In the ninth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, Michael and Jane deal with stress; Rogelio and Darci hit a rough patch; and Petra plots to keep herself safe. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extended discussion of anxiety, PTSD/trauma.
WHEW, THIS EPISODE WAS TOO CLOSE TO HOME. This is perhaps one of the most detailed representations of my own anxiety spirals I’ve ever seen on television, so there’s a part of me that’s relieved that I can just point to this episode if I ever meet someone who doesn’t understand them. This! This is what they’re like! I absolutely have a brain that jumps to the worst, most unlikely scenario at any given moment. I convince myself that it’s gonna happen, and then I become obsessed with doing anything to redirect the path of my life to a different end. It’s… exhausting. Like, if you watched Michael and Jane fight and get more and more stressed, and it all made you feel tired, IMAGINE HOW IT FEELS TO EXPERIENCE IT. It’s truly the quickest way for me to deplete ALL the energy in my body y’all.
But “Chapter Fifty-Three” isn’t solely about stress when it came to Michael and Jane. There’s another level to it, which is that the two of them have to learn how to deal with stress as a couple. I will admit that it seems incredibly ludicrous that someone is going to study for and take the LSAT in just a month, as I remember my friends taking much, much longer than that. I suppose that’s the point, though. Michael may have been stressed if this had been stretched out to a more normal timeline, but he is peak stressed because of the accelerated timeline. So what happens between this couple when both of them are overwhelmed? Jane’s in crunch time because her novel thesis is due within a couple days. (Again, this is hitting too close to home, because I’m currently on one of the most hellish deadlines of my life. As of the day I’m writing this review, I have thirteen days left to edit an entire novel. AND MOVE AN APARTMENT. I have become Jane and Michael combined HELP.) The challenge here is that generally speaking, only one of the two of them had been overwhelmed at a time. So, the other partner picked up the slack.
Welcome to relationships! I can’t say I was necessarily super good at this, as I tend to ignore my own needs and desires to help another person. (I’m working on this in therapy!) But it is a very real things that most couples eventually have to deal with. In this case, Michael and Jane gloriously fail at it, and LORD, this got stressful to watch? SO STRESSFUL. Because I could see how badly each of them needed relaxation. They needed support. They needed to step back from the constant onslaught that was making them even more anxious by the day. So as silly as it seemed at the time, Michael’s idea to pull off the highway and CAMP ended up being the best thing here. They got to unplug! They got to be in a space that had little to do with their current predicaments. And while it’s not explicitly said onscreen, it actually felt a lot like the techniques my therapist recommends. Even right now, as I juggle a complicated edit with a move, she is reminding me to take time to do shit that has nothing to do with either of those things. I stress about time in particular and not having enough of it, but if I don’t take substantive breaks and refill myself, then I end up being less productive thanks to anxiety. So look: they did it. And that scene in the tent was so sweet, y’all, so I hope it provides them with the guidance they need to deal with this when it happens again.
That word is so… cursed. I just had to type it again.
I wasn’t surprised that Rogelio’s confession made matters worse with Darci. She’s a pragmatic, practical character, and much of “Chapter Fifty-Two” supports thats. Her dating rules are incredibly practical for the most part! And it’s those rules that she uses to push Rogelio away for most of the episode. Why?
I literally wrote about this in the beginning of the previous season. (And even used the phrase “clean slate,” too!) Y’all, I absolutely loved how Rogelio addressed the concept of emotional baggage. IT WAS SO DAMN REFRESHING! Because it’s true that it is impossible to date a person and expect them to be a clean slate. It’s a state that doesn’t ever exist again because… well, that’s not how the world works. Rather than discuss her discomfort with how close Rogelio and Xo are, Darci just assumed the worst. But it’s important to note that even though this was the case, we still got a glimpse of the reason why that assumption happened. For all that Darci wanted a man without baggage, she had ignored her own baggage. I’m guessing that Rogelio was right, that an ex in Darci’s past went back to his ex, and thus, she’s got an anxiety that this will happen again. So I’m glad that these two found a way to at least forge ahead. I don’t know that they’ll last, and I don’t know if they’ll actually have a child together either. But this is a start, right? An actual date! Well, a second one, I should say.
Just briefly, as I’ve made this point multiple times before: GODS, THIS SHOW DOES WRITING SO WELL. Until my middle grade book, which I completed this year, I don’t think I had ever finished a manuscript and not immediately wanted to tear it apart. The most deeply relatable aspect of that in this episode is that shot of Jane standing in front of like forty index cards, evidence that she’d torn the structure of her novel to shreds and now couldn’t put it back together. HI, THIS IS A LOT. I use index cards in the Scrivener app these days, but I actually want to set up a giant pinboard in my new place to be able to plot this way.
Look, storytelling is fucking hard. Especially in the novel form! So I appreciate that the writers are showing that struggle in Jane. One of the hardest things to do with a book is to let it go. It involves humility. It involves acceptance. You have to accept that you did the best that you could. And more than anything, a book can’t get published if you don’t let it go, you know? So I try to see the optimism in that act. Letting a book go means you believe in the process.
AND ALSO, REAL QUICK: Alba accepting the manuscript? And saying all that drama would be worth it if Jane’s book was what came out at the end? MY HEART.
So, my take on all this: I think Catalina would not have done what she did in this episode if Jane hadn’t loudly called her a liar during yoga. I honestly believe that cut Catalina so deep that initially, she reacted defensively. Notice that after yoga, she went to Petra to tell her she was in on the plan to keep Rafael out of the hotel for a day. It was a petty, spiteful thing. Yet as she spent time with Rafael and he opened up to her, you could see the guilt forming on her face.
Thus, she told Rafael the truth. First, it was a truth: that she can’t have children. It was, perhaps, the most vulnerable moment we’d ever seen from her character. There was no ulterior motive on display. She was just being real with someone who liked and respected her. From there, more truths came to light, and that’s how the whole Petra thing (which I’ll get to) was set into motion. Part of reckoning with the truth comes with accepting the consequences of your actions, too, so I appreciated that despite that Catalina did what was right, Rafael still got to say that he didn’t want her around. It makes sense! He doesn’t need to be around people he doesn’t trust fully, especially RIGHT NOW, as his world is falling apart. Is this the last we’ve seen of Catalina? Maybe. I suspect not. But if this is it, I like where it ended.
Well, I’m heartbroken. I know I spoke in the past about feeling strange towards Petra’s arc after she was finally freed from her paralysis. So, while it hurt so much to admit the truth to Rafael, I appreciate that the writers gave her a moment to spell it out: Petra went though something deeply, deeply traumatic, and it shaped her perspective. So much so that she now relies on surveillance footage to navigate the world. Why? Well, let’s call back to a conversation early in the episode, in which Jane is talking to Alba about her book (but not talking about it). She remarks on the ability to tell the difference between fiction and reality. I now see that as a slight hint to Petra’s eventual release. Because that’s what she’s dealing with! What is reality after someone so completely took over her life? Will people see her as Petra or as Anezka? What can she trust?
It’s a twist that allows the audience not just sympathy, but empathy towards Petra. We get to see things from her perspective, and ideally, we begin to understand why she did what she did here. In particular, it was that revelation about her kids that gutted me the most. We all saw how hard it was for her dealing with postpartum, and just as she finally began to bond with her kids, they were taken from her. In time, I hope they go back to how they were, but… gods. It isn’t the same anymore!
Petra is clinging to certainty and stability because she doesn’t have those things after what Anezka did. It’s why she finds comfort in the video feeds; it’s why she shredded the addendum to Rafael’s will. Those things gave her agency. They gave her control. I hope, then, that she finds a way to deal with her own PTSD and trauma in therapy.
In the meantime: OH NO, SCOTT, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? Because there’s no way this doesn’t come back up, and I bet it will soon. I’M WORRIED. He has the addendum now!!! THIS IS BAD!!!
The video for “Chapter Fifty-Three” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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