In the fifth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, this was… a whole lot. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent and sexual assault
I was reminded of a previous plot as the events of “Chapter Forty-Nine” unfolded. Earlier in the season, Xiomara had to come to a point where she had to accept that her and her mother would never agree on the issue of abortion. Xo had made a deeply personal decision not to have Esteban’s child, and there was no convincing of Alba that this was the right choice. But Xo made her peace: This was her decision to make, not Alba’s, and though they would never see this the same way, it was done. Over. Nothing would change it. So, they had to find a way to move on, and it involved agreeing to disagree.
Spiritually, even though the decision is fundamentally different in every way, I felt as if Jane came to a similar conclusion here regarding Alba’s family. Alba may not ever agree to letting Jane discover more about this family tree, and at the very least, Jane has to respect why this is such a sore spot for Alba. And even that is a journey because Jane doesn’t even know until late in this episode why Alba was so angry at Cecilia. She assumed it was only over the ruined wedding, when unfortunately, the pain was much, much deeper than that. Because of what Cecilia did, Alba chose to keep her entire family away from Jane and Xiomara, though not because she was trying to punish them. The episode was very clear on this, and I appreciated that. She wasn’t taking it out on her child and her grandchild. Rather, Cecilia took something from Alba: The love of her mother. Alba’s confession fucking hurt, y’all, because her mother DIED estranged from her. Why? Because Cecilia turned her against Alba. That’s… shit, y’all. I get it. Completely. I don’t think Alba was being irrational about this at all. Why would Alba want someone in her life who had caused such immense pain?
I also see this story from Jane’s perspective. Look, I long for the day when I can assemble a family tree on my biological father’s side. Right now, I can’t. All I have had in the last three years is a name, first and last. That’s it. Because he apparently fled back to Mexico after my conception—and even that might be hearsay—I have no way to access records, other members of the family… anything, really. Sometimes, I think people who are not adopted don’t realize how much not having this can be hurtful. I don’t know who my ancestors are. I don’t know where I come from. I don’t know anything in terms of familial medical patterns or history… I have nothing but a name and the promise from my biological mother that my twin and I are the spitting image of our father. That’s it.
I think even if Jane wasn’t pursuing this to help improve her novel, she would have approached this with just the same fervor. It’s her family. It’s her history. And this thing that’s been a mystery to her for so long is suddenly within reach. It’s why she ultimately tells Alba that this is important to her, that while she will keep Alba out of all matters of the family, she has to be able to pursue this for her own family. I worry, though, that this might be easier said than done, especially since one of Jane’s cousins just showed up at her house. But the intent is well-meaning, and I believe that’s going to be vital going forward. Jane has to respect that Alba doesn’t want to re-open old wounds here, especially if they’re not on her terms. Can she do that, though, with Catalina at her and Michael’s home?
Michael and Rafael’s Date
You know, as silly as this got at times—seriously, it’s not a date—I actually really liked this subplot. There is absolutely no reason for Michael and Rafael to enjoy one another’s company anymore, the least of which is the immensely complicated past they have with one another because of Jane. And while Jane was excited about the potential for Raf and Michael to bury the hatchet while going to the gym together, that wasn’t realistic. Because holy shit, all the insecurities came out in full display instead! It was painfully awkward, as well! Michael’s insecurities ballooned from discomfort to DRAMA after he unfairly passed a story on to Jane, not necessarily because he didn’t like what Rafael was doing, but because it unknowingly triggered him. And that’s where this subplot really got me: There was a direct exploration of why Michael felt so insecure in this specific instance. Look, I didn’t even notice the obvious here. I just assumed he felt like he couldn’t compare to Rafael, even though Rafael wasn’t interested in pursuing his wife. Except… Raf once pursued Jane when she was Michael’s fiancée. So of course, seeing Rafael hit on someone who seemed married would bring up all those fears again. Marriage (or the potential of it, that is) didn’t stop Rafael last time; why would it stop him again?
So they finally talk it out, though it takes the fourteen longest seconds of HELL for them to realize that their bickering and rage and insecurities have distracted them from what’s important. (Seriously, even I started panicking. This wouldn’t have been the first time that someone stole Mateo, you know?) For the sake of their continued interactions, they couldn’t keep up this feud any longer. They had to understand one another! Rafael had to get why Michael was so triggered by his behavior; Michael had to accept that Rafael truly isn’t going to try to take Jane again. Perhaps this is actually the start of a better relationship?
Y’all, that Michael Fassbender joke was GALAXY LEVEL funny. FUCK. You know, I don’t believe I’ve ever acknowledged this in the written reviews, but Rogelio’s lines about Hollywood are often the funniest ones on the show? Just BLESS the writers giving him this material. Anyway! This plot acted more as a set up to a future arc for Rogelio (and to affect Michael’s and Rafael’s plot) than to give us a story about Rogelio. Though I will say it’s nice to see Rogelio continue to pursue auditions, especially when they’re out of his comfort zone. Remember when he didn’t believe he should ever have to do them? Well, he’s adapting as he pursues his dream of becoming famous in America. I also loved that hilariously awkward scene where he asked his family permission to do a full frontal scene. (That line where he says that Jane can’t look away because it’s his only part? The delivery on that specific line KILLS ME.) I’m glad that he includes them in more and more of his decisions; it’s a fantastic way to demonstrate just how much he considers them his family.
So, what are the Telemasivo people going to ask of him? I’M SCARED.
The Last Dance
Oh, Xiomara. OH, THIS PLOT LINE. I wanted her to sing. She’s still probably going to do it, but I mean professionally. But holy shit, this plot—where Xiomara realizes that there is another thing in the world that she is exceptionally good at and loves doing—just gave me so much happiness. I understood initially why Xo wanted to move away from teaching dance. To her, it signified her old life. If she was going to move and pursue a new career, why let anything hold her back? It would be best if she could throw herself fully into whatever new venture came her way. But over the course of this show, we’ve seen how much Xo loves teaching dance to kids. So much so that there’s never been any doubt about it! She might have had scheduling errors or been stressed out or overworked at times. But she always loved it.
So why exactly is she giving it up?
I loved the musical number. I LOVED IT SO VERY MUCH. Yes, Jane the Virgin is utterly fantastic when it shows us the reality of a fantasy. But you know what? It’s also great when it unabashedly leans INTO that fantasy! Like the animated “sex” scene in “Chapter Forty-Seven,” or this over-the-top number that was deeply emotional. This was the perfect way to nudge Xiomara onto the right path… and it was one that had been there all along.
I don’t expect this to be easy, but I’m so thrilled to see what she does with this new motivation.
Petra is Back
Wow. Let me start off with that because… wow. What the fuck? None of this went how I thought it would. To the show’s credit, the more I think about Petra’s reaction to finally being able to reclaim her life, the more I’m certain it fits within her established characterization. At the same time, I did want to start off by saying I feel very weird about how some of the consent stuff is just glossed over. Because neither Rafael or Scott consented to sex with Anezka, but it’s mostly ignored? I could possibly see a reading of Petra’s whispered confession to Rafael being the closest thing to touch on it. Like, maybe she’s furious that he didn’t realize he wasn’t having sex with Petra? (If we include that as part of Petra being able to hear and see everything.) Still, it’s not really addressed, and that was my worry when the swap was first introduced to us. I understand that Anezka was coerced and threatened to act as she did, but that still doesn’t negate the sexual assault, you know?
There are some interesting things that happened here, though. I still don’t like Scott, but you know what? His conversation with Jane actually made him seem more like a person than just an antagonist. Again: still don’t like him. But that was a nice touch, one that reminded me of the entire episode addressing Cecilia and villainy. Scott can still be an antagonist, but he should also be written as a complicated human. And here we are with a lot more understanding of why he is the way he is, you know?
STILL DON’T LIKE HIM AND HIS VESTS.
But I want to end this entirely focusing on Petra, who immediately lies about her identity, not so much to protect Anezka but to ensure that future deals are not ruined. Even just minutes into being free from this nightmare, she starts planning. How can she get her power back? How can she make sure that this never happens again? I think that’s part of the reason why she gives up on being nice. What if she now sees that as a weakness, that her kindness is what got her into this situation in the first place? Thus, she has to act to prevent if from re-occurring. I mean… that’s why she gives Anezka that horrifying tattoo ON HER FOREHEAD. It’s absolutely overkill, but to Petra, she can’t risk ever being violated like this again. So why not go for one of the most visible parts of Anezka’s body?
I don’t know what the future of her character looks like, at least while Anezka and Magda are still in her life. At the very least, I imagine there’s an imminent confrontation, especially once Magda figures out that she can’t manipulate her daughters anymore. But will Petra reclaim everything that was taken and more? What about Jane’s attempts to be her friend? Will she shun those, too? I don’t know. I’m interested to see, and I hope the show continues to offer Petra some empathy going forward, because this was a remarkably fucked up, traumatic experience for her. One of many at the hands of her mother, by the way. UGH I JUST WANT MAGDA GONE.
The video for “Chapter Forty-Nine” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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