In the tenth episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, Jane copes with a technology disaster and considers dating, while recent events complicate the lives of others. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, miscarriage, nonconsensual drugging
Can I just start this by definitively stating how much I love Lina and her presence on this show? As I said on video, she’s just this incredible, loving little chaos agent, but I mean that with affection. She cares so deeply for Jane, and I see her as the character who, more than anyone else, pushes Jane to have a life for herself. (Actually, upon writing that, I must admit that Xiomara’s been doing that, too.) After Jane’s computer is damaged during Mateo’s first crawl (HE’S SO CUTE, HELP ME), Jane is oblivious to being flirted with. And I get it! I noticed it, Lina definitely noticed it, but Jane isn’t in the right frame of mind. I don’t feel like she’s the kind of character to necessarily be oblivious about this sort of thing; actually, given that she’s a writer and is super in touch with her emotions, I feel like she’s normally primed to notice flirting.
But again: not really the right place or time for romance, right? She’s got a son that she’s taking care of and a thesis to write for grad school! The love triangle is basically over, and it’s not like she needs to jump into dating again. What I loved about this plot is how relatable it felt as someone who also hates dating, but loves being in a relationship. Like, that’s something I’ve come to accept about myself! I love romantic companionship a lot. I enjoy being someone’s partner! Hell, since late 2011, I’ve spent the majority of that time in a committed, monogamous relationship with two different men. So when Jane was talking to Xiomara and Alba about wanting to skip the act of dating and just get TO the relationship, I wanted to jump out of my seat and start pointing and screaming at her. YES. YES. THAT THING. Oh my god, online dating is a nightmare? I don’t know if I ever told this story, but I used OKCupid for an INCREDIBLY brief period of time early in 2011 after a long break from my previous relationship. The only thing that came from it was a lot of messages from white anarchists from Berkeley who wanted me to be their first sexual experience with a man, which… no. Absolutely not. And then there was the one date I went on, which was with the ONLY white man I have ever gone on a date with in my entire life, who unceremoniously announced at the end of said date that he had a fantastic time, but he prefers dating white men, so could we be friends?
Hey, no thanks. At all.
I tried online dating for a few months last year, which was also my first chance to do so while being out as nonbinary and using they/them pronouns in a dating context. I will just say that I would rate the experience with zero stars on Yelp. Do not recommend. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
Anyway: all this to say that some people—myself included—want that adorable meet cute, but then wish we could just fast forward to the relationship part. But it’s not that I dislike dating so much as I dislike the wasting of time. Because as we see with Jane here, when she is connecting with someone, she doesn’t actually hate dating. She loves that spark; she loves getting to know someone; she loves the romance of it all. At the same time, the show isn’t afraid to dip into the complication of dating while being a new mother. Yes, this stuff is fun, but what seemed to be a normal thing for her—to mention her son in conversation—would be perceived as clingy to someone else. Because shit, when does she bring this up? And how will that conversation affect the way the other person perceives her? I don’t think “Chapter Thirty-Two” necessarily answers that question for Jane, though, and I’m glad it doesn’t. instead, it presents her reality! This is going to be hard, and she’s going to have to figure out what to do on a case-by-case basis. It’s also fair of her to just… not date! At all! She can focus on her son and school and co-parenting, and then just take up dating when it feels right for her.
I’m also going to go ahead and say that while Professor Chavez (I called him Dr. Chavez in earlier reviews, but I’m not sure that’s the correct address for him? I just assumed he had a doctorate) is disgustingly hot, Jane should not try to date her professor. That’s… bad. Very.
I remain very pleased with how Jane the Virgin talks about writing, particularly in the literal sense—it’s fun seeing the horror of a lost draft and the struggle to replicate it—and in the metaphorical. What does it mean to be a storyteller? What matters when you’re telling a story? For Jane, her work in grad school is pushing her to examine why she wants to write romance, but also how to improve her skills. Again, I’m so pleased that in an academic setting, Professor Chavez isn’t telling Jane not to write romance; he just wants her to write it better.
But all that is made a million times harder by Mateo’s accident, and look. LOOK. So many of us writers have had those panic moments. This is why I have MULTIPLE systems in place to save files locally AND on the cloud REGULARLY. It’s why I have a physical notebook (that I briefly show off on video!) for all my story ideas, which I also take photos of so if I lose it, I still have what I wrote down. (And if you want to slow down the video to see what’s written in it, I should warn you that you’ll be disappointed to find out that the notes on that first page are from an online tutorial I am taking where I’m trying to learn music theory. NO STORY IDEAS FOR YOU.) At the same time: sometimes, completely starting fresh is exactly what a story needs. I’ve got short stories coming out in the next year that were projects I abandoned up to TWELVE years ago. My middle grade novel, The Insiders, is out next year, and it’s based on the first novel manuscript I completed when I was a sophomore in college. I thought I had lost it, but I found it three years ago when I was packing for the move to New York. Re-writing virtually all of it gave me a MUCH better idea!
Jane does get her manuscript back, but look what happens prior to that. Inspired on a bus, she completely re-pens the opening chapter, and her book becomes better. At the heart of my enjoyment of this plot is the fact that the show is saying that it’s okay to let things go. It doesn’t make you a bad writer if you trunk something or if you lose it. Yes, it absolutely sucks, but Jane finds a beautiful silver lining to this freak accident: she can make something better.
Mother Knows Best
I do want to say that I wish we’d seen a bit more of Manuel’s story, since the show focused mostly on Liliana’s journey, but I was still happy with the honesty on display here. That scene between Rogelio and Manuel was so damn important! I loved that they made sure to give Manuel humanity. Yes, he missed a lot of important moments in his son’s career, but he did so to protect himself so he wouldn’t be outed. I saw that not just as important for himself—Manuel clearly didn’t want to deal with the trauma of being outed—but I also think his character understands sacrifice. Part of his arrangement was to protect Liliana, too, to keep her from being in the spotlight as well. Because that’s the thing about a homophobic society! We should absolutely center our conversation on queer people, but homophobia hurts straight people, too. Here’s a great example of it, since Liliana worries about the shame, judgment, and pain she’ll receive from others because her husband is gay. Obviously, it hurt Manuel in a much different and more immediate way, but there shouldn’t be this shame and stigma attached to dating someone who comes to understand their sexuality differently. It doesn’t reflect on Liliana’s character or morals, but for some people, it does matter. (Fuck those people, for the record.)
So I was glad that this was portrayed sympathetically, as well as Liliana’s struggle with understanding where she belongs now. Her partnership is ending because Manuel is in love with his romantic partner and wants to live his life with him. What does Liliana do after the end? Well, Rogelio attempts something sweet here to give his mother something to occupy her time. I believe, if I understand this correctly, that she was once his manager? Point being: She has the skills to be his manager, but she just… well. She is… a lot? Is that a nice way to describe her behavior? I wonder if part of the reason she veers so heavily into being intrusive and distracting is because she’s unconsciously reacting to the chaos in her own life. She was losing control, so she asserted control in a situation where she had it. Unfortunately, this has disastrous ramifications for Rogelio and the production of his new telenovela. (The one penned by JD, who is now back!) It was gut-wrenching seeing her not only accept being fired, but knowing that her life is uncertain now. What is she supposed to do? I’m sure she’ll figure it out, but at the moment, it’s all an unknown. And that shit is scary!!!
For a moment, I was excited at being wrong. Maybe the show was going to develop Nadine’s backstory more and actually explain what those six months were like while she worked with Michael. Unfortunately, this still leaves her in pretty much the same place. Actually, it doesn’t really develop Michael’s time in Mexico either, because… well, what did he do in between those monthly meetings? What occupied his time? Again, Nadine feels more like a plot device than a person. What I am curious about is what Michael’s relationship with Bennett is going to look like at this point. Because holy shit, she has so much dirt on him!!! She knows he’s broken the law and violated procedure like a million times, and yet he keeps asking her to cover for him. Is his captain really going to just buy the explanation that he suddenly realized he had the chip they’ve been looking for the whole time? Maybe? I don’t know, this whole situation is a mess. Perhaps that chip will reveal enough information to help with the case, though, so… yay? And I thought that Rafael was going to be kidnapped, but clearly, Mutter just wanted to take him out so she could escape. So… also good? But immensely traumatic for Rafael, who didn’t really deal with being drugged by his mother just seconds after discovering that she was a wanted drug lord? Oof, that poor man. His family is so fucked up, y’all.
Wow, this whole subplot just punched me in all my feelings??? I love that we are FINALLY digging in deep to Petra’s complicated characterization in a way that DOESN’T have to deal with her mother. Well, I suppose that’s not exactly true; Petra’s relationship to trauma is impossible to talk about without referencing the dysfunction that Magda created for Petra. But at the very least, Magda is not around, and Petra is able to deal with the anxiety and panic she feels over her pregnancy in a way that isn’t immediately dismissed by Magda. I also appreciated the messiness here! More often than not, I’ve seen a sanitization of portrayals of mental illness that feels strange. Like… I get not wanting to portray the ugly parts of it. I also know that many creators struggle slipping into harmful portrayals, too! But the truth is that trauma can manifest in complicated, uncomfortable ways.
Here, Petra lashes out at the nurses that Rafael hired. I thought she was doing it so that Rafael could be closer to her, but I had this completely wrong. Petra is terrified because she had a miscarriage years earlier, and she was triggered by the positive way the nurses spoke of her pregnancy. She’s afraid! She’s afraid it’s going to happen all over again, and it was so comforting to watch Rafael realize this and then… just comfort her. All his frustration and anger was gone, not because he necessarily felt Petra was justified in being rude, but because he understood her. He knew where she was coming from.
So… is there hope for a Petra/Rafael reconciliation? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. This was such an emotional episode for the two of them, and I could see it being possible, but I’ve learned that trying to anticipate plots on this show is a futile act. I just have no idea what’s going to happen.
The video for “Chapter Thirty-Two” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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