disappointing to see Petra go along with this because I feel like she was making significant progress as a person. I do recognize that part of the problem is that Petra, alone and vulnerable and traumatized by recent events, asked Magda back. I understand her reasoning entirely, and I also recognize that Magda is a deeply, deeply toxic person. Just as a reminder: faked a physical disability to manipulate her daughter to be closer to her!!!! That’s so fucked up!!! Once Magda returned, I noticed how quickly Petra slipped back into her own toxic behaviors: she became more willing to lie. More willing to gaslight others. More willing to do whatever it took to get what she wanted.
I just don’t see Rafael ever getting back with Petra; I think that relationship is done. That’s the overarching theme of this episode, isn’t it? The show is reflecting on the potential of each of these relationships. There’s some hope with a number of them, but here? I think Petra is setting herself up for disappointment in pursuing Rafael. And what of Milos? It’s clear that Petra still has access to him and his power, and she’s not afraid to use that. But… how long can THAT last? What’s going to happen when Milos wants more of Petra?
Alba & Edward
Okay, look, this is a frustrating and chaotic episode, so I just feel really nice about A NICE THING HAPPENING. There is at least the spark of potential between Edward and Alba, and they are so damn adorable together. The problem here is logistical. Edward is a Catholic priest. This… this can’t happen, right? I love that this is both a very telenovela-esque plot, yet it’s not written in an overly dramatic way. Instead, it’s so genuine? And cute??? And I just want the best for Alba? IS THAT A PRIEST BECAUSE I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW.
There’s a brilliant sequence within “Chapter Twenty” that I wish we saw more of in regards to Luisa. I love that she gets to have that long, deep, and intense conversation with Rafael. It spoke to their friendship and closeness over the years, and it was a nice counter to the constant friction we’ve seen between them for most of the show. Actually, not just that: I remain baffled that Luisa is written as intended comic relief, but there’s a bunch about her I just don’t find funny. I don’t know that I can place my finger on it exactly, but it feels like the show made her deal with mental illness as a quirky, funny thing? Like… no one seems to take her issues with addiction seriously in terms of the writing (unless she’s being institutionalized, and those scenes were… not great), and there’s also something else going on here, but who needs specificity??? Let’s just make her wacky and impulsive! She just randomly found a wrestling girlfriend!
I am truly here for the chaos lesbian—seriously, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with Luisa being funny or a source of levity or comedic relief. I just want her character to feel like a whole person rather than something that just shoves the plot along, you know? And those scenes with Rafael were so damn fulfilling! Why haven’t we seen anything like that with Luisa and her girlfriend???
Rogelio and Xiomara
Well, this just HURTS, doesn’t it? We all know that Rogelio is overdramatic, that he’s egotistical and self-centered, and yet, “Chapter Twenty” still allows him the space to be hurt and to set a boundary that’s important for him. In this case, that boundary is Xiomara. He doesn’t want to give her a second chance anymore, and this episode reveals why he is particularly incensed about what Xiomara did. It’s not just that she betrayed him and cheated on him; his first wife embarrassed him on top of it all. That’s a very real fear for him: What if someone had been in that bar when Xiomara kissed Marco? What if he had found out about that kiss from the paparazzi?
I get the sense that Rogelio still desires Xiomara, though. Maybe not in the same way, as this is complicated by his feelings about what Xiomara did. The obvious parallel here, however, is with Jane and Rafael. How much are Rogelio and Rafael keeping to themselves? Will they come to believe that what they did—breaking up with Xiomara and Jane, respectively—wasn’t the right decision? I can’t say. There are still feelings there, obviously, but as time passes, maybe they’ll each move on. Maybe they won’t. Will people wait like Michael has? Or make a move like Petra? Or is this truly the end?
I can’t answer that for Rogelio and Xiomara, and my instinct tells me that this is going to be a long, complicated thing between the two of them, that this is one obstacle of many in their path. But after recent events and coupled with Rafael’s behavior at the end of this episode… I really don’t know. I don’t think Jane and Rafael will make it through this as a couple again. Rafael still believes financial success (and leaving behind a legacy) as his contribution. To him, that’s fatherhood. With a father like Emilio, it makes sense that he’d think this way about raising a child. But as we’ve seen time and time again, Rafael is just not there for any of the logistical stuff; he can’t make time for it. We also know that he thought the solution to this was hiring a maid. So it’s not just a class issue; this is gendered, too! Rafael doesn’t seem to want to do any of the care work that Jane needs, and it’s only going to become more necessary and demanding after their child is born. Is he going to refuse to take part in it then? Will he be off building a legacy while Jane has to feed, clothe, diaper, and take care of the child?
Jane’s decision is absolutely going to make this more complicated in the immediate future, but I get it. It’s not fair anymore, and her grievances with Rafael have only been exacerbated since she brought them up. Seriously, is he ever going to get better? Will this pursuit of success ever ease up, or is this going to be Rafael’s life? Jane doesn’t know, and instead, she has to care for this baby right now.
And going back and forth with someone who won’t even support Jane and Alba? Look, I get it. At the very basic level, Rafael should believe Alba, and he should not be trying to protect Petra and Magda, two people he knows are capable of maintaining lies for INCREDIBLY LONG PERIODS OF TIME. Jane, more than ever, needs support. She needs Alba to be believed. She needs a father who is willing to do what he can to love and protect and care for their child. And right now, Jane doesn’t believe he is willing to do that, and his actions don’t support it, either. It also led to one of the best acted scenes in the whole season, JANE’S BREAKDOWN BROKE MY HEART.
Seriously, these next two episodes are going to ruin me, aren’t they?
The video for “Chapter Twenty” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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