In the final episode of Jane the Virgin, all’s well that ends well. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Jane the Virgin.
Wow, y’all. What a finale. WHAT. A. FINALE.
I think it was deeply brilliant—and a little sad—that of all choices that the writers could have made to finally give closure to Rafael’s search for his biological parents, they chose this. In the end, they weren’t international crimelords. There was no longstanding mystery that they were attached to. They were, in every respect, ordinary people who simply died in a car accident. Since the beginning of this show, Rafael has been part of the Solano family, one which has had a clear penchant for drama, crime, betrayal, and mistrust. So it’s fitting here that there is no distrust left between Rafael and the one member of his family who is still alive: Luisa. (Gotta say that I still do wish we’d gotten some closure on her in this finale. I know I’ll have more thoughts when we do the Q&A next week, but for now, I don’t feel like she was given a full story like the other characters.) Not only that, but this twist disavows the notion that Rafael is cursed, that he came from a place that created the chaotic, challenging life he led. No, he had parents; they died; that’s it. No more surprises, no more plot twists. He just knows.
And then, what follows this moment is proof that Rafael also has a huge, loving family now. In terms of his character’s growth, this is immense. He finally found people who love and accept him for who he is, not the least of which is Jane. But more on that later.
I love that over the years, I’ve gotten the chance to experience and dissect so very many series finales. I’ve seen so many spectacular ones (even those that were deeply polarizing, like for Battlestar Galactica, which I still very much enjoyed!), and I love thinking about what makes a story feel like it earned its ending. Through the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, the writers manage to not only focus on the impending marriage of Rafael and Jane, but there’s such wonderful work done to give us time with many of the other characters. I loved Lina revealing she’s pregnant and when that happened. Like, yes, Lina would never want to steal Jane’s thunder! But also SHE IS NAUSEOUS, THIS IS IMPORTANT. I loved that throughout this, there’s still the tension of the will-she-or-won’t-she decision that hangs over Xiomara, who isn’t certain that she wants to move to New York and leave her mother and her daughter behind. There’s Petra’s attempt at telling (really bad) jokes in honor of Raf and Jane, which descends into sobbing because this fucking show spent FIVE YEARS building up to this point, in which Petra genuinely cares and adores her ex-husband and his new wife, two people who she, at one point, despised with every cell in her body. God, even if I have criticism for Luisa’s arc—which certainly ended in a better place!—I definitely enjoyed her joke about how she was technically responsible for setting all of this in motion. Because she was!!! None of this would have happened if she hadn’t made that mistake in the pilot episode.
There’s awkwardness, too, like when Rogelio tries to goad Rafael into calling him dad, or Rafael’s disappointment that Jane hadn’t written her vows yet. Because even within the fantasy of this finale, there’s still realism, a motif that not only lasted throughout the show, but especially appears here.
A Last Minute Gesture
Like the absurdity of Rafael’s decision to rush off to the production house to see if they can swap out the file for ARCs for one with the new ending. I mean… none of that looks like that, and none of that happens that way. Okay, maybe it does in some rare instances, but I had to make a last minute change before my previous book’s ARC was printed, so I just… texted my editor and emailed her the Word document. That’s it. She was able to send that along to the production team in-house, and… again: that’s it. It wasn’t a whole affair.
But here’s another instance where I don’t need the realism because the realism isn’t the better story. There are a lot of really cool references to the first time Jane got married, particularly in the second half of the episode. However, what I want to focus on is the decision itself: Rafael chose to do something ridiculous and risky on the day of his wedding out of love. The first time Jane and Rafael broke up, selfishness played a part in that. I already spoke of my adoration for how Rafael changed his view on money and wealth, and I also think it’s so clever of the show to make Jane the one who has all the money now. But this gesture… y’all. It’s amazing. It’s amazing because there’s no doubt here in the finale: these two really do belong together.
And it’s amazing because “Chapter One Hundred” does this twice. As Petra is freaking out about the lateness of the bride and groom, someone else makes a last minute gesture, too. Now, obviously, as you can tell by my reaction in the video for this episode, and based solely on how much I CLEARLY adored this relationship, this is truly what I wanted for Petra. However, I do want to speak to my admiration for another aspect of this: I really appreciate that I believed up until the JR twist that Petra was happy. I think it was fantastic that she’d done so much growth after the break-up, and JR’s reappearance doesn’t negate that. Petra is successful; she’s on a path to open the first Marbella in a franchise. This whole journey she’s been on to love herself and love her life isn’t negated by JR. Instead… it’s just made better.
AND I’M SO HAPPY. ugh THE QUEERNESS OF THIS ALL. JR’s suit! The kiss! MY GAY HEART CAN’T HANDLE THIS.
Race to the Wedding
I truly found a lot to love here, but there’s no one detail I adore more than the bus. THE FUCKING BUS. That bus line has played such an integral part in SO MANY plot lines over the years, and to see it appear prominently in this finale… CHEF’S KISS, Y’ALL. I have a very personal reason for it, though. I’ve been taking public transportation in various cities for twenty-one years now. I love it, even on the days when I kinda hate it. I don’t drive, I don’t have a license, and I still take the bus to this day, even though I live near five different subway lines. Maria Bamford has this incredible bit from years ago where she talks about the reaction she’s gotten when she tells friends that she is taking the bus somewhere: They always ask if she’s okay or if something happened. At the heart of the joke is the idea that those of us who take public transportation only do so because we’re desperate or poor or at a low point in our lives.
Up until the very end, Jane never forgot her roots. And yes, the race to the wedding is fucking ABSURD. I don’t think a bus driver would take $500 to leave their route. (Though I utterly believe that the passengers would be fine for $200 a pop; I would take, to be quite honest with all of you.) Or would wait outside a POLICE STATION for twenty-three minutes. But I don’t care. I love these moments in Jane the Virgin, where realism doesn’t matter because the magical nature of it all feels more real. It’s the beauty of magical realism, isn’t it? It’s this genre that is so deeply in conversation with our world while appearing outside of it. So no, I am not going to spend time analyzing the logistical nightmare of Jane commandeering a bus. Rather, I’m going to appreciate the amazing visual of Rafael and Jane stepping out the door of the bus to finally, finally get married.
It happened, y’all. OH MY GOD. No significant interruptions, no last-second twists, no distractions… Jane Villanueva and Rafael Solano got MARRIED. Y’all, there were so many incredible writing and acting choices during the ceremony itself. Having Alba officiate? INCREDIBLE. That joke about Rafael not being Catholic? PERFECT. The vows. THE. VOWS. I actually really loved that we didn’t get them onscreen, and I’d argue that part of the strength of this finale is what we don’t see. (More on that in a second.) After everything these two have been through… yeah. Those vows were always going to be emotional and intense, and thus, the show grants them privacy. It lets us only see their mutual reactions and nothing more. From there… OH. Y’ALL. Them repeatedly kissing too early! That felt so natural and real, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t even scripted.
They did it.
THEY’RE FINALLY MARRIED.
The End is the Beginning is the End
Like I said, there’s a lot we don’t see, but is left up to us. Xiomara decides to take a leap of faith and move to New York with Rogelio, Darci, Esteban, and Baby. Rafael and Jane will soon go on their honeymoon. JR and Petra are back together. And this whole story began when a mistake brought Jane and Rafael back into one another’s lives, and now, it comes to an end. But in this end is a beginning, just as Jane remarks. Because now they get to actually start their new lives, and nothing stopped. No dead husbands, no trust issues. It’s just love.
But love was always a part of this. At the core of Jane the Virgin are the three memorable Villanueva women, and wow, did it ever hit me hard that this is the last time I’ll see the three of them on that porch, commiserating or supporting one another. Three generations of Latina women, growing up and changing in Miami, learning from one another, showing us the power of family. To me, that’ll always be the core of this show, even when I look at the other characters. Because people like Petra, Rogelio, Rafael, or Luisa, who aren’t Villanuevas, all changed because they came into contact with these three women who affected their lives. This is about trying to get better while trying to do one’s best, isn’t it? The show might be fantastical and over the top, but those core values still shine through in the end.
But this end is just the beginning. The more I think about it, the more utterly thrilled I am by the final reveals: That Jane’s second book ended as a telenovela, and that this telenovela was narrated by an adult Mateo. Both these elements break the fourth wall a bit (while Jane does it directly with that wink), suggesting that perhaps what we just watched was Jane’s novel the entire time. It’s a fascinating thing that makes me wonder how many clues there were to this along the way, but it’s also fitting in terms of the show’s tone. Jane the Virgin is unabashedly a show that makes fun of and adores telenovelas. It is in conversation with them! And the idea that what we just watched was a version of Jane Villanueva’s life feels so true to the spirit of the show.
It brings me to the end of this story, but the ending also suggests that there is so very much more to come for the lives of these people. And that’s one of the best kind of endings, isn’t it? One where you can easily imagine a future. The end is a beginning here, and I’m thrilled to have gone on this journey.
As a reminder, we’ll watch 5×18 on Monday, then have the Q&A party on Wednesday.
The video for “Chapter One Hundred” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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