In the tenth episode of the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, THIS EPISODE WAS A LOT AND ALSO GREAT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of sex, post-partum depression, and misogyny, and for a brief discussion of queerbaiting.
Oh my god, THIS WAS SO MUCH. So much!!!! I promise I will address the many other plots in “Chapter Seventy-Four,” even though I want to devote my time to one thing. THE THING. THE BEST THING. H E L P !!!!!!!
Meeting in the Middle
I truthfully love it when fiction demonstrates how much work is often required to be in a relationship with someone. And not just romantic relationships either! Both of the challenging relationships that Jane is in here aren’t romantic; one is her friendship and business relationship with Petra. Each of them are given equal weight and meaning here, and it’s a delight to see. Well, a delight in terms of where it ends up, despite that things got pretty stressful there? Sometimes, it’s hard watching Rafael and Jane experience these obstacles because I also know that they could very easily give up on being together. And the timing of their disagreement couldn’t be worse! They just decided to pursue one another again privately, and look how quickly this started to unravel.
I say “started” because, with the experience they have with one another, Jane and Rafael are able to course correct, and they do so much quicker than in the past. That’s an important thing! I loved that the writers included that, as it showed that growth was a real possibility with these two. If they can recognize their faults this time instead of letting them dominate the relationship, then maybe this really COULD work out! Those faults are openly explored here, too, and the writers reach back to season one to ground us in this reality. We’ve always known that Jane was judgmental, and she is often that way to a fault. We also know that when Rafael gets upset or overwhelmed, he shuts down. I don’t think the writers meant to imply that they can’t or won’t change, but rather, it’s about honesty. Both of them are aware of who the other is, and that awareness is a good thing. Can Jane recognize when Rafael is shutting down? Can Rafael recognize when Jane is slipping into her judgmental mode? And how can they work together?
I also wanted to say that I appreciate, as someone who is adopted, that the show appears to very much care about dealing with the emotional complexities of not knowing one’s biological parents. By the time this review is up, I’ll be 37 years old. And Jane is so right: The questions never really go away. They don’t cause stress, so to speak, in a constant way. But I haven’t reached a point where I am entirely uninterested in knowing who my biological father is. I’m still curious, and while I’ve also made peace that I’ll never know him, I can’t say I won’t jump at the chance in the future. We place a lot of importance on this type of familial relation, and I do think the greater culture I live in here in America needs to move away from valuing very specific types of parents or family structures. At the same time, I don’t think it’s wrong to just want to know. Do I have other siblings? Were my twin brother and I the only children he had? Apparently, my brother and I look just like him. How true is that? Because I’ve always grown up without that glimpse, without the experience of looking at my parents and seeing myself in them.
What’s that like?
This episode admittedly focuses entirely on cis people, so the conversation is limited based on who can experience postpartum depression. Like I said on video, my gut reaction to watching this unfold was that:
1) Rogelio was making a huge mistake.
2) As far as I knew, cis men can’t truly experience postpartum depression the way a cis woman does after giving birth.
3) THIS WAS A HUGE MISTAKE.
Because it seemed clear to me that Rogelio’s depression and anxiety came more from the switch in his career? He’d spent YEARS performing in telenovelas and living on set, a highly active and intellectually stimulating place, and then he discovered that he had a completely mistaken idea of what it meant to be a stay-at-home parent. I am glad that Xiomara very openly stated that, too: BEING A STAY-AT-HOME PARENT IS SUPER, SUPER HARD. Instead of finding a way to deal with that, though, this really felt like Rogelio attached himself to something that gave him a purpose, that give him an issue to put his entire self behind. At the same time, I DON’T KNOW SHIT. And I can admit that. I also know that fathers CAN experience severe depression, mood swings, hormone imbalances, and the like after a child is born!
What I wonder is if Rogelio could have found a middle ground. In fact, for a moment, I thought that was where the episode was going. There’s a moment while he is on The Talk and speaking to River Fields where he openly admits that what he’s going through isn’t the same thing as postpartum depression. And I thought he was gonna run with that! Instead, he started attacking River and baiting her, and it was hard not to see misogyny in that. Like… he really fucked up here, didn’t he? Super fucked up, right??? And this just kept getting worse and worse and worse, and I can’t believe River got ATTACKED BY A WOLF. I mean, I get that this is absurd, but THERE WAS A WOLF ON THIS SHOW. I???? Can’t believe it?
I also couldn’t have possibly predicted the turn of events at the end of this plot. Like, there’s a part of me that of course understands how Hollywood works, that in the twisted logic of entertainment, a person getting attacked by a wolf because of a fight over male postpartum depression means they have good chemistry with said person? But look… that feels ridiculous to type out. It really does! And why on Earth would River Fields ever want to work with Rogelio??? I… I guess this is Rogelio’s new plot????
I’ve never ghostwritten anything before, and while I know friends who have done it as their main career or to boost their own, I can’t speak to the validity of this whole plot. As an author, I’ve felt that most of the stuff about publishing is pretty spot-on. (Though I think I would have completely different feelings if I was working within publishing and watching this show; there’s so much left out or not at all accurate, lmao. So much!) Like, proposals! That’s a very real thing! I’ve now sold two projects on proposal, and much of it does involve trying to figure out the basic pitch for a book and then the structure of it. I’ve written probably about five proposals total, so I’ve actually had more failed projects than successful ones. It’s a weird thing to do, too, because it requires a pretty intense amount of work with literally no guarantee that you’ll get paid for it. (One day, I’d love to do a deep cut into how publishing pays authors. Maybe for Patreon.)
A great example: The Insiders was a proposal for a different publishing house before it ended up going wide and Harper Collins picked it up. (IT IS SUCH A DREAM TO BE ABLE TO SAY THAT.) Even weirder: the editor it went to asked for a rewrite. ON THE PROPOSAL. And in a feverish 48 hour period, I rewrote the proposal for The Insiders to be more contemporary (with magical realism) than an urban fantasy. AND GUESS WHAT, THAT EDITOR WAS RIGHT, IT FIT THE STORY BETTER. (Shout out to Stephanie Stein!!!!)
So, I tell you all of this to say that it’s very fascinating to see Jane try to figure out what the shape of Petra’s book is going to be. It’s a genuinely challenging thing to do, and that’s also why it is so frustrating that Petra isn’t much help at first. She doesn’t understand why that structure is important to nail. And look, if any of you are in the creative fields, you probably know how aggravating it is when someone is all, “Hey, just do whatever you want! Make my thing for me. I shall give you no direction!” Oh. Oh, no. No, I need some direction, even the most vague direction imaginable. Give me something! Anything!
Which is why I’m glad that Jane is able to take something from Petra’s management style. I say that mostly because… I hate it? I really don’t like how Petra talks to the people around her, and I absolutely DESPISE her saying that employees should live in fear in order to be motivated. BAD. THAT IS A BAD THING. And maybe Petra will learn something from Jane and change, as Jane learned that being assertive about what you know and are good at is a GOOD thing. Jane knows writing, so Petra needs to let HER take the lead, not the other way around! I AM EXCITED TO SEE THIS BOOK COME TO LIFE.
THERE ARE THREE OF THEM HERE and of course I’m going to save the best for last. Let me be real upfront here: it was so damn refreshing to see this examination of women’s sexuality from three very, very different places. I LOVE IT. DEEPLY. TRULY. COMPLETELY. First, there’s Jane’s desire for sex, which is so, so different from where she started the show. And I love that. I love that Jane is the one who guides Alba towards experiencing sexual desire and trying to break the stigma around it. Because that was Jane! For a long time! She was raised to believe very specific things about sex. As someone who was raised in a strict religious environment (and was also a convert to Catholicism), all of this hit so very close to home. It took me until my late 20s (and with some limited therapy) to shed all of the stigma I felt around sex. (Granted, it’s complicated in my case because I’m queer, and I could write an entire essay around that, too.) This world doesn’t make it easy! And in Alba’s case, she’s dealing with not just the complications of being religious and being taught that sexual pleasure of any kind outside of marriage is a sin, but she’s also dealing with being older! That absolutely affects her perception of herself. So it was so goddamn fulfilling to see Alba on this uncomfortable journey, only to discover herself in the process. The conversation around this is frank because it needed to be. Like… when was the last time y’all watched a TV show where the importance of lubrication in older people was discussed? I NEVER SEE LUBE DISCUSSED PERIOD.
Oh, I loved this. I loved getting to see Jane desire sex outside of marriage, and then she finally gets to have it in such a romantic context, too. (Well, minus the cable guy part. HELP.) Finally!!! Her and Rafael did it!!!!
But then there’s
Petra and Jane
I still think my guess that Luisa is behind this tracks, though I’m going to be so embarrassed when it turns out I wasn’t even close. STILL. It fits for now, right? Who else has a motive? Who else knows the hotel well enough? Who else would use money and the legal system to get revenge on Petra?
also WHO FUCKING CARES BECAUSE
OH. OH MY GOD. Look, I spent so much of this episode in a very familiar place: watching a show tease a queer subtext, but dreading the eventual reveal that it was all just baiting. Granted, this wasn’t nearly as intense this time because Jane the Virgin has given us a whole LOT of queerness that isn’t subtext at all. But it still happens! I’m trying to protect myself! All throughout “Chapter Seventy-Four,” I was losing my SHIT over what I perceived as Jane flirting with Petra. That’s why the end reveal is so fucking huge and important: the show doesn’t confirm the existence of a mutual attraction through Jane Ramos.
NO. IT’S PETRA’S DREAM. PETRA HAD A SEX DREAM ABOUT JANE. AND SHE HAS REALIZED SOMETHING ABOUT HERSELF. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENING. IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Can we also appreciate the inside joke of Jane/Petra technically being real???? I WANTED IT FOR SO LONG AND I ACTUALLY FUCKING GOT IT, EXCEPT IT’S JUST A DIFFERENT JANE. Played by Rosario Dawson????????????????
Is it my birthday? Christmas???? WHAT DID I EVER DO TO DESERVE THIS?????????????
The video for “Chapter Seventy-Four” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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