In the second episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, Jane struggles with an impossible choice. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of racism, xenophobia, consent, trauma.
I really need to just accept that this show is going to move at a lightning pace from here on out. HOW IS ALL THIS SHIT ALREADY HAPPENING.
Jane Gives A Rose To…
I. LOVE. THIS. FRAMING. DEVICE. I really do! There’s such a cleverness to it in multiple ways, and I am going to tell y’all why. Inherent in the way the writers use this narrative frame to talk about the love triangle is a criticism of the choice itself. In much of the discussion around love triangles is the idea that you have to choose someone as soon as possible. Haven’t we all done this? Haven’t we all discussed a triangle in those terms? One thing that makes a love triangle actually interesting is how the two possible love interests represent what kind of life a person wants. Let’s talk about a very popular one: Peeta and Gale in The Hunger Games. Collins wrote these two less as a means of determining who was hotter or who was a better “fit” for Katniss. Years and years after I read that trilogy, it’s now clear to me that Katniss’s choice was more about what life she wanted after being involved in this uprising.
So what life does Rafael wants? What about Michael? The truly frustrating thing about “Chapter Twenty-Four” is the writers have built up these two characters so convincingly that THE CHOICE GENUINELY FEELS IMPOSSIBLE. Over the course of this episode, Jane “tests” each of these men, even though they don’t really know they’re being tested. What do each of them have to offer? How do they make her feel? What sort of life does she imagine with them? Michael offers Jane familiarity, and their history together has proven to Jane that Michael will be there for her. Yes, he’s messed up, but he’s been willing to do the work to repair his friendship with Jane, too. Look how dedicated he’s remained to her after she broke off the engagement! So there’s no doubt here: Jane knows he will show up for her and Mateo because he’s done so outside of a romantic relationship. And he’s thoughtful in a way that Rafael isn’t normally; Rafael has had to work to be like this.
So, a great fit, right?
And then the episode runs us through a “normal” Thursday with Rafael, and christ, y’all, HE KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK. He clearly thought through making his suite Mateo-friendly; he’s done so much work to be more attentive; and it also seems very clear that he’s prioritizing raising his kid rather than focusing only on the Marbella. That whole car ride and the ranking of the fries? Him saying that he wants his normal days to be this? UGH IT WAS SO HARD TO WATCH. Not because it wasn’t a delight—it was!—but because I knew the writers were not designing this to be easy.
Ultimately, that’s the point, isn’t it? I was shocked when Jane told Michael and Rafael to their faces that she was in love with them both, but that’s the truth! She is! Both of them compliment her in unique ways, and both of them offer her the possibility of happiness. Now, the queer part of me is all FORM A TRIAD, POLYAMORY IS RIGHT THERE, but I don’t expect that to be the solution here. There isn’t one, actually, at least not right now. Because instead of forcing Jane to make a choice, this episode ends with her choosing no one. She doesn’t have to make this decision! Look how much else she’s got to deal with. Romance is not at all at the top of her list, and it is perfectly fine for her to choose herself. Taking care of Mateo and gaining some normalcy to her life is her priority, so I love that this is where the episode ends in that regard.
I can squint and see the point of this plot line, but you know what? I don’t like it. At all. There’s so much hinted at here with Jane’s new neighbors, yet barely anything is explored. Like… look. I can’t ignore the horrible racist implications of NUMEROUS things here as the show does. These characters are clearly entitled, as one of them asserts their right to be in the neighborhood because their dad specifically rented them a house their due to the later sound ordinance laws. So, clearly there’s some level of class separation here, and these people also have no stake in the neighborhood itself. I also cannot ignore that two white people are targeting a Latinx family with continued harassment and then call the cops on them. I can’t! That’s so clearly and obviously a racist act; it was back when this episode aired and it is today. We’ve also seen how willing people are to assume that Alba is undocumented (which she is), and thus, this threat is so damn credible. These two white folks were horrible to the Villanuevas, and when Jane finally takes action, not only is she the sole person to get in trouble, but Alba is traumatized. Actually, then she has to “make up” the act to the neighbors to get them to be quiet, so they actually get a TWO-WEEK PAYING GIG as a reward for their harassment!!! NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. That is bad!!!
I’m glad that Alba is going to pursue getting a green card, but the whole thing feels like it’s Jane’s fault for stealing the amp? UGH. I DON’T LIKE IT.
This is going to be an utter disaster. I know it.
Petra knows she is in the wrong. 100%. There’s no delusion of that here; it’s why she does what she can to keep Scott happy because protecting the truth is more important to her. Which is also fucked up in and of itself; Scott is blackmailing his way to a promotion, which is going to backfire SO badly now that Rafael knows the truth. What the hell is Petra going to do??? She’s pregnant. WITH RAFAEL’S BABY. WHICH HE DID NOT CONSENT TO!!! How the fuck is this going to work?? I literally do not have a SINGLE guess because we’ve now moved into a timeline of PURE CHAOS. Oh my god.
There was one other thing I wanted to address. In general, I’m a huge fan of the narrator and their presence on the show; it’s such a fun addition. But did anyone else feel really weird about the tone of the narrator poking fun at Rafael during his epiphany? Like… there was an almost glee at watching this man realize that someone STOLE his SPERM? That seemed like such an odd way to look at the situation and certainly more cruel than I expected. Right???
I’m on a boat!
HEY I LOVE THIS PLOT A LOT. A lot!!! I’m glad that while the show leans into the humor of Rogelio’s ego, we still get to see him called out. Here, Xiomara checks his tantrum-like behavior aboard the cruise ship when he and Xiomara accidentally get stuck on it. Which, for the record, is such a beautifully hilarious telenovela plot. A+ FOR ALL INVOLVED. As ridiculous as it is, though, there’s a wonderfully intimate and vulnerable story at the heart of this. First, as I mentioned, I was glad that the writers pointed out the obvious: that while Rogelio thought he was “above” this type of performance, this was a HUGE deal for Xiomara. That’s an important perspective that I think some of y’all can relate to as well. I SURE DID. From here, the show briefly explores part of why Rogelio feels this way—mortality and all that—but also gives Xiomara and Rogelio a chance to move closer to one another. While I was very happy to see them make up, I was more thrilled by the difficult conversation that came from it.
Because while Xiomara definitely wants to be with Rogelio, she also knows that he needs to heal. I loved that the writers didn’t exonerate Xiomara, that she still owned up to making a terrible mistake that hurt Rogelio. Rather, the two have to figure out how to move on together, and that’s going to require Rogelio to deal with his unresolved trauma from the wife who cheated on him publicly. I don’t know if that means they’ll go to therapy together—I can only dream!!!—but I love that it’s expressed so plainly. Xiomara is willing to take this journey with him, which is a kind, noble, and beautiful thing. But it’s also because she’s looking out for herself, too! Look, I feel like I’ve talked about this before, but if not: I don’t like the way our society talks about the idea of having “baggage” in a relationship. To me, if someone says they want to date someone without “baggage,” it’s a bit of a red flag. It’s absolutely fair to say that you want a person to be making healthy emotional decisions or to not punish you for past mistakes that someone else made. But there’s this weird notion that we should come into a new relationship like we’re a clean slate?
Nah. That’s… not something I’m interested in. Rather, I like this approach: both characters have an open mind. Xiomara has acknowledged that Rogelio is hurting because of what someone else did to him. As long as she’s not getting harmed herself, she wants to be a part of this journey. That feels healthy to me, and I’m excited to see the two of them try to work on this.
Point blank. I mean, we’re supposed to dislike him, so at least there’s that? But wow, I knew going into this that he was vindictive and gross, that he will always hold on to his grudge against these characters, and yet!!! Yet!!! I was still shocked by his betrayal of Rafael and Petra. That’s… that’s on me. I should have seen that coming. So! Now he and his employers own the land that they want to use to ruin the Marbella’s view… LORD. Also: wow, rich people are so fucking WEIRD. This is how they get back at one another!!! sorry CAN’T RELATE
Luisa(‘s writing sucks)
I just want MORE for her! In these first two episodes, she only exists for Petra’s story. The premiere saw her pushing Petra towards having a baby, even if she didn’t know the context of why Petra was upset. Here, she messes up a meeting, which sets in motion the whole plot with Lachlan (because she’s still tender after Juicy broke up with her). Then she’s kidnapped by Rose’s associate? Maybe that plot will give us more of Luisa? It’s so frustrating because again: absolutely here for messy, chaotic queer characters, but she still isn’t really being given her own story. Here’s to hoping?
The video for “Chapter Twenty-Four” 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.