In the fourteenth episode of Jane the Virgin, Jane learns she has to let go of the past; Petra enlists Jane to help her with Rafael; Rogelio deals with a stalker. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extensive discussion of stalking, nonconsensual drugging, and sexual assault/rape.
Back Together Again
Lord, do I ever feel called out by this show. The timing of it all is odd! As I said in my last review, in therapy I’m working on the mental task that is moving on from someone, and here we are, deep in a plot on Jane the Virgin about how these characters must learn to move forward rather than be held down by the past. That doesn’t mean that the past doesn’t matter or that it shouldn’t influence decisions. If anything, Michael and Jane can use the past to help inform how they’ll continue together now that they’re engaged again. How can they not make the mistakes they made in the past? Part of that can be achieved through honesty, which is what both of them acknowledge. Their relationship fell apart because of a lack of it.
So, take the conflict that happens inside “Chapter Thirty-Six.” Michael sees all the loving emails that Jane sent to Rafael, and it hits him hard. Yet rather than stew in that feeling, he admits to Jane that he was hurt. He is honest with her. And I see that as growth! He knows he can’t hide this stuff from her because it’ll only get worse if he does. There’s a way to move forward while acknowledging the past, and that’s where Jane ends up, too, by the time she meets Michael after Petra gives birth. Thus, it’s not surprising that Michael sees that as the perfect moment to propose. They’re on the same page. They both want to move forward instead of replicating the past. AND NOW THEY’RE GONNA GET MARRIED!!!! It’s wild that we’re now beyond the halfway point of the season, but weirdly, as much as the serialized plot moves rapidly, this doesn’t feel premature. I think Jane and Michael are really ready to do this!
So, fuck Angelique, first of all. Wow. Not just for stealing someone’s idea—and there’s a racial component to this that’s not addressed but makes Angelique’s actions even grosser!!!—but for the way that she then folded the truth into this story that she uses to make herself seem like a “true” writer. She was struck by a muse during a massage! Which… not exactly a complete lie, except that the “muse” was Jane, and Angelique stole the idea. And I was so eager to see Angelique held accountable for what she had done. It’s possible that we might see this at some other point in the show, and I want to talk about this aspect more in the next section. Here, though, I wanted to address a very interesting thing the show does. Angelique stole Jane’s idea, and that’s firmly established. But then, as Jane reads the actual book, she sees that the book Angelique created has almost no similarity to what Jane planned.
I’ve been a “professional” author for only a few years, so I don’t think that makes me an expert on the industry, but I did want to offer some insight on this particular story aspect. Because I know more than one author—and I’m including myself in this!!—who has seen a deal announcement or a book reveal go live and realize that the premise is almost exactly the same as something you’re working on. Now, granted, this is a situation in which plagiarism doesn’t exist, and it’s not quite the same as Angelique stealing Jane’s idea. But an idea is just that: a vague notion of what a story can be. However, you could give a pitch or a premise to ten authors and get ten completely different stories! Hell, we live in a world in which countless versions of a similar story exist. Look at pretty much any genre, and you’ll see a litany of narrative tropes repeated across multiple books. Is Moby Dick the same story as China Mieville’s Railsea? Not at all; the latter book is in conversation with the former. Or look at that weird coincidence where two films—Capote and Infamous—were developed and released within a year of one another. Those are based on a real person, and neither one is really the same film at all. Within the world of children’s literature, I’ve seen multiple books with similar premises be published in the same year, and both of them finding their own audiences.
So while I still want Angelique to admit what she did, I want Jane to have success more. I want her to finish a novel; I want her to get an agent; I want her to have a huge launch; I want her to fulfill her dreams. And she is uniquely qualified to write a story that no one else can. That’s perhaps the most common piece of advice I give to new writers: There is a story out there that only you can tell. Jane’s version of the romance during the Revolutionary War wouldn’t look like Angelique’s, yes. But she’s also got a story within her that is her own to tell, and I can’t wait to see it.
Petra Asks For Help
To expand on what I said at the end of the video for this episode, I still remain hopeful that Jane and Petra could develop a real friendship. After the last time I hoped for this, though, I am being cautious. I can’t let my desires for these two to take over again!!! But what fascinates me about Petra in this episode is that she is very Petra-esque right up until she turns around her car and takes Jane to go confront Angelique. She goes to Jane for help with Rafael because she knows Jane can do things with Rafael that she can’t. It’s a selfish reason, and she knows that, too. Petra doesn’t really care how difficult and painful this would be for Jane, either. That is the version of Petra we’ve seen a lot over the thirty-five episodes prior.
Yet when she gets corroboration that Angelique stole Jane’s idea, she takes Jane to a signing to confront her. Any way I look at this, y’all, I cannot see what Petra gets out of it. It doesn’t help Petra to coach Jane through the confrontation; it doesn’t help her to stand in line at a bookstore for Jane’s turn; it doesn’t help her to do anything here. Rather, she sees that someone was hurt by someone else’s actions, and she offers her own unique abilities to help. It is perhaps one of the most selfless things she’s done in the whole show!
And look what happens next. Jane helps Petra when Petra’s water breaks. Now, it’s much more like Jane to help people when she doesn’t benefit from it. Right? But there’s an exchange of kindness here that feels like real friendship. It feels like the start of something. Am I being hopeful? Sure. But Jane demonstrated that she would help Petra when she desperately needed it. She spent so much time with Petra, including when Petra was denied an epidural! At the same time, Petra gave Jane the help she needed, too.
Wow, this… this HURT. Look, it’s not like Xiomara is wrong about her perception of her mother’s behavior. Indeed, over the course of this show, we’ve seen how much Alba has judged her daughter for her promiscuity. And even if she never said it outright, it was a form of slut-shaming. Maybe it was a funny joke at times, but sometimes, this kind of joke can wear a person down. Sometimes, the truth at the heart of a joke can hurt more than it can delight. Over time, Xiomara has had to deal with the projection of shame from Alba. And that’s really what it is, right? Alba was shamed for her choice with Pablo, and she was tormented because of it. But she then pushed that punishment onto her daughter for nearly forty years. So yeah, it’s perfectly understandable that Xiomara was pissed after finding out her mother had been a hypocrite! She’d been judged for years for something Alba had done.
As upsetting as this was to watch unfold, I’m glad it’s out in the open. These people lived with a stigma for decades. By talking about it openly, they can begin to escape that type of pain and be kind with one another. Stigma can manifest in such a intensely private way; it’s isolating like that. Being open and vulnerable? It’s a way to move forward, and isn’t that a huge theme of this episode?
WHY DOES ALBA THINK PABLO IS A CURSE, THOUGH???
While Rafael’s later behavior can be explained by his desire to find his half-brother, Derek, I do have to accept that Rafael was in the midst of a descent into his “dark place,” as Petra called it. After being rejected by Jane and Petra, he starts drinking heavily. (Which makes his judgment of Luisa feel unfair.) He pursues physical relationships and temporary pleasure. All of this is understandable after all the shit he’s been through. I’m mostly curious what he’s doing from here on out. Is he still going to behave this way after the investigation into Derek is complete? How will he parent THREE children? (Three children all born from artificial insemination without his consent, actually.) What’s his life going to look like now? I TRULY DON’T KNOW.
This was a hard one to watch. Intellectually, I could detach and see why the show was doing what it did with Rogelio. As I said on video, it was so clear to me that the writers presented a trope—the entire scene from Rogelio’s first televnovela—as evidence that certain narratives are much more disturbing in real life. I’m sure most of us can name an example of a story where someone was held captive and fell in love with their captor. A lot of the time, it’s presented as a romantic story, and yet, as Rogelio experiences this same thing, it’s portrayed as an unfolding horror film. There’s no fantasy here; there’s no romance. It’s just awful.
But it was difficult to see depicted because too much of it aligned with an experience I had when I was twenty. I don’t talk in detail about being a victim of sexual assault because I’ve often felt like I don’t want that experience to be publicly consumable. It’s not a story to me. I’ll say this: I was drugged and violated by a woman I lived with, and unfortunately, I didn’t see the red flags until it was too late. So at least in that sense, there was something redeeming here that I appreciated from my point of view: at least the villain here was clearly a villain. The show makes no attempt to portray Paola in a sympathetic manner, nor are we meant to see anything she does as romantic. Tonally, it is weird because I felt like the horror wasn’t always relied on, but that might just be a personal thing more than any real criticism of what’s onscreen.
I suppose this is also just a bias, more than anything else. I can’t view this quite as an entertaining plot twist, especially that ending. I’m very worried about Rogelio and what Paola is capable of. I pointed out that she was isolating Rogelio in the last episode, but I had no idea how complete that isolation would be. She’s trying to craft a story in order to assume the role of Rogelio’s true love, and it’s obvious she’ll do whatever she can to keep this horrific fantasy alive. Exactly how much of that are we going to see? And will the show properly deal with the trauma that Rogelio has clearly been through? I don’t know. I hope so.
The video for “Chapter Thirty-Six” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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