In the twenty-second and final episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, Jane’s delivery day has arrived. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For brief mentions of abuse and trauma, child kidnapping.
I really, really love this show. Lemme just state that upfront, because I don’t want that to get lost, even if this is all praise for a spectacular finale. I didn’t think I’d dislike this show before I started it. Enough folks basically pitched it as a show I’d deeply enjoy, and I think my tastes are obvious enough that I usually trust this community when they say a show is well-suited to me. Part of the joy, though, is when a show is something I enjoy for an unexpected reason. No one could have known what emotional state I would be in when I eventually got to Jane the Virgin, so that coincidental relatability plays a part in how I’m perceiving this show. I’ve never, in my whole life, had to think about the complexity of interpersonal relationships before, and truthfully, it’s a major focus of my therapy sessions these days.
So, I say that going into this review for “Chapter Twenty-Two” because I am not sure what my reviews would look like if I’d started this show at another time. I know I’ve said that, but it bears repeating because of what this finale depicts.
A lot of the time, there are no easy answers.
And I enjoyed that this finale didn’t provide one. For the most part, the script focuses on Jane going into labor and giving birth to her son, Mateo Gloriano Rogelio Solano Villanueva. It should, for the record! This whole season has built up to this point, so I would feel weird if it hadn’t been centered on this. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on here, so I’m going to talk about some of those plots first before I get to THE MAIN EVENT. A really good finale, in my book, resolves a number of plots in a satisfying way while giving us the tiniest glimpse of where the story can go next. Now, I don’t know if the next season resets the chapter nomenclature, but even if it doesn’t, I feel comfortable stating that this season is like one book in a series. We’re about to get a new story for season two, but look where this season took us! For example, one huge theme was Rogelio’s role within the Villanueva family. From his introduction to this point, Rogelio has constantly struggled with where he belonged. He made some terrible mistakes years and years ago, some of which he’s now trying to rectify since coming back into Xiomara’s and Jane’s lives. Yet even with his attraction to Xiomara and their attempt at a relationship, Rogelio still had to cope with the fact that he was a newcomer. His presence couldn’t necessarily make up for the twenty-odd years where he wasn’t in the life of the Villanueva family.
Love is a powerful force in Jane the Virgin, but the show brilliantly does not tell us that love alone is the answer. I’ll touch on that more with Michael and Rafael, but in regards to Rogelio, love also requires work. It requires action. It requires dedication. Look, we all know Rogelio is in love with Xiomara, that he loves Alba and Jane. I don’t doubt that at all. But he also loves his work and… well, his sense of self. (Still can’t get over that EGOT joke in a recent episode, IT’S SO FUCKING FUNNY.) I get why Xiomara assumed that Rogelio would choose his Vegas show over flying back to Miami. She just knew what that show meant to him. But like I said, love can’t solve everything without action and behavior backing it. Rogelio is part of this family because he’s made an effort to be a part of it. That matters more than anything else! It wasn’t even a difficult choice for him to fly back home, y’all, and that’s why he was so offended by Xiomara’s assumption.
This part of his story feels like we’ve reached some sort of resolution. He’s definitely a member of this family, y’all. God, even the ease at which Jane calls him Dad feels so damn huge, especially when I think back to the earlier episodes. That doesn’t mean his arc is done, and I love that we still have so much to look forward to in him. What about his romantic interest in Xiomara? Will that come back? Will he maintain a separate, platonic friendship next season? I mean… let’s be real. I’m expecting a mess because look what show I’m watching. STILL. I’M SO INVESTED. AND THEY GOT DRUNK MARRIED? HI EVERYONE, I LOVE THIS TROPE. It’s so cheesy and ridiculous, but I need to know what’s coming next!
That goes for Rafael and Michael. Y’all, I don’t know which of these two Jane might end up with, and since we have four more seasons, it could be NEITHER ONE OF THEM. I don’t even know!!! Either option feels believable, which is a MASTERFUL challenge that the writers and actors on this show have achieved. Let’s look at Rafael, for example, who reaches an important milestone in his journey. What’s his arc been over season one? That’s complicated, of course, since he started in such a vastly different place than where he ended up. But I’d argue that his journey was about family, too. He wanted to start one, and though he intended that to be with Petra, it ended up being with Jane. Yet his main conflict lay not just with trying to figure out how to navigate Luisa’s mistake, but how he was supposed to live in the shadow of his father. (I do feel that Luisa unfairly does not get any significant time in this finale. What about her journey and growth?)
Here, Rafael comes to a powerful epiphany, one he set in motion a few episodes ago. He finally, finally realized that he does not have to be his father. He doesn’t have to impress his father. Not only that, but he comes to accept that Jane was right about where his loyalties were: He focused heavily on building a legacy. Rafael’s emphasis on success and fatherhood was in the future. Thus, allowing his father’s hotel group to be sold off, to have the Marbella solely under his control, means that Rafael chose Jane, Mateo, and the now. For all the mistakes he’s made—which includes his belief that he shouldn’t have broken up with Jane—I feel satisfied seeing this season’s arc end at this place. It concludes a major part of his emotional journey, but it doesn’t give an answer. Literally! Because even after the birth of Mateo, Rafael is curious what Jane feels about a possible reconciliation, and her answer is so damn important.
Not now. Now is not the time.
Now is for Mateo. Now is for new life. Now is so different than Rafael thought it would be, and his choice is to live in this moment.
Which is also why it’s so compelling that Michael comes to the same conclusion in a different context. Oh, it was so damn clever of the show to put Jane/Rafael into contrast with Jane/Michael. These relationships are so deeply different, and that’s why this love triangle is such a compelling thing. I loved that—as the narrator pointed out—Michael assured Jane that now is not the time for him to try to rekindle his relationship with Jane. Nope, now is about Mateo and Jane, the most important relationship, the most vital focus. Again: a chapter has closed, but there’s so much potential here.
Not all of that potential is positive, though. Ugh, y’all, I want Petra to get away from her mother and her toxic way of thinking! It’s one of the hardest parts of analyzing her character; the writers have put her on a JOURNEY, and there was a moment here where I really thought she was starting to escape this toxic bubble that she’d been in. I admit that I have some sympathy for her because she’s had to make so many difficult choices due to abuse and trauma, and I’ll always have a soft spot for messy characters who are written in this context. That doesn’t mean I necessarily feel that the writers have always made the best choices with her. (I still feel very strangely about her relationship with Milos, which is mostly undefined in ways I find frustrating, for example.) But she’s one of those characters who has shown potential to change, and those moments have felt so monumental whenever we’ve gotten a glimpse of them. She’s unfortunately in a space where she thought getting back with Rafael was possible, which made Rafael’s manipulation of her feel so cruel. Seriously, her face when she overheard what Rafael was saying to Luisa? That was rough.
But stealing his sperm??? OH, NO, PETRA, PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. IT’S BAD. VERY. BAD. NO.
But let’s talk about Jane. Let’s talk about the magic that is SO MUCH of this episode. Let’s talk about the power of family and community. We’ve seen this theme so many times over the course of various episodes, but I love that here, in one of the most important moments of Jane’s life, this is still rooted in three generations of Villanueva women. I love that Xiomara tells Jane what Alba told her when she was in labor; I love that Xiomara doesn’t miss the birth; I love that there’s an extended sequence about the power of strangers that takes place on public transportation. In another show, that might have seemed ridiculous, except this show has REPEATEDLY shown us that Jane takes the bus to everything, and as someone who has taken public transportation the majority of their life, I JUST LOVED THIS SO, SO MUCH.
Jane obviously has a lot of decisions to make in season two. I’m hoping that Jane gets into grad school; I am certain a lot of season two will focus on the complications of motherhood. And romance. And school. And being creative while being immensely busy.
But “Chapter Twenty-Two” is about the now. And right now, Jane has reached maybe the most important milestone in her life: she gave birth to her child. All those anxieties we saw throughout the season led to this point, and she did it. She gave birth with her family at her side, and what a strange family that is! But family isn’t just blood relations; sometimes, it’s those you choose. It’s those who are complicated. It’s those you love and are in love with. She’ll have so much to deal with in the immediate future, but for now… I get why the narration tells us that Jane’s heart is full.
Everything is just… perfect.
EXCEPT WHEN SIN ROSTRO STEALS JANE’S BABY, AND I AM ASSUMING WE DON’T SEE HER FACE BECAUSE SHE LOOKS DIFFERENT AND I AM ALSO GUESSING A DIFFERENT ACTRESS WILL PLAY SIN ROSTRO AND I AM SO FLABBERGASTED. I assume Nadine has something to do with this, since that was the last thing that Michael uttered before he let her escape? Is this a ploy to get revenge? To have leverage? For what, though????
I’m so glad I get to start season two in just six days. THIS IS DEEPLY UNFAIR.
(For clarity’s sake: The prediction post for season two will be attached to the review for 2×01. I am not separating them since I’m already doing less reviews than I used to, and also, I’m selfish. I NEED MORE JANE THE VIRGIN.
The video for “Chapter Twenty-Two” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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