In the eleventh episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, everything hurts in a whole new way. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extensive discussion of death and grief
They say time heals all wounds, right? Earlier this year, I hated hearing that. I don’t so much anymore, and it’s why I think that the show’s incredibly bold decision to jump ahead by so many years is brilliant. Because it would have been easy to move that far into the future and have everyone be “fine.” Instead, Jane the Virgin shows that grief is long-lasting. It is not a straight path, but can be circular. But it also changes. There is only one scene in this entire episode that is post-Michael’s death. We can contrast that with seeing Jane grieve in the present day. Her grief isn’t gone, but it has changed. It looks differently! Small things can remind her of Michael, or big things can. And it’s that big thing that felt dangerously close to home for me!
Look, I haven’t talked about it at all, but there’s a huge part of my next book that’s about Baize. I even address it in the acknowledgments, and I have quite literally discussed my own fears and anxieties about putting someone I loved in a book, and then having to put that book out in the world when they’re not in it anymore. It’s weird. It’s scary. I don’t mind being personal when it comes to fiction—hell, look at the last ELEVEN YEARS of Mark Does Stuff for evidence of that—but this is new. I don’t have experience with that.
So this was comforting in a way. Maybe it was the universe telling me that this is going to hurt, that it’s going to be uncomfortable, but I can do it. I just have to try.
Anyway, I’ll talk more about Jane and grief at the end of the review, but I wanted to open with a direct engagement with this time jump. There’s so very much to adjust to now, but I think I’m already on board. Let’s do this.
Petra and the Marbella
I loved how explicit this was in the script: Petra has finally achieved something that is hers. This is literally what she’s been striving for this whole time!!! She didn’t have to manipulate her way into the Marbella; there were no strange marriages; no blackmailing. Just hard work and vision and determination! It’s an interesting choice for the show because it’s risky to give a character the one thing they’ve wanted before the show is even over. That being said, I didn’t feel like Petra’s characterization was deflated. If anything, it adds a new complication to her ongoing arc, and there’s still so much potential for her to grow in different ways. As a mother, Petra has clearly grown deeply, deeply close to her daughters, and they turned out to be angels??? They’re so kind and understanding??? I love that Petra raised them this way, y’all!!! I feel like that says a lot about her parenting style, but also that she like… deliberately did this so they wouldn’t be like her. Not that Petra’s personality is bad by any means, but we know that she doesn’t really see much value in kindness on a personal level.
I think we can also see growth in how she deals with Chuck, the owner of the adjacent property who runs a hotel WHERE CHILDREN AREN’T ALLOWED. Like, at all. Wow, Chuck really hates kids!!! Completely! And so there’s an element of tension introduced in this new chapter of Petra’s life. She’s got to deal with a complicated issue professionally—requiring an easement from Chuck so her hotel can operate legally—and personally. Because she’s also regularly hooking up with Chuck. It’s an odd arrangement, and I admit that I don’t think I’ve had hate sex anything like this. How do people do that??? Anyway, not the point! But I was so impressed with how she stood up for herself, how she sought a compromise first before firing on all cylinders, and how most of this was done by herself. Plus, when it came down to it, she was willing to put aside her relationship with Chuck in order to make this shit happen. Now, I am interested in whether he’s going to play a bigger part in the show, but for now? I’m proud of Petra. She seems to have finally escaped the main sources of toxicity in her life.
The De La Vega Factor
And meanwhile, Rogelio has ran headfirst into them. Wow, this was… a lot. A LOT. I do love some of the jokes that the show made about reality television, namely that much of it is fake or scripted. Was this the best choice for Rogelio to make? Career-wise, perhaps, and maybe with an additional (and final) season, Rogelio can have the crossover into the American market that he’s desired for so long.
But my gods, at what cost? Well, we find out a couple of them. One: Darci and Rogelio are not at all on good terms, and the reasoning is… complicated! And actually understandable. When it came down to it, Rogelio wasn’t ready to have a child with Darci and to be tied to her in that way. So yeah, I get why Darci is pissed. I get why this relationship—whatever it was—has disintegrated. And I also get why these two people have been keeping up appearances for a TV show. It’s allowing them to get what they want in other ways, and maybe it will be worth it in the end.
However, the other ramification of the reality show was so much more painful and certainly more important to resolve. Yeah, Rogelio let Xiomara be portrayed, through editing, as the hateful ex, and it was so bad that random people on the street were harassing and assaulting her. REGULARLY. And just like that, an entire relationship was tarnished! All because Rogelio sought fame and notoriety and popularity. In this situation, it was definitely Rogelio who needed to prove himself and repair the damage done.
I think he did what Xiomara needed: to show that he valued her, not fame. And we all know just how long he’s wanted an American remake of his big telenovela, so to turn that down on top of another season of his reality show was huge. Again, it was the demonstration that Xiomara needed for him to make amends. It makes her decision to endure another season of The De La Vega Factor Factor all the more meaningful. Both of them are finally on the same page together!
Well, sort of. Because there’s a very brief moment where Xo might have had a re-ignition of her feelings for Rogelio when he revealed that he wasn’t into Darci anymore? Unless I’m reading too much into that. BUT MAYBE???
Actually, I think the biggest adjustment in this episode and the accelerated timeline is MATEO SPEAKING. Mateo is in pre-school! He is babbling away in full sentences! IT’S SO SURREAL. I just wanted to acknowledge this and also call attention to Joseph Sanders, who plays four-year-old Mateo. PERFECT CASTING. Just stunning, really!
Your life will be beautiful again
So I wanted to end this on a bit of a sad/happy note. I know that some of you figured this would be a difficult arc for me, and while it is, there’s an aspect of it that made me feel very much at peace. I’ve talked pretty frequently about being in therapy, and I often feel very lucky that I found a therapist who deals specifically in grief and palliative care. One of the things she talked me through when we started was my sense of doom and gloom. She didn’t say it exactly the same way, but she spoke of how, months and months and years down the line, I would be able to live outside the terrible haze of grief. It felt all-encompassing at the time, but there would be hope again, she told me. I would have days where I woke up, and death wasn’t the first thing I thought of. I might even go a whole day without thinking about grief. Or crying. Or wishing the universe could give me a person back.
As I watched this episode and Jane struggle with a life without Michael, I was thankful that the writers allowed her to have these moments of light. She was allowed to see that her life could be beautiful again. She could read a book based on his life, and she could succeed, and she could uplift others and touch their hearts with his words. She could impress her mentor, one of the most difficult-to-impress people ever.
And then, she could get the call that someone is interested in making an offer on her manuscript. Her dreams could come true.
I know from experience that it’s going to hurt to reach these milestones without Michael. I cried a lot when I got the offer to write for Star Wars back at the beginning of the year, as it was a life goal of mine that Baize never got to see me accomplish. But what I hope for Jane—and for myself—is that she can come to accept that it is okay for her to be happy without Michael. It is okay for her to experience joy again. She deserves to have a beautiful life. And I, for once, am excited to see how things continue to change for Jane Villanueva.
I personally like Zen Rafael and the beard. I want to state that definitively. KEEP THEM BOTH.
The video for “Chapter Fifty-Six” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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