In the seventh episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, Jane takes a roadtrip with her family, Rafael has feelings, and Anezka tests those around her. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For talk of death, grief, gaslighting, mention of suicide.
This was both stressful and delightful, AKA a distillation of everything that is Jane the Virgin.
Once again, this show manages to hit the nail on the head when it comes to publishing. Did you know that it’s largely intentional that authors are often paired together in the way they are for book events? (I STILL MISS THEM SO MUCH.) This is especially the case for debut authors, authors who aren’t considered top priority, etc. The logic is that a more established author, especially one who is writing in the same genre or age range, will bring out more people than a new author would on their own. So sometimes, it IS big deal if you’re paired with someone who is very, very famous. Some of y’all got to see me in conversation on tour with like… Nic Stone. And Jason Reynolds. AND NINA LACOUR, WHO IS SO INFLUENTIAL ON MY WRITING, HOW IS IT THAT SHE WAS INTERVIEWING ME, I DON’T GET IT. I loved that Jane got her first experience with that, and we got to see her with Iyanla. It’s true that in these situations, people might be more interested in the author who is more well-known. Even though it was Jane’s tour! I’ve had it happen where the first question wasn’t for me at all, but you know what? I just feel lucky to be able to do this at ALL. It doesn’t personally bother me. Also, I would love to do an event with Iyanla? Putting that energy out in the universe.
There’s another thing that was so deeply realistic that I can’t let it go by without talking about it. I often am very thankful I spent years touring under the Mark Does Stuff project because it prepared me for an inevitable thing that pretty much all authors have to deal with: less than 10 people showing up to an event. I have the glorious distinction of experiencing a whopping ZERO people showing up to an event. It was a bakery/coffee shop in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2015. The day I got to the city, it was coincidentally the start of the NCAA tournament AND a massive blizzard hit the city. It caused so many road closures that everyone who intended on showing up got stuck at home and couldn’t come into the city! Once I went through something like this, I lost the anxiety I would have over no one showing up. Because it happened! And it wasn’t that bad! I got the night off and was shocked by the meal I had that evening. (Sushi. In Charlotte. It was stunning!) I got to go to bed early and get some much-needed rest, which made it better for me the next day when I was traveling and writing. (Working on Anger is a Gift, actually!)
I was very happy that this didn’t happen on my debut tour. All ten stops on it were jam-packed with people, but over the last three years, I’ve certainly done events, often paired with other authors, where I only sold two or three books, where maybe five people showed up who even knew who I was. But like Jane does here, you still give your all to those people who showed up, who took time out of their day to see you, and especially to those who are kind enough to buy a book from you.
I think of this industry in terms of the long haul, and again, my experience doing all of this for Mark Does Stuff absolutely informs that. How do you build a community or a following that sticks around? Well, you try to be as kind as you can, you try to be as genuine as you can, and you appreciate those who appreciate you. That’s what Jane does! Only eight people showed up to her first romance convention reading, but that’s just the start. You put in the work, you write, you promote yourself, and most of the time, that eight grows into ten. Into twenty. Into fifty.
And you CERTAINLY don’t let a trade review poison your attempt to put stories out in the world. That’s not to say this wasn’t completely believable or relatable. IT ABSOLUTELY WAS. I got a number of glowing reviews for Anger, and some very wonderful ones for Each of Us a Desert, but I also got my fair share of cruel ones, of reviews that were condescending, of reviews that tried to make my book out to be something that it wasn’t. But you ignore them. Truly! That’s what I do! Same with Goodreads. None of those things are for me. Trade reviews are for the industry, and rarely, if ever, is a trade review going to make or break you in publishing. Goodreads is for readers, not me. I have not looked at my Goodreads in nearly three years, especially after the last time I did check and saw a spectacularly racist review… before the book was even out.
I have people in my life to give me constructive feedback in good faith. I don’t need that from Goodreads. And while Jane’s first trade review wasn’t glowing, I suspect it is just the first of many reviews she’ll get.
Be brave, Jane. You are a writer. Keep going.
Keeping a Secret
I spent most of this episode believing that Jane was being wronged. I totally understood that everyone wanted her to enjoy her book tour, since this was such a big part of her dream. Plus, after Adam dumped her (I AM STILL UPSET ABOUT THIS), she deserved to have some time not worrying about everything! But Mateo was pretty damn sick, and once Jane found out that multiple people had decided not to tell her? I knew she would freak out.
Which is… the point, isn’t it? Jane’s very understandable fears over illness and death, which stem from the loss of Michael, were picked up by Mateo. We’ve already seen so many examples of this in the show, but kids are a million times more observant than adults think they are! They pick up on SO MANY THINGS. The context here isn’t even surprising in hindsight. Once I saw that flashback scene between Mateo and Rafael, I was immediately reminded of Mateo’s moment with Adam on the front porch of his home. Mateo is very aware of the concept of death, and so, Rafael made this decision so that Mateo wouldn’t panic every time he got sick. WHEW, THAT EPIPHANY HURT. I didn’t even notice this was happening either!!! Of course, matters were also exacerbated by the stress of tour, by the trade review, by the recent Adam situation, but STILL. This was an important moment for Jane, and I bet we’ll see her modify her behavior around this so she doesn’t give her kid a whole new anxiety.
Complications of Love
If there’s any connective tissue between the many plots of this episode, then it concerns how complicated romantic relationships can be. As I mentioned earlier, the pall of Adam’s break-up with Jane hangs over everything. The silver lining to it all, though, is that Jane knows that she can love again, and she’s also aware that it won’t ever be the same type of love that she had with Michael. That’s a good thing! Just because love manifests differently doesn’t mean it is any less meaningful. It’s this mindset that (initially, at least) helps Alba come to terms with the idea of loving again after such an immense loss. Granted, she’s been dealing with the death of Mateo for a long time, but people all have different ways of coping with grief. We’ve seen that all over Jane the Virgin! Yet Alba watches Jane love again, get her heart broken again, and KEEP GOING. (Seriously, I will never get over how fulfilling it is to watch the Villanueva women help one another.) And that’s what inspires her to give Jorge a chance, to throw herself at the mercy of love! Except she doesn’t? Oh god, why did she say NO??? Is she panicking? What’s happening here?????
Speaking of hope… what’s with the whole Jane/Rafael thing? Y’all know I was in support of them breaking up. Their relationship had gotten so toxic towards the end. And now… oh, why does this keep happening? I keep seeing glimpses of them together, and I don’t know if it’s nostalgia at work or what. But I could see them together again! Maybe? It also might be a good idea if they don’t try romance ever again. BUT WHAT IF. After that immensely dramatic and romantic kiss? AH. WHY. WHY AM I SO INVESTED IN THESE CHARACTERS’ LIVES. Oh, right, because this show is SO FUCKING GOOD. Ugh, I love these people so much?
So, while I eagerly await finding out how Jane felt about that kiss (since I noticed her heart wasn’t doing that glowing thing like Rafael’s was), there’s ANOTHER relationship going through it in this episode. But Rogelio and Xiomara aren’t dealing with break-ups or the potential of getting back together. No, this is about how to stay together. I do enjoy when fiction explores existing relationships and shows that it requires work to maintain them. And not just romantic relationships! Maintaining friendships is hard as hell, y’all! (Actually, I find it even more difficult during this pandemic. I truly didn’t realize how much I relied on face-to-face interactions to keep my friendships going, and I’ve had to adapt.) In the context of the fight that Rogelio and Xiomara have, it was easy to understand why Xiomara was so angry, but I was so fascinated by where they both end up. The actual solution to this issue isn’t going to be distance; they have to work on their guilt and their insecurities together. So I’m hopeful that therapy won’t just be good for Xiomara, but for Rogelio, who has his own issues to deal with. And more than anything else: They’ve got to be willing to do this together.
The Truth About Anezka
Holy shit, I wasn’t ready.
Now that Anezka is officially gone and her arc is over, I remain conflicted about her character. She started off as a foil to Petra, but then, because of Magda’s abuse and manipulations, she was compelled to be awful to her sister. That isn’t a means to absolve her of how horrifically she treated Petra, or to say it wasn’t her fault when she gaslit Luisa to her face. That’s why I am so conflicted: I don’t think Anezka was ever truly held accountable for the things she did. She also was treated terribly! It is not even a secret or a subtextual element of the show that Magda and Petra didn’t even LIKE her. That’s LITERALLY the plot of this episode!!! So I was torn between feeling immense sympathy for her as the one one out and rage at the way she violated the bodily autonomy of multiple people.
And now she’s dead, after testing her family by FAKING HER DEATH. I… holy shit. This whole plot line was so much? I actually thought that Petra and Anezka were going to work together, and with Magda out of the picture, the two could repair their relationship. But it was never going to work, was it? There was no basis of trust at the heart of it all. None! Neither person trusted the other. And would they ever truly trust one another?
I don’t know. But wow. Did Petra just kill her sister in self-defense? There was no one else in that room… at least that I knew of. I also can’t ignore the terrible irony that Anezka died on the very coffin that was mistakenly delivered for her. Does that make it Chekov’s coffin?
The video for “Chapter Seventy-One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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