In the second episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, everyone must make difficult choices about their respective futures. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of transphobia, specifically transmisogyny
Jane and Rafael
You know, it remains one of the most fucked up things in this country that a school’s funding is so intrinsically linked to things like property taxes. There are so many ill effects of gentrification, but here’s another one: outsiders can raise the value of a specific neighborhood, thereby improving the quality of a school, but they displace the people who lived there. Who then don’t get to benefit from the increase in funding! I often look at my own high school, which was in one of the poorer neighborhoods of my hometown. I say “was” on purpose; much of the area has been developed and “improved,” and with that has come funding that none of us who lived there benefited from. (Unless you were in sports and got the support no one else in my school had. That is a whole separate conversation, though.) There are programs now available to students that we could only dream of. Which isn’t to erase the work of educators to get those programs, nor to deny the importance of access to them. I know it’s a complicated issue, but I still can’t ignore how many things weren’t available to us back when most of the neighborhood was “bad” or when property wasn’t valued as high as it was.
What Jane ultimately decides to do here isn’t a fiction. I actually can’t even recall the number of students I knew back in high school who lied about their addresses to attend the “better” schools in my city. It’s just something that happens! When your address determines the quality of your education and the potential opportunities, who can blame parents for trying to do what is best for their kid? The system is stacked against them! Which is why Alba and Xiomara did exactly that for Jane. They lied about where Jane lived so she could go to a better school, and because Jane didn’t know this… oh lord, did she misstep here. That being said, I understand why she behaved the way she did. She also wanted the best for Mateo, and I still don’t think she was wrong about feeling burned by Raf’s comments about Mateo’s future.
Still, this is an episode about moving forward, about the concessions and compromises that these various characters make. While I fully expect there to be many bumps along the road, I did enjoy that “Chapter Sixty-Six” closes so many arcs to bring us to the next step. So, in the case of Rafael and Jane, a compromise looks like Jane relenting on the address idea. I am worried about this coming back to bite them in the ass, because this IS a telenovela and THINGS GO WRONG ALL THE TIME. But in terms of a financial choice, this is a really smart move, since it won’t cost either family any tuition. Rafael hasn’t got the Marbella back either, so there’s no guarantee that Mateo will return to private school. Maybe he’ll stay in public school? Either way… I really hope this works out.
Darci’s Place in the Family
I feel the same way about the strides that Darci, Rogelio, and Xiomara made in this episode as well. I REALLY HOPE THIS WORKS OUT. Because holy shit, it was so hard watching Darci be so verbally cruel to Xiomara? Look, I understand why she’s mad at Rogelio, but how far was she going to take this? What’s the point of just straight-up insulting him for the hell of it? Even worse: WHY WAS SHE SO MEAN TO XIOMARA? None of this is Xiomara’s fault, and on top of that, look how nice and accommodating Xo is throughout this episode!!! She waited on her constantly, she let Darci scream at her, and Darci made no attempt to make this less awkward.
The writers, of course, know that in many ways, this is a mirror to Jane’s journey in the first season, in the sense that someone unexpected is now going to be part of the Villanueva family because of a surprise pregnancy. The context is very different, yes, but I believe that’s why Xiomara is so willing to go to the lengths she does to make Darci feel welcome. She has experience now! Xo is also so much more mature and sure of herself than she was at the start of the show, and that’s demonstrated here. She’s not petty towards Darci, but she also doesn’t let Darci walk all over her. I love that she sets boundaries, and I love that she wants Darci to feel like she has a place in the family! This isn’t how she saw her life going, but you know what? This kid is going to be loved, and all of these people are going to try their best. At least I hope so.
Jane and Adam
At the heart of this plot is a similar sentiment: There has to be room for people to try their best. So, while Xo does what she can to make space for Darci while not allowing herself to get hurt in the process, we also get to watch Jane and Adam explore a romance with the best of intentions. Throughout “Chapter Sixty-Six” is this idea that Jane has to split herself in two in order to hang with Adam. With him, she can be Party Jane, the version of herself who is reckless and fun and exciting. When she’s away from him, she’s Mom Jane, the person who is deeply responsible and organized. While this works initially, Adam later calls it like it is: Jane is the one compartmentalizing herself with Adam. He never asked her to split herself or her life for him. It makes sense that Jane wouldn’t want to introduce Adam to all the details or responsibilities of her life, but at the same time…. she never just asked him how involved he wanted to be.
Obviously, he likes her, and the writers aren’t trying to tell that kind of story. So what I liked about this is that it’s all about the potential. They won’t know if they’re a good fit until they try. And that’s what Adam is willing to do! He wants to see if there’s something here beyond the obvious attraction, beyond the silliness, beyond what I usually call puppy dog love. It’s that initial attraction, that giddiness a person might feel when they start to really like someone. Because that can’t sustain a romantic relationship if, say, you can’t co-habit. What if it turns out Adam isn’t that great around kids or he doesn’t like the responsibility? What if Jane finds it too complicated? There are so many “what if” scenarios, but the end of the arc for this episode is all about Adam and Jane throwing them aside. There’s no point in wondering what might happen if Adam stays. Jane wants him to, and therefore, he wants to stay in Miami, so… now they’re going to see what’s possible.
Rafael and Petra
While there are many parallel stories unfolding here that reference past ones, this plot served as a heart-wrenching contrast. I, for one, wasn’t bored by Petra and Rafael genuinely attempting better conversation. I actually found it really engaging because I could see them resisting their normal tendencies, and that shit is REALLY ENTERTAINING TO ME. Yet as the two of them are attempting to gain control of Luisa’s shares of the Marbella and return Rafael’s finances, an ugly truth came up, one that, in the end, Petra did not shy away from. I think this was a deeply mature choice for her, and one that the writers made to show us that Petra is trying to improve. To me, this was about Petra accepting her toxic past. Yes, she has cheated on Rafael. She has slept with people to advance her own life. Is she going to do that now? No. That being said, she’s acknowledging here that Rafael, for the time being, is going to see her as someone who is capable of these things again. Until she changes, until he doesn’t believe this about her, how can she form a new relationship with him?
It is a complicated and deeply emotional reason for breaking things off with Rafael, but you know what? I’m of the mind that Petra is making the best decision for herself. She can prove herself to Rafael, but as his friend. This kind of work within a romantic relationship? Yeah… I get her wanting a clean slate. She’s never going to find that with her history with Rafael, at least not with him.
So here’s to starting over.
JUST KIDDING, BECAUSE THE WRITERS THEN HAVE TO PUNCH ME IN THE GUT WITH TWO UTTERLY HORRIFYING PLOT TWISTS. And the parallel is there, too! Rogelio makes a promise to try his best to be the kind of father his child deserves; he promises to treat Darci with the respect she deserves; HE REIGNS VICTORIOUS OVER FABIAN. (Though I do feel a little uncomfortable with Rogelio’s choice to dress as a woman to influence the focus group. There’s something in this that rubbed too close to transmisogyny to me? At the same time, I don’t feel qualified to speak for this group of people, and I also recognize that the intent here was to also help Rogelio understand how he could be a better husband.) Which is then immediately ruined by the network’s decision to make ESTEBAN the new co-star of Rogelio’s telenovela??? NO. NO!!!!!! I HATE THIS!!!! Oh god, and the show hasn’t even addressed how uncomfortable this will be for Xiomara. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS A NIGHTMARE.
But I actually feel worse about the re-appearance of Magda. That is so horrible, especially since Magda is the prime source of toxicity in Petra’s life. NO!!!! NO, GO AWAY, STAY IN JAIL FOREVER. Ugh, how did she get out??? I DISLIKE THIS SO VERY, VERY MUCH.
The video for “Chapter Sixty-Six” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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