In the seventh episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, Jane and Rafael each inch closer to the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, abuse.
Well, this whole show just became something new, didn’t it? IT REALLY CHANGED EVERYTHING.
God, I LOVE THE FRAMING DEVICE IN THIS EPISODE. By now, if you’ve been reading Mark Does Stuff for a while, you know that I love suspense, thrillers, and horror. I think there’s something particularly incredible about storytelling that can evoke feelings of terror, anxiety, and tension. Because look, it’s not actually that easy, and I say that now that I’ve been on the other side of it. Granted, it’s a subjective arena, as things that I find scary or frightening differ from other people. But I enjoyed that the show dug into Hitchcock’s rules of building suspense (while also making a number of references to his canon), giving us an example of how certain structures tend to work better than others. In particular, I can’t stop thinking of the envelope and how it STILL worked on me, despite that the show got all meta about its inclusion.
Because when it is initially introduced, there’s no meaning behind it aside from what the Narrator tells us. It’ll change everything, right? But there’s no weight to that. It’s just an envelope, and we don’t even know whose life it will change. And yet, as the episode unfolded, weight was gradually added to it. The audience knew something the protagonists did not. And by the time Mother Constantine handed over the very thing we were warned about, it now had context. It had meaning. Rafael learns what it says, and then WE DON’T. He makes drastic, life-changing decisions because of it, and suddenly, this one item in the plot is the most important thing on the screen.
And what a reveal, too. I’ll discuss that in detail later, but it fulfilled the promise. It just needed to change everything we understood about this show, and fuck. Y’all. IT DID. That’s good writing! The script fulfilled what it set out to do. But it was also clear that the writers had a field day writing such a fun story. Tense and mind-blowing and hilarious? Bravo, y’all.
You know, I love that Alba drops all this abuela guilt about Jane’s lapsed churchgoing, and then she basically doesn’t appear in the episode again? That’s… that’s such a abuela thing to do, y’all. LMAO. IT REALLY IS. A Catholic guilt trip and then just bounces? Wow, what a MOVE.
Anyway, I found this whole examination of belief, piety, and familial conflict to be deeply thoughtful. I’m glad that the show is still willing to explore the fact that religion is important to Jane. At the same time, it also addresses a very real issue that people deal with: What if your partner doesn’t share the same religious belief as you? How much does that matter? How much does it make a partnership incompatible? (And not just in a romantic sense, either.) I speak from experience here, as two of my romantic partners had very, very different religious views than I do. And you have to talk it out! At the very least, Jane and Michael were both Catholic, but Rafael—for reasons this episode uncovers—has very negative feelings about attending church. He even tells Jane he doesn’t want his son growing up super religious, but… well, what does that mean? To him, it’s attending church every Sunday. Just that act alone puts a person deeper into their faith, crossing a line that is uncomfortable for Rafael when it comes to raising his kid. But if you asked what “super religious” meant to Jane, I am certain the answer would be much, much different.
So, it’s relative to each of them, making this situation ever more complicated to deal with. Then there’s logistical problem: Is Mateo too young to actually be in church? Will he sit still? Will he acclimate to the environment? Personally, I would probably fall closer to Rafael’s side of things, as I was not given a choice about what religion I was raised in, nor was I encouraged to explore what religious belief was best for me. Granted, my situation is literally nothing like what we see here. Christianity was forced upon me, and often, it was a vehicle for abuse and trauma. Jane just wants to raise her son within an environment that is important to her! So I liked where this ended up because it still respected that. She’s still going to raise Mateo within the Church, but for the time being, she’s got to focus on her own relationship with God, rather than worry about Mateo’s. UGH, THAT SCENE WITH THE NUN WHERE JANE BREAKS DOWN OVER HER ANGER AT GOD. That was so good! Revealing and raw and so damn important! It helped place Jane’s absence from church within a specific context, one that she can now focus on in the future. But will recent events—like Michael not being cleared to go back on duty—affect this journey of hers? Will she struggle with her belief in God when these things keep happening to her and her loved ones?
Babies and Bruce
Oh, I just… hurt? Still? And probably will continue to for a time? These two are DESTROYING ME. One odd thing here: We still have no idea what Bruce is like! In that sense, we’re most like Rogelio and Jane, who only have heard about how Bruce has changed. He isn’t onscreen even once in this episode. So what is it that Xiomara sees in him? What attracts her to him? What keeps her going back? I don’t know. And maybe this was the point: If the show kept this out of sight, we would have to trust Xiomara’s words and nothing else. We have to believe that she’s making a decision that leads to her own happiness, even if it’s difficult for us to understand why.
Rogelio, on the other hand, is shown with a lot of potential romantic partners, as he’s now hit the ground running on having a child. It seemed like such a drastic thing, right? Like, he had to start immediately? I worried that this was mostly a reaction to catching Bruce and Xo together. And while that still might be the case, it’s obvious that Rogelio feels like he’s running out of time. He wants the experience of raising a kid from birth, instead of what happened between him and Jane. So, in Rogelio’s logic, the speed dating sessions with Darci Factor do make a lot of sense. Why waste time? Why not find someone as soon as possible to start a family with?
What fascinates me about the resolution to this is how the show moves Rogelio away from a potential romantic relationship and more towards a pragmatic one. Why does Rogelio need to be in love with the person he has a child with? It’s why Darci’s proposal—as sudden as it is—also makes a lot of sense. Both of them want children and understand the other person. What if they just have a kid together and split time parenting their child? I worry that the execution of this kind of relationship is a lot harder than the fantasy, but Rogelio seems ready to start this as soon as he can. So… shit. Is this truly happening??? It’s hard to wrap my mind around the concept! And how is Xo going to feel about this if Rogelio actually goes through with this?
HEY COULD THIS ONGOING PLOT NOT HURT ME ANYMORE.
I really loved how the show used physical location and sounds to help demonstrate the way memories can be triggered. Because even if this wasn’t necessarily about trauma—though I suspect it is, given how upset Rafael was in his memories—it was still such a visceral representation of it. Having a memory float back to the surface like this, especially if it is laced with pain, can truly stop you in your tracks. As Rafael process these moments he went through as a child, I felt an immense empathy for him. It’s not easy to deal with these sort of things rushing back into your head! On top of it all, these memories are linked to the terrible mystery of his mother, and y’all, I WASN’T FUCKING READY. I wasn’t. TRULY. Because Elena ISN’T ACTUALLY RAFAEL’S MOTHER. Well, biological! She did raise him for a period of time, and there’s a distinction there. But as someone who is adopted, I did like that the show, even with so little time, is already making it clear how identity-shifting this is. I was lucky enough to know from a very early age that I was adopted. I mean… it was obvious. I looked nothing like my parents, so it wasn’t like they could have hidden it from me. Still, when so much of the world and their familial arrangements exist one way and you deviate from that, it’s hard. It’s always going to be a source of conflict for me, even if I’ve now found peace and love in found family.
In Rafael’s case, though, there’s something haunting here. So much of his character arc on the show was him trying to break free of his parents’ toxic patterns. He didn’t want to be his dad and let finances rule his life. He finally reunited with his mother, only to find out she was an international crime lord. The Solano “curse” hounded him, and now, here’s his vindication: He isn’t a Solano. He might be by adoption, but that’s why he chooses to come clean. He wants to wash himself free of everything he was burdened with. Whew, WHAT IS LUISA GOING TO THINK OF THIS. (And where is she?)
The Truth About Catalina
Okay, so I think it’s clear that there’s an element of Catalina that’s inherently trustworthy. We now have proof that she lied to Jane about the bag of jewels or money. Was that older man like… a sugar daddy? That she stole from? So maybe she’s actually on the run? The thing is… I don’t know how that affects Jane. Or anyone aside from Rafael, who’s got his own shit going on. So where is this going? It’s possible that she’s hiding a huge part of her life, but my concern is if she’s manipulating these characters. I can’t see how yet, but I AM SUSPICIOUS.
The video for “Chapter Fifty-One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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