In the first episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, this was one of the most tense things imaginable. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent, sexual assault, anxiety, death, grief, police brutality/misconduct.
Okay, as is now the norm, I’m folding predictions into the reviews for season premieres! No need to an extra post and a further delay in the schedule. As a reminder, please be cautious of commenting on these predictions without using rot13 so that you don’t spoil me or anyone else watching for the first time.
Let’s go over what I predicted for season two!
1) I think Mateo will not be reunited with Jane until the end of the second episode. Okay, not true at all. End of episode 1!
2) We’ll find out Nadine helped tip off Sin Rostro, and that’s why Mateo was kidnapped. HEY, LOOK, I GOT A THING RIGHT.
3) Jane will not get back with Rafael. Immediately followed by one thing wrong.
4) Rafael and Petra will attempt a relationship this season. Actually, two in a row, since they never ACTUALLY attempted a relationship.
5) It will not last to the end of season two. Which makes this one wrong, too.
6) Most of the season will deal with Jane juggling school AND raising her kid. Hey, this was pretty spot-on! There was CLEARLY other stuff going on, but this did comprise a lot of the season.
7) Rogelio and Xiomara will get back together. HUZZAH
8) And break up again at least once this season. WISH I WAS WRONG ABOUT THIS ONE.
9) Michael and Jane will try to date again. THIS IS TRUE!
10) It won’t work out, though SAD FACE OH MY GOD. I truly didn’t expect this.
11) Alba and Richard will try dating, but that ALSO won’t work out. Technically wrong, since they never tried dating. They couldn’t even last as friends. 🙁
12) The Passions of Santos will come to an end. Hey! Got this right.
13) We will see Rogelio’s mom again. (PLEASE.) YES. WE DID. MANY TIMES. MANY MORE, PLEASE.
14) Jane will get a story published. She did!!!
15) Petra will ultimately not use Rafael’s sperm that she stole. Well. I tried.
16) Xiomara and Rogelio will not tell anyone about their drunken marriage until episode five. I am surprised that they told everyone so soon! It made for a much better story arc, though.
17) Sin Rostro will be played by a new actress! (I don’t think they’re going to do prosthetics or anything. Can we all just look at this and just… wow. Wow, I was technically 100% right, but not in intention. I just assumed… fuck. FUCK I WAS RIGHT AND I STILL DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING.
18) I keep trying to think of more things to predict, but then I flash back to how ridiculously fast season one moved, and I know—deeply and truly in my heart—that trying to guess what will happen this season is a fool’s errand. mood FOREVER.
So! With that said, it’s time for me to try to predict season 3. Please note that I wrote all of these before I started watching 3×01, and I was terrified writing them all. Here we go:
1) Michael survives the shooting.
2) Luisa is kidnapped by Sin Rostro/Rose.
3) We’ll find out that Mutter was instrumental in all this happening, too, and she allowed herself to get arrested as part of some bigger plan.
4) Rafael will not figure out that Anezka is masquerading as Petra until episode four.
5) I think Anezka will also go to prison with her mother because of what she did.
6) Magda’s sentence will be extended.
7) After Michael recovers, Jane and Michael will finally have sex!
8) Rafael will begin to date someone else other than Petra or Jane in this season.
9) He will finally be “over” Jane by the end of the season.
10) I think Xiomara is going to get an abortion.
11) Rose will ACTUALLY die this season.
12) So will Mutter.
13) Rafael and Jane’s custody situation with Mateo will change drastically this season at some point.
14) Donaldson will warm up to Jane over the course of season 3.
15) Jane will finish her new novel by the end of the season!
16) Jane and Michael will finally go on their honeymoon by the end of the season.
17) This is wishful thinking, but Rogelio and Xiomara will get back together by the end of the season.
18) Rafael will find Derek.
19) Derek will get arrested for what he tried to do to Rafael.
20) Petra will fall in love with someone other than Rafael by the end of the season.
All right, with all that said: I am not sure ANY of these are right, but here goes. ONWARDS TO SEASON 3.
In many ways, this was a phenomenally difficult episode to watch. Even if I didn’t have personal things affecting my experience, this would have been hard. I’m sure the writers knew that, though, as this was constructed with great care and empathy for an experience that would be harrowing for anyone. There’s the brilliance of the framing device, first of all, both in terms of how beautiful this story was, but also as a means of of building tension. I wanna talk about that first before I get into the heavier stuff. Obviously, we were left on a cliffhanger last season, so for those who watched this in real time, this was clearly a telenovela move. Many plot threads in season two came to their end, but we were left wondering if that meant a character would come to their end, too. And the tragedy of it all was undeniable, particularly the timing: Jane had been a wife for less than half a day before Rose shot Michael.
The unknown element was suspenseful, but the framing device must be analyzed as part of that. As a child, Jane wanted to know the endings of books so she wouldn’t be disappointed by them after she had an experience being disappointed by a romance novel. (For what it’s worth: I LOVED THE WHOLE CONVERSATION ABOUT GENRE EXPECTATIONS!!! And why HEA are part of the expectation! And the mention of RWA!!! All of that was incredible.) The show uses this to talk about fantasy versus reality. (A recurring exploration, I should note.) Because in life, you can’t see the ending. There’s nothing but… the wait. And as someone long plagued with anxiety, THIS IS THE WORST PART OF IT. Thus, we have a narrative that bounces back and forth between what is known and what isn’t. Within the flashbacks, we, the audience, experiences less anxiety because we know that Jane will eventually end up with Michael. So when Michael and Jane almost immediately fall into conflict after their fateful encounter on Jane’s 21st birthday, we know everything will eventually end up fine. Right? Sam won’t matter in the end, since Jane ends up with Michael.
Well, I didn’t want to let this go by without saying something, but I did want to point out how gross Michael’s behavior was here? It’s frustrating because while Jane does call him “stalker-ish” multiple times, I don’t even think that’s the sole reason why him pulling over Sam was awful. It’s the whole using his institutional and legal power for a petty, personal issue. That is… extremely gross! But it’s supposed to be ultimately seen as something romantic? Ugh, could Michael just not be a cop anymore? This stuff SUCKS, and I hate seeing it romanticized all the time.
ANYWAY. The point I’m building to is that stories can be comforting if they can be controlled. We could visit Jane’s past, knowing where she was going to end up. There’s less tension. But in all the hospital scenes, the tension is unbearable. I just didn’t know. There seemed to be a real possibility that Michael could die. Interspersed with that is the nightmare plot between Anezka and Petra, one which we find out is linked to the fate of Michael, too. SO YES, ALL OF THIS IS VERY UNBEARABLE.
That’s in terms of the structure of this plot, though. It’s designed to heighten the stakes and to dangle the unknown in front of us. On a purely emotional level, though, the writers take us through a complicated experience that hit deeply close to home for me. There were numerous moments where I recognized something I went through or saw in Jane’s story. I know what it’s like to have to deal with people lashing out in fear and grief and not knowing how to call them in without harming them. (Shit, I can’t even admit to y’all that I know how to do that even after the fact. It’s a terribly complicated thing to have to deal with.) I know what it’s like when you make yourself the person who is the glue that holds other people together and how painful that can be. There are a lot of heartbreaking moments in this episode, but that scene where Jane goes to another floor just to cry? Stunning. Gut-wrenching. She’s a fixer, and we’ve seen repeatedly over this show how often Jane will try her best to repair matters between other people, even if it is at her own expense. (My therapist would probably cackle at this if she read it. I DEFINITELY DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS AT ALL.)
But there are smaller moments, too. Like that overwhelming wave that hit Jane when she first looked upon Michael in his hospital room. No one prepares you for seeing someone you love in a position like that. Hell, there’s nothing you can do to prepare for it. It’s an image that can tear you apart. For me, it’s the vulnerability. In that state, you are immediately reminded of just how mortal humans are, and it’s painful. Up to that point, Michael’s condition was an idea. It was something Jane made a list about. It was something Michael’s mother picked fights over. It was words. It was a concept.
And then, standing before him, hooked to an oxygen machine… it’s not an idea anymore, is it?
It wasn’t hard for my mind to go to a very specific place, especially once Jane started telling Michael about the future she wanted with him. Guess who did something like that in the last year? From a technical standpoint, I’m glad many of those sequences were short because I tend not to like aging make-up (it never looks natural). But it was also just… crushing. It’s hard to plan a life with someone for so long and then have to start accepting that this isn’t the life you’re going to have. At least in Jane’s case, she was living out those future moments as a way of clinging to hope. Had she made the right choice? Would Michael make it out the other side, alive and well? She didn’t know, and again, that’s why this episode was just so damn intense. But it hit me hard because I’ve unfortunately experienced the darker endgame: What happens when you lose a person you planned your whole life with?
That’s part of the reason Jane’s future glimpses made me cry, even if her story went in a different direction. But it’s also why this episode felt so thoughtful in its portrayal of her terror and grief. Because she was grieving the loss of Michael in some way, even though he wasn’t gone yet. Michael’s mom was doing the same, though it manifested differently for her. That’s something a therapist told me long ago: grief can still happen outside of death, and we don’t appreciate and accept that as much as we should.
The bulk of “Chapter Forty-Five” deals with this story, which isn’t a complaint about the focus of the script. I think the right amount of time was given to the various plots unfolding here, and the bulk of this had to be about Michael. There was enough dedicated to the (disturbing) actions of Anezka, who is prevented from administering the paralytic that keeps Petra under her control. And for a while, I wondered what Anezka’s take was on it. Was she doing this merely because she was told? Because she wanted the validation and attention from her mother? By the time Rafael rejects her, though, my thoughts on Anezka changed a bit. I don’t want to rule out that she is being manipulated, but it’s also clear to me that she is aware of how fucked up this is, and she’s doing it for selfish means. I don’t know what the endgame is, but lord… this is bad. I FEEL ETERNALLY BAD FOR PETRA. Can she catch a break??? Please????
The only other major thing I wanted to talk about was the casual admission from Xiomara that she wasn’t going to go through with her pregnancy. The show could have made it a huge, dramatic thing (and they still might), but instead, she told Rogelio the truth in a quiet, vulnerable conversation. I think the casual nature of this helps to de-stigmatize a choice to terminate a pregnancy. Xiomara does not fit the stereotypical stories we often see attached to abortion, and I appreciate that. She’s older, she knows what she wants, and she’s allowed to choose that without shame. I appreciated that.
Anyway: This episode was a RIDE. I still don’t know what Rose is doing with Luisa, but at least everyone knows now that Rose is still alive and Susanna never really existed. THIS IS ALL A MESS AGAIN.
The video for “Chapter Forty-Five” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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