In the eighth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, what do I even SAY about this??? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, consent, gaslighting
THIS WAS A LOT.
I’ve made this comment before, but because of the nature of Jane the Virgin, I am prone to being suspicious about any new character on the show. What if they have a secret??? What if there’s an ulterior motive??? What if the writers are toying with a telenovela trope??? I AM TRYING TO PREPARE MYSELF. So it doesn’t help that Catalina behaves suspiciously, but within this perfect sense of plausible deniability. Like… technically, she might be telling the truth here! Arnaud could be her soon-to-be-ex-husband, who she once married in an impulsive night out. The money and jewels? For the Venezuelan family back home, mixed in with some gifts from Arnaud. And maybe she did just give Arnaud a friendly kiss, and they really are breaking up!
I am watching Jane the Virgin, and rarely are things with secondary and tertiary characters this straightforward. But I still don’t get what possible endgame she could have! Why even pursue Rafael? I suppose it’s possible that there is no ulterior motive with Rafael, that maybe she genuinely enjoys him and is pursuing that passion. BUT I AM STILL KEEPING MY EYES ON CATALINA. Like… what about her family back home? Why doesn’t she seem to talk about them or repairing things with Alba anymore? What’s actually happening here?
Well, in a way, I got my wish. If Michael truly doesn’t go back to the force, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, as I’ve not been very thrilled that there was so much of a police presence on this show. But who is Michael if he’s not a cop? What else is he good at? What excites him? “Chapter Fifty-Two” explores only one of those possible threads in detail. We’ve seen Michael’s corny but well-meaning humor before, and it’s part of what makes him a charming character. But as soon as he suggested being a stand-up comedian, I figured that this would be a disaster. He’s not that kind of funny! And watching him act out these bits that were largely ill-conceived (if well-executed) impressions was… oh god. IT WAS SO BAD. So bad!!!
At the same time, I knew that he had six months severance. I also knew that he had to fail. He really did! He needed to find out first-hand that this was not the career for him. This plot was so damn sweet because Jane is honestly giving him the space to find a new passion. I was reminded of Xo’s journey earlier this season, and it’s easy to see that when you give people the freedom to explore their options, they generally land somewhere better. Michael has the luxury of time, and he has the support of his family. Maybe being a lawyer isn’t in his cards, but at least he knows he can try it out.
I get that this is strange and uncomfortable. I really do! It’s so sudden and intensely practical? But the more I think about this, the more I want to disagree with something I said on video. It seemed so odd to me to approach parenthood with a contract like the one that Darci and Rogelio had. But you know what? Who cares? Why can’t the origins or formation of a family be different? I say that because of what Alba said to Xiomara in this very episode: Babies have come to the Villanueva family in far stranger means than a contractual agreement. So why can’t they do things different? Why is my assumption here so negative?
Individually, Darci and Rogelio seem like they’ll be good parents. They definitely have some weird plans for their child—like all the planned photoshoots—but what I care about is whether or not they harm their child. And I can’t imagine that happening! So, again, who cares if this is how they form a family? It might make everyone uncomfortable, but that in and of itself is not enough of a reason to object to people getting together.
Which makes the end result of all of this so complicated. I am assuming that Darci does not have any feelings for Rogelio. Indeed, she doesn’t seem to want to ever pursue something romantic with him. I’m guessing that after spending so much time discovering how compatible she would be as a parent, Rogelio has realized she might also be compatible as a romantic interest. But… they can’t? That was the whole point of this arrangement? Darci seems to think that Rogelio should just get over these emotions, but lord, that’s easier said than done. So… what the hell now?
Well, now I feel like the absence of Bruce in the last episode was intentional! It works so well to have this be our introduction to the New Bruce, especially since there’s this dual storyline unfolding. We see most of this through Jane’s eyes, in the sense that we know there’s a painful history here involving Bruce, one Jane is loathe to revisit. Yet it isn’t until the introduction of Tess that we are forced to reckon with what this experience was like for Bruce’s daughter. His marriage fell apart because of the affair that he had with Xiomara. And it’s a fascinating glimpse at the full portrait. It was indeed easier to see things from Jane’s perspective, but once the show widened the lens, there was so much more here. And I loved that Tess and Jane didn’t have an instant connection either. That would have been easy. They could have bonded over their parents’ messiness. But that messiness was so different for Tess! To her, Xiomara was the woman who willingly took her father away from their family.
This required a readjustment from everyone. Tess sees Xo in a very specific context, as a homewrecker who ruined her family. When you compare that to Jane’s view of Bruce, it’s easy to see why this was so hard. Both daughters have a deeply complicated and often times hostile view of the each other’s parent. How would Jane have reacted if Tess had come to the Marbella to ask her to put aside her dislike of Bruce?
But she tries. She really does. Not just for her mother, but for Tess, who is young and has a very real reason to dislike Xiomara. It involved sacrifice and compromise, but Jane does it because… well, people can change. And I’d be remiss in not pointing out that Xiomara has changed sine the beginning of the show! She is pursuing this relationship with so much heart and maturity, and I AM JUST SO HAPPY WITH HER GROWTH. So, maybe it was time for Jane to do some growing on her own. Will this last? I don’t know. What little I saw of Bruce in this episode was genuine and charming. Mostly, I saw Xiomara’s joy. And that makes me feel better about pretty much anything.
Petra and Rafael
Wow. I’m… lord. This was a very painful thing to watch, and while I am sympathetic to what Rafael is going through—it’s deeply upsetting to know that his entire legacy might be ripped away from him because his father likely knew who he was—I still gotta feel the most for Petra. Because look, as shitty as much of this situation is, Rafael fucked up real bad here. In short, he gaslighted Petra. He tried to tell her that she was paranoid, that her recent traumatic incident was causing her to be too sensitive to the world around her. I was satisfied that even the narrator called that moment what it was: a low blow. Because even if he hadn’t been gaslighting her about what had happened, it still would have been a deeply inappropriate thing to say. Just callous and thoughtless and so harmful, y’all!
These two have such a complicated history. I recognize that. I know that they’ve both fucked one another over countless times. They’ve tried to get back together, they had a shaky but existing partnership and then… and then Anezka. Anezka did something deeply, deeply awful to her sister, and this episode does feel like a reckoning in some way. It finally feels like the show is having the characters grapple with the longterm ramifications of what happened. In part, it helped that Petra was able to vocalize to both Anezka and Rafael why this was all so upsetting to her. She’s traumatized! She can’t calm down, she is relentlessly paranoid, and she’ll have trust issues for ages, if not for the rest of her life. And then Rafael threw it all in her face in order to hide the fact that he was lying to her, that he had used Scott to manipulate her further! So, in many ways, Petra has gone back to the behaviors that kept her alive years earlier. She plots. She plans. She is prepared to do anything to protect herself, even if that means taking out Rafael in the process. Between the crimes he covered up and the addendum on his father’s will, I feel like everything is about to come crashing down.
I don’t want these two fighting, and truthfully, I’d like them both to escape the toxicity of their lives. I want Petra free of her mother; I want Raul free of the Solanos. But at what cost is that going to come?
The video for “Chapter Fifty-Two” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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