In the thirteenth episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, everything hurts. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extensive discussion of stalking, alcoholism/addiction, and death/grief.
HEY THIS WHOLE EPISODE HURTS??? Like almost every part of it? I’d say that the reunion of Michael and Jane is about the only thing here that doesn’t purely involve a difficult, painful, and emotional choice. There’s actual joy! A synchronized swimming routine! (Granted, it’s interrupted in the funniest way possible, but still!) Kissing! Staying up all night to talk! IT’S VERY ROMANTIC.
Outside of that, though… whew. Y’all, this episode is rough to watch at times, but that’s not a criticism. I know I’m a broken record at this point and even acknowledged this at the end of the video below, but I’m still so impressed at how the show takes these telenovela tropes and applies realism to them. There’s a fantasy unfolding in some sense as Michael and Jane begin to be in each other’s lives again, but that joy—and they truly seem happy in what little time we see them together in “Chapter Thirty-Five”—comes with so many complications. This is not just a matter of two people being in love again. What does it mean logistically? How will Jane’s family will deal with this? What about Mateo’s father, Rafael?
Jane’s choice has ramifications, and this episode openly explores that. First, I think it was very smart of Jane not to wait around until this got more serious. She had to pull this band-aid off, though… not sure that metaphor really sells how intense this was. Understandably, Rafael’s reaction is… a lot? But I can see why! Even if we put aside the fact that he was still in love with Jane, this presented such a nightmare to him. Would he be replaced by Michael? Would Michael get to be more of a father than him by virtue of being around Jane more? There’s so much that could go wrong, and so he lashes out and refuses to compromise at all!
Jane, ever the peacemaker, tries her best, but even she has a hard time seeing things from Rafael’s point of view. That being said, I appreciated that by the end of this episode—especially after her plot with Rogelio—she comes to understand that she has to own her choice. She can’t try to make everyone happy, because the heartbreaking part of this is that she is going to hurt Rafael. There’s no way around that. And while I have some very angry thoughts on how Paola influenced this, there was a good lesson in this. Sometimes, you have to make a decision that will upset someone, and there’s no way to avoid that. You have to own that.
I have no idea how this is going to work, y’all. NONE.
I feel so, so much better about Luisa’s story, and I wish the show had started off with that mix of humor and humanity that we see here in “Chapter Thirty-Five.” Yara Martinez still gets to play Luisa and use her comedic acting and timing when portraying the character, but instead of being the butt of a joke, Luisa feels like a whole person. Again, I want messy, complicated lesbian characters to be able to exist alongside everyone else. I have no desire for perfectly moral queer characters, and I think that puts way too much pressure on people and creators. As someone who also struggled with alcoholism when I was younger, I saw elements of that struggle in Luisa. The shame. The feeling that washes over you when alcohol smoothes out the rough edges. How often I chased that dullness, how often being numb was preferred over being hurt. It’s so easy to continually slip down that slope, too, and as the shame compounds and builds, it’s even easier to fall into that cycle. Luisa’s actions, unfortunately, are also affecting other people, since Lina gets in trouble when Scott believes she’s stealing alcohol. This sets in motion a domino effect which ends not just with her getting caught once but twice by Jane, but having to face the fact that she needs help. Again.
And asking for help is one of the hardest parts of this. At least it was for me. I’m fascinated by what role Susanna will play in this. I wasn’t sure what it meant that Luisa “helped” Susanna in the immediacy of the events of the previous episode. But there’s just so much pain here, and Susanna seems to genuinely be helping Luisa deal with the pain and grief of not just losing Rose, but seeing her body. Look, I just… it’s hard not to find a kinship in this, especially given recent events for me. It’s not like I’m stranger to grief, but losing my ex last year really, truly showed me how grief can manifest in the strangest ways. You can’t predict it. This time around, for me, it involved something I’ve never dealt with: memory loss. I’ve always (and unfortunately) had a hell of a memory when it came to trauma, but not this time. There are entire periods of time I simply cannot remember, no matter how hard I try. The days disappeared, were swallowed by pain and hurt. In therapy, I’m learning that perhaps this was how my mind protected me. It was all so much that my brain “forget” as much as it could. (Or at least stuffed it all into my subconscious mind, lmao.) How will Luisa’s grief continue to manifest? I understand why she chose to break sobriety here. She is hurting, and while alcoholism has so many reasons to happen to a person, this one felt deeply familiar to me. Sometimes, we drink because we want to make the world tolerable.
I really hope Luisa gets the help she needs. Not because Susanna promised to see her after rehab, but for herself.
You gotta own the choice, right? So much of this episode resolves around that theme, and I’d say that’s something we saw in Luisa’s plot, too. It’s the pinnacle of Xiomara’s plot, too, and SURPRISE, I DEEPLY, DEEPLY RELATED TO THIS SUBPLOT. It’s also oddly-timed; this is literally one of the major things I’m dealing with in therapy. How do you let someone go? How do you give yourself space to heal? Granted, my journey is horrifically complicated by grief, but as I watched Xiomara and Rogelio attempt to be friends throughout this episode, I was like… shit, this was my entire experience in 2019. It’s not impossible to be friends with an ex; I’m on rather good terms with two of my exes. But all of them took time and space and distance… which is not something I did very well last year. Xiomara and Rogelio keep telling themselves they’re good at being friends, but there’s such an intense love at the heart of their relationship, and it’s not platonic love. They’ve got desire and physical/sexual attraction mixed up in this. They both long for one another, too, and how can they maintain a casual, platonic relationship with all that at play, too?
There was no way for Xiomara to make her choice—to refuse to be in a relationship with someone who expects her to have children—without hurting someone. It sucks, yes, and I have certainly been a cheerleader for these two this whole time. But it’s more important to me that Xiomara have agency and that her choice is respected. I admit that I don’t think I have ever really seen a plot like this unfold, either. A woman is vocal about her desire not to have more children, and the writing supports that, and it feels huge. Refreshing. Powerful. I’m glad that for the moment, they’re sticking with it. That isn’t to say she’ll change her mind, but for now, the commitment is there. And as heartbreaking as it is that she asked for space from Rogelio, it’s important. Vital. necessary.
Then we have Petra’s choice, one that definitely stung to watch unfold. I appreciated that the show didn’t ignore the fact that Rafael didn’t consent to this pregnancy, and Petra openly acknowledged this. So, the discussion had to happen: How much did Rafael want to be a part of this? At the same time, the writers also acknowledged that Petra had a fantasy she desperately wished was true, one that she’s still harboring to an extent, and that she still has to contend with the reality of that fantasy. She wants Rafael to be her partner, and that’s why she made the choice to steal Rafael’s sperm. She thought that would bring her and Raf closer. But throughout this episode, he’s dealing with the complication of Jane’s choice and raising Mateo. He was distracted. Distant. He was everything Petra didn’t need. So when he came crawling back to Petra after Jane rejected him, Petra’s decision centered herself. And I think it had to. She couldn’t be second choice. She couldn’t be a rebound. She needs a romantic partner who will be fully committed to her. So maybe Rafael figures out how to be a father or a father figure, sure. But does that mean he also has to be her romantic partner? I think not. And that’s what she commits to: she makes her choice, and she owns it.
Well, this is creepy. Which is an understatement! I’ve spoken about it in the past, but if you’re new around here: I have had so many stalkers over the years that I literally cannot count them all. The majority of them have also been women, which… I don’t know what that means. I really don’t. A topic for therapy, I suppose! But as someone who has—not kidding at all—literally dealt with a woman stealing my underwear as part of her stalking of me, this was a LOT. It was! Paola has found a way to completely thread herself into Rogelio’s life, so watching her do that was incredibly upsetting. Each new thing she learned about Rogelio was ammunition. But there’s one thing in particular I wanted to talk about: How she poisoned Rogelio against Jane. And it’s unfortunate because there was something fair about Rogelio feeling like Jane chose her mother over him. I don’t see that as a bad reaction in and of itself. If Rogelio had come to that conclusion by himself, I think I could consider that as a part of the theme of this episode. How did Rogelio own his choice?
However, there’s a tactic here that I’m familiar with as someone who once lived with a stalker. (Seriously… I’ve had a lot of stalkers. I don’t want to victim blame myself, but I have gotten better at asserting boundaries and recognizing toxic behaviors so that I can cut off these sort of attachments earlier. Hello, progress and growth!) When Paola gave Rogelio that nudge concerning Jane, it wasn’t out of her genuine interest in his well-being. She was isolating Rogelio. It was part of her emotional manipulation so that Rogelio would trust her. As he trusted her more, he was willing to give her more and more of the information she wanted. That’s why she refused to give any dirt on J. Lo! Yes, that was also because she was lying about being an assistant. But look how well that manipulation worked. She withheld information to such an extreme degree that when she finally gave Rogelio what he wanted, he saw it as an act of kindness and trust.
He was vulnerable. He gave his assistant more and more, and the entire time, she was plotting to isolate him from his friends and family so she could trap him in his apartment. I am admittedly very worried for where this is headed because WHAT THE FUCK IS SHE DOING??? I just hope Rogelio is okay.
The video for “Chapter Thirty-Five” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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