In the twenty-first and penultimate episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, Jane tries her best to navigate choppy waters. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Jane the Virgin is doing something incredibly fascinating with the exploration of desire versus reality, something we’ve seen across this entire season. While this show isn’t a contemporary fantasy, and it also only teases us with the notion of magical realism, I’d argue that the fantastical still lives right alongside the real on this show. In the context of the main interpersonal relationships, we’ve seen how telenovelas have influenced how some characters view love; we’ve also seen Rafael struggle with what it means to love someone and be a father when your upbringing is what it is. Each of these people have entertained fantasies of what their relationships could be, and many of them are still entertaining them to some extent.
And then there’s reality. And reality is a million times more messy and complicated.
Rogelio and Xiomara
That goes for break-ups, too. Every single one of the main characters interacts with an ex in this episode, and their relationship is fraught with the reality of interaction, not the fantasy. It’s clear now that Rogelio and Xiomara both want to get back together, but Rogelio’s ego and his very real concerns have made it hard for to say what he wants. He’s sticking to his guns and, again, it’s not like he doesn’t have a strong reason for the break-up. But there’s the fantasy cropping up: Those of us who have dealt with breakups often wish they were clean-cut, easy, and that both parties went their separate ways without any complications. Ha! If only! There’s no fantasy in a break-up, and these two characters are smack in the middle of their own mess.
Initially, I thought Rogelio’s freak-out on set was projection. He was still attracted to Xiomara, and he was the one who couldn’t deal with his emotions. I still think there’s some of that going on here, but y’all. Xiomara. She took a HUGE hit here to support someone else. I do feel a little strange about Rogelio letting it happen; I feel like he can take the hit to his career (now that he’s back on The Passions of Santos), but she can’t. From her perspective, though, this was her way of showing that she still cared. She was willing to let that director rip into her so that she could save Rogelio’s show. (Still love the joke about it being a residency IT’S NEVER NOT FUNNY.)
So… what is Rogelio going to do for Xiomara? It’s very likely she’s just been kicked off the show? And if we’re talking fantasy versus reality, isn’t this it? Isn’t this exactly the sort of romantic gesture that so many of us would love to be on the receiving end of? Sometimes, fantasy is reality.
Jane and Michael
I know I wrote about this recently, but I’m still deeply impressed that this show is able to make the love triangle (not even sure it’s a triangle anymore!) so interesting. There are moments in this episode where the idea of Jane and Michael getting back together feels possible. The same goes for Rafael and Jane. We get these glimpses of hope, of what seems to be a chance for reconciliation and repair, but are those bits of fantasy, too? Is it just wishful thinking?
That’s what I think the writers are playing with here. It’s a very real thing, one that’s achingly relatable to me. It’s so easy to fall not only into old patterns, but the comfortable, familiar intimacy that comes from a person you were close with for so long. It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot, as I’m writing this on the sixth month anniversary of my ex passing. And man, I spent so much of 2019 in a state that felt so close to what I saw in this episode. It was easier to feel comfortable with this person than to tear myself away and try to move on.
But is this the right time for Jane to be seriously considering this? No. It’s comfortable, and she needed that sort of comfort during this time, but I feel like Jane recognizes that she has to truly, truly take care of this herself.
I say that also recognizing that I have literally not the slightest clue where this is going. I don’t know who she’s going to end up with and it might not even be Michael or Rafael by the end of the show.
Petra and Rafael
If Magda is really gone for a good long while—maybe not permanently—then I want to see who Petra becomes. The fantasy that lives in Petra’s heart isn’t actually unreasonable. She still loves Rafael, and perhaps there’s a chance that he might revisit things with her. That being said… oh, this is so toxic. It is! And like I said before, it seems that whenever Magda is around, Petra falls right back into this behavior. Here, she schemes in a confusing manner to look like the bigger person… so that Rafael will like her? Look, I understand the psychology at work here on the surface, and truthfully, I think that’s half the problem: this is a very superficial means of getting Rafael back. Yeah, Rafael does greatly appreciate what Petra does for him, and yes, there’s an intimate familiarity there. But Petra schemes here with the expectation that this will translate into a desire to rekindle their relationship. And it’s not going to be that easy, first of all. Secondly, what’s so disappointing about watching this unfold is that Petra should have realized that this kind of manipulation ALWAYS ENDS BADLY. What’s going to happen if (no, WHEN) Rafael figures out that her intentions weren’t pure? Like if Magda gets out and tells Rafael the truth?
Jane and Rafael
Of course, part of the problem here is that while Rafael said he didn’t love Jane anymore, he actually still does. I worry that even if he tells her the truth, it might not be enough for her. I know I was harsh on Rafael in the latter part of the previous review, but I’m still concerned about how he’s going to show up for his child once they’re born. It’s not even that I disagree with Luisa’s advice. Luisa is coming from a genuine place of concern for her brother, and I also think it’s fair of her to suggest that he at least communicate the truth. Nothing will happen if he keeps it to himself.
Over the course of “Chapter Twenty-One,” nearly all of Jane’s concerns are addressed. Magda is arrested, through a wonderful bit of mean girl manipulation that Jane picked up at her high school reunion. Petra mostly backs off. Jane has taken time away from work to focus on her writing. And yet? I still don’t see her as being ready to date again, and I certainly don’t think she wants to get back with Rafael. She’s on the other side of it, right? She can’t unsee or un-think what she knows, and she’s pretty damn sure that Rafael and her are just too different.
That notion of hindsight plays into a lot of the reunion scenes, too. Jane has to reconcile her fears with reality, and in hindsight, she realizes that her anxiety over her own “success” is based on unfair expectations she held for herself. Okay, she doesn’t have a published book at 23. Trust me, I get this deeply! Truly! Completely! When you’re an overachiever in school, everyone expects you to be perfect and changing the whole world by the time you’re 20.
This episode allows Jane the proper reflection: No, she is not where she wants to be. But guess what? She can still get there. There is an unhealthy, damaging idea in our society that you have to have success young or you’ll never have it. Which isn’t just untrue, it’s painful! I succumbed to that belief for many, many years, something I wrote about when I was reviewing Moving Pictures for Mark Reads. I see this shit all the time in publishing, too. (I saw it in the music industry, too.)
But Jane gets to look back in this episode, and she gets to appreciate how far she’s come. With her family, I might add, who remain supportive of her and her dreams. Ugh, I love the idea of her going to school for her writing! Not only does she get to learn more tools to improve her craft (I’M JEALOUS), but she loves school. It’ll provide her structure and a life outside of raising her kid. IT’S SUCH A GOOD IDEA, Y’ALL. I’m sure we won’t see anything regarding this until next season, but I’m excited! Which is a good thing to be going into this finale because I’m also very, very frightened by what’s about to happen.
The video for “Chapter Twenty-One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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