In the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, Rogelio and Darci face the truth; Alba panics; JR is introduced to everyone; and many important steps are made. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of cancer, grief
I REALLY LOVE THIS SHOW, Y’ALL.
Xo’s Recovery and Alba’s Test
As someone who has watched/helped multiple people recovery from major surgeries before, I appreciated that for the most part, Jane the Virgin didn’t hide the more uncomfortable and painful realities of the process. It’s not quite as gross as it could have been, but I also didn’t really expect the show to be graphic in the depiction of anything. Still, the show doesn’t shy away from showing Xiomara’s drainage bags, from addressing her exhaustion, from letting her talk about the shame and embarrassment she feels when people look at her differently. We also see how other people mess up with Xiomara, even when they’re intent is pure and they’re trying to do their best.
The obvious one is that Xiomara’s story intersects with Alba’s in a particularly frustrating way: Alba’s citizenship test is rapidly approaching due to a transposed date mistake. Alba understandably is torn! She wants to be there for her daughter and to take care of her, so she prioritizes Xo. The problem is… is that what Xo wants? Is that what Alba’s daughter needs?
I get Alba’s behavior in this episode, I really do! In the face of Xo’s recovery, that citizenship test seems pointless. Who cares about being a citizen if your daughter’s health doesn’t get better? Of course, there’s a whole unspoken aspect of this that affected Alba: Alba believed that Xo’s recovery was happening too slowly. At the heart of this, though, is a familiar conflict. Alba simply wasn’t giving Xiomara the space that she needed! Literally and figuratively, I should say. Yes, Alba was smothering Xo, but she also didn’t realize the immense pressure she was putting on her! After Xo felt embarrassed when the local postman saw her, she withdrew into herself, refusing to go outside on walks like she was supposed. There’s a powerful point here in how we as a society view the sick and how we treat people once we perceive them as being sick. (And the opposite side of that coin is probably: the way we invalidate people because their disabilities aren’t “visible” enough to us.) Xiomara needed space to express this, but she didn’t exactly feel safe to do so!
I’m glad, then, that the Villanueva women are finally on the same page, though this got SO UPSETTING for a moment. I thought that Alba had really missed her appointment. LOOK. UPSETTING THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING A LOT LATELY ON THIS SHOW. Like the gut-wrenching rejection from Jorge. So look, I’ll take a good thing when it happens. (Also current 2020 mood.) Alba was in such a terrible state, and she aced her damn test! That means this episode ended with them all in a good place. Xiomara was able to open up to her mom and her daughter about the complicated things she felt about her body, and Alba came to understand her daughter’s needs a lot better.
Whew, that rejection stung, though. SO BADLY.
Rogelio and Darci
I almost can’t believe that the most mature person in this scenario was ESTEBAN. One of the most deeply immature people on the whole damn show!!! Except after the bitter, messed up fight that Darci and Rogelio have, he ends up being the most reasonable person here. Why?
Because he was the only who remembered that they were all trying to do the best for their daughter.
Still, before this was resolved, this was one of the worst wrecks the show had ever given us. Because holy shit, Rogelio, THE DECISION TO LIE AND SAY YOU COULDN’T BE BABY’S NANNY BECAUSE OF XO’S CANCER WAS BAD IN LITERALLY EVERY WAY IMAGINABLE. I knew there was no way he would ever be able to pull of a lie so egregious, and so, this episode became a waiting game. How long? How long would it be before the truth came out? How angry would all the involved parties be? Because they all had a right to be DEEPLY FUCKING FURIOUS.
And yet, this plot still surprised me. First of all, the writers were clever to have the truth be revealed so early. The structure of this plot is fascinating because I assumed that would be a reveal towards the end of “Chapter Seventy-Nine.” Instead, Rogelio must face the wrath of Darci and Xiomara for his terrible mistake, which is what motivates him to try and poach Felicity, the nanny that Darci originally tried to get. (WHO WAS MARIO LOPEZ’S NANNY. oh. my. god??? I am pretty sure I have told this story before, but if not: I was once on a triathlon team for the running portion, and my spot to wait for the swimmer to arrive was right next to Mario Lopez’s spot. I got to watch that man take off a wetsuit and he was ten feet away from me in only a speedo. GOOD BYE.)
It ended up being far more interesting to me that Esteban—fucking ESTEBAN, OH MY GOD—finally called out Darci and Rogelio for their toxic behavior. THAT FELT HUGE. Like, if the biggest asshole ever calls you an asshole??? Maybe pay attention to that? In an odd and not-totally-similar context to Alba, Darci and Rogelio suddenly feel comfortable to tell one another the truth. Once they do? A lot is put on the table. We learn more about why these two are constantly at one another’s throats. Why Darci withholds important information from Rogelio. Why Rogelio couldn’t just tell Darci the truth! Does that mean all their issues will be solved? No, I don’t think so, and they’ve definitely got a lot more work to do. But… this felt like a start. A real start.
Now let’s see if it sticks.
I’ll be honest: I wonder if I find myself interested in someone, they’ll have to cope with the reality of my own grief, much like Rafael does here. Granted, this is the main reason I am still single and not pursuing anyone. (Okay… the pandemic. That, too, LMAO. Who is dating during this??? How do you not have a thousand panic attacks????) I want to get to a point where I don’t feel as raw. And I certainly don’t feel like I did back in January! I have gotten better, and my extensive therapy over the past seven months has been a huge help. I know I wouldn’t be where I am as of the day I’m writing this without that kind of assistance. At the same time, it’s not like you just go to a few sessions, and then you’re “cured.” Grief doesn’t work like that. It’s often a lifelong process. My dad passed over fourteen years ago, and I still get waves a grief. They’re farther apart, yes, and often, they’re nowhere near as intense as they were back when it happened.
I suppose I could say the same thing about my ex, but it’s just to a different degree. It does hurt in a much more present way. I mean… eleven months isn’t a long time to live beyond a death so major, but the point I’m leading to is that Jane the Virgin is sympathetic towards the long journey that is grief. It’s been years since Michael died, and even though Jane is moving closer and closer to Rafael, Michael will always have a place in her heart. At the same time, I get why Rafael was so hurt by the story that Jane wrote after Rafael inspired her. Actually, hurt but… understanding? That’s the thing that made this hard: He gets why she thought of him, especially after she reveals that it was the anniversary of his death!
I wonder if I’ll get to that point. I am trying to do my best not to ramp myself up for December 6th. It’s hard, especially since the surrounding holidays are so deeply tied to what happened, so I feel like I have to get through a whole season in order to outlast this. But it’s just one year. And hopefully, one year turns to two, turns to five, turns to ten. And maybe I’ll forget the date, not because he was unimportant, but because the grief is just smaller. What I ultimately loved about this plot is that Jane and Rafael are still so willing to head into the unknown. This is all about building a new love, not a replacement for what came before. (On two fronts: This is not like their first relationship, nor will it be like Jane and Michael’s.) It’s a comforting idea. They are more mature, they are handling this relationship really well, and now, they get to craft a whole new love.
I like that. I hope I get that someday, too.
MY QUEER HEART CAN’T HANDLE THIS. Y’ALL. IT’S SO GOOD. REPEATEDLY. COMPLETELY. IN EVERY FACET. I just???? Am so happy with this? The show still has everyone being messy and complicated and layered, and I appreciate that. I appreciate that this queer relationship is not treated any different than the straight ones, especially when it came to Jane’s rules about the family. There’s no friction or conflict around Petra dating a woman. Instead, the conflict is about Jane not being liked by Jane Ramos. It’s about Petra struggling to communicate just how much she’s come to like Jane Ramos. It’s about the awkward meeting of couples!
It all felt…
So! I love that I get to skip over any potential weirdness that could have come from this relationship, and instead? LET’S JUST CRINGE A LOT. Because oh shit, does Jane ever come on STRONG. And I get it! First of all, on a very basic level, Jane wants to be liked by… well, literally everyone. I CAN RELATE. DEEPLY. But it also is much more complicated than that! Jane wants this family to work out because she cares so much about it! And that includes Petra, and look. I just need to say this. I know it’s partially played for humor, but seeing Jane and Petra say that they love one another? That still felt huge to me, given what we’ve seen from their relationship over the course of this show. THEY DEFINITELY MEAN IT AND AT ONE TIME, THIS MOMENT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE.
It’s also an interesting writing choice because Jane’s awkwardness is what inspires Jane Ramos and Petra to have a very necessary conversation about what they want. I was refreshed by the fact that the show didn’t try to change JR’s mind about having kids, but rather made it just one aspect of who she is. And just because JR doesn’t want kids herself doesn’t mean she’s ruling out being in a relationship with a mother. But these two still have to discuss these things, and it didn’t help initially that it was through Jane that JR discovered how much Petra liked her. I’m reminded that JR really likes Petra’s vulnerability. Well, here’s Petra’s chance to be vulnerable! And I think that she’s got to learn to open up more. I really think she’s safe with JR, you know? THIS RELATIONSHIP FEELS GOOD.
I would also like for Magda to be jettisoned off the surface of Earth immediately. UGH, COULD SHE GO AWAY.
The video for “Chapter Seventy-Nine” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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