In the nineteenth and penultimate episode of the third season of Jane the Virgin, Jane is asked to do something uncomfortable and it has chaotic ramifications. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, grief
Caught in the Middle
A great deal of Jane the Virgin concerns itself with fantasy. That’s not a unique take on the show, nor is this something that’s new to these reviews. I’ve written about it before! The writers have frequently toyed with the fantastical plots of the telenovela genre, but shown what the actual ramifications of them might be. But there’s also been a longstanding arc about Jane’s love of and romanticization of fairy tales. Hell, that’s part of the reason the death of Michael was particularly gutting. Jane, after such a chaotic, dramatic, and difficult journey, finally reunited with her first love and got married. It wasn’t even that the show tried to portray this as the perfect relationship; it’s just that Michael felt right.
So what do you do when your fairy tale ends? How do you live beyond that?
That’s not solely a story about grief, though Jane’s grief absolutely plays a part in what unfolds in “Chapter Sixty-Three.” Now that Jane’s fairly tale is over, what place does she hold in the world? Where does she fit in anymore? Over these three seasons, Jane the Virgin has built up this convincing family in the Villanuevas, which grew from the three women at the heart of it to add Rogelio. Rafael. Petra. Elsa and Anna. Mateo! It might not look like a traditional family, but it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing, in part because it is so strange. In many ways, Jane has been the center of what’s unfolded! Narratively, that’s because the protagonist, yes, but that’s also what makes this episode so interesting. For the first time in a while, Jane has to deal with a drama that isn’t about her, that doesn’t center her in the midst of the conflict.
So, I want to start off by saying: Wow, Rafael’s request was uncomfortable? I totally understand why Jane was so reluctant to get involved even before all her feelings about him came up. It was a little unfair because Rafael wasn’t seeing Jane as a person with her own opinions. No, he just wanted to use her to “convince” Petra that she should try a relationship with him again. (There’s a parallel here in Rafael/Jane and in Jane/Fabian, since both Rafael and Jane try to “use” another person to get what they want. AND IT BACKFIRES.) Jane ultimately tells the truth to Petra (or at least her interpretation of the truth at the time) because… well, that’s what Jane does. She’s the kind of character who is constantly seeking out the “right” choice, the more moral and ethical option. In this instance, lying to Petra about her potential future with Rafael was a bridge too far. She couldn’t do it!
But… that’s not quite what happens, is it? There’s another layer to this, and it involves Jane frequently being caught in the middle of events. Except this time. Here, she sees potential, but that potential is one without her. Granted, she exaggerates this in her mind with that fairy tale-esque sequence where she and Mateo are cast as downtrodden while Rafael, Petra, and the twins live a life of perfection. Suddenly, Jane isn’t part of the fairy tale anymore. She’s outside of it, and that’s why, while drunk, she changes her mind. It’s why she is able to imagine herself with Rafael. I loved the way the writers made this clear. It’s not that Jane was necessarily jealous that Petra might end up with Raul. It was more that Jane was envious of what their potential family might look like: one without Jane or Mateo.
I don’t think that’s the endgame of the show. I joke a lot about how I shouldn’t get attached to any character or storyline because no one gets happiness, but you know what? That’s not true. There’s a lot of joy in Jane the Virgin, even when that joy is complicated by other things. Like this WHOLE arc here for Jane! Jane’s emotional plea to Petra to take the risk with Rafael is coupled with her own complicated feelings for him, which is ALSO made even more difficult because of her parents’ wedding and the drama with Fabian. But this family is going to stay together, and I think that whatever version we see at the end of it is going to be wonderful. Complicated, but wonderful!
Jane’s Honor and Mistake
Oh, Jane! While both Fabian and Rogelio go way too far in this episode for their own reasons, I was satisfied that the show didn’t try to skip over the shittiness of Jane’s actions. She used Fabian! Yes, her intent was pure… but for Xiomara, not Fabian. Jane wanted to save her parents’ wedding, and in classic Jane fashion, she attempted this without any real help. Granted, this was fueled by guilt after Jean and Luc, the original wedding planners, bailed. (Fuck them, for the record. I DID NOT LIKE THEM AT ALL.) But not breaking up with Fabian so she could potentially gain access to horses? Yeah, no, that’s bad. Don’t lead someone on period, but especially don’t do it just to get something out of them? So, I get Fabian’s hurt. That’s an infuriating thing to realize, and the way Fabian found out? Oh, that didn’t help either! Rogelio!!!! Maybe just don’t say things!!! For long periods of time!!! That would be great!!!! And maybe don’t stage FIGHT RINGS outside of the studio with the guy Jane just broke up with! (Actually… did she technically break up with him? It didn’t actually happen because it didn’t need to.) And then, after Jane makes this huge mistake, Rogelio becomes convinced he has defend Jane’s honor, and the whole thing makes Rogelio late for the joint bachelor/bachelorette party, and IT IS ALL A DISASTER.
I mean, it ends up working out, but I do wonder what’s to come of Fabian. I’m guessing the next episode will be the last time we see him? I don’t believe that he and Jane will ever date again.
SO. THE PARTY. Y’all. Y’ALL!!! This turned out so well, and I’m still reeling from the sheer emotional WEIGHT of that entire part of this episode. Once again, Jane isn’t necessarily the focus here, even if the story seems to be about her. It’s really not, though. At the heart of this is Xiomara’s desire to have her fairy tale ending. It’s a way for the writers to build on the idea that Jane is not in the middle again, but this time with her parents. This is about them! It’s about Xiomara wanting to be married and to settle down for so long, but having to deal with so much trauma and self-sabotage along the way. But she finally did it, and damn it, she’s gonna get the wedding that she wants!
Jane is still a part of this story, and I was a little crushed (in a good way!) by her confession to her mother at their party. Which… y’all, I will never tire of the Villanueva women bonding. I JUST WON’T. It’s why it didn’t seem selfish or insecure or insensitive that after Xiomara said she wanted her fairy tale ending, Jane spoke about wanting to fall in love again. I want that for her, too, and I do know that this is affecting her view of the men in her life. She didn’t want love with Fabian; she just wanted something physical. She might want something romantic with Rafael, but what if that’s the loneliness in Jane speaking? It could be that, or something else, or a million other things. But as hard as it has been to watch Jane cope with Michael’s death, there’s a part of it that is relieving for someone like me. If Jane can move on from Michael, then moving on doesn’t seem so impossible to me.
Luisa and Rose
And here’s a segue: Can Luisa move on from Rose? PLEASE? I feel like Luisa’s character is stuck in this will-she-or-won’t-she game with Rose. Will she leave? Won’t she leave? And the cycle, while realistic for depictions of abuse, trauma, and hurt, doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. Well… yet. Rose’s arrest in this episode might be the thing that finally gets these two apart for good. I just want to see Luisa try something else! I want a different story, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t talk about the issues that her current arc is addressing. I want… more? More for her, more for her future, more growth! PLEASE.
The video for “Chapter Sixty-Three” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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