In the twelfth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, some weird shit happens, but mostly I just wanna yell about THE THING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For talk of medication, trauma, brief mentions of cancer.
This is one of those episode where I have to promise myself I won’t just yell about THE THING because there are actually other important parts of this episode. BUT I WANT TO YELL ABOUT THE THING.
OH, SCHOOL MUSICALS. I had a moment where I flashed back to elementary school in Idaho, and we had to perform Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” during a big school assembly. I was stuck on a riser in the back row, which made no sense, since I was dramatically taller than most of the other kids in my class. So I stuck out even more, which gave me anxiety, and then I was convinced everyone could like… extra hear my singing? I don’t know, I was seven! It made sense at the time! I HAVE HAD ANXIETY SINCE I WAS VERY LITTLE, OKAY?
Anyway, that has virtually nothing to do with the plot of “Chapter Ninety-Three” aside from the obvious. This was more about Jane and Rafael’s attempts at utilizing strategies to help Mateo, all while grappling with an inevitable situation: behavioral adjustment isn’t working. Sometimes, it helps, and for what it’s worth, I think it was good that Mateo’s parents tried as hard as they could. But what we see here with Mateo is something else: awareness. Initially, that was awareness that Mateo was being treated differently than his fellow students, which was heartbreaking to watch. There’s a whole discussion to be had about how much this world refuses to cater to neuroatypical people, and I admit that this episode doesn’t touch that at all. Rather, it is about centering normalcy and how best Mateo can fit in. There’s no infrastructure or support for kids like Mateo, is there?
At the same time, I can’t ignore Mateo’s awareness. He knows he doesn’t fit in, and by the end of the episode, when a crying baby derails his focus during the musical itself, he believes that there is something wrong with him. WHICH IS A MILLION TIMES MORE HEARTBREAKING, Y’ALL. He literally says he doesn’t want to be “this way” anymore!!!! CHRIST. It’s such a painful moment, and while I once more can’t claim any sort of authenticity with this experience, I did appreciate that the writers approached all of this without the usual stigma that I see attached to taking medication. They established this earlier this season by revealing that Rafael is on an antidepressant, and it’s reinforced again here. This is such a huge thing for a mainstream television show, y’all, since I’m so used to medication being used in mostly negative contexts. Will this help Mateo? I don’t know yet. No one does. That’s why this is so stressful for the characters involved. But now that Mateo has spoken out about how distressed he is, it seems like the right time to try something else.
I will also say that I know people who struggle with executive dysfunction, who are often just as frustrated as Mateo is here. Like I said, it doesn’t help that this world is frequently unkind to people who are dealing with executive dysfunction, either. They get called lazy or selfish or a ton of other, much more cruel things than that, when it’s actually something that’s often painful to deal with, both emotionally and literally. So, at the very least, I’m glad that Jane and Rafael made sure Mateo knew that they weren’t angry with him. That’s important, y’all.
In a purely positive subplot, JANE AND PETRA CONTINUE BEING BEST FRIENDS. I honestly have moments where I can’t believe that their friendship is at the level it is, but here we are. It happened. And the show earned it! I think that’s important to note here. This was such a gradual, slow-burn of a friendship, and I am certain that when I get to the finale, it’ll still be one of the very best things about this show.
In “Chapter Ninety-Three,” both Petra and Jane are able to be there for one another as they navigate the post-breakup world of singledom. That manifests in two ways: First, both women do what they can to encourage the other not to fall into familiar patterns of checking up on their exes. If they are to truly move on, then they have to ACTUALLY move on. That means no Instagram stalking; no waiting around for things to change; no obsessing over what could have been or what might be. And so, the two of them dip their toes in the pool of single ladies! I LOVED THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PETRA’S BISEXUALITY HERE, TOO. Plus, that scene at the bar was just fun. A lot of this show has been pretty stressful ever since the return of Michael in the season four finale, so it’s nice to have moments like this. I am so happy about this! And the other thing. But we’ve more to get to before that.
Well, this is… weird. Immediately, this episode fulfilled exactly what I wanted it to! Krishna was justifiably forceful about calling out Petra and making sure she stuck to treating her better than she ever did. That was an interesting story to me! How would Krishna change Petra? We already saw how Petra changed because of JR in regards to Milos’s bullying. Petra now wouldn’t dream of doing anything unethical to get her way, whereas the Petra of years ago absolutely would.
However, now it seems as if Krishna took the job just to get revenge? I mean, I get it. I understand the basic motivation behind it. I just don’t know how compelling of a story that is? Krishna is still a background character, and I was looking forward to her getting a meatier storyline. I mean, maybe it’s still on its way? It just feels a little strange that she would work with Milos, who tormented her through blackmail, so that she could…. work with someone else who tormented her. Surely there are other choices Krishna could have made? I’ll give this a chance, though. UGH, EVEN THOUGH I HATE MILOS.
I also don’t know where this story is going, but I do have an idea where I want it to go: I think Xiomara should get back into singing and dancing for herself. I really miss that part of her, and it was a delight seeing her do that again with Mateo and during the musical number at the end of the episode. But that is my dream. The whole point here? Xiomara wasn’t granted the answer to the existential search she was on prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer. She doesn’t know what her passion is, and she doesn’t know what she wants to do with the rest of her life. I’m glad that she has the space to be able to continue to pursue this, but I still don’t have a guess as to what’s going to make her feel happy. And I’m gonna hypothesize that we won’t find out until closer to the finale.
What a… weird plot??? Like, is that it? Was this all some really bizarre revenge plot orchestrated by River because she got rejected? I get why Rogelio feels relieved, but I’m not. This was such a creepy, self-centered response to being rejected??? Rogelio was not in the wrong here! There was nothing for River to get revenge for!!! I suppose it’s possible that her claim that she let Rogelio sink into his paranoia is actually a lie, and she IS dealing with an unhealthy obsession with him. Still, this episode makes it seem like everything was resolved BUT IT’S NOT??? River just did this awful thing to Rogelio??? Y’all, I’m LOST.
Being the Bigger Person
IT REALLY SUCKS SOMETIMES. But hey, I thought that it was a good exercise for Jane to do this. Jane is a deeply flawed protagonist, and her problems with boundaries, her judgmental attitude, and her obsessive nature are well-documented across the show. That made the situation with Rafael dating again even more complicated because all of these things came out in full-force at some point. Though thankfully not around Rafael! It was Petra who helped Jane temper down some of her more destructive and harmful impulses, even though it clearly hurt for her to give Rafael advice that would push him to be closer with Julia. So I didn’t see this as a bad thing in the long run. Rather, it was good practice, a chance for her to maintain respectful boundaries with Rafael and not punishing him for moving on. It is also deeply weird to write about this plot in hindsight because I’m not sure it’ll necessarily matter in the long run. Why?
Love, Love, Love
BECAUSE IT HAPPENED. OH MY GOD. Oh my god, I didn’t see it until it was right there in front of my face. I had resigned myself to a new reality by this point. Rafael was dating again, y’all. It was over, there was NOTHING onscreen to even give me a shred of hope. This was a fully platonic relationship at this point. I do want to say that even knowing the end, I actually still think that’s the case. I don’t think Rafael was entertaining a relationship with Jane again until he picked up that list he made of his desired qualities. So this really was what we thought it was.
UNTIL IT WASN’T. Oh god. The musical number! The relief! THE SHEER JOY I FELT. It was all such a telenovela trope, but I gotta say, the show nailed it. At least to me, this moment was also earned. Holy shit, it happened. THEY’RE BACK TOGETHER. Oh my god, how will the others react? HOW WILL MATEO REACT??? He always wanted this, too! UGH, I NEED THE NEXT EPISODE NOW.
The video for “Chapter Ninety-Three” 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.