In the sixth episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, Jane’s dream comes true. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extensive and continued talk of suicide, ableism, gaslighting, and grief/death.
I have a couple things I wanted to address in “Chapter Seventy” before I tell y’all a story, so bear with me. This might be a long one.
Magda In Control
For what it’s worth, I think it’s healthy and mature of Rafael to stick to the boundary he set in this episode: He is not going to get involved in any scheme to get the Marbella back from Magda and Anezka. After getting caught up in this very problem multiple times in the past and it NEVER working out well, it’s wonderful to see him learning this lesson. (Y’all know what I’m going to say: HURRAH TO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.) I also think it’s a good idea for him to be humbled a bit and find out first hand how hard it is to have to work like everyone else. Meaning you can’t just make up your own schedule; meaning you aren’t just given jobs and opportunities on the spot; meaning that the workforce is often a brutal, demeaning thing. If he does get the Marbella back—and the twist at the end of this episode suggests that this is imminent—maybe it will make him a better manager.
I am also TIRED of Magda, and I dislike her so much. It looks like this season’s big death is Anezka, who was murdered by… probably her mother? Look, I don’t trust Magda, and I suspect that she knew Petra’s scheme worked too well on Anezka. There is a part of me, despite all the awful things Anezka has done, that is sad about Anezka’s frequent treatment by her family. There was a moment during Petra’s big confrontation where I realized that both Magda and Petra were both claiming that they cared more than the other about Anezka, but did either of them actually care about her? To an extent, I do understand if Petra didn’t. Anezka did something monstrous to Petra and was never held accountable for it in any meaningful way. Still, that’s why I was so worried about what Anezka overheard of Jane and Fabian’s conversation. She clearly felt like she wasn’t appreciated, and all of that language? It sounded so much like suicidal ideation. So my heart dropped in the end when we saw Anezka. Except… she didn’t kill herself? Why set her up to look like she did? To cover up a murder?
I admit that I feel weird about all of this, but mostly, I just want Magda and her toxicity gone. Look what she did in a relatively short time! She gaslit and manipulated Luisa; she manipulated and abused both of her daughters; and I still think she killed Anezka. UGH, WHY WASN’T SHE THE ONE TO DIE.
Oh, Rogelio. His breakthrough here, while uncomfortable, is necessary. He has spent three and a half seasons overcompensating for all the time he spent separated from his daughter. On some level, it’s understandable, and there certainly have been times where both Xo and Jane appreciated it. But what we see unfold in “Chapter Seventy” is classic Rogelio… yet maybe it was time for this “classic” side of him to finally go away. It IS sweet what he does here. First of all: THE BOOKSTORE COUPLE. OH MY GOD. I love them? I want to have all my future book launches with them? (Also, do you realize how many casually queer characters there were in this episode alone??? There’s Alejandro and Enrique, who own the bookstore; then there’s Adam; then there’s Krishna. Luisa isn’t onscreen but is mentioned repeatedly. I read Rudy as pretty queer, which I know doesn’t quite count, because if it did, then I’d also have to add Jane and Petra. ANYWAY.) It’s a huge thing that Rogelio stepped in to help the bookstore, and it’s admirable that he wanted to give his daughter the launch party she always wanted. At the same time, he made a HUGE financial decision without consulting Xiomara. He tangled everything up in the article for People en Espanol. He took an unfortunate situation and made it hopelessly complicated for literally everyone involved. And it certainly didn’t help that he ALSO re-activated his blood feud with Fabian.
Oh, Fabian. Remember when I really liked that himbo? Yeah, he’s awful, and the very features and traits that used to seem kind of endearing are now immensely annoying. UGH, CAN YOU JUST LEAVE JANE ALONE. Like, who actively campaigns to ruin someone else’s joy like that? A SOULLESS PERSON, OKAY. Things ended up working out in the end regardless, but that uncomfortable conversation Jane and Rogelio had in the bookstore? So needed, y’all! Jane definitively stated that she needed her father to stop overcompensating and to move forward with their relationship, rather than let his guilt over the past guide him.
Unfortunately, his honesty has the opposite affect on Xiomara. Understandably so! It made sense that Jane wasn’t as bothered by Rogelio’s admission that he suspected Xiomara was pregnant and deliberately avoided her. But when he tells Xo that? Oh, no, no sir. Of course she took it differently! She was made to feel so awful for that whole predicament, and it was predicated on Rogelio being completely ignorant about Jane. But if he wasn’t? And he suspected the truth and simply refused to confront it? That changes the entire dynamic. I do have faith that they can work through this, but shit. This was HARD to watch.
Life After Death
Buckle in. This might be a hard one.
I know I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: There is much of Jane the Virgin that feels particularly designed for what I’m going through in my life. The show simply would have hit different and meant something else if I’d watched it in real time. I would have reached the finale last summer, and the events that have made it feel so close to home all transpired after that.
So, let me tell you a story.
Some of you might now it by now. I’ve kept largely quiet about the influence of my ex who passed last year on my newest book. Part of that is because I still find myself groping in the darkness and clinging to privacy. Most days, I don’t feel like turning my trauma and my grief into something that is consumable by others. The very thought is exhausting, and as more and more people join the sort of global grief we’re all going through right now, I find public displays of grief to be deeply, deeply triggering. Which isn’t any person’s fault! I just have to take care of myself, and it means that writing or talking about this stuff publicly has to be a calculated, intentional thing.
I watched this episode and it was one of those rare pieces of fiction that felt too personal. Not just the grief stuff; once again, Jane the Virgin does a fantastic job with publishing. I loved seeing Jane get her finished copies. I loved that she sold an INCREDIBLY realistic number of books at her launch!!! That is genuinely considered a good number of books to sell at an event. (Wow, I miss book events so much, y’all.) I love that none of this felt like an outsider had crafted Jane’s story.
But this hit on another level. If you happen to have picked up Each of Us a Desert and read it all the way through, then you know. And perhaps this should serve as a warning: I did make the decision to tell the truth about the origins of one part of the book in the Acknowledgments. So yeah, that scene where Rafael read Jane’s acknowledgments? It took everything in me not to break down.
Because the person I most want to read them is not alive anymore.
The context is slightly different here, but the end result feels the same. I did not write my book after my ex died. Yet there was so much in this episode that pressed on my heart. I based an entire character arc on my relationship with him, and I did it back when we were both still together, too. He passed about ten months ago, so in February of 2020, I got the final round of edits on the novel. I had an entire portion of the Acknowledgments written, thanking my ex for the influence he had on the book. It was in the present tense. And reading it during those edits… there are few sensations like it. It crushed me, to be honest, because I could see so much hope in what I had written. I had clearly done all of this in devotion to him, but… he was just gone.
One of the most difficult things I’ve had to work through in therapy is spoken aloud in this episode. (To Isabel Allende, no less! I LOST MY SHIT, I LOVE HER SO MUCH.) There is a guilt that manifests when you outlast the person you love. My ex died while I was still deeply, deeply in love with him. There’s a part of me that also felt like once he was gone, the world began to rapidly fall apart. Which I know is absurd, but it was a way for my mind to hold tight to SOMETHING in all the chaos. So, as good things started to happen—some of which I can’t even tell y’all about yet—I would feel elation, followed by a crushing weight of guilt. How was I allowed to experience happiness again? How was it fair for me to celebrate a book—one that was deeply influenced by him—when he isn’t here anymore?
My therapist has been trying to help come to the exact place Jane gets to in this episode. (With the help of Isabel Allende, I WILL NEVER FUCKING GET OVER THIS, OH MY GOD.) My own guilt is a part of my grief. But it doesn’t mean that I should let it control my life forever. I am allowed to be happy. I am allowed to celebrate life. I am allowed to live passionately! Am I at that point right now? Somewhat. It’s a long journey, and Jane’s had four years now. I know that it’s going to take time and it’s going to take practice. And that’s the kicker: I have to actively choose to see things differently, since my default is to go to the saddest thing imaginable. (THANKS, DEPRESSION.) So, even as the world is crumbling down around us, I’ve found some comfort in clinging to joy. I certainly cried on the day that Each of Us a Desert came out. Because of mail complications, I didn’t actually see a finished copy until I went to the bookstore the morning of my launch in order to sign books. I caressed the cover. I looked at all the chapter illustrations. And I found myself flipping to the back, and I read what I wrote about him, and I cried.
Because I missed him.
Because I wished he was still here.
Because I had accomplished a goal I had been working towards since I was a kid, and I was proud of myself.
That’s what I cling to most days. I did it, y’all. I’m an author. With more than one book out! (And many more to come.) I am allowing myself to be happy about that, because there is nothing wrong with living passionately after losing someone you love.
Thank you, Jane the Virgin, for helping me realize that. I deserve to be happy again. While I am not at the point where I can consider love or romance yet, I now know something I didn’t before: I could get my heart broken again. If that day comes, it will hurt, but like Jane experiences here, it also means that I’ll have been able to truly move on. Six months ago, that was an impossible thought.
Time makes that impossibility fade away. So I’ll give myself time, I’ll give myself kindness, and I will try my very best to accept that I have a life after death.
Special shout-out: Meg, who commissioned this episode, wrote a really sweet note about choosing this particular episode because it featured Jane seeing her hardcover copies for the first time. Thank you, friend!!! WE SHALL CRY TOGETHER.
The video for “Chapter Seventy” 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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