In the fourteenth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, Lina asks a huge favor of Jane. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of fertility issues, anxiety.
Oh, I missed Lina so much, and WHAT A RETURN FOR HER CHARACTER. It’s a testament to the writing and the chemistry between the two actresses playing Lina and Jane that they can just return to CLEARLY being best friends after so much time apart. So, on that level, this was an utter delight, y’all. Which is great because THIS GOT SO DEEPLY UNCOMFORTABLE. It was uncomfortable, though, not out of malice, but because Lina’s difficulties conceiving a child with Danny brought her to her best friend. It makes absolute sense that Lina would turn to Jane to ask her to donate an egg! Like, of COURSE she would turn to her!!! And of course Jane would consider it! THESE ARE THE BEST OF FRIENDS, THEY WOULD BOTH DO ANYTHING IN THE WORLD FOR ONE ANOTHER.
But… would they??? Because what I found so compelling about this plot was how honest it felt. The writers constructed this so that we’d never forget what Lina was going through and how hard this situation was for her. Even though we see the majority of it through Jane’s eyes, I should note. At the same time, we’re taken through Jane’s decision-making process, too. We see her consulting her family and Rafael, and it was fascinating to me how quickly everyone thought this was a bad idea, but not for the reason I anticipated. I mean… it’s true! Jane is a character who has a hard time letting go of things. That’s literally one of the cornerstones of her characterization! In particular, though, the writers use Jane’s long history on Jane the Virgin to tell this story, and as a writer, I fucking LOVED this. There were so many callbacks to the previous four seasons in this single episode, and it helped to ground Jane’s decision. How would she feel about Lina and David having a child with one of her eggs? What would she be able to let go, and what would still be challenging to her?
Of course, this wouldn’t be Jane the Virgin without some emotional messiness, and wow, Jane really has bad luck surrounding wedding dress shopping, doesn’t she? Whew, that callback to the first season where she learned that Rogelio was her father? GOD, SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED ON THIS SHOW. Hell, within the show’s chronology, that was SEVEN YEARS AGO, OH MY GOD. With that time, however, came a new emotional growth on the part of Lina and Jane. Both of them have become such different people than they were at the beginning of the show. I’d actually argue that Lina’s maturity grew the most out of the two of them, and it was a delight seeing her stand up for herself and express things that were deeply uncomfortable but necessary, like when she called out Jane for assuming that she didn’t understand the serious nature of what Lina was asking for.
Things resolved themselves in a way neither person respected, but I enjoyed that regardless, Jane came to a place where she could let go. It wasn’t an easy journey to get there, but I saw that as a sign of growth. Maybe Lina will never ask Jane for one of her eggs again, and maybe Jane won’t ever have to put her decision into practice. I still think Jane was ready to go through with this, though, and that’s a big deal.
also I JUST LOVE THIS FRIENDSHIP, OKAY.
Oh, this was… this was too real. So, full honesty with y’all: I had a very terrible thing happen to me in October that is thankfully BEAUTIFULLY resolved and won’t ever bother me again, but it landed right at the same time that I had four major deadlines due within a few weeks. It caused me so much stress and anxiety—on top of me being an already anxious person—that I had to call my therapist in an emergency to ask if I was having a heart attack and what I should do. For the record, after she walked me through some exercises to help me temper my first panic attack in nearly a year, she told me something important: Mark, if you think you’re having a heart attack, GO TO THE HOSPITAL, DON’T CALL ME. (She is also a doctor so I lucked out here because she immediately knew my symptoms didn’t match up with a heart attack.)
So, aside from learning this lesson, I also realized that I really, REALLY needed to work on like… a ton of different things. Not packing my schedule up so that I couldn’t deal with sudden changes to it. (This was actually one of the major influences that made me realize I had to put Mark Reads on hiatus; I needed to reclaim some time for myself or I would have ACTUALLY worked myself into the hospital.) But like Rogelio, the harder thing for me? Learning to let go of things I can’t control.
Unfortunately, my anxiety LOVES things that are an unknown. Loves them!!! Goes absolutely buckwild when there’s something I can’t see or predict or anticipate! Through therapy, I am coming to understand why that is. (SURPRISE, IT’S ROOTED IN TRAUMA.) For me, my childhood was so deeply chaotic that I absolutely CRAVE stability. And when I perceive that things are unstable in any way—even if I’m imagining that—then my little trauma brain goes into overdrive.
Is that the same thing Rogelio is going through? No. Totally different context here. And yet, I related to this a lot!!! I know what it’s like to feel just utterly unable to let go of something. I know what it’s like to obsess over something I have literally no control over, and to freak out repeatedly and with greater escalation. I AM TRYING TO WORK ON THIS. Unfortunately for Rogelio, he learns this lesson the hard way, as he quite literally stresses himself out INTO THE HOSPITAL. Fibrillation!!! holy shit!!!! Mind you, this is all happening while Xiomara is also waiting for news she cannot control: whether or not her nursing school application will be accepted. It’s interesting, then, that she doesn’t have the same reaction as Rogelio. Understandable, yes, because we all deal with stress and the unknown differently. But it’s clear in hindsight that while Xiomara was nervous and anxious, she didn’t feed into it. She didn’t use social media to build up that anxiety. I get it, though. It made Rogelio feel like he was doing something, despite that in reality, his ongoing livestream probably wasn’t ever going to affect that decision. That’s what he had to accept: Sometimes, things in life happen that truly are out of your control. What’s the value in amping yourself up? Why make yourself feel worse? Again, I FELT LIKE MY THERAPIST WAS SCREAMING AT ME THE WHOLE TIME. This episode was too loud! Too personal! How dare you!!!
A New Partnership
Oh, my HEART. Look, I think season five has been a pretty painful experience. I’ve liked it, but I don’t know that if I ever re-watched Jane the Virgin, I could actually make it through this again. It hurt! So badly! At the same time, part of what has made it ultimately so fulfilling has been the growth of the protagonists. Seriously, look how far Petra and Rafael have come, from being in a deeply toxic relationship with one another, to a painful break-up, to marriages and children and more break-ups and PETRA IS BISEXUAL, I WILL NEVER GET OVER THIS. Like Jane’s plot with Lina, I found this storyline to be equally satisfying because so much of it relies on building off of the past. It’s an acknowledgment of what came before, you know?
Because this doesn’t happen without Rafael losing the hotel and Petra eventually acquiring it and, as Petra states, making the Marbella actually good. God, the Marbella used to be… so toxic, right? I’m not saying Petra runs things perfectly. (And I would really like her to stop snapping at Krishna, for the record.) But Petra does deserve credit for building up the Marbella, which had such a drastically negative reputation from when it was run by the Solano family.
I also recognize how painful this is for Rafael, who was supposed to follow in his father’s legacy and continue working in the hotel industry. Life took him to a strange place, and we know he never thought he’d have been without a job for a while OR that he would have no wealth OR that he would eventually work in real estate. So I also get why it was appealing to him to have a chance at getting back to his old job in some way. Look, he does know his shit when it comes to being a hotelier, or when dealing with branding or business opportunities. Still, there was an aspect of this episode that was deeply uncomfortable: Rafael was throwing himself into work like he had before. Again, much of this episode relies on the past, and I couldn’t help but remember Jane’s previous break-up with Rafael. Remember when he couldn’t let go of his job? Remember when he was obsessed with making money?
I worried he was returning to that place. He kept missing important deadlines or meetings that Jane had said up! I was SO DAMN FREAKED OUT. Was Rafael going to ruin this? Was this engagement going to fall apart because he was throwing his entire self into this new opportunity? However, two important things prevent this from happening. One of them is Petra! She establishes boundaries that will prove to be vital if she and Rafael are going to succeed in this partnership. He has to accept that she’ll be the boss. What is important here for both Jane and Petra is that each of them is a different person when compared to who they used to be with Rafael years ago. And all parties have to make their peace with that! In the context of Jane and Rafael, Rafael realizes how poorly he treated Jane when he didn’t manage his time or his priorities well; Jane, on the other hand, was ready to accept that sometimes, Rafael would have to prioritize other things. They ended up meeting in the middle, and THAT is growth. I see these two as much more ready to compromise rather than stay in conflict. Again: growth!!! It’s satisfying!
Now, could Magda “grow” off this show? I HATE HER SO MUCH.
The video for “Chapter Ninety-Five” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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