In the fifteenth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, Rose moves in closer; Petra deals with a shocking twist of events; Jane steps up; Rogelio comes up with two of the worst plans ever. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of stalking, trauma, child abuse
Well, at least SOME of this was answered. Everything here was a red herring presented to Rafael so he’d reveal the combination to his safe. Why? Because in the Solano watch was a fingerprint, one that would allow Rose and her minions access to a hidden depository of money. (I feel like there was a mention of a hidden funds in the Marbella in season one? Maybe I’m thinking of something else.) It’s also clear that using the same technology/make-up that she used to hide in plain sight, Rose has a literal half dozen copies of herself, who all will… do something? Break her out of prison? I’m guessing that’s the endgame here, right? She has the money to disappear now, so she has to actually get out in order to make the disappearance to happen.
I suppose that this means Luisa really has gone back on the growth she’s made? I’m conflicted here, because I don’t think positive character growth is a necessary thing; sometimes, characters need to grow in the opposite direction, too! However, this still touches on a problem I’ve had with Luisa over the course of the show: her arcs feel repetitive more than anything else. In a sense, it IS realistic! It’s hard to escape a toxic person, and it is understandable on some level. But for all the escaping of toxicity on Jane the Virgin, why can’t Luisa escape?
Maybe I’m wrong! Maybe Rafael and Luisa are setting up Rose in some way. (Though that would feel a little repetitive, too, since Petra and Krishna basically pulled the same thing with Milos.) I don’t know, I think this might just be a case of not really feeling the story, and perhaps I’ll like it more when I see where it goes.
Saying Goodbye to Mother
Okay, so, did anyone else feel this was both incredibly impactful and weirdly underdeveloped? I mean, let’s put aside the weird ableism on display in terms of how often Magda and her villain status is communicated through her body. (Well, not actually put aside, because that’s a whole conversation in and of itself.) Magda showed up to threaten Petra once again, and then… no one talks about it? At all? Petra doesn’t even reference it after it’s revealed that she broke her hand/arm. It’s like the accident just wiped it all away. I might understand Petra not talking about it if Magda had been unconscious the whole episode, but like… wouldn’t she tell someone that her mother tried to manipulate her?
Even then, it feels so rapid that the script goes from the joke Petra made about pulling the plug on Magda to… well, ACTUALLY PULLING THE PLUG.
Maybe that’s it. This went from a dark joke about how little Petra cares for Magda into a very serious examination of abusive mothers. It’s tonally so jarring, and I wasn’t ready for that switch.
Still, as strange as this felt, I did feel appreciative of where this episode went with Petra. Fiction so frequently goes to the same place when it comes to toxic or abusive parents: Forgiveness and keeping the family together at all costs is best. However, the writers don’t push Petra in that direction at all. Instead, as she considers what it is going to mean to pull the plug on her own mother, Petra is disturbed by how much she doesn’t feel for Magda. You’re supposed to feel sad when a parent dies, right? But what happens to those of us who were undeniably harmed by our parents? SURPRISE, I’M INCLUDING MYSELF IN THIS. Because it’s no surprise that I found this so evocative. I was gutted when my father died, even though we weren’t terribly close and I had complicated feelings about him. In January, it’ll be four years since I cut off contact with my mother, and I’ve spent a good deal of time—especially the last year—thinking about what I’m going to feel on the eventual day I find out she passed. I think I might have a reaction similar to Petra, you know? So that made me appreciate what the writers had Jane say: It’s okay to have feelings like that. It’s okay to instead feel sad about not getting a happy childhood. Do I look to a show like Jane the Virgin for permission for these things? No. But it’s still nice to see it unfold.
WELL, THIS IS REAL. VERY REAL. VERY LOUD. I’ll talk more about Rogelio’s plans in the next section of the review. Instead, I wanted to address how much this show nails the complicated and often very disheartening prospect of trying to find a literary agent. I know the show flirted with this in a previous season, but I’m glad that they are FINALLY delving into this much more. Granted, we don’t get details of the querying process, and the show mistakenly makes it seem like sending the entire manuscript up front is the norm. It’s not, at least not anymore, because agents have a standard number of pages they want submitted with a query letter.
ANYWAY, I actually don’t want to nitpick this further because the emotional aspect of querying is EXACTLY WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE HERE. At least that was the case for me! I queried 43 agents over the course of 18 months. This was after I’d been ghosted by an agency that I met in NYC that swore they were ready to take me to the next level. (They did not. The agent never responded after getting my manuscript. I found out earlier this year that they left the agency a year after, switched to a new job, then did so-so at that place until they moved somewhere else.) It was immensely difficult getting all those rejections. There were a lot of form letters, just like the ones Jane got. I sometimes got them in the middle of the night and woke up to them. More than once, I got multiple in the same day. I actually got a soft rejection from my very agent!!! DongWon Song thought the sci-fi trilogy version of Anger was too crowded and busy and suggested the single genre paring down that became the contemporary version it is now. So technically, I got 43 rejections from 43 agents, until one rejection turned into an acceptance!
And I was ready to move on to something else, y’all. I’d already begun formulating what would be Each of Us A Desert in January 2017 because I thought that maybe it was time to write a different book and try that. Who wouldn’t want to give up after all those rejections? Plus, I also dealt with the same pain as Jane does: Knowing your manuscript is deeply personal, but trying NOT to take rejections personal. That’s a fine line, y’all, and I won’t lie to you and say there weren’t days when I did take them as personal insults.
But then I got that one yes. That one affirmation. That one door opening, and like Jane, it changed my life forever. Oh god, who is this agent who reached out to her? WILL THEY BE A GOOD FIT??? Please!!! I want this to happen for her so badly!!!
Which leads me to this point: HEY, DON’T DO WHAT JANE DOES WITH HER MANUSCRIPT. I totally understand why it happened, and for what it’s worth, Jane openly admits to Ellie and Anna that this was VERY wrong. Rogelio, your plans are… they are so much. THEY WERE TOO MUCH. Oh my god, please don’t trick an agent into reading your stuff!!! Still, I will say that it does feel like you hope your manuscript will make it to an agent’s reading pile, and you definitely hope they see something special in it. BUT DON’T DO THIS, OKAY.
Actually, I feel like that element of Jane’s plot had less to do with the agent search and more to do with her attempt to be a good step-mom with Petra’s kids. WHO ARE TERRIFYINGLY OBSERVANT AND SMART SOMETIMES. That’s played as a humorous thing sometimes, but it also presents a challenge for Jane: How can she win them over when they’re so perceptive? She can’t use the same techniques she uses with Mateo. Plus, there’s the added problem of learning how to be a step-mom independent of Petra. Which I also get! Petra even explains it in this episode: she is as strict as she is with her girls BECAUSE of how Magda raised her.
But just like Petra has important boundaries with her kids and how they’re raised, Jane has to eventually establish her own boundaries so that she can be who she needs to be with them. Yes, that includes NOT USING THEM IN A MADCAP SCHEME TO INFILTRATE A LITERARY AGENT’S OFFICE IN ORDER TO GET THEM TO READ HER MANUSCRIPT. But it also means that there have to be things that stay between the twins and Jane! They have to have separate experiences! I know this is communicated through the whole snitching narrative, but I did think there was value in letting Jane have something private. How would Anna and Ellie ever trust Jane if anything they said or did was reported back to Petra?
So. That leaves Rogelio and River for me to discuss. And holy shit, TALK ABOUT AN OVERREACTION. That being said, I really liked where this absurd story went. Because yes, it was deeply, deeply over-the-top in the most Rogelio way imaginable. Everything about the extreme editing AND the ridiculous plan to infiltrate the network execs’ retreat… bad. VERY VERY BAD, Y’ALL. It’s the kind of toxic thinking that’s entitled and egotistical that we know both of these characters are capable of. But like everyone else in “Chapter Ninety-Six,” this script reflects on the past to give us a chance to see how they’ve changed. (Or, in the case of Luisa and River, how they haven’t.) Rogelio dealt with the complications of being a new father and a busy actor before. Here, when faced with a dilemma that felt familiar, he quickly made a decision to (mostly) abandon his absurd quest so that he could spend time with Baby. And when River fails to swap out the tapes, another truth comes out: River’s daughter, PJ, is the same PA who is running about the episode, trying to help River.
Which… oh lord, talk about toxic relationships. I would actually like to see more of Rogelio’s attempt to repair this relationship, and I hope the next episode has a story about this. Because… shit, what HAPPENED??? What drove River and PJ apart? Was it just River’s devotion to her career? Whatever the reason, I’m interested to see how the fuck it’s possible to fix something like this. ALSO. RIVER HAS A DAUGHTER. WHAT THE FUCK.
The video for “Chapter Ninety-Six” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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