In the sixteenth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, I FUCKING LOVED THIS EPISODE SO MUCH. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, and mentions of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and police brutality
Bless this episode. BLESS IT SO MUCH.
Love in the Time of Himbo
You know, there were moments where Fabian was a little too much like Rogelio in his obliviousness, so I’m not sure this is going to last. That being said: THE PLOT IS SO FUN. I know that it is inextricably tied to grief, so I’m not saying the grief part is fun. (IT TRULY WRECKED ME, but we’ll get there in the next section. But it’s nice to see the show allow Jane to pursue something that started off as a fantasy, but is now becoming very real.
Fabian is… a lot. And in many ways, he is like a pitch perfect definition of a himbo. Oh, he is just… operating on his own wavelength? And yet there’s no cruelty here, even if he does mess up. He’s trying his hardest, first to win over Rogelio, and then to show Jane that he actually is interested in her. I think that’s a requirement to a good himbo character: There has to be a sincerity that that is endearing and well-meant, and I see that in Fabian. Again, is this gonna last? Probably not. I don’t see a long-term relationship here. BUT THAT’S THE POINT!!! Jane is learning to let go! She is learning to challenge herself! It’s uncomfortable for her to do something so new, but she’s pushing past that to see if she can change, and I’m just so glad she has the room to do that.
At the same time, Fabian’s presence ignites so many insecurities in Rogelio. He’s now worried about his age, his body, his popularity, his relationship with Jane. Because of that, he misinterprets Fabian’s actions as being part of a multi-level sabotage of his career. Which… oh, Rogelio, that himbo couldn’t possibly manage to pull off something like that. Rogelio was speaking from experience, too, as he’d actually sabotaged someone else’s career before, so there was a little projection (and maybe some guilt) going on here.
But there was an angle to all of this that I didn’t even notice until Rogelio spelled it out to Xiomara. Jane potentially seeing Fabian triggered immense feelings of grief in him because Michael was Rogelio’s best friend. I appreciated that the show acknowledged how important Michael was to Rogelio!!! Jane’s journey with grief and dating is obviously going to look different here, but this was such a tender (and heartbreaking) revelation to watch. A loved one doesn’t have to be a romantic partner for people to not want them replaced. We can’t replace the ones who are no longer here! And Rogelio’s struggle with Fabian is rooted in that fear. I’m just glad that he had Xiomara not just to talk to, but that she could remind him that this isn’t about replacing Michael at all.
Return of Luisa
I feel conflicted. Luisa hasn’t been around much this season, and so as she reappeared here, I was both thrilled to see her again and concerned about her greater arc. I want Luisa to be given the space to grow as many of the other characters have. While the suspense built around Rose hiding in plain sight was entertaining and fun, I do wish that Luisa herself was able to have a different kind of plot. She is still entangled in this relationship with Rose, and at times, it felt repetitive in “Chapter Sixty.” We’ve covered this ground already, and I want to see Luisa face something new outside of this deeply toxic relationship. At the same time, it’s hard commenting on things for Mark Watches because I never have the full story. I don’t know if this is part of a bigger arc that I just can’t see because of where I am in the season. But what does Luisa’s life look like when she’s not caught up in Rose’s life? Who does she get to be? How can she heal and find peace?
Maybe this is the pivot point. Maybe she chooses to stay in Miami and give up Rose so that she can be close with Raf and the kids again. I CAN ONLY HOPE.
ALL RIGHT, so what the HELL is going on here? It’s clear now that Rafael actually does not want to make the same mistakes again! He doesn’t want corruption and lying to ruin the Marbella or his family, and so, he’s doing everything he can (with Elvis, his private investigator) to protect what he does have. It explains his behavior recently! So, with that in mind, I have to also wonder what Pietra is up to. What exactly does she know? I assume that it’s the reason for Scott’s death, and Anezka is wrapped up in that. Whatever decision she made three years prior is coming back to haunt her! It has the potential to mess up her relationship with Scott, to take her away from her children, to throw her back into a terrible, terrible chaos. I will say that I appreciate that there was so much acknowledgment of the difficulty of Anezka coming back into Petra’s life. Even if Petra is covering up for something, it’s very true that she’s also got a TON of trauma around her sister and what her sister did to her. So her reluctance to have Anezka around is so real!
I GENUINELY DON’T KNOW WHAT’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN. I mean, when do I ever know with this show? Still! Oh god, Petra, this just keeps getting worse!
Publishing Jane’s Story
I am just… so impressed, y’all. I know I’ve written in the past how much I’ve enjoyed the detail given to Jane’s publishing arc. Not everything is exactly correct, and sometimes, the process is compressed a bit. Like, for example, the fact that this episode folds the timeline so that Jane never does line edits or copyedits on her manuscript. But I don’t think we needed to see that for the story to feel realistic and get the point across. So! I’m absolutely fine with that level of granularity being skipped over. And while the first marketing meetings sometimes happen before a book is done being edited, a lot of the time they do happen right in this part of the process. A good example is with my next book, Each of Us a Desert, which no one at my publisher was allowed to read until developmental and line edits were done. That was for a very strategic reason. The manuscript had changed so very times that me and my editor didn’t want to give them a version of the book that wouldn’t ultimately exist! We didn’t want misguided or inaccurate marketing or publicity for the book.
But the thing I really wanted to dig into was the brilliant, heartbreaking, and immensely difficult experience that Jane has deciding whether or not to use her own past trauma around Michael’s death while promoting the book. Everything about this was done so well. I say that as someone who has two books that are deeply personal that went through conversations just like this! Many of you lovely longtime Mark Does Stuff readers know my personal history and can easily see that represented in Anger is a Gift. But with my next book, I did not initially intend to have anything super, super direct and personal in the story. Oh, there was a lot of subtextual and metaphorical representation, particularly of growing up in a semi-rural, insular community near the desert and feeling isolated and alone. THAT’S VERY VERY REAL.
However, I put a lot of my relationship with my last partner in the book, back when we were together and he was still alive. I consider Desert to be a fantasy love letter to him, and he knew that when he read it. I had to have a brutally uncomfortable conversation with my publicist and my editor about what we were going to do about this. How much was I comfortable talking about this? Would I acknowledge it at all, or would I just choose to never address it? I opted to write a long explanation of it in the Acknowledgments of the book, both as a way to give potential interviewers some context (as I expected questions about the romance in the book and the inspiration for it) and to also write a dedication so that this person wouldn’t be exactly what Jane worried Michael would be: A footnote. A character. A reduced version of himself in order to sell a book or promote an author.
Watching Jane struggle with this… it hurt. It was hard. I still wonder if I’ve done the right thing, but the core of the matter is that it’s also the truth. I can’t divorce Baize from the pages of Desert because he’s all over it. And at least I can talk about it in a way that celebrates him, you know? That’s what I’d want to do. For what it’s worth, I understand as well why the marketing and publicity team at Jane’s publisher behaves as they do. Which isn’t me condoning it, either, but rather saying that they’re looking at all of this detached from the reality of what it means to Jane. To them, it’s a way to push a narrative that’ll get her attention in the press. To her… well, it’s her life, and thus, it’s painful for her in a way that they don’t quite understand.
And I hope she feels empowered to have a new way to talk about Michael and grief.
The video for “Chapter Sixty” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– My second novel, EACH OF US A DESERT, is now out in the world!
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