In the thirteenth episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, the Villanueva family waits for difficult news; Petra and JR get closer to the truth; Rafael tracks down his parents. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of breast cancer, abuse, trauma, suicide.
Well, I mentioned this on video, but somehow, I wrote that entire last review without addressing the major plot twist that would CLEARLY affect future episodes. Look, I don’t know how it slipped my mind. I WAS VERY DEVOTED TO WRITING ABOUT OTHER THINGS, I GUESS. But lord… this was intense. There was no way it wasn’t going to be, and from personal experience, I know how agonizing it is to have to wait for this sort of news. My therapist often tells me not to worry about things until there is something to worry about, but hi, anxiety brain here, THIS IS EXCEPTIONALLY HARD TO DO. For what it’s worth, there are a number of things that the characters do here that are good techniques for dealing with this kind of anxiety! Distraction isn’t always the best coping mechanism, but it is a wonderful way to redirect attention. My therapist frequently asks me: What can you do about something causing you anxiety? And if there is truly nothing, is there somewhere else you can focus your energy? Jane tries this, and Rogelio is actually a lot more successful at it.
Still, it’s so hard to have to wait to find out whether your whole life is going to change. I don’t talk about this much, but I had a scare myself my senior year of high school. My mother was diagnosed with (and survived) lung cancer, and then, near the end of my senior year, a routine physical led me to talking about the asthmatic attacks I was having, which led to an X-Ray, which led to some weird growths discovered in my lungs. I ended up being fine, but my parents had smoked around us my entire childhood up until my mom’s cancer diagnosis. I thought I had cancer from secondhand smoke. Those days waiting for the call back were just… christ. It’s hard to explain it, but I think this episode did a wonderful, wonderful job portraying it.
And what a fucking gut punch that ending is. When the Villanueva family all knelt down to speak the Lord’s prayer… fuck. I’m devastated. I’m hoping for the best with this show, and there’s a part of me that’s like… well, the Villanueva family is untouchable, right? The worst can’t actually happen, can it? UGH, GREAT, A NEW THING TO WORRY ABOUT.
I really like Brooke Shields in this role, especially since she’s able to match the energy that Jaime Camil brings to Rogelio. In a weird way, that makes me believe what the network sees in these two. Like, on the surface, it’s absurd. How could they possibly be paired together? And yet, I’m starting to believe it. There’s something here! It’s also interesting to me that in adapting Santos for an American audience, River is pulling the show out of some of its worst qualities. Because what little we saw of the original telenovela in early seasons was… well, it’s bad. Especially in how women are treated! So now I’m interested to see how these changes River has made to the very premise will change the dynamic. It’s exciting, y’all! Like, I still want this show-within-a-show to be ridiculous and over-the-top, since it is a telenovela, but now I’m curious what’s going to be different this time. River’s also very savvy when it comes to social media and the industry, so this has a lot of potential. I’M GAME, LET’S DO THIS.
HI, THIS WHOLE PLOT IS SO, SO GOOD. I loved that the writers leaned on the fact that Petra had a difficult childhood that didn’t feel all that magical to her, thus she raises her children to be a lot more practical than most. That doesn’t mean they aren’t happy, and it certainly doesn’t mean that kids who don’t believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy are inherently worse. But within cultures who do tell these stories, it’s understandably seen as a part of the innocence of childhood. My parents kept up the story for a small bit of my childhood, right up until they were able to convince us that it was unnecessary because: Jesus. (I’m… literally not kidding. I HAD A FUN CHILDHOOD.) In a sense, Jane also wanted to preserve the magic of these stories for Mateo. That’s partially because she’s a storyteller! I feel like Jane loves to be able to share these stories with her son. But it’s impossible to ignore that Jane is desperate to protect Mateo’s innocence because of the other major thing unfolding in this episode. I’m sure that despite that she never says it aloud, Jane was worried about having to tell Mateo about Xo and cancer. So she clung to the Tooth Fairy story, then lashed out when Petra’s girls spoiled it for Mateo.
AND THEN THIS LEADS TO ONE OF THE VERY BEST SCENES IN THE WHOLE DAMN SHOW. Y’all, I will never forget how magical and sweet Petra was in this episode. She did something because she knew that she’d hurt Jane and Mateo, and I love how natural this was for her. PETRA FROM FOUR SEASONS AGO WOULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS. And it’s been such a treat to watch her become less self-absorbed, you know??? (Well, not completely, but still.) SHE DRESSED UP AS THE TOOTH FAIRY FROM XO’S STORY, Y’ALL. Oh my god, I can’t get over this, WHAT A PERFECT MOMENT.
Well. There goes my longstanding theory that Luisa was behind everything.
I also want to start this off by saying that I really appreciated what we saw here with Luisa. I know I’ve been critical of what the writers have done with her over the course of the show, and it’s often because I just want her to be given the same depth as the other characters. With “Chapter Seventy-Seven,” we do get some major growth in Luisa’s character, and I think they handled this well. It helped that Jane had that assignment to re-write a part of her life from the point of view of someone else. First of all, that helped both Jane and the audience get deeper into Luisa’s head, to understand what she’s been through and why her trauma has manifested as it has. It’s an act of empathy!
From that, the show builds on Luisa’s journey when Rafael finds her at the same inn where her mother once hid out. What little screen time Luisa had here was… well, it was just different. I could tell that she had found peace, or at least some form of it. Because this journey isn’t over for her, and it won’t be for a while. That being said: I’m proud of her. Giving up all that money and property and shares… she found freedom. Now, Luisa gets to find out who she is outside of the pressures of money, and outside the abusive, toxic, co-dependent relationship she had with Rose.
I just hope she gets a happy ending.
So, let me start by saying that I do appreciate that the identity of the blackmailer was not a surprise. The show has been hinting at this, yes, and there’s certainly multiple seasons worth of supporting evidence to build up Krishna’s motivation. Because it’s really awful how Petra treated her all this time!!! But merely acknowledging that is… not really enough? Petra isn’t held accountable at all, since Krishna’s death by suicide erases all the ramifications for Petra. In fact, as far as I can tell, everything is resolved? And the optics of that—a queer woman of color killing herself so that a queer white woman can be free of responsibility—feels particularly callous. Also… why the fuck did Krishna even make that decision? It literally comes out of nowhere, and the note she leaves behind is mostly a vehicle to deliver a joke, rather than an important character moment. What the hell, y’all?
The video for “Chapter Seventy-Seven” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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