Mark Watches ‘Jane the Virgin’: S04E17 – Chapter Eighty-One

In the seventeenth and final episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, WHAT THE FUCK!!!!! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.

Trigger Warning: For talk of anti-immigrant rhetoric and anxiety, and for death and grief.

I… don’t know how to cope with this. This plot twist has… ruined me. RUINED. 


Through Alba, Jane the Virgin has given us a story that’s fairly common among immigrants here in America, at least a specific type. It is one that much of the Latinx and Hispanic communities could probably relate to, and that specificity is important. I would say that this only lightly touched on some of the more structural issues facing undocumented people in the States, though I didn’t expect this show to do a deep-dive on this issue. That’s not what Jane the Virgin is trying to do! But I will say that the anxiety on display here is very real. There’s a palpable relief when the ceremony is over because, for the first time since she came to the U.S., Alba no longer has to fear deportation.

It’s even harder to watch this show in 2020, knowing how vicious and violent the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol has gotten. It’s nothing new, but there’s a particular pitch to their oppressive nature that’s impossible to ignore. How many people have lived out Alba’s fear to its unfortunate end? What of the 545 children who may never be reunited with their parents? What of the decades of violence perpetrated by this imperialistic regime? All because of an invisible line in the Earth. All because of the xenophobic belief that people of a different country, of a different skin color, of a different culture, are inherently worse than what my country props up as the “ideal” citizen. 

On that level, there’s a wonderful charity in what Alba decides to do with Jorge. I fully expect the writers to wring her marriage to Jorge for all it’s worth emotionally, but her act is one of kindness. It shows the deep empathy she has for this man, because she had to miss out on grieving for her own parents. Which is another aspect to this unfolding tragedy: borders don’t care about families, about separation, about families spread across continents or oceans, about diaspora. And that is a tragedy, because we humans should be able to be with our family, especially in an instance like this one. 

So, is this marriage going to last? I would love for the two of them to stay together and actually fall in love with one another, but Jane the Virgin is a LOT. So we’ll see!

Shadowing Rogelio

I appreciate that both of these episodes act to humble River Fields. As ridiculous as Rogelio has been in the future, it’s interesting to watch him basically get a dose of his own medicine. In many respects, River is how he used to be! She centers herself in everything; she views herself as a better type of person because she’s a celebrity; she often misses the obvious because of how self-absorbed she is. As she spends more time around Rogelio in order to prepare for her role on the show, she grates on the nerves of everyone. In case you didn’t know: mispronouncing someone’s name like this is a deeply harmful act. The fact that River does it multiple times until she’s angrily called out? Well, THAT WAS VERY REALISTIC. A couple years ago, I got into an argument with someone who worked for a book festival because they kept correcting my own last name. I’m sadly used to it for two reasons. One, it’s not common here in the States, so people mispronounce it frequently. Even worse, though, is when people insist that I am spelling it wrong, like this woman at the festival. Who, by the way, inserted an apostrophe after the first O, and then, when I insisted that that wasn’t my name at all, told me that I was uneducated. 

Yeah, that was a fun day.

The truth is that River wasn’t actually paying attention. She had just inserted herself into the Villanueva family! Xiomara ended up being right about why that was, but that’s still no excuse for the way she messed up so many things. Again, it was hard not to see this as a mirror for Rogelio, which is one of the reasons that it felt so just that both Rogelio and Xiomara took River to task. Someone like River wouldn’t understand a close family like this, which is why she was drawn to the Villanuevas. But I think there’s another level to this: She didn’t understand the importance of Alba’s party because she has never had to deal with the anxiety of being undocumented. She took her citizenship for granted, and this was nothing more than a party to her. 

I’m glad she learned otherwise. I just hope it sticks. 

Moving Forward, Moving Backward

Well, it’s a testament to the writing that somehow, this devastating and shocking plot is not the most surprising thing in the season four finale. 

Because WHAT THE FUCK. You know, I was worried before about Petra’s complicity in Anezka’s death because the show hadn’t actually given us what had happened on that balcony. You don’t withhold something like that unless it’s for a reason. Still, as Petra and Jane Ramos moved closer and closer to one another, I thought we were heading towards an important turning point in their characterization. Both were learning to trust again, but in particular, Petra’s arc was about her learning to accept that she was worthy of love. 

Unfortunately, there was a single thread left hanging, and because of a wonderful decision, that thread was pulled. Y’all. I was so happy! Jane said she loved Petra and wanted to wait until Petra was on the same page emotionally before making a decision to move in. AND PETRA WAS!!! Oh god, that scene where Rafael told Petra to accept being happy??? ALL OF THIS WAS PART OF PETRA’S GROWTH. Everything was finally moving forward!!!

And then, the other shoe dropped.

Almost literally, I guess. It’s hard not to see this from Jane Ramos’s perspective. Because even if JR has the full context of what Anezka did to Petra—which I assume she does—there’s still a difference between knowing the truth and finding it out after JR gave up her entire career in order to get Petra’s case dismissed with prejudice. It certainly looks like manipulation from her point of view! How many lies did Petra tell? How often did she nudge JR away from the truth?

For a moment, I thought that this was it. That Petra and JR would be no more. But then… Krishna. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that I THOUGHT THAT KRISHNA HAD DIED WHEN SHE JUMPED OUT THAT WINDOW. I mean… I guess I get why? But also, now that I think of it… not one person ever mentioned Krishna dying, so that’s fun. Good job, Mark! I don’t think that changes my opinions on the optics of their relationship; Krishna still feels like a sacrifice to Petra’s story, especially since Petra’s mistreatment of Krishna is more grounds for a plot twist than an actual exploration of Krishna as a character. Still, I gotta admit that I got this INCREDIBLY WRONG. She is… not dead, Mark. LORD.

Anyway, a blackmailer is dead. JR shot someone. (As opposed to someone shooting JR on Dallas. GOD, WAS JANE RAMOS’S NAME A SET UP FOR THIS JOKE THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME.) I guess I have to re-visit who I thought the blackmailer was? I don’t think Luisa is a believable option anymore, so… maybe Milos? He did know that song that Petra used to sing, and maybe Jane’s information was faulty?

More importantly: Will this drive Petra and JR together or apart?

Rose’s Secret

This is a telenovela. I should know that cliffhangers are in steady supply, and that anything can fucking happen. Even then… I don’t even know what to say. 

Wait. I do. As I said on video, Rafael’s behavior now makes complete sense. Of course he’d go to a dark place upon learning that Michael is still alive. Look, I don’t even know how to analyze that because HOW. HE FUCKING DIED. THERE WAS A FUNERAL. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS WAS ON THE TABLE AS A POSSIBILITY. And how did Rose know? Did she have something to do with this?

Regardless… yeah. That would mess anyone up. For Rafael, he’s afraid. I know it! This was Jane’s big romance, and it ended suddenly, unfairly, and tragically. It’s not like they broke up with any intention. So, the anxiety is obvious: Will Jane want to get back with her husband? WHO ISN’T DEAD? WHO SHE IS STILL MARRIED TO?

Oh my god. It’s such a telenovela plot, but I admit that as completely fucked up as this is, I want to see how the writers will deal with this. There’s so much potential. And like… what the fuck. Jane promised Rafael that she would love him unconditionally, that there was nothing he could tell her that would make her want to leave him, and I’m certain she didn’t consider this possibility at ALL. AT ALL!!!! At the same time, I respect that Rafael brought Michael back. He knew that he had to, even if it meant his relationship with Jane—which is in such a good place!!!—would go away.

Holy fuck. I think this plot twist broke me. I genuinely did not see it coming.

The video for “Chapter Eighty-One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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