Mark Watches ‘Jane the Virgin’: S03E12 – Chapter Fifty-Six

In the twelfth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, Jane deals with big news; Rogelio is exposed; Petra and Rafael cope with a discovery. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.

Trigger Warning: For extended discussion of death, grief, panic attacks.

Generally speaking, I’m really, really enjoying this show, but every once in a while, the writers and cast knock something out of the park, and this is a perfect example of that. LET’S DISCUSS. 

Rogelio’s Lie

Oh, Rogelio. This character has such a rollercoaster of an arc. I do think we’ve seen growth on his part since he was first introduced, but fame constantly tempts Rogelio back to the worst version of himself, the one that seeks out notoriety and popularity. A quick line from a previous episode is given its full consequences here, as Darci, in an attempt to hurt Rogelio, sends video proof of Rogelio’s lie to the Villanueva family. Once again, fame and ratings mattered more to Rogelio than the ramifications of said lie. Which Rogelio could have just admitted to when he initially apologized! I think Xo would have reacted differently if he’d just been upfront! But covering for the fact that he agreed to cast Xo as the evil ex… oh, no, that’s real bad. REALLY BAD. 

There are two things I liked about the execution of this. First, I was appreciative of the fact that the writers never made Xiomara apologize. Not only did she refuse to listen to Rogelio, but by the end of the episode, she was still allowed to be furious with him. She might understand him better, and there might be a future in their friendship, but as it stands? Xiomara is allowed to be angry, and the script doesn’t guilt her for not listening to or “accepting” Rogelio’s apology.

On top of that, the show also makes it clear that Rogelio’s apologies are trite and that even if you do apologize to a person, it doesn’t instantly negate harm!!! All of these people—Xo especially—were still hurt by what Rogelio did. So what is Rogelio going to do to make amends for that? How will he help repair what’s gone wrong? 

There are external issues, of course, but Rogelio also has to change himself! Like Alba said, he’s become a different person after giving his life over to reality television. That fascinated me, too. We know from the scenes where Rogelio and Darci film together that they’ve created an intricate fiction for their show, but how much of it does Rogelio believe? Or want to believe? It’s a bizarre thing to watch because so much of Rogelio’s day-to-day life isn’t real, and Alba was right to say that he got lost in it. 

So he leaves. Which is probably the best decision to make on a personal level! Both he and Darci are deeply, deeply unhappy with what has transpired between them, so why stay? Why keep this up? Unfortunately, there’s the industry side of things, as the end of this episode reveals the new consequence that Rogelio has to deal with: being sued for $10 million for breach of contract. Oh, lord. So… I am gonna guess he goes back to the show to avoid the lawsuit? Maybe???

The Body

WELL THIS WAS AWKWARD and also a lot??? I should have known there was more to it! Y’all, I still don’t even know whether to accept the police findings stated here by Dennis, because… what the fuck is actually going? Aside from some quieter moments, this part of the script leaned much more heavily on the telenovela influence. Where it didn’t, we got to see some really meaty moments with certain characters. Take Rafael and Petra, for instance! Petra might be annoyed with Zen Rafael (WHO I LOVE A LOT), but she is also getting along with him better than she ever has. Their partnership hits a few snags, like over Elvis, the man Rafael met while serving his prison sentence. But as a whole? Honestly, it’s nice to see them at this place in their lives. 

That being said, it’s hard to judge what actually happened here because of the two big twists at the end. I’m not totally sold on Chuck, though I like the idea that Petra could find someone to be with. Is it him? I mean… shit, does he have secrets he is keeping from Petra, too? Because she’s got a big one: Scott actually died on The Marbella’s property, but Petra discreetly moved the corpse across the property line. (Again, still not sure Scott’s death was an accident. That would be so straightforward for a telenovela-esque plotline.) I don’t know that this means that what she feels for Chuck is a lie, though. There seems to be genuine mutual attraction and interest there, enough that Chuck thought it appropriate to ask Petra out on a date. But look, secrets don’t stay buried (sometimes literally so) on Jane the Virgin. So how is Chuck going to find out the truth? And how will he react? Because that’s inevitable! LIES DO NOT STAY HIDDEN ON THIS SHOW, Y’ALL.

Which means… what the FUCK is Zen Rafael doing? WHAT IS UP WITH ELVIS? Oh god, is Zen Rafael even a real persona? That might seem like a leap, but coe on. Again: This is Jane the Virgin. I have to question everything!!! I am only protecting myself!!!

HALT / Use Your Words

You know, I felt it in my chest when young Mateo used Jane’s own advice against her. This, combined with the HALT technique, is what really made me fall in love with “Chapter Fifty-Six.” There is such a wonderful attention to detail here when it comes to mental health and interpersonal conflicts. Now, granted, this plotline involving Jane’s panic attacks and Dennis is deeply intertwined with the grief plot, too, but I wanted to separate the two so I could spend more time on each. As I remarked on camera, my own therapist taught me HALT, though it also applies to anxiety and depression! (Since I have all three and one of them tends to trigger the others.) At this point, like Jane, I am right around the same number of sessions with my current therapist. (She took years, I took six months. LMAO I’VE NEEDED A LOT OF THERAPY, OKAY.) I’ve never gotten this far with a single therapist, so it makes sense that until this year, I don’t think I’d ever heard of HALT. And now, it’s so obvious? Sometimes, my mood swings are because I haven’t eaten in a while; or I’m furious at something and I haven’t given myself space to accept that; or, in the age of COVID and due to the loss of one of my very best friends, I’m deeply lonely; OR SOMETIMES I AM JUST FUCKING TIRED AND I SHOULD JUST TAKE A NAP.

My therapist paired this with a different variation of the whole “Use Your Words” mantra, though that’s essentially what I had to do as homework. I don’t mind sharing this because 1) I’m not the slightest bit embarrassed about talking about my therapy journey, and perhaps it’ll help reduce the stigma attached to it, and 2) maybe these techniques might help someone who can’t do therapy or doesn’t have access to it. So, essentially, since late March, my therapist has had me keep a mood chart. Once every two hours, I have to stop and take stock of how I’m feeling. There are a set list of about eight emotions I can plug in, but whatever I choose, I then have to use my words and actually say what I’m feeling. It was astounding to me that first month how I’d slip into a depression or an anxiety spiral, and then, as I filled out the chart, I realized that I wasn’t actually right about how I was feeling. I literally cannot count how many times I filled out a slot during the day and compared it against HALT and realized what I was feeling wasn’t sadness; I was just fucking exhausted. It might have felt like sadness, but it was rooted in something else. 

This tool has been life-changing for me, y’all. It didn’t “cure” me or anything like that, as that’s not what it’s for. I still have a ton of anxiety; I’m depressed frequently; and as I’ll talk about in the end, I’m deep in grief. But as we see in Jane’s therapy sessions, this is a tool. It is a means of dealing with something in a way that gets to the root of an emotion to find out why it has manifested in the mind and the body. And for someone like me, for who anxiety is a familiar partner, it’s so much better for me to know why I’m feeling like shit than to freak out over what’s happening to me. 

Here, Jane goes to therapy (for 89 sessions!!!! I AM SO HAPPY THAT WE HAVE A CHARACTER WHO DID ONGOING THERAPY), and then, with the tools her therapist gave her, she must navigate the minefield of triggers and panic that surround Dennis, Michael’s old partner. Unfortunately, though she had done her best to impart on Mateo that he should use his words to name his complicated feelings, she wasn’t doing that to Dennis. She was lashing out physically. And over what?

Well, she felt betrayed. She believed that Dennis was using her, even if, from his perspective, he was trying to do what he thought was right to honor Michael. I can see both sides of this and why each person felt like they did, though the show also appeared to make it clear that Dennis knew he shouldn’t have been snooping around Michael’s belongings like he was. The script also made room for Jane admitting that she was in a deeply painful place! The way she reacted that day when she caught Dennis taking photos of Michael’s notes isn’t necessarily how she would have reacted now. Throughout all of this, Dennis grants Jane empathy. He does whatever he can to understand her and give her an outlet to… well, to use her words! Which she finally does!!! 

Anyone else get totally crushed by Mateo telling Jane to use her words, by the way? Yeah, cool, me too.

Jane’s Book Deal

AHHHHHH THIS IS ALL SO EXCITING! The one caveat I want to add here is that somehow, the issue of literary agents never comes up? They actually don’t appear anywhere in this episode, which is strange. Not just in Jane’s direct plot, but also with Gary Huang? Generally, they’re the liaison between an author and an editor. Not all the time, but it felt odd to me how they’re not addressed at all.

That’s more important for Jane, though. Y’all, otherwise? This episode is pretty damn accurate. When a house says they’d like to make an offer, you generally don’t know what that package is going to be upfront; it usually takes a few days for the acquisitions team to approve the actual amount of the advance. I get why they didn’t show this either, but there’s also no talk of royalty rates, which is fine, because I don’t know that this episode NEEDED that. Still, here’s evidence Jane needed an agent: She didn’t understand how advance payments work! Most houses do a three (or, nowadays) a four part payment. (Though I’m lucky in that my middle grade deal with Harper Collins is a two-part payment.) They’re usually split evenly, and you get one on signing, one on delivery & acceptance of your manuscript (though “acceptance” can mean that it has gone through all the editing stages before copyedits), and one on publication day. Unfortunately, this is not widely discussed, and I have seen lots of authors not get this part? Either because they have bad agents or no agent. Which isn’t to say this is obvious, BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING NOT. NONE OF PUBLISHING IS OBVIOUS, IT’S ALL AN ENDLESS LABYRINTH. 

So, that made Jane’s actions so much more believable. Because look, while I wish agenting had been discussed, I immensely appreciated Jane’s panic. Yeah, you don’t get all this money at once! My advance for Anger wasn’t even as big as Jane’s, and it took 17 months to get all three payments. And from contract signing until I get my last payment next month for Each of Us A Desert, that’s two and a half YEARS. Unless you get a mega-huge advance, quitting your day job is not really an option. Thus: Chloe. Ah, the terrible predicament of Chloe, a person who is openly abusive towards her employees, yet is still part of Jane’s dream of being in publishing. I mean, of course Jane would quit that job with a huge advance! Yet once she realizes her mistake, Jane has to beg a monster of a human for her job back. I wish I could say that Chloe is an exaggeration and that there aren’t any editors like her in publishing, but… hi. Hello. The majority may not be like here, but far too many are! I have stories I may one day tell! I feel lucky as hell that my two novel editors are such wonderful folks to work with, because I’ve heard horror stories of editors behaving just like Chloe does here.

That also means that while I get Jane’s reluctance to return to work at the Marbella, I’m glad she left Chloe. Chloe doesn’t deserve Jane. Point blank. She’s AWFUL, and no amount of working for an abusive boss like that will ever be worth it. Jane’s mental health ALONE improves once she’s out of that nightmare!!!! So I’m glad she’s free, and she can pursue this book publishing thing on her own.

Time Heals… Sort Of

Right? By the end of “Chapter Fifty-Six,” I felt I understood what this episode was trying to say: Grief isn’t cured. It’s not an illness that can be treated, never to return again. Jane is now three years from the death of Michael, and things still hurt. She still has flashbacks, she still deals with panic attacks, and she still misses him.

I don’t know what three years will look like for me. Hell, after Baize passed, I couldn’t even imagine a month in the future. But I also know that where I am right now, just shy of nine months since his passing, is a place that seemed impossible. I couldn’t imagine making it a day without a crushing, disorienting panic attack. (Bravo to this episode for doing such an incredible job of representing the physicality of a panic attack onscreen, by the way. It’s one of the best depictions of it I’ve ever seen, especially those point-of-view shots where it looks like we’re in Jane’s body.) I couldn’t imagine not crying myself to sleep. I’m not okay, but I am proud to say that I am better. Intensive therapy and—yes, it’s cheesy—time helped. Time and distance and making new friends and new decisions and new memories.

And yet, I know that for the rest of my life, there will be these little time bombs littering my mind. I found one today, on August 28, as I was standing in the coffeeshop prior to making the video for this episode. Beyoncé’s “XO” started playing. I have not listened to one of her songs since I lost Baize. I know I can’t. My love for him and my memories of her songs are too closely tied together. I literally can’t even think about Beyoncé without thinking of Baize. I took him to his first show of hers on the Formation tour, and we saw her again a couple years later for On the Run II, on the eve of flying to the UK for the 2018 Discworld Convention.

They are inseparable. So when the song came on, I burst into tears and had to leave. I’m crying again just thinking about it. It is like Jane and giraffes. She will forever have that association. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One of the best memories of her life will be that giraffe Michael whittled for her; I will always cherish dancing in the stands of the Rose Bowl to Beyoncé with Baize. 

But it’s also going to be painful because it’s a reminder of lost potential. There’s a brutal line in this episode when Rafael asks Jane about the dreams that she had, and she remarks that she used to have a dream. It doesn’t mean that what is currently in her life is awful. She got a book deal! But it also means that the readjustment to a dream without Michael is hard, and it’s always going to be that way. I had the same issue earlier this year when I met a life goal and got to write for Star Wars. I couldn’t escape the thought that I would be fulfilling this dream… without Baize.

But the adjustment is happening. I have something very huge to share in the future that is life-changing. I have my own home in Brooklyn now, all to myself, and it’s absolutely a dream come true. And Jane the Virgin reminded me of that: I am allowed to be happy again. Without Baize.

The video for “Chapter Fifty-Six” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
– Not only that, but my very first pre-order campaign is now live for North American readers! If you submit proof of pre-order, you can get a limited edition print that comes with the book.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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