Mark Watches ‘Jane the Virgin’: S02E18 – Chapter Forty

In the eighteenth episode of the second season of Jane the Virgin, everything is still a lot. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of abuse (particularly parental abuse), trauma

Holy shit, this was somehow even more uncomfortable than the last episode?

Anezka

Normally I save the “big” stuff for last, but I have to start here because HI. HELLO. HOLY SHIT, Petra has a twin sister named Anezka, which was foreshadowed back when Magda was finally arrested for killing Ivan. Now we know why she told Petra, “Wrong choice.” All these years, Magda lived with that secret: that she’d given birth to twins and left one of them in an orphanage in the Czech Republic. She’d made the choice based on which baby she thought would turn out best for her, which is a NIGHTMARE of a means of choosing a child, y’all. But as fucked up as it is, it’s weirdly in-character for someone like Magda? Of course she wouldn’t actually care about the well-being of her own child. It was all about which child would be better suited for her life. 

What’s fascinating to me is that while Yael Grobglas plays these characters so drastically different from one another, there is a commonality in them. They both had deeply dysfunctional upbringings because of Magda. Anezka’s was because Magda abandoned her, and her character clearly experienced a lot of trauma growing up. She’s self-deprecating in an extreme sense, often reiterating that she doesn’t deserve forgiveness, kindness, basic necessities and the like. It’s actually pretty sad to see? In a different context, Petra also has demonstrated a belief that she doesn’t deserve similar things. We know she is currently dealing with postpartum depression, but even prior to this, Petra was shown to be deeply insecure, someone who believed at heart that she wasn’t a good person, that she couldn’t be a good mother or have friends. So, Anezka’s appearance in her life has brought up a lot of those elements in Petra again. How much does Petra see in Anezka that reminds her of her own journey? I feel like that’s part of the reason she confronts Magda as she does. It’s a defiance: This woman cast out her daughters like pawns whenever it suited her. Petra makes a commitment: she’s not going to do what Magda did to her. She’s going to keep Anezka around.

Which is easier said than done.

The Deal

There are two intersecting arcs within the Fairwick deal. First, Anezka’s behavior—which I’m assuming is based on the trauma she’s experienced as an orphan—nearly derails the deal to buy the Fairwick Hotel. Which means Lachlan failed! WHAT A GREAT TWIST, LOVE THIS FOR LACHLAN. So, I worry just a little bit that there are moments in “Chapter Forty” where Anezka inches a little too close to how Luisa was portrayed in the past. It’s certainly more subtle here, but Anezka has clearly gone through some sort of trauma, and there are moments where I felt like the show wanted us to laugh at Anezka? Admittedly, this is a subjective thing, but I do want Anezka treated with respect. At the same time, I also know that the show is playing with the concept of doubles, something that even Dina points out is a common trope in the world of telenovelas. So I don’t mind Jane the Virgin poking fun at that! I just want to make sure we, as the audience, know what is intended here. And I can’t quite tell yet?

Things are much more clear on Rafael’s part in this, though. Turns out that maybe I was completely and utterly wrong about Derek setting up Rafael. I suppose that could still be possible, but it looks like we’re about to get a story of regret. Rafael ends up using the money for his drunken insider trading to be able to afford the Fairwick Hotel. I mean… it seemed like an awful idea, and then the Narrator just flat-out confirms it by saying Raf will come to regret it. OH NO. No!!!! Ugh, and he did it while thinking it was the right choice, that it was helping him guarantee a legacy for his children. UGH. Now I have a new thing to be worried about!

Writing to the setting

Look, Rogelio is ridiculous, and some of his worst tendencies are on display in this episode. You know, the whole being rude thing? Not taking advice from people? Not listening when someone is… like… talking? That whole way that he made like a thousand different terrible assumptions about Dina because she was a writer? So, he still has a long way to go, and I’d like to see him get checked more on some of this stuff. But y’all. I must admit that I was SHOCKED by his resolution to the extra “set” he had built for Jane. Dina played a part in that, but it was fascinating to see his idea come to fruition and ACTUALLY FUCKING WORK! It worked!!! Let’s also acknowledge that Dina was the one to make it work within the Tiago show, because Rogelio hadn’t planned for that part at all. Very typical of Rogelio, I’ll say.

Jane the Virgin also has really interesting things to say about writing, too! I’ll talk about Professor Donaldson later, but I related to Dina saying that she couldn’t really write a whole story just based on a location. BECAUSE I DON’T DO THAT EITHER! In every story I’ve ever written, plot and characterization comes before setting. I might have a vague sense of a city or place something is set, but I always build that stuff out later. I’m starting to do interviews for my next book (AHHHHHHH THAT’S SO EXCITING TO TYPE) and I’ve had quite a few shocked reactions when I tell folks that I built the setting/worldbuilding stuff for Each of Us a Desert last. I knew the book was always going to take place in a desert, but… that’s it. Everything else came in last. I need to know emotional motivations and plot twists and endings before I can even start thinking of the details of setting. I guess that’s weird for fantasy? But it’s how my process works, so I related to Dina balking at Rogelio’s insistence that she just write a story about a “normal” home. That’s too broad!!! I would need so much more direction!!!!

The Fear of Separation

I admit that I thought that this episode was going to dig deeper into the reasons why Xiomara is the way she is. And while it does in the sense that we do get more of both her feelings and Jane’s while they argue, the “resolution” of this fight went a direction I didn’t expect. I don’t think it’s a poor resolution, either, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. Because this wasn’t going to be solved overnight. Jane and Xiomara were fighting over an issue they’d had for years. You can’t expect progress on that in a day or two. Instead, Rogelio, with Dina’s help and guidance, realized he needed to show Xiomara and Jane that there might be another reason why they were so unwilling to even attempt to reconcile with one another. 

So, my take on this: this wasn’t a solution to Jane’s problem with her mother. They’ve gotten angry before, but usually, they were willing to try to talk to one another. Not this time, and perhaps that’s because of Jane’s impending move. What if they were speaking from a place of fear? Of hurt? What if they were so afraid of the fact that they were about to finally live separately that they let it exacerbate their existing problems? Again, this doesn’t solve their problems, but at least Rogelio’s plan gets the two of them talking to one another again. It’s a step in the right direction.

Dada

And I see two steps in the right direction, one for Michael and one for Rafael, and yet… I’m worried. Y’all, how do both of these guys get more time with Mateo? Rafael isn’t out of line for asking for an extra day with his son, especially since Jane still gets him the majority of time during the week. And it makes sense after Mateo finally speaks and calls Michael “Dada” that Rafael would want to make sure he was around more. But how does this work if Michael wants to be more heavily involved in parenting Mateo, too? And isn’t that going to make matters more complicated with Rafael? I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER HERE, FOR THE RECORD. But it’s clear that at least for the moment, they’re all going to try. 

Professor Donaldson

So, let’s talk about writing some more! I sympathized with Jane here because there’s a challenge she has to face that is not all that fair to her. I have an issue with Professor Donaldson because I wonder if she cares if Jane’s book is good for its genre—one she outright hates—or if it’s just good enough for her. And there’s a HUGE difference between the two! To write a story to please one person is… oh, I don’t recommend it, especially not in this context. It’s different for like… okay, I’m sure some of you have done this, but writing fic to delight a friend is a wonderful thing! But this isn’t a matter of joy. Donaldson fundamentally seems to only be interested in romance if it challenges the genre, which… okay. Is she the same with all other genres and age groups? Probably not, I’m guessing!

But there’s no way around this. If Donaldson didn’t like Jane’s manuscript, then she wouldn’t be invited back to the program. That’s not a wonderful environment to be in creatively! However, I think back to how Professor Chavez pushed Jane in a way that made her writing stronger. And does Donaldson do that? Yeah, she does! Not in the best way, I’d argue, and I’m not even sure she wants Jane to be an author??? She seems to hate every single part of Jane’s life!!! But guess what Jane discovered? She could write a romance novel that still falls within the genre but gives the story an anchor outside of just the romance. And I like that! I like that it doesn’t fundamentally change the story Jane wanted to tell, but merely pushes her in a new creative direction. 

I say this all having been through a similar experience for an editor on a project that I did not vibe with. Which is an understatement, but the point I’m getting to is that it became apparent through edits that this editor didn’t want me to write the best version of the story, but one that they wanted. They kept pushing me into directions that actually made it a completely different story!!!! It was so frustrating! It also didn’t help that they did not like young adult fiction. THEN WHY ARE YOU FUCKING EDITING—nevermind. Because look, I still tried to learn. I still tried to see things from their point of view, and while I stuck to the story I wanted to tell, I got to do so in a way that made it better. Professional writing is often a partnership, since that work is filtered through an editor. So I think that ultimately, Jane will learn from this. She’ll learn how to be flexible; she’ll learn how to be loyal to her creativity; she’ll learn to be a stronger writer because of it. 

And I think by the end of the show, she’s going to have a novel out in the world.

The video for “Chapter Forty” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
– Not only that, but my very first pre-order campaign is now live for North American readers! If you submit proof of pre-order, you can get a limited edition print that comes with the book.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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