In the second episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, Jane tries (perhaps too hard) with Jason; Rogelio’s ego arises again; Luisa takes a risk. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For talk of trauma, death, grief.
I gotta say this: I appreciate that this show is willing to go to places it hasn’t been. Because wow, pretty much every plot here is deeply uncomfortable?
You know, let’s focus this initially on me. Because guess what? I’m also guilty of a focus that isn’t fair, even though these are all fictional characters. Even in the previous review, I kept bouncing between using Jason and Michael, when this is… this is Jason. The end. That’s who this person is. Admittedly, it was hard to figure out what to say, but I feel like the greater point here is that Jane in particular kept trying to force Jason to be Michael. I understand why, but River Fields, even while being self-absorbed, helped Jason process something he hadn’t been given the space to process.
Over the course of “Chapter Eighty-Three,” we see a lot of Jane trying her best to trigger Jason’s memories. At the same time, it’s clear that Jason is increasingly bored or irritated by Jane’s attempts. (Or at least I thought that was what Jason was going through.) Jane wasn’t letting Jason guide anything. She chose what memories to go through; she chose what to do with any of the things that she saved, rather than let Jason make decisions. At every step of this, Jason was was not actually centered in this process. Jane was. And it’s why it hurt so much whenever Jane was disappointed! Of course Jane felt bad whenever these deeply personal moments didn’t resonate with Jason. At the same time, none of this was his fault. He was deliberately traumatized by Rose, his memories were wiped, and he was DROPPED IN A STATE HE HAD NEVER BEEN IN AND HAD TO RE-START FROM NOTHING.
I know that there are complicated feelings about the word “victim,” but for Jason, it helped him put his feelings into words. Awful things were done to him, and it wasn’t fair that he was being made to feel like he was letting people down.
That’s why the line dancing scene worked so well. Up to a point, that is. Jane had to stop keeping Jason within this rigid definition of who he is. She actually didn’t know who he had become since being forced to live in Montana, and that had to feel awful! That being said: I DID NOT EXPECT JASON TO DO WHAT HE DID. I mean, I thought that when he spun Jane towards him while dancing that they’d have an awkward moment, but NO!!! He kissed her! That one act set in motion the stuff I’ll discuss later involving Jane and Rafael, but this… this is not something I anticipated. I was busy worrying about Jane re-discovering her feelings for her (technical) husband, BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Within an episode that deals with Jane’s complicated feelings on the Catholic church was something surprising: Jane deciding that sending Mateo to Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes wasn’t a good idea. I went to these as a teenager, as my church had a whole separate division within their CCD program that was for converts. It’s an important part of being a Catholic, so I had to learn much of what children learn, but at a greatly accelerated rate. It took me just under two years of consistent classes to be able to get baptized, confirmed, and take communion, all of which happened on the same night.
It is… not a space wherein questions are encouraged. You are taught the teachings of the Gospel and specifically of the Catholic church so you can participate in the sacraments. So, yes, it’s very important part of the process. Thus, I get why Jane initially believed Mateo had to go.
However, Jane’s crisis of faith is so tangible in this episode. I appreciate that it’s so obvious that everyone is losing their shit because there’s just no precedence for this. There’s no way anyone could have been prepared for this! Which is precisely why Jane struggles with this in the terms that she does. How can she ask Mateo to accept that God has a plan for everything when everything is so deeply chaotic? Does she even believe this part of Catholicism? What I enjoyed about this is that Jane the Virgin’s writers are taking Jane through this doubt she has in a nuanced way. She hasn’t lost her belief in God and she certainly doesn’t want to stop being a Catholic. But when you combine this with the whole divorce plot, Jane’s characterization here is about what she’s willing to compromise when it comes to religion. I think that’s something that’s deeply relatable for people of various faiths, and as an ex-Catholic? I knew so many Catholics who had to do the same spiritual arithmetic. What tenets did they follow? Which were they willing to let slide? How did their circumstances dictate that? And in Jane’s case, will she change her mind about this?
Oh, Rogelio, you came so far. A big reason his plot is so damn frustrating is that I had hoped he had learned to let go of these toxic behaviors. He had been taught so many difficult lessons last season, so maybe that growth had stuck! However, I also understand why this seemed to press every button Rogelio had. Remember, Esteban already did shit like this with Rogelio. So did Fabian. Rogelio is used to being the center of attention and he’s used to having everything catered to him. He had to give up some of that last season, both with the birth of Baby and co-parenting with Darci, as well as in his professional career. Pursuing River Fields was part of that, too!
It’s not lost on me that much of what River does here is what Rogelio has done in the past. And it’s clear that he can’t really deal with the very same behavior he’s used to getting away with. Like… holy shit, he stretched a single word to the length of a monologue? Because he was trying to talk about fairness? How was it fair to bring on Jason as an “expert” in being an amnesiac and only do so as a way to manipulate the writers? It immediately backfired! Plus, it was one of the things that helped Jason find the means to talk about how frustrating it was to be a disappointment to other people. Silver lining, sure, but that was just an incidental thing. Rogelio is awful here!
Hopefully that verbal criticism from Xiomara will get him to stop lashing out when his ego is threatened. I am… also worried about what River hands Xiomara at the end of the episode. What have the writers decided to do now? While I think we should criticize Rogelio, I also can’t help but wonder if she is deliberately trying to gain the approval of the writers so that she gets better scenes and parts. That’s totally in-character for her, and it’s only going to make this harder.
Jane and Rafael’s Fear
MY HEART CAN’T HANDLE ALL THESE EMOTIONS. Oh my god, this whole plot between Rafael and Jane is so fucking raw. Again, there’s no precedence here to make this easier, and part of why this arc is so disorienting is because it’s such a completely wild reality to deal with. So it’s natural that everyone’s reactions are going to veer between such disparate feelings. Honestly, I gotta reference the monologue from the past episode again, since that demonstrated so pointedly how Jane’s emotions whiplashed from one end of the spectrum to another. In “Chapter Eighty-Three,” the shock of the return of Jane’s husband as Jason has mostly worn off, and now… well, it’s fucking confusing!!! She’s married to someone she believed was dead! Who has not become an entirely different person who remembers nothing of her!
Throughout this, there is a pervasive fear, though, and it manifests differently for Jane and Rafael. But both of them are terrified of Jason regaining his memories of his time as Michael. Rafael is afraid that will mean the end of the relationship he has worked so hard to build with Jane. Jane is afraid of that, too, but she’s got a guilt that Rafael doesn’t have: She feels guilty that she wishes that Jason never came into their lives. It is a horrible thought, because it means she would rather “Michael” to have stayed dead. I don’t blame her though! She grieved! For four years. And Rafael wasn’t the only one who built up this relationship. Jane has worked just as hard to try differently. Their partnership is so much stronger than it ever was the first time around. The timing of this is a nightmare; the unfairness and injustice is gut-wrenching. None of these people should have to be dealing with this, and yet? This is their lives.
I’m glad, then, that Jane and Rafael were open with one another about these complex, challenging emotions. Neither of them wants Jason to tear their relationship apart. They want each other! While I do feel good about this, I admit I am worried about Jason’s refusal to sign the divorce papers. THIS IS BAD. NOT GOOD. OH GOD.
Sometimes, it is hard to root for changed behavior and growth on this show because the writers like to pitch fastballs at me. So, let me make this all a tentative, hesitant thing: It was really cool seeing Luisa’s commitment to her own boundaries. Honestly. Getting away from Rose has been so good to her, yes, but I was worried about her having time alone with this awful human. And yet, despite temptation, despite what seemed like some obvious desire, Luisa resisted. She didn’t let Rose get a single thing past her. Well, in person. I still don’t get what all those “operatives” are for. (I don’t know what to call those people who she spoke to over video.) I am worried about that, but for what it’s worth, I was so proud of Luisa. SHE DID IT.
Also, I am not sure the torture of Michael was all that random; I suspect there’s more to Rose here, since that’s very much on-brand for her. Still, if she told the truth here: Fuck. Chance. That’s all it took: random chance. And then Michael’s whole life changed forever.
The video for “Chapter Eighty-Three” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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