In the fourteenth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, Petra and Jane bump heads; Xo is conflicted; Mateo has a new aide; I cried. A lot. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of death, grief, and trauma.
WOW, THIS EPISODE CRUSHED ME.
At the end of the video for “Chapter Fifty-Eight,” I remarked that this episode really felt like a pivot in the narrative, and I’m sticking to that. (Lord, I hope I’m right.) A few longstanding arcs have reached conclusions, and a new future awaits these characters. Some of those futures have already manifested in the most chaotic manner imaginable, but we’ll get to that. Since the beginning of season two, though, there’s been a long, complicated rivalry between Jane and Petra. And it’s true that because of this, these characters each brought out the worst insecurities in the other person.
Here, as Jane struggles with Mateo’s desire for her to be around school like the other moms, she pits herself against Petra to become Room Mom for the classroom. The show does another one of those fantastical sequences, this time giving us Jane and Petra as political candidates in an American election. (Complete with politician wigs. Those wigs!!!!!) This heightened the already-tense conflict between the two of them, and it also made this funny as hell. And I think that humor had to be there because… well, this was absurd! Room Mom! Sand versus rubber mulch! Cubby hierarchy! It’s not that these weren’t important decisions to make, but the show exaggerated their importance to Jane and Petra in order to make this fight worse.
Because holy shit, it got so dirty towards the end? Look, that’s even putting aside Petra trying to buy favor from the more well-off parents, which is a whole undercurrent to this episode. The show doesn’t often talk about it, but it’s one of the big reasons that Jane and Mateo stick out so much: Everyone knows that they don’t come from money, and yet they’re at a school where the demographic is almost solely from the upper middle class to upper class part of society.
That’s one insecurity that Petra exploits, but it’s the obvious one. Petra is used to paying to solve things, whereas Jane has always had to be creative when it came to finances. However, there are deeper threads being plucked here, and the history of both Jane and Petra matters so much to what unfolds onscreen. In Jane’s case, she’s dealing with the tables being turned. Mateo is the kid in class with the most obvious behavioral issues, and suddenly, Jane doesn’t feel like the perfect mom she wants to be. Even though a “perfect” mom can’t exist! It doesn’t help that Petra’s children seem like the most ideal contrast to Mateo, which feeds even further into Jane’s insecurity. Consequently, this is basically how Petra’s insecurity works: it is intrinsically tied to Jane. As we saw over season two and the first half of this season, Petra found Jane grating and irritating because she was deeply insecure about her own ability to be a mother. And there was Jane, all perfect and knowledgable! (Except she wasn’t, which was something Petra would come to understand.) So Petra was naturally very frightened that she would never, ever be good enough.
Each of them brought the worst out of one another, and this election was just the perfect situation to throw gasoline on this simmering fire. Again, this got dirty, but I loved that it ended with both of them realizing they didn’t actually want to be the Room Mom. They were doing it for other reasons, none of which consisted of THEIR OWN DESIRE. Plus… Rafael is gonna be the perfect Room Mom!!! Seriously! He actually has the time to do it, you know all those moms will get along with him, and Mateo will get to see more of his dad!
So, does that mean that Jane and Petra have finally buried this hatchet? Maybe????
You know, I kept waiting for some sort of telenovela twist to this story, but it never happened! Which I’m glad for, as this subplot provided one of the most emotional moments in the whole season. I’ll talk about that in more detail at the end of the review, but I wanted to briefly address the addition of this new character. Alex remained a calm voice of reason THE WHOLE EPISODE. Which was so great! I love that he needed to fill a very specific role, especially as a counter to Mateo’s chaos. And if the plan he puts forth is going to be successful, it will require someone as even and calm as Alex. Who, I might add, will also help Jane and Rafael to better cope with Mateo’s impulse control issues and need for attention.
Basically: this was just really nice??? And I like Alex? And none of this stressed me out???
This was stressful, though. But it’s understandable, to an extent! I get why Chuck is still just considering reconciling with Petra. What she did potentially fucked him over, especially now that Scott’s case might be re-opened. I will say that I was glad that Rafael interrupted Chuck yelling at Petra, as that had started to make me uncomfortable. I don’t know, I hope that was just him losing his temper and not the sign of something worse? COULD NICE THINGS HAPPEN TO PETRA FROM HERE ON OUT.
THIS WAS NICE, THOUGH. Well, not for a brief embarrassing moment in time. First of all, I’m glad that the show is allowing Alba the possibility of romance again. I believe I mentioned this before, but if not: it’s wonderful that someone who is older is given space to pursue romance and dating. Unfortunately, Alba was a little out of her element here as she decided to chat up the (now single) Jorge, her coworker at the Marbella’s gift shop. Hopefully, this didn’t make her think that she shouldn’t ever dress up for someone, but at the same time, I think that Alba, by virtue of being herself, is all that Jorge needed to see.
Ah! Alba has a date!
And now, let’s talk about the more difficult plots in “Chapter Fifty-Eight.” I’m repeating myself here, but I want what is best for Xiomara. I also know that in order to get that, Bruce, a character I’ve grown to like a lot, will have to be hurt. WHICH I DO NOT LIKE. That being said, I didn’t expect that escalation to happen within this episode! But this is a transitional moment for multiple characters, and Xiomara’s reluctance over her marriage leads her to an important epiphany. Maybe this is where she stops trying to find her true love in Bruce, who, again, is left in such a shitty position at the end of the episode. (Quite literally, actually, since Rogelio once again barges in on a vital emotional moment between Xo and Bruce, but makes it about himself.)
It sucks so much though. No one did anything wrong here! They both clearly love one another! But is marriage the right move for Xiomara? One of my favorite moments in this episode is the scene where Jane and Xiomara openly talk about what Xo is feeling. Look how aware Xiomara was of her past mistakes! She knew that she’d never been in a longterm relationship for this amount of time before, and that could have been making her uncomfortable. She was also finally aware that she historically self-sabotages, so she wanted to make sure she wasn’t doing that!
And then Rogelio had to go and tell Jane the truth.
WHICH I AM GLAD HE DID. Holy shit, Rogelio changed his mind. After being in Mateo’s life, his need for his own children is… just not that strong anymore. MEANING IT ISN’T A DEAL-BREAKER. And while he doesn’t tell Xo this himself, Jane does, and she sets in motion the final act. The sad part is that Bruce knew. He knew when Xo was practicing her testimony that she wasn’t giving a performance of how much Rogelio meant to her. SHE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. Even then, I thought that maybe they’d work through this, but you know what? It’s fair that Bruce doesn’t want to do this. It’s fair that he doesn’t want to have to fight for Xo or put himself in between them. Who has the energy or the time??? Okay, obviously, it’s more than that. But Bruce, who loves Xiomara very much, doesn’t not see this future together if Xo is still harboring feelings for Rogelio.
So it’s over.
Telling the Story
It’s been nearly nine months, and I haven’t reached the milestone that Jane does in this episode.
That’s okay. Everyone’s journey with grief is vastly different, and there is a part of me that appreciates that this show features someone who is still very publicly grieving three years after the death of her husband. It makes me feel better for being raw and in pain, because… well, even if Jane is a fictional character, at least I know someone’s going through it and has been going through it for a long time. And like Jane, I’m not even entertaining the notion of dating until I feel… whole. I am a whole person, mind you. (I can already hear my therapist in my head, telling me not to negate my personhood.) I mean more that it’s my responsibility now to fill the massive chasm in my heart with new things and people and experiences, to remind myself of the power of love outside of romantic relationships, and to build a home. My heartbreak is associated with the loss of my home, and so I’m excited to be in a new space, ready to make new memories.
And one day, maybe this will sneak up on me, just like it did for Jane. Because she wasn’t even trying not to cry as she told Alex about Michael. It simply… happened. Jane met this important milestone on her own, and it happened naturally. It was a beautiful (if a little sad) moment to watch, especially when it was followed up by Alex saying that Mateo is not exhibiting signs of having experienced trauma. That relief??? You can see it all over Jane and Rafael.
Anyway… wow. I really enjoyed this episode, y’all.
The video for “Chapter Fifty-Eight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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