In the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, MY HEART ALMOST COULD NOT HANDLE THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, abuse.
WHEW, THIS EPISODE WAS A LOT. A. LOT.
I am sitting here, reeling from the entire second half of this episode, which made the first half feel like it happened A WHOLE FUCKING YEAR AGO. Remember when “Chapter Ninety-Eight” was about the difficulties Jane could face if Michael didn’t sign off on his life story? Remember that? Oh, those were the good old days, friends, back when Rose wasn’t holding Jane hostage and threatening to murder everyone in her life. THE GOOD OLD DAYS. Except now I’m remembering how stressful this was, too? Look, it was hard to even THINK about Michael returning to Jane’s life. I know no one here was at fault for what happened in the first half of season five. Still, I don’t feel wonderful about it! It was a challenge to make it through the deeply upsetting story of Michael’s return and the break-up of Jane and Rafael.
The first sign that this wasn’t going to happen again came from Rafael, though. There are two moments in this episode where it’s very clear that he has changed drastically as a character, the first being his reaction to Jane’s news. Look how calm he is! How sure he is! How confident he is that even if Michael had tried to win back Jane, he knew that Jane wasn’t going to make the same mistake. That is a sign of how much trust he has in her, and while this episode doesn’t quite tell us how much time has passed, I felt like we were meant to understand that it had been a hot minute since the events of the season five premiere. That time—plus work done by both parties, including therapy—allowed them both to find their way back to one another. (As a side note: I remain continuously impressed with the normalization of therapy on this show. When Rafael suggested it, there was no eye rolling or annoyance from Jane. She went. She committed to it. She picked up a new means of coping with her anxiety. I also like that Jane the Virgin has shown a person going in AND out of therapy; not everyone can afford to have a full-time therapist, and it’s also true that sometimes, people need shorter periods of time with one than others. I really think this sort of depiction helps reduce the stigma around seeking out therapy.)
Then the meeting itself? Another shocker, though one that I now see as an important step towards closure for this entire story line. Michael wasn’t comfortable signing away his life story… because of Charlie. Who is now his fianceé. AND THEY’RE HAVING A KID TOGETHER. Yet in this is a new reality for Michael: He moved on. He fell in love with someone else. And Charlie is able to see the truth of her relationship with Michael, too. Because I understand her concern going into this, too! Michael made that comment that Charlie helped put him back together after Jane left, so she had to be wondering: Would seeing Jane tear Michael apart again?
No. Genuinely! Because even though he was in the presence of his first “true love,” Michael didn’t want to get back with Jane. He just wanted to do right by Charlie. And that’s as perfect of a sign that Jane and Michael are done as we’re going to get. It’s a closing of this book, because Michael can finally accept that he has a life outside of Jane, one he thoroughly enjoys. He’s clearly happy with Charlie! Look how his face lit up when he told her how much he loved her!
I really think this was it. We won’t see him in the finale. But that’s okay. They both got to say their goodbyes, and it was meaningful and fulfilling.
Wow. It’s really hitting me that this show is almost over.
And from that plot, we go to… holy shit, y’all. I do get why so very much of this episode was devoted to Rose. She has been the main antagonist for a long time, and her final appearance had to be a doozy. In “Chapter Ninety-Eight,” we get a portrait of a woman who is not just obsessed, but who has shown us repeatedly that she will do whatever she wants to get whatever she wants. But it’s not just that; Rose has always escaped accountability. It didn’t matter that she ended up in prison. She spent that time recruiting others to help her break out. (I do admit that I’m confused about the motives of those she hired; did they just want money? Why did those women or Bobby decide to go all-in for Rose?) And then, even in the face of undeniable evidence that Luisa didn’t want her, Rose still manipulated and terrorized others in order to have Luisa.
She wanted. She sought it out. Everything and everyone else was collateral damage.
So it was hard watching this, not because I thought Rose would succeed. I figured this episode was her downfall, and I honestly didn’t think anyone was actually going to die by Rose’s hand. Rather, it was seeing how deeply terrified Jane was that fucked me up. I think that was a smart thing for the writers to do. Rose can seem like an absurd, cartoonish villain at times. Indeed, she was written in a telenovela way. I mean… her escape. Logistically, that was not even possible, yet the show isn’t interested in those sort of details. No, Jane the Virgin excels at grounding the audience in an emotional reality. Face-to-face with the person who nearly ruined her life, Jane is terrified. She knows what Rose is capable of. But it was just as interesting to see this realistic reaction as it was to watch Jane transform that fear into rage. Rage because Rose is awful. Rage because Rose always believes she can manipulate and obfuscate and pay her way out of everything. Rage because Rose is deeply in love with being a villain and ruining lives because… well, what else is she supposed to do? It gets her everything, so why should she ever change?
I will say that I don’t know what the finale holds for me, but if there’s not much more of Luisa, I’ll be a little sad. Luisa ultimate rejection of Rose is more about Jane and Rafael than it is about Luisa. Who pushed Rose to her death, for the record! That’s a huge thing, and I wanted to know how Luisa felt, you know? Was there an absence in her? Relief? Did she finally feel free from Rose? Clearly, her relations with Jane and Rafael improved, but… I don’t know! I just need a little bit more of this!
Even though the end of this plot reveals that Esteban faked disinterest in acting so that Rogelio would get him a better part, I actually believe that this still showed us that both Rogelio and Esteban have changed. It’s so surreal to me that I actually kind of like Esteban now; he was very easy to dislike in the early seasons. But he’s not that person anymore! Neither is Rogelio, who would have gone about this entire problem in an underhanded, spiteful way if this had happened in the first couple seasons. Instead, Rogelio devotes himself to showing Esteban how talented he is. How he deserves to be in the spotlight. How his talents shouldn’t go to waste. Everything that Rogelio does here is to uplift Esteban. And yes, it’s for a selfish reason, too. Rogelio wants to be able to go to work in New York on his dream show, and he refuses to do so if he’s leaving his daughter and her family behind. But I think that is a sign of growth: Rogelio deals entirely in positives. He isn’t trying to get Esteban a job to break up a relationship. He isn’t trying to ruin careers. He’s come a long, long way, and it’s been really cool to see that growth.
So! Esteban, Darci, and Baby are saying hello to New York! But it’s clear that the finale is going to deal with Jane. Oh, god, I’m sure she’ll be happy for them, but it’s going to be sad. I mean, yes, I fully expect to cry during this finale, y’all. FULLY EXPECT IT. I do believe Jane will give her blessing; as her dream has just come true, she’s going to want both Xiomara and Rogelio to fulfill their dreams, too.
Wow. WOW. W O W. I am… so happy??? If you purchase the video commentary for this episode, I talk at the end about what the show gets right about submission auctions and what is exaggerated. Mostly? The timeline. It is true that auctions can start and end on the same day, but generally speaking, they’re multi-day affairs. I did not actually experience an auction until my middle grade book deal. Anger is a Gift only received a single offer, and thankfully, it was with the editor I most wanted to work with. And I’m very happy with Tor Teen! It also means that my agent had very little leverage to get me more money (though he still did), and there was certainly no competitive angle to it, which often can drive up the price of an advance or getting better terms. And that part wasn’t discussed at all. Generally, the royalty payouts are also discussed: What’s the percentage for the first x number of books? What’s the percentage after that? What’s the percentage earned of royalties on paperbacks? Audio productions? Are they world rights or North American English?
Okay, so I didn’t actually expect the show to go into that sort of detail. But this is one of those things where the feel of it felt real. I’ve had editor lunches before. During the auction for The Insiders, I had editors courting me with GIFT BASKETS. (One editor sent me the best horchata in NYC, since horchata plays a small part in the plot of the book. I… have never felt so special in my entire life.) At one point, there were like… eight editors/houses in the running for the book? The big difference, though, is that after the floor was set for initial offers, it took TWO FUCKING WEEKS for the auction to end. So imagine the excitement and anxiety that we saw here, but spread over t w o w e e k s. Y’all, it was both one of the most thrilling parts of my life, and also, I thought my whole body would explode.
I’m just… I’m just so happy for Jane. That is a life-changing advance. Forever life-changing. And I think that means she’ll get a big marketing budget, and maybe she’ll actually get the publishing experience she wanted with her first book. Oh my god. SHE DID IT. And I love that this flips the financial script! Jane now has all the money, and Rafael gave up the opportunity to earn more money so he could pursue his dream. (Seriously, the character growth on this show is impressive.)
This finale is gonna wreck me. And just in case you missed this on the schedule: Apparently, there’s something in the eighteenth episode that spoils the finale, so the order is reversed. I was warned of this months ago and had it marked in my Commission document, but I forgot to include that when I updated the Master Schedule. So, the finale is next, and then next week, we do 5×18. (I’m guessing it might be a clip episode or like a big review of the whole series? I LITERALLY DON’T KNOW, DON’T SPOIL ME.)
The video for “Chapter Ninety-Eight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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