In the eighth episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, the past haunts numerous characters, and each tries to reckon with it. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of triggers/trauma, abuse, manipulation.
Therapy and Empathy
I said this at the end of the video for this episode, but WOW, “Chapter Thirty” has so much intriguing and fulfilling work on the emotional journey that these characters are going through. It’s a surprisingly dense episode, in the sense that there’s so much to UNPACK about the epiphanies that everyone has and what they mean for their longterm arcs. I’M SO HAPPY. I live for this shit!!!
So, let’s start with Jane and Rafael’s plot. I am once again pleased that we’ve got a depiction of therapy that ultimately felt positive. I like that it’s made obvious that therapists are very different from one another. Dr. Damprey was nothing like the previous couple’s therapist that Rafael and Jane had. Initially, there was some friction there because Dr. Damprey’s techniques—like reframing statements to declare a feeling—were jarring to Jane and Rafael. My current therapist, for example, is far more direct and willing to call me out than any therapist I’ve ever had. I’ve been used to therapists who sit and take notes, who listen to me talk (and I’m definitely a talker), and then ask gentle questions that make me re-think what I’ve said. I’ve had therapists that give me exercises to do between sessions, too. But what I like about my current therapist is how willing she is to interrupt me when she sees me falling into toxic or harmful patterns. I have a tendency towards downplaying myself and how I feel because I am constantly trying to understand someone else’s point of view. (Which is a coping mechanism I developed from childhood abuse! TRAUMA IS FUN!) And so when she hears me going doing my path, she’s quick to point it out.
Which is not what I’m used to in therapy, but I actually love it? At the same time, I can see how her style wouldn’t work for others. I was worried that was what we were going to see here. Was Dr. Damprey’s technique not right for these two? However, having Jane and Rafael re-frame events from the perspective of the other is what helped Jane realize she’d not even considered how the murder of Rafael’s father affected his way of thinking. Rafael, in turn, realized why his lying was so deeply, deeply upsettin to Jane. (I assume that’s the case; we don’t see it on camera, but since Jane vocalizes it to Rogelio later, I think it’s fair to say she unpacked it in the session.)
One thing I will say is that the show makes it seem like it just took one session for them to fix this problem, and I would like to see therapy be a regular thing. I’ve never “solved” anything in a single session with a therapist; it always took multiple sessions over a long period of time for significant progress to be made. In fact, after I made the video for this episode, I had one of my twice-a-week therapy sessions. In it, I had perhaps the biggest single epiphany about myself and my trauma since I started. And I just counted: This was session THIRTY-ONE. THAT IS SO MANY SESSIONS.
Anyway: Where does this leave Rafael and Jane? They’re in a better place, but I still don’t know if a romantic relationship is the way to go, especially if there’s a part of Jane holding on to Michael in some way, you know?
DO YOU REALIZE HOW VALIDATING IT FELT TO HAVE RAFAEL SAY THAT HE WANTED TO GET PETRA AWAY FROM HER MOTHER? Seriously, the video attached to this review has my on-screen reaction to it, but OH MY GOD. YES! The sheer toxicity of Magda is negatively affecting Petra and her pregnancy, especially if she’s got high blood pressure. I just… wow. This episode provided me with such relief, y’all. I was happy to see Rafael willing to listen to Petra and provide her with a safe space to open up about what she’d been going through. I was thrilled when he immediately suggested a means of extricating her from a nasty situation. THIS WAS EVERYTHING I WANTED.
And then Magda went and ruined it all. Y’all, how did she even know? Was it just a coincidence that she turned everything around on Petra, or was she spying on her daughter??? HELP ME, THIS IS SO UPSETTING, PETRA WAS SO CLOSE TO ESCAPE!!!
As critical as I’ve been about the portrayal of Luisa, I actually enjoyed the depth that she was given here in “Chapter Thirty,” even if that depth was gut-wrenching. It’s clear that Luisa has a lot of unresolved trauma around her mother, who she once thought died but is now not only alive, but very much looks to be a crime lord. The writers, however, make a heartbreaking connection between Luisa’s pain over her mother and the toxic relationship she has with Rose. It feels like a genuine step towards treating Luisa different than she has been in the story. I think maybe that’s another reason why this has been landing so wrong in me: I also have an intense amount of trauma from my relationship with my mother, yet Luisa’s trauma has often been treated like a joke. Her behavior is quirky or used as comic relief, and so unconsciously, maybe I was connecting the two: Were the writers not considering what happened to her trauma?
So, this is me saying: This is an important development, and I hope it’s something they build on. What an awful situation to go through!!! And there’s also a direct parallel here between Luisa’s mother and Rafael’s: both of them left their children. Are Luisa and Rafael going to bond over that?
Short Story Challenge
Here’s a fun thought: Why are there so many bad depictions of writers? When they are written by… writers? MAKE IT MAKE SENSE. I don’t know how I’ve never had that thought before, yet here we are. I bring that up because I’m used to seeing it, and it’s always nice when something gets a specific aspect of being a writer. “Chapter Thirty” features a writing challenge given to Jane by Dr. Chavez, though she initially doesn’t see it as a challenge in the way he does. What I loved about this is that it doesn’t say that a person is a bad writer for not being able to write within a certain genre or a certain way. Jane struggled with historical fiction, with thrillers, with science fiction… but she excels in other ways, and that’s not a bad thing! Her strength is in emotion and romance. Dr. Chavez was just trying to get her to develop things like setting, plot, and creativity, and I think this was a great way to get her to think outside the box. Like… I don’t think I’ll ever write historical fiction. I like reading it, but it’s not really my thing? I am certainly never going to write something like military sci-fi. Or high fantasy. Secondary world was a blast (if super difficult), but high fantasy doesn’t appeal to me as a writer.
It’s also nice seeing Dr. Chavez and Jane work together after they’ve had so very many missteps! The thing I want most is for Jane to not just have support, but to get knowledge and wisdom out of her grad school experience. She wanted this education to assist her, to give her the boost she needed to make her writing better. And if that’s what Dr. Chavez is doing for her—and it looks to be the case—then I am even happier that they are working together.
This is actually a plot that fits really well after what I wrote in the last review! I’m glad the writers, while still using humor in Rogelio’s characterization, are starting to address some of the more odious parts of his personality. Case in point: his self-centered ego. In some ways, it’s funny, like when he uses “mirror” for the letter M in Alba’s calming technique. It’s hilarious! Yet that same vanity and narcissism has deeply harmful ramifications for other people. “Chapter Thirty” addresses Rogelio’s new intern, JD, who Rogelio becomes furious with when he believes JD leaked info to the press. While that leaking definitely happened, Rogelio becomes so certain of the narrative of the person who harmed him that he ends up lashing out at JD. WHEN IT WASN’T JD AT ALL. We’ve seen Rogelio do things like this and get lost in a narrative he’s constructed, and in doing so, he causes harm.
So, how is he going to change? Especially now that he’s realized what a fantastic writer JD is? This is the kind of stuff I want to see!!! I want to see characters being challenged and facing situations where they have to grow and become better, and ROGELIO definitely needs to work on this!!!
The Villanueva Family
I wanted to end on a good note, though. This is a Christmas episode that I’m watching at the end of June, for the record, but there’s just so much packed in here that made me feel wonderful. It’s a delight to see this family come together as they have, especially since the Villanuevas were smaller and more fractured at the beginning of the show. Here, though, they come together—with Mateo and Rogelio now firmly a part of the crew—to celebrate one another. The existence of this family is something to celebrate! They are passing on traditions to Mateo and Jane; Rogelio is now back in his daughter’s life; and Alba got her green card! (That one scene was one of the most emotional things in the whole run of this show. I know I still have seventy episodes to go but I’M CERTAIN I WILL STILL THINK ABOUT IT IN THE END. The sheer relief on Alba’s face… NOPE. DESTROYED ME.) Family is weird and complicated and messy, and Jane the Virgin says that’s perfectly okay.
The video for “Chapter Thirty” 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!
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