In the seventeenth episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, Michael and Jane have their bachelor and bachelorette parties to varying success. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of postpartum depression
Wow, this was a messy and uncomfortable episode. LET’S DISCUSS.
Sometimes, the best of intentions can still get you in trouble. Wow, this episode started off at such a brutal place after Xiomara and Lina took over Jane’s bachelorette party. Both of them meant well! They wanted Jane to lose control and have a good time, but there are so many things here that just compounded the disaster of that unfortunate, Don Quixote-themed stripper. (That’s a fun sentence to type. Jane the Virgin has allowed me to type so many fun sentences.) Jane had this HORRIBLE thing hanging over her the entire night: Had the mistake of the stripper cost her the job she had the university? Which, I might add, is happening at the same time her and Michael are about to move into a new home, one that means that Jane needs the job so she can contribute to their shared financial situation.
Still, I got why Xiomara and Lina were basically like, “Nothing you can do about it tonight, LET’S PARTY.” This was about celebrating Jane’s upcoming marriage; it was about having a good time; it was about giving Jane the space to let go! And for a moment, it seemed like this was going to happen. Now, I’m gonna save some of my commentary for the section on Xiomara, given that she is a huge reason the plot goes the way that it is. Rather, I want to focus on one aspect here: these people wanted Jane to “let go.” But what does that mean for Jane? It’s not just doing reckless or messy things. Jane does that while not being drunk at all, you know? Not intentionally, of course. She’s human! And sometimes very awkward. No, it’s more about her feeling safe enough to let go of her anxieties and her need to control all the details.
So, the writers do a clever thing here in order to explore what it meant for Jane to feel safe. Jane gets the kind of party Michael expected and vice versa. Poor Michael is given an extravagant, bougie dinner and an evening in a fancy spa from Rogelio, who is doing his best here! His intentions are definitely pure and kind, and yet? Lord, it’s SO AWKWARD. Michael wanted a boisterous, chaotic night with his friends. Instead, Rogelio unintentionally made the entire bachelor party about himself in a way! It was all about his relationship with his future son-in-law, rather than a celebration of Michael in and of itself. And the solution to this required Michael to check Rogelio, to remind him of how their relationship has to have boundaries.
Look, I get it. In some sense, Rogelio wants to be every type of friend with Michael. But it’s okay if friends have specific contexts in which they work for a person! I have industry friends; I have a close circle of best friends I check in on every day; I have a lot of friendly acquaintances; I have friends I just go out with. (Well, not right now, THANKS PANDEMIC.) And now that Rogelio is going to be his father-in-law, maybe the #Brogelio situation has to change somewhat. Rogelio can’t be everything for Michael, and his relationship has to have new boundaries that it hasn’t before. What’s safe for them to discuss? What’s safe for Rogelio to do for Michael? Navigating this won’t always be easy, but I’m glad they discussed it after learning the hard way just how awkward things could be.
It’s upon reaching this point with Rogelio that Michael and Jane’s stories collide, and y’all, I didn’t even notice it happening: As soon as Michael was present, Jane was able to let go. Jane clings to control because it’s a mechanism of safety for her. And as soon as Michael is there, supporting her, Jane knows that she can do whatever she’d like and someone who loves her will take care of her.
I loved so much that this came to light during the exchanging of vows. Ugh, that whole scene was fantastic! Especially the choice to have Michael’s vows go unsaid to the audience, too! A very nice and poetic touch, one that lets our imaginations take over. But even then, did they need to? All the evidence that these two love on another is on screen. In this episode alone, it’s ALL OVER the script. So spelling it out wasn’t necessary; this was far more satisfying.
I really do feel for Xiomara, and I think this ongoing subplot—of Xiomara’s growth as a character—has been leading to a confrontation like this for a while. While the writers have the script flash back to Jane’s 21st birthday party to make the point that Xiomara is still making the same mistakes, the evidence of this is present in past episodes as well. Xiomara has made strides, but she’s sabotaged her own success as well! I have a lot of sympathy for her, for the record, and I understand that she’s been in a rough emotional spot as well. She’s still existing in the aftermath of her failed romantic relationship with Rogelio. She wanted to let go, too!
But like Michael struggles with what role Rogelio should play in his life now that he’s getting married, Jane has to struggle with who her mother should be, too. There’s a reversal of roles here that we’ve seen unfold multiple times over these two seasons: Jane has often had to be the “parent” in situations with her mother. Obviously, Jane loves and adores her mother and has frequently been willing to do whatever she can to help support Xiomara. At what point, though, does that begin to feel unbalanced? At what point does a daughter feel like she’s a mother to her own mother? This sort of imbalance can wear a person down, especially if there’s a reliance on one person to always provide stability.
In Jane’s case specifically, though, Xiomara’s behavior often triggers the worst impulses in her. I’ll talk about Lina in a second, but Jane’s conversation about Lina’s future helps her summarize why Xiomara keeps hurting her: Xiomara’s chaos has meant that Jane constantly desired structure and control. It’s the source of her inability to let go, isn’t it? And that’s why the dual apology—one from four years prior, one in the present day—is so damn devastating. Is Xiomara going to actually change? Or is she stuck in this cycle, doomed to repeat it? Because lord, Xiomara REALLY fucked up in this episode. Not just the stripper, but the voicemail? Which she then did nothing about, for the record?
Maybe this was exactly the wake-up call that Xiomara needed. I don’t know! I hope so. But this episode ends on a brutal note: With Jane rejecting her mother’s apology and closing the door on her. EVERYTHING HURTS.
I continue to love that the show keeps making space for Lina to have her own arc. And I feel like this epiphany of hers was a long time coming. What is it that Lina wants for herself? Who does she want to be? I wrote about this a few years back when I was reading Moving Pictures for Mark Reads, but it’s hard to watch other people have success when you aren’t having it. I had a whole plan for my life back when I was leaving high school, and even in college, I thought I had been sticking to it pretty well. But it’s hard watching your friends and peers reaching their goals why you aren’t. It’s hard watching all your friends get married and start families when you can barely stay in a relationship yourself. What happens when everyone else seems to be jettisoning into the future while you’re stuck?
I didn’t accomplish my dream—to publish a fiction book with my name on it—until I was thirty-four, a solid decade after I thought it would happen. I’m very thrilled with the odd path I took to get to that, but I have been exactly where Lina is in this episode. That’s why I appreciated that Jane was willing to sit down with Lina and figure out some sort of plan to help her get out of her rut. How does she become a stylist? Well, LET’S FIGURE IT OUT. That’s basically Jane’s response, and I’m so emotional about Jane’s willingness to do this for her friends. I LOVE THESE TWO SO MUCH.
I was ready to trust him a little bit more but NOPE. First: It was a relief to find out that Michael hadn’t misused his powers as a cop as he had done in the past. (Something that’s just way too common on like… all shows ever. But that’s a separate essay for another day.) His boat really was where he said it was going to be!
But y’all. Call me a cynic, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Derek set up Rafael for the insider trading nonsense we’re about to see. Rafael thought he was playing Derek by keeping him drunk, BUT WHAT IF IT WAS THE OTHER WAY AROUND??? What if Derek encouraged all that so that Rafael would be drunk and unable to remember what actually happened when he bought that stock? HI I STILL DON’T TRUST DEREK.
I was ready. I WAS READY FOR A WHOLE THING I WAS GONNA WRITE ABOUT HOW MAGDA’S WORDS FUCKED UP PETRA. And they still did! But now I understand something: Petra did get treatment for her postpartum!!! She’s on new medication! SHE DID STAY AT HOME THOUGH AND DID NOT LEAVE.
H O W???????? HOW DID PETRA HAVE A TWIN THIS ENTIRE TIME??? Were there clues??? Did I just miss it??? Oh my god, y’all, HELP ME, I DIDN’T SEE THIS TWIST COMING??????? I have a million questions and instead of trying to answer them—I literally have no fucking clue what to do with this—I’m just gonna watch the next episode. What the fuck???
The video for “Chapter Thirty-Nine” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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