In the seventeenth episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, Jane re-examines a friendship and a relationship; Xiomara makes an important choice; Rafael puts all his cards on the table; Alba tells the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of xenophobia/racism, grief, depression, anxiety.
Help me, this show has truly been hitting so hard lately??? It’s not lost on me that Jane the Virgin would have felt different and been received differently if I’d watched it at any other time in my life. Yes, I am being personally attacked by this show.
I mean, let’s just start with one of the most difficult plots in the show because of how close this is to what I’ve been going through! Grief does fundamentally change your relationship to the people around you. This episode starts off with this idea that grief will show you who really does care about a friend, and to an extent, that’s certainly my experience. I do feel so grateful and appreciative for the people in the last nine months of my life who have shown up for me. (I’ve let them know it, too, and done my best to show up for them, too! FRIENDSHIP, Y’ALL.) I also found out the hard way that some people were not interested in my personal life and only really maintained a “friendship” with me for entirely selfish reasons. Such is life.
But that’s not quite what’s happening here, and “Chapter Sixty-One” digs in to a part of grief that is very rarely discussed. This is the longest I’ve felt I’ve grieved a person in my life, and I get why that is. But that also means that I’ve had to be very aware of how that changes things when I interact with other people. I know I’ve extolled the virtue of therapy so often lately, but let me do it again. Without it, I would not have had the tools to understand the best practices for grieving with other people.
I’m sure some of you might understand that, but a lot of people who deal with depression and anxiety feel a similar thing: that they are a burden on the people around them. We worry that we are too much for the people in our lives. We fret about sharing what we are going through or how we really feel because we believe that is all other folks will see as as. We’re the difficult ones, the ones who aren’t normal, and we’ll forever be defined by that. My therapist has done extensive work with me to help me stop thinking of myself in this manner. Especially since this wreaks havoc on me because I have issues around independence and validation. (I’M A BEAUTIFUL MESS.) At the same time, I told her that I wanted to be careful not to dump on my friends, to rely on them too much as I coped with the worst thing I’d ever been through.
All this is not to say that I avoided what Jane and Lina went through here. Oh, I absolutely did not! There were times—especially in those first few months—where I was so consumed with grief that I could not see outside of my own immediate life. And guess what? In a completely understandable move, some of my friends did not tell me their good news because they were worried that I would think they were being insensitive. Some of them did not tell me their problems, which they felt were much smaller in comparison, because they, too, were worried about seeming rude. IT’S A REAL THING!!!
I’m not the slightest bit upset with any of them, but one of the things I wanted to do was find a middle ground. How could I be honest with my friends? How could I also hold space for them? Thus, I so deeply related to Lina and Jane’s struggle here. Lina was having a very real problem with her boyfriend at the time, and Jane’s advice came from a place of hurt and extreme sadness. Y’ALL, I LITERALLY TOLD A FRIEND WHO WAS HAVING A RELATIONSHIP PROBLEM THAT I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO HAVE MY EX BACK IN MY LIFE and that was the literal fucking advice I gave them! Just do anything to keep them in their life!!! Months later, when I was more out of the haze of grief, we were both like, “Hey, Mark, maybe that advice was a little biased.” So, once more: Jane the Virgin is directly targeting me. DIRECTLY. I’m glad they worked this out, and I’m so happy for Lina and her cute fiancé. THIS WHOLE PLOT WAS GREAT.
Look at me, having to admit that I viewed Fabian a very specific way that has now changed over time. I remain as surprised as Jane about this turn of events, because Fabian continually proves that he is not who anyone thought he is. That means I have to re-think what I just said a couple of reviews ago: There is a very real possibility that Fabian might be relationship material. The irony, of course, is that after Jane spent her whole life waiting for marriage to have sex, she ended up dating a guy who is now… waiting until a commitment to have sex. The writers have SO MUCH fun with this, first of all, and they don’t waste the opportunity at all. There’s lots of poking fun at Jane, but through this, they also do such a fantastic job at developing Fabian’s character. Y’all, he’s so sincere? And genuine? One thing that impressed me about him was how frequently he tried to find out more about the things that Jane enjoyed or talked about. Him reading Orwell is a fantastic example of that. He didn’t understand what that book was and had never heard of 1984 before Jane brought it up. So he went out, he bought, and then he actually read it?
I love so much that this all makes the case for the strangeness and uncontrollable nature of love. That’s not saying that Jane is in love yet, but rather that as she gets to know Fabian, she is having to accept that she can fall for someone who has little in common with her. Plus, I think she’s forgetting that she already did that once! Rafael and Jane did not have a whole lot in common, did they? Granted, I think Fabian is even more unlike Jane in this context, but still! She knows this already, but she’s also coming off a relationship where she fell for someone who had a LOT in common with her.
ANYWAY, I LIKE FABIAN A LOT.
It was easy to assume that Rogelio and Xiomara were moving quickly after Xo so recently ended things with Bruce. That was a genuine concern to have after how their relationship fell apart last time! Each step of a partnership should be discussed at some point, and so I understood the reluctance that Xiomara had to move in with Rogelio. That was one of the factors of their break-up! At the same time, Xo just ended her engagement to another man to be with Rogelio. Now she’s having second thoughts? THIS SEEMED VERY BAD TIMING. Yet thinking back on how this unfolding, I think it was smart of Xiomara to question this, as awkward as it was! She had to know that she wasn’t making a mistake again, but something else happened in the process. I feel like “Chapter Sixty-One” reminded these two that they are not dating for the first time. Their history absolutely makes matters complicated. They should approach the future by taking that into account! But it also means that they’ve been in one another’s lives for a long, long time. Their history isn’t a burden; it can be a blessing, too! It can be what they can lean on if they doubt their love for one another. BECAUSE THEY KNEW THEY WERE IN LOVE ON THAT BEACH DAY DECADES EARLIER.
I also loved so much that Xiomara was dedicated to doing this differently. She recognized the challenges she faced the first time around; she is actively trying to be aware of her toxic traits and to heal them. And here she is, doing it differently in an unexpected by poetically gorgeous way: SHE is the one who proposes to Rogelio. She’s the one who makes the big, romantic gesture utilizing his set. And by flipping the script, she reclaims her love for him. It’s all a choice, y’all, and she chose Rogelio.
OH, RAFAEL. It’s hard seeing the contrast between the other relationships and this one, And maybe, just maybe, because of the twist at the end of the episode, this could be possible? Right now, though, it’s just hard. It’s hard because having history with someone can be a good thing, like with Rogelio and Xiomara. At the same time, Rafael’s history with Petra might be exactly why she’s not interested in him. They had their time together, and while hooking up again was cathartic, that could be it. But look, he had to say something, right? He had to tell her! It was also hard to watch because it reminded me of Rafael in season one, back when he began to develop feelings for Jane. What’s gonna happen if Petra rejects him? UGH MY HEART IS ALREADY HURTING.
Oh, lord. LORD!!!! So, I can at least give myself credit for figuring out that Petra was actually the one in the video that the police were using as evidence that Anezka killed Scott. Assuming that we don’t have an unreliable narrator situation going on here, then we now know why Anezka disappeared, and we also know neither sister was responsible for Scott’s death. Still, the situation is a mess, Anezka and Petra are not out of the spotlight, and then… JP. Fucking JP.
JP IS CHUCK. JP HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH SCOTT’S DISAPPEARANCE. JP IS CURRENTLY IN HIS TRUCK ON HIS WAY TO PENSACOLA TO LOOK FOR HIMSELF. Oh my god??? It makes me re-think his entire courtship with Petra. Did he insinuate himself into her life as insurance? Has he always been trying to protect himself??? WHAT THE FUCK.
Amidst an episode that is largely over-the-top and funny and romantic and telenovela-style-dramatic, there’s a deeply serious plot. This show has been careful and thoughtful in its portrayal of undocumented people, and that thread comes up again when Alba and Jorge are subjected to a vicious and deeply common form of xenophobia. The policing of language in the name of a misguided understanding of America is devastatingly familiar. I’ve seen it happen, and I don’t speak Spanish in public all that much, and I’ve definitely had it happen to me. The fact that there are people in the world who think they have any say in what language a person speaks is mind-boggling if you give it any thought, but such is the environment of this place. People like the woman here believe that they are right; they are also supported by a culture that demonizes anyone speaking non-English languages. It’s arrogant, it’s xenophobic, it’s some settler colonialist bullshit.
I appreciated, then, that the writers gave some nuance to Alba and Jorge’s predicament. Alba understandably is hesitant to engage in protesting because she just barely got her green card. She would risk losing it by participating. Jorge is even more against the idea than Alba is, since he’s still undocumented. (His story, by the way, is unfortunately not fiction; people do take advantage of those seeking a path to citizenship, and there’s little to no recourse for undocumented folks to achieve justice. It’s a double-edged sword. If they tell the authorities, they may get deported. If they don’t get a green card, they may get deported.) I respect and cherish that Alba still wanted to march, even though it was a risk. But she also didn’t push Jorge into participating. She gets it! She’s been there! So she found a way to fight for what she believes in while still supporting someone she is coming to enjoy a great deal.
ALSO: WOW, THE SCENE WHERE MATEO ASKED ABOUT ALL THIS JUST… phew. That hurt.
The video for “Chapter Sixty-One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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