In the ninth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, Rafael asks a favor; JR and Petra both make mistakes; Rogelio’s past actions are discovered; Alba moves things forward. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Surprise, this was another hard thing to watch! Oh wow, I know that this is an important part of Jane’s journey, but there were moments where this was AGONIZING. There is such a vital lesson here for Jane, too, since this is where she has to test out being a parent to Mateo while forcing herself not to center herself and her feelings. Every interaction between her and Rafael isn’t any less crushing, of course, but rather, this is an adjustment. How can Jane be around someone she still has such intense feelings that aren’t reciprocated?
Well, that partially comes from changing her expectations. Understandably, she sometimes viewed her interactions with Rafael through the lens of hope, but time and time again, she was shown that this wasn’t a practical thing to do. After violating his boundaries so repeatedly in the last episode, it was an improvement for her to meet Rafael where he needed her to be! She didn’t text him obsessively, either. She actually left him alone. And now… things are gonna hurt. No matter how much she may want to get back with Rafael, it’s not going to happen unless he wants it to happen. As much as it pains me to admit it… it really looks like he’s moving on.
What does that future look like? I don’t fucking know, to be honest with all of you. I thought Jane/Rafael was already endgame, so I wasn’t prepared for this sudden influx of chaos. I admit that this makes season five a whole lot more difficult to watch, since the main and titular character is going through something that is just relentlessly challenging in every respect. But if we’re really heading towards a series finale where these two are just parents and not romantic partners, then this plot serves to ease us into that conclusion. Jane has to adjust to that life.
Wrapped up in this, though, is that whole Rose/Bobby plot. So… this was all an attempt to get Rafael out of his house? I don’t get it. His apartment is empty all the time, especially when he’s at work and Mateo is at school. So what exactly is the point here? Why is Rose doing this, and why did she need to involve Luisa at all?
My only theory—and I’m using “theory” very loosely—is that Rose is trying to sabotage Luisa’s relationship with Rafael? As revenge? Maybe? That doesn’t explain everything, of course, so… yeah. I still don’t know.
Writing the Truth
It’s funny that I watched this episode when I did because it landed on the day after I stayed up super late (later than I wanted to) due to inspiration on a project striking me at like… 11pm. LIKE, HEY. BRAIN. WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE COME UP WITH THIS IDEA TEN HOURS EARLIER. Over the course of “Chapter Ninety,” Jane’s creative energy is focused on something entirely new: the script for the pilot episode of This is Mars. (I really hope the title is changed, IT’S SO BAD.) It’s not the kind of thing that Jane would normally write, but at the very least, she’s got her father’s support and she seems engaged by the process. Plus, getting another TV writing credit under her belt would be a good thing, right?
Unsurprisingly, given that this is Jane the Virgin, things don’t go smoothly for Jane, though not for the reason that I expected. I actually anticipated that River Fields would be the worst here, and she’s not! At all! She has good feedback, and even though it might have stung when River said she didn’t want Jane writing the pilot, even Jane had to agree that River had a point. Jane is largely inexperienced here, and after The Passions of Steven and Brenda was passed on, they needed everything in their favor.
And then the twist hit. So, there’s a sliver of a truth in what the writers came up with here. It is true that the publishing industry often choose projects to develop into published works by doing risk assessment. (That’s even more the case when an author is giving a new project to their publisher after their contract is fulfilled, but that’s not really the context we need to discuss here.) Does the author have a social media presence? How will their work fit within current or predicted trends in the industry? Are they a debut author or an established voice? These factors and many others influence the amount an editor can offer in an advance, though there are of course countless ingrained biases that affect this, too, but again: not totally the point.
I don’t think an individual can offer the sort of financial benefit that Rogelio does. At least, I’ve never heard of that being part of the acquisition process, but hey… I’m still fairly new to this industry. Still, I don’t believe this negates why Jane is so terribly hurt by this. There’s so much left unsaid here. Would Jeremy have bought her novel at all if Rogelio hadn’t presented a scenario in which there’d be so little risk on the publisher’s fault? Maybe. Probably not. Was that because the quality of it wasn’t that good? Did Jeremy not see potential in it? Or did internal biases work against Jane? Because as much as it’s shitty to admit this is still a problem, US publishing still has issues (and that’s putting it lightly) buying projects from anyone who isn’t considered the default.
Two of my friends started a hashtag this summer: #PublishingPaidMe. It was meant to highlight the disparities between what Black authors were paid for advances versus what white authors got. It succeeded in ways that weren’t surprising: white authors were overwhelmingly paid far more than Black authors for their work. Period. It didn’t matter if they were a debut author or if their books didn’t end up selling well. They were often given multiple changes to prove themselves and were paid advances that were… enormous doesn’t cut it. Like, it hurt on a personal level because I saw how big advances were for white authors at the same publishing house where I’m at, and lord. Nearly every white writer was paid more than me for their books.
So, it’s possible that this and other factors went into the decision surrounding Jane’s book. Because there are honest-to-god people in publishing who believe that an author just BEING non-white makes them a “risk.” Finding out how much Rogelio affected the sale of her book hurts regardless. However, I want to push back on the notion that this means that she didn’t accomplish anything. Because even though this is true, Jane still went through the editorial process. She still wrote an entire book that got PUBLISHED. Nothing and nobody can take that away from her! So, I like what she says when she reconciles with Rogelio: She has to recalibrate. She’s changing expectations and her understanding of reality. (Like she had to do with Rafael, for example.)
Which is also why it was so thrilling to watch inspiration hit her so suddenly and completely at the end of this episode. You know what that whole trip through Jane’s memories with Rogelio did to me? It made me realize just how very close I am to the end of this show. Like… wow. I’m almost done. And Jane has been on such an incredible journey with her father, y’all. Of course that would inspire her to write!
I remain so pleased that this show is willing to explore sexuality in people who are older. That’s especially the case here because Alba has been on quite the journey. I truly would not have believed you in season one if you had told me that Alba was going to move up her wedding day so she could bone her husband. BECAUSE THAT’S ACTUALLY FACTUAL AND IS 100% WHAT HAPPENS HERE. She’s already married! And is getting married again! It’s such a satisfying thing to witness because her arc over these five seasons has been such a gradual thing. She’s changed a lot, but it’s been YEARS in the making. I’m so glad she’s happy, that she gets to feel romantically and sexually pleased, and that while she’s able to stick to this one element of her personal morality, she’s also able to have a great sense of humor about it.
I am also shamelessly into any sequence in which the three generations of Villanueva women are bonding and crying. AND THIS TIME IT’S ALL AROUND ALBA’S WEDDING. Oh my god, I nearly lost it when Xiomara started crying because she just wanted to do something nice for her mom after Alba had been so wonderful to her. UGH. I LOVE THIS FAMILY SO MUCH.
And I am just as thrilled that this show is willing to give time and importance to another type of family that’s trying their best. It honestly warms my heart so much to seem some honest-to-god explorations of queer family structures. What does it mean for JR to co-parent with Petra? How would that actually work? And even further: What does it mean for JR to be a parent?
The script does a fascinating thing here. I loved that reminder to the audience that both Petra and JR comes from challenging, difficult upbringings, especially when it came to money. But they were in such vastly different environments, and so they ended up in two very different places. JR is hesitant to have children herself, mostly because she doesn’t ever want to have to worry about not being able to provide for her kids. Petra, on the other hand, showered her daughters with everything they could ever want to compensate for her own fears. It doesn’t make Petra and JR incompatible, mind you, and that’s also why it’s so satisfying to see them try and make this work. But it is a challenge; it’s hard for JR to deal with someone who has been spoiled because she doesn’t know how to relate to that.
That’s why Jane’s advice, as succinct as it was, was so perfect. They need to set rules and standards and expectations as parents. JR is clearly willing to continue trying, too, and so Petra is willing to see things from JR’s point of view as well. This all feels so remarkably healthy, y’all. WHICH MAKES ME VERY HAPPY.
The video for “Chapter Ninety” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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