In the fifth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, this somehow hurts even more than the last episode. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.Â
Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, trauma, drug use, abuse/manipulation.
Oh, lord, I am in pain??? This was all so stressful?
Let me start with this story since it doesnâ€™t end at quite such an upsetting place. But it still is upsetting! Because I spent most of this plot thinking, â€œCould people just leave Petra alone???â€ She just got rid of her mother (at least temporarily) and managed to begin a reconciliation with JR. Fantastic! Wonderful! Show-stopping! And thenâ€¦ someone else is setting Petra up for failure. I did wonder for a moment if it was the unnamed temp assistant that Petra has. After Krishna pulled off that whole blackmail thing, I was kinda hoping that, at the very least, Petra would have learned to treat the people she works for a lot better? Unfortunately, itâ€™s the one glaring flaw in her character that the show seems uninterested in addressing, which feels very strange to me. Why are all the other parts of Petraâ€™s character game for growth and constructive criticism, but that one isnâ€™t?Â
So, maybe it was the temp. And look, I would be very pleased if Petra was more introspective about her behavior as a boss. But I also have to admit that this wasnâ€™t the focus of her plot in â€œChapter Eighty-Six.â€ After JR finds the email, Petra spurs herself into action, determined to prove that she didnâ€™t try to make a shady deal with Milos, who at the very least is in jail. (Perhaps heâ€™ll eventually lose ownership over the hotel? I hate that he still has control over aspects of Petraâ€™s life, like when he cancelled the shrimp order. Itâ€™s such a classic abuser tactic, I HATE HIM.) It was clear that Petra really wanted to show JR that she meant what she said, that she wasnâ€™t going to lie to her again. While it was important for her to prove that this email was a set up, thereâ€™s a greater issue at stake. Trust in any relationshipâ€”romantic, platonic, business, what have youâ€”is one of the most vital components to making it work. Understandably, itâ€™s hard for JR to regain that trust after what happened. Petraâ€™s lying did not just run deep; it lasted over months worth of time. Rebuilding that trust? It is incredibly difficult, and itâ€™s hard work.
That seems to be what the writers are trying to demonstrate here: Petra is ready to do the work. Even after she admits that she canâ€™t run around town seeking out proof for everything she says, I thought it was important that she still told JR that she would work harder to make JR feel safe. That kind of dedication to the work? That is what will make this relationship more of a success, and itâ€™s a sign of just how much Petra has grown as a person.
Disharmony at Home
Oh, all of this hurt. ALL OF IT. At this point, it just feels like hurt people hurting one another? I know I described this situation as a nightmare in the last episodeâ€”which was the whole motif of â€œChapter Eighty-Fiveâ€â€”but I had no idea just how much worse it would get. We discussed this in the past in regards to Mateo, but this episode serves as a a reminder that children often taken their emotional cues from their parents. What makes this so damn difficult is that thereâ€™s no easy solution in sight. Like, obviously, if Jane could just not have feelings for Jason, that would be great, but that isnâ€™t how any of this works. Jane canâ€™t ignore the complicated things she feels for her previous husband, and Rafael canâ€™t just wait around for Jane to figure herself out because he already went through that!
Thus, Mateo started taking cues from his father. Rafael couldnâ€™t hide that he was upset at Jane, and so Mateo lashed out at his mother. God, it was so hard to watch!!! That kid was so clearly confused and sad and frightened. He resented his mom because he believed that she was the cause of everything, and it definitely didnâ€™t help that Rafael undermined Jane when Mateo misbehaved. There was an important learning experience in all this, though, for everyone! About co-parenting during emotionally volatile times, sure. But I actually was struck most by how dedicated Mateo was to his anger until he saw his mother crying. In that moment, I believe he realized that Jane was hurting, too, that this situation wasnâ€™t something where she was deliberately trying to harm anyone, you know? Mateo was able to sympathize with her. Perhaps even empathize! And that felt like a huge moment in his relationship with his mom.
Of course, this moment of relief was immediately followed by a dark, dark suggestion about Rafaelâ€™s future. I continue to feel so awful about him because he literally didnâ€™t do anything wrong with Jason. In fact, he did the opposite! He brought Jason into Janeâ€™s life, knowing full well it was possible that this might be the outcome. Yet Rafaelâ€™s life is falling apart before his eyes and very quickly. The way this episode frames that dinner with the events in the present time? Four weeks ago, Rafael was planning how heâ€™d propose to Jane, and nowâ€¦ lord. The two are broken up, Rafael is using prescription drugs to numb himself, and everything is a huge fucking mess. How much worse can this get for these people? DONâ€™T ANSWER THAT. Oh god. I still feel like Jane and Rafael should be together, and itâ€™s Petraâ€™s advice that sticks with me most: Jason is Janeâ€™s past. Rafael is her future. I know that sheâ€™s not ready to hear that, and I also agree with Rafael that Jane is gonna have to feel all this shit out. But oh my god, this stressed me out so much, and I already know future episodes will also stress me out. THIS SHOW, Yâ€™ALL.
I was surprised by two different things within Rogelioâ€™s plot. First of all: I was so glad that Rogelio was immediately and forcefully called out for what he did to Esteban in this episode. Because seriously, I know Rogelio is egotistical and self-centered, but getting his agent to get Esteban a job in another country??? So that Rogelio could be the one to â€œbondâ€ with Baby? SHE IS A LITERAL BABY. She is not someone who exists to boost your ego, dude! So yeah, good on Jane for very loudly telling her father what an absolutely awful move this was. YOU. SENT. HIM. TO. ANOTHER. COUNTRY. Also, the reason that Baby bonded with Esteban was for two INCREDIBLY important reasons!!! They had to protect Xiomaraâ€™s immune system while she was getting chemo, and Esteban was having a rough time after the failure of his telenovela, so he was with Baby full-time.Â
As ridiculous as Esteban often is, I did appreciate that this episode pulled the curtain back as a means of showing the audience (however briefly) why Esteban turned out the way he did. I can see the logic he used in his break-up with Darci, too: His childhood was toxic and chaotic, and thus, taking the job in Mexico, while heartbreaking, would guarantee that Baby wouldnâ€™t have the same type of upbringing he did. It is a much more complicated solution than having Esteban and Rogelio just beâ€¦ better? Like seriously, BOTH OF YOU NEED TO BE BETTER. But I get it. In its own warped way, this was Esteban doing what he thought was best for Baby; itâ€™s just that it also hurt Darci a great deal.Â
So, one last thing I wanted to discuss. I always get excited seeing Marlene Donaldson. Sheâ€™s grown on me so much throughout the show, and here, she recommended something to Jane that a writer friend of mine recommended to me last year when I was dealing with the immense trauma of grief. This writer told me to sit down each night and just write brief descriptions of what I went through that day. It was, as Donaldson put it, a dispassionate way to keep track of things. It was a means of using the mental muscle for writing in some form of another. The actual thing I appreciate most about that recommendation? It helped me remember. Sometimes, when we go through prolonged traumatic events, our minds forget things. They smooth over details. And if it hadnâ€™t been for that odd, stilted, and mechanical journal of sorts that I keep during the month of December last year, I know I would have forgotten some of the things that happened forever. I say that with certainty because sometimes, Iâ€™d scroll up on the document to something that occurred a week earlier, and I could not actually remember it unless I sat there and deliberately thought about it.
I donâ€™t know what this writing is going to do for Jane, and Iâ€™m also glad that Professor Donaldson didnâ€™t pressure her to feel like she had to write every day. But I think that act is going to help Jane in the long run. And is she going to write another book about her experiences? I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if that was the case.
The video for â€œChapter Eighty-Sixâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– My second novel, EACH OF US A DESERT, is now out in the world!
– If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.