In the sixteenth episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, future plans cause chaos, and Petra breaks my heart into a million pieces. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extensive discussion of postpartum depression, abuse.
This was too emotional, HELP ME.
The Upcoming Wedding
There are two motifs across “Chapter Thirty-Eight,” both of them rooted in the conflict over Jane and Michael’s wedding. (Which I’m guessing is going to be in the season finale!) There’s the hilarious Biblical narration and framing device, which gave us two of my favorite things in the whole season. (Petra the saint and the wrath of Alba.) But there’s a more emotional one as well: What are these people willing to compromise to guarantee a better future for Mateo? For the people in their lives that they love? What does compromise actually look like?
Compromise is not an easy thing to accomplish, and this episode is designed in a way so that each “side” of the multiple conflicts has a justified reason for feeling how they do. Let’s start with the wedding, though, since that unearths complicated feelings between Rogelio and Xiomara, too. Understandably, Rogelio is a lot here. Not only does he want to throw a lot of money at creating the perfect wedding for his daughter, I think Xiomara is ultimately right. Rogelio missed out on so many important moments with his daughter, so why wouldn’t he want to go all-out now that he has the opportunity? But that clashes with Jane’s desire for a small, intimate ceremony. She doesn’t want a thousand random celebrities or industry folks at this celebration. She doesn’t even know them. My take on this was that Jane saw this as another manifestation of Rogelio’s ego. He always goes big, and he wasn’t thinking of what Jane wanted, but rather what he wanted.
And to an extent, that’s true. There’s a personal, selfish interest in this. But how can both parties get what they want here? What are they each willing to consider? It’s Xiomara who helps both Jane and Rogelio realize how they can come to satisfy their own desires while still accommodating someone else who truly, truly means well. But even that is complicated! In the wake of her breakup with Rogelio, it’s difficult for Rogelio to even be around Xiomara. Which is now something I deeply understand myself. But how can there be a compromise with something so deeply painful and awkward? Admittedly, this is something that’ll continue to be messy and difficult, but at least Rogelio has come to a place where he can be around Xiomara for family reasons. Look, moving on from a serious relationship, romantic or not, can be a devastating thing to experience. There’s no easy way to make the feelings go away, so I get why Rogelio initially wanted to maintain his distance. Wouldn’t it be easier for him that way?
I don’t know what the future holds for Xiomara and Rogelio. It’s hard watching this because I really wanted them to end up together, but at this point, that’s just not plausible or fair to either of them. So what will they look like in the future? How many times will they need to revisit the compromise they come to in this episode? And is all this going to be complicated when Xiomara watches her daughter get married before she does, despite how much older she is? Because I’m actually expecting that to be an emotional touchpoint in a future episode, y’all. I’M WORRIED. At the very least, though, Rogelio and Xiomara came up with a BEAUTIFUL idea for Jane’s wedding ceremony and the reception afterwards. (That’s totally the actual set Jane the Virgin films on, right?) And if Charo is guest-starring already, and if my guess is right concerning when the wedding actually happens, can I expect other cameo appearances in the season two finale???? I’M NOT READY.
A Home for Mateo
I am about to begin the process of finding a more permanent place to live here in New York City (preferably Brooklyn, so if you’ve got the connect on a studio/one bedroom literally anywhere in Brooklyn, let me know!), so this episode was just… well, I had a reaction to it. If you’re not familiar with the Faustian loops you have to jump through in order to get an apartment in this area, it might shock you. Because holy shit, even just getting on an existing lease as a roommate—which is what I did this past January for the place I’m in now—was NIGHTMARISH. I had to have my agent AND my editors write these weird letters to prove my income; I had to have my twin write a letter basically saying I’m a good person? I had to provide TEN YEARS of my rental history. Oh, and the last five YEARS worth of my tax returns. And an in-person interview. And 1099s. And like fifty other documents and I am pretty sure I had to promise my first-born child to someone just to rent a place, and that’s all on top of the OBSCENE fees that most rental agencies used to be able to charge because you can’t go direct to most owners anymore; you have to go through brokers, who, until this year, were able to charge hundreds of hundreds of dollars just to be able to APPLY for an apartment.
So yeah, watching Jane and Michael write that one letter and that being the hardest part of the process was… a lot? It was a lot. I remember how much easier it was to rent an apartment in California! Do you know that the apartment I last had in Los Angeles was achieved ON A FUCKING AIRPLANE. I literally had the rental office send me photos of the inside of it and I applied and signed my lease while I was flying somewhere for an event. It cost $30. I am pretty sure that’s impossible here in NYC.
Anyway, not really the point, but I wanted to yell at all of you about this. This plot was genuinely complicated, and I understood why it was so hard for either party to get on the same page. I knew that Rafael would have problems about not being as present in Jane’s life anymore, and it was completely understandable that he’d be freaked out by the distance between the Marbella and Mateo’s potential new home. At the same time, Michael and Jane were trying to plan a more permanent place for Mateo, one that was also affordable for them. In many ways, that home, while far from where they currently live, was a dream come true. A yard, jets in the tub, a washer/dryer (THE TRUE DREAM), extra space… but at what emotional cost? It might have been in the budget, but would it have placed strain on Jane’s relationship with Mateo’s father? Would Rafael have come to resent Jane for moving so “far” from him? Would Jane or Michael come to resent Rafael if they took him up on his offer to pay the difference on a more comparable place that’s closer to the Marbella?
See, this is all a MESS. So many things could have gone wrong. I did love seeing how each of these people came to understand compromise. What’s so fulfilling about that is that each party is, at one point, willing to do what was best for someone else in good faith. They assumed the best of another person in doing so! Even at the end, just seconds from signing a lease, Jane has a change of heart that Michael immediately accepts, which was so damn cool to see. For me, that’s a sign that both Jane and Michael are much more mature and willing to work with one another to do what’s best for their relationship and for Mateo. Their relationship is in such a better place than it was prior to the breakup last season! The solution to this problem, however, is gonna be addressed in another section, since it so heavily involves another character. MORE IN A SECOND.
Okay, is it bad that I don’t trust Derek because of how he dresses in the Miami heat? SORRY, IT DISTRACTS ME SO MUCH Y’ALL. How is he wearing so many layers in all that humidity? I can’t even say it’s because of the overcast weather either, since he dressed like that when he first showed up. THIS IS THE WEIRDEST REASON TO DISTRUST HIM BUT I WON’T LET IT GO. Okay, but in actuality… I don’t trust him. There’s something else going on here. I say that both because I’m watching Jane the Virgin and characters like him are just ripe for hidden agendas or secret pasts. Also, does he even look like someone who would just up and hike the Appalachian Pass? Absolutely not. I think his story is just a story, and there’s an ulterior motive here. Will it be discovered through the wiretaps? Maybe. But I also have a suspicion that Derek has anticipated this. He’s not gonna say anything damning in the Marbella, I’m guessing.
Alba & Pablo
Well, I had hope. I really did. So yeah, I was crushed when I, too, found out that Pablo was cheating on Alba IN THE SAME HOTEL SHE WAS STAYING AT. The nerve! The disrespect! I did love how much of the show’s fantastical edge was used in this plot, like the bad weather, the curse, and the Biblical narrative device. But the thing I loved most about Alba’s plot? The show allowing an older woman to express sexual desire openly and without shame. Alba might have complicated feelings on when sex should happen, but she’s allowed to vocalize those feelings without being criticized or made fun of. I love it so much, especially that scene where Alba is comforted by her daughter and granddaughter. Just… ugh, I love this family so much.
Good riddance, Pablo.
Petra & Motherhood
I saved this one for last because it just… whew. This was a journey. Turns out I was right about Petra experiencing postpartum depression, and seeing it manifest as it did was so difficult. As I said before, I had a friend dealing with one thing we see here: not connecting with their children. There’s already so much stigma for mental illness, but then there’s the immense pressure for performing parenthood in a specific way, so that’s why Jane’s offer to take Petra to that class for new mothers was so damn important. This world—especially in America—spins narratives of what a “good” mother should be, and that made Petra’s struggle with postpartum worse. Was she a bad mother because she lacked this connection? Because she was having difficulty being a new mom? No, not at all, and she needed to hear that from other people. Understandably, the experience was also triggering for her, and I get why she thought she was being “judged.” Look, Petra doesn’t like feeling “handled.” She craves independence!
Which is also why her conversation with her mother sent her down such a dark path. I know that the doctor that Petra spoke to had no idea what awful advice it was to ask her to speak with her mother. It’s a reasonable thing to request in a neutral context! But Magda is not neutral, and her toxicity poisons everything. Y’all, my heart. MY HEART. Because look, this is the same episode where Petra genuinely defends Jane. Where she buys a house so that she can rent it to Jane and Michael secretly!!! LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PETRA EXISTS OUTSIDE THE TOXICITY OF HER MOTHER. She does such good things, and watching that growth has been one of the most satisfying arcs on Jane the Virgin.
That’s precisely why it was so heartbreaking to see Magda push Petra down a dark path because of her gross negativity and abusive language. At any point, Magda is willing to denigrate and manipulate her daughter into feeling less than a person, and she took that opportunity here by telling her that it would be best if Petra gave her daughters away. Ugh, no, she fed right into Petra’s worst fears! I HATE IT, I’M SO UPSET, Y’ALL. So what does this mean? Where is Petra going???
The video for “Chapter Thirty-Eight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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