In the seventh episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, this single episode was a journey in and of itself. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of abuse, anti-Blackness and misogynoir
I just want to say that while I have been pretty vocal about some of the writing choices for Petra, I am absolutely here for Jane and Petra becoming friends. (And my shipper klaxon has been ringing loudly in my head for a while, but this episode sent it into overdrive.) There’s a moment in “Chapter Twenty-Nine” where the Narrator points out how hard it is for Petra to socialize with Jane, and it’s honestly the realest moment in this whole episode. It’s so short, and yet it speaks volumes to Petra’s character. She has been surrounded by toxicity: a controlling, abusive, and manipulative mother. A controlling, abusive, and manipulative ex, who has blackmailed her into a marriage. And thus, Petra behaves in a toxic manner, too. Part of it is survival; part of it is because her whole environment is sick, and so she acts that way, too. That’s not an exoneration of her behavior, but an explanation of it.
Which is why it’s so refreshing to see that attempt from her in a genuine way. Petra’s life has become complicated and deeply toxic again because of Milos and because Magda murdered Ivan at the end of the last episode. So what does she do? She reaches out to someone she knows will treat her with kindness. She asks Jane for lunch because she knows Jane will be honest with her without being cruel. To me, that was the sign of someone desperate for normalcy and genuine, true love. And I don’t mean sexual or romantic! She wants platonic love and support in that moment. (Though I can’t deny the queer undertones of the whole exchange and oh boy, do I have thoughts on that, but I’m gonna wait to see if something develops before I comment on it further.) It made me sad to see her sabotage this potential friendship because of Magda. I WILL CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN THAT MAGDA NEEDS TO BE OUT OF PETRA’S LIFE FOR HER TO SUCCEED. I say this as someone who is reaching three and a half years of no contact with their own mother! It’s a painful decision to make for a whole host of reasons, but sometimes, you need to break things off with a person to find peace.
Okay, I definitely did not expect THIS twist. If you’ll recall, I found it a little weird that Michael was fired so easily. Initially, I took this as poor representation of policing in the US (which is still a criticism I think applies to Jane the Virgin in other ways). Like… where’s the police union in all of this? They’re the number one reason why it’s so hard to get justice for cops who behave immorally and illegally. But the truth is that, with Bennett’s suggestion, Michael went undercover! And while undercover, he partnered with Nadine to track down Sin Rostro, letting Nadine believe he’d been fired.
Aaaaannnnnd that’s where this utterly falls apart for me. I had vocalized my distaste for how Nadine appeared to be written out of the show in season one. And while I was definitely wrong about that, what happens in this episode only makes things worse for her character. There was a potentially interesting storyline in exploring how Nadine was manipulated by Sin Rostro that easily could have had parallels with, say, Petra! Powerful women using that power to harm others? It’s right there.
Instead, Nadine was an agent of the plot, pushing Michael’s story forward with no real depth to her own. Here, all of the six months of Michael’s undercover journey is summarized bizarrely by a single scene at night in an alley of sorts, where Michael is nearly assassinated—we have to assume it was one of Sin Rostro’s people—but at the last second, Nadine dives in front of the bullet. So, let’s spell that out: Nadine doesn’t really get her own story this season, and the only recurring Black woman on the show dies so the white man can live. Yeah, I don’t like that at all, not just for the optics, but because it’s just not good writing at the end of the day. It falls into tropes and harmful patterns of misogynoir (a term coined by queer Black feminist Moya Bailey to address the specific misogyny that Black women face), and it leads to a disappointing end for this character.
Some of the cringe-inducing awkwardness here was hard to watch. IT WAS SO AWKWARD. The plate of deviled eggs? Replying to an email instead of forwarding it? IT’S TOO PAINFUL. While I don’t have experience with higher education and creative writing—college dropout here!—I was very thrilled by how the show depicting the process of writing, especially when you’ve got multiple voices telling you contradictory things about a piece you’ve written. All of that shit—the take that Dr. Chavez has on Jane’s work versus Dr. Bolton’s—speaks to the subjectivity of writing. An editor helps shape a manuscript, of course, and people who provide feedback can also see your story taking a much different course than what you intended for it. Which isn’t a bad thing by itself! There’s a joy in watching a book re-shape itself, and I speak from experience. Many of you know that Anger is A Gift went through a drastic genre change before I got an agent. Well, working with my editor on my second novel, Each of Us a Desert, was eerily similar, as the book went from a far-future dystopia to secondary world fantasy.
What I loved about Jane’s struggle is that she had to figure out which of these two professors spoke to the intent of her work while challenging her. And both certainly did, but my guess is that Dr. Bolton is a much bigger fan of commercial writing, whereas Dr. Chavez is a more literary teacher. In the end, it was Dr. Chavez’s notes that felt more in line with what Jane wanted with her story. Another aspect that makes this fascinating and fulfilling is that Jane is mostly writing drama/romance, and you don’t often see that associated with literary fiction. Dr. Chavez is not telling her she shouldn’t write romance; he just wants her to write it better. And that tells me that he’s a better fit for her as an advisor! So I’m glad he’s the one Jane will work with. (Also, I’m selfish and have had a longstanding crush on Adam Rodriguez, so I DON’T CARE, I LIKE LOOKING AT HIS FACE.)
Chepa and Babysitting
Okay, please someone validate me: Was anyone else utterly paranoid that when Jane was watching the babycam footage, we were about to see Chepa mistreating Mateo or being caught doing something embarrassing? I WAS SO AFRAID OF THAT. I’ll talk about what she actually saw in a bit. OH, JANE. Jane!!! Jane the perfectionist, Jane the worrier, Jane the unable-to-let-Mateo-go. It was so hard watching this because this struggle was SO REAL!!! It is entirely understandable that she was torn between these choices, and it was nice to also see her give herself a chance to breathe and have time on her own. I like that about Jane the Virgin; we’ve seen that thematic motif pop up more than once. Because there’s nothing wrong with valuing self-love or giving one’s self time to be alone or to go on dates. You have to find that balance to take care of yourself! At the same time, it’s fair that Jane wants to have the best possible babysitter so that when she is taking time away from Mateo, she is able to trust someone and not have to think about her son every five minutes.
Chepa seems like a wonderful fit, and I really hope that we see Jane relying on her more as she commits further to her writing career. I was also going to say that it would help her with her romantic life, but… oh no. More on that in a second.
Jane the Virgin mostly relies on humor to brush past some of Rogelio’s more abrasive behaviors and beliefs, and I admit that I laugh at how over-the-top he is. It’s funny, and Jaime Camil is just outstanding in this role. But I also love how slowly, the show is chipping away at his ego and getting him to look at how flawed he is. We saw that in his on-and-off-again romance with Xiomara last season and some of this season, too. He is learning to compromise. He is learning to put other people before himself. He’s failing at that, too, as he does here when his ego makes him think that Esteban was fucking with him regarding Xiomara’s theme song, only to accidentally torpedo Xiomara’s prospects. But I was equally intrigued by the depiction of someone who did not come from money, suddenly earning a lot of it, and then letting that affect his current behavior. I’ve met people like that, and some of them actually continue to be thrifty and responsible upon accumulating money or wealth because they are afraid of every returning to a state of insecurity again. Rogelio did not do that. Rather, he built up a lifestyle he always wanted, and when his finances were in fluctuation, he made decisions to keep that life, rather than act in his own best interests creatively or personally. There’s a lot of conflict in that!
Reconnecting with Rafael
Hi, wow, remember when there was HOPE here? Remember when things felt GOOD? Remember when Rafael took Jane to a house that resembled the one of the family she babysat for? REMEMBER?
Because holy shit, this just turned into a horrible mess. There’s a part of me that understands at the core why Rafael did what he did. Look, he’s got very justifiable reasons to feel protective and frightened of Sin Rostro. At the same time… lord. This is bad. A very bad decision. A VERY HARMFUL DECISION. And I also can’t ignore that this is another example of Rafael seeing a problem and throwing money at it! He paid that man to get Michael fired, and then lied about it when Michael confronted him.
On top of this all is Welsey’s betrayal of his friendship with Jane. That article is not going to help!!!! It’s only making matters more tense and frustrating, which is absolutely affecting all involved. UGH EVERYTHING IS SO MESSY! Oh my god, we haven’t even dealt with the reveal that Luisa’s mother is not dead and is probably the drug lord Mutter that Michael and Bennett have been tracking down. Seriously, the Solano family is so messed up??? What effect is this going to have on the story and specifically on Luisa?
The video for “Chapter Twenty-Nine” 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.
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