Jane the Virgin / Screen

Jane the Virgin: “Chapter Twenty-Eight”

I wasn’t sure I could be more annoyed by Jane the Virgin than I was last week, but somehow I am. It’s an odd feeling, to be all torn up about a show that’s been consistently great—up until now. Last week’s faulty characterization of Michael and Rafael is secondary this week, as Jane’s mostly on her own, excepting some shenanigans with Rafael and a heap of time jumps. The biggest worry going into a season two with a new baby was that Jane’s character would become entrenched in new motherhood, at the expense of all else, and while I had confidence the show wouldn’t do that to her, it seems I was wrong.

Jane cutting Michael out of her life seems even more like a punishment than it did last week, as she’s completely miserable when “Chapter Twenty-Seven” begins. That’s the least of the episode’s faults, with Michael disappearing to take down Sin Rostro with Nadine and only emerging in the episode’s final moments. The rest of the episode is more about Jane’s grad school ambitions, which aren’t shaping up the way she’d like. Her professor (Adam Rodriguez) isn’t the easiest guy to get along with, mainly because he’s not at all sympathetic to Jane’s situation as a new mother. He kicks Jane out of class when she steps out to take a phone call from Mateo’s pediatrician, gives her a C- on her work and eventually puts her on academic probation because he’s not convinced she actually wants to be there.

Jane being sad is not a good look, but the whole episode is about her feeling guilty for being a bad mother. The nature of last week’s disastrous episode was the same way, seemingly rooted in how Jane can’t actually have anything for herself without feeling like a horrible mother. She wants to be a writer and go to grad school, but the whole way through she’s being told that she’s letting Mateo down. He’s left on his back while she writes so he has a flat head and needs to wear a helmet for three months so Jane feels guilty about that. Jane goes on writer’s retreat and has to miss the helmet fitting appointment and feels guilty about that. Then Mateo refuses to latch onto her breast, and Jane feels guilty about that. And she’s missing Mommy classes and doesn’t know all the choreography and she feels guilty about that. And when Rafael suggests she stop pumping, Jane has to feel guilty about actually wanting to take his suggestion.

Why can’t Jane do anything without feeling bad about herself in the process? Why does everything have to make her feel like she’s a crap mother? It’s one step forward and two steps backwards each episode. I thought the show had finally decided that Jane was going to be able to handle it all episodes ago, only to change its mind. It’s becoming a rote formula: Jane gets something she wants, this conflicts with hands-on parenting (though she has an awesome support system in her family and Mateo’s father and isn’t at all neglecting her son), someone reassures her of how great she can be, Jane feels better, and the next episode Jane’s feeling miserable again. Challenges are to be expected with Jane’s very packed life, but she’s had more losses than she has wins. This episode is the same in seemingly establishing Jane as kind of okay. Granted she’s on academic probation, but she’s stopped pumping, Mateo’s helmet is removed, and she’s over Michael, but I have little confidence in the show maintaining this momentary happiness.

Speaking of being over Michael, I’m over this love triangle, if it can be called that anymore. The time jump allows Jane and Rafael a chance to try for dating. I’m miffed that the show doesn’t actually take the time to explore Jane’s singlehood, and her getting over Michael and instead stuffs it into a time leaping episode. It proves the show’s reliance on the love triangle as a device, and I would have liked to see more of Jane on her own, even more of Rafael also trying his hand at moving on from Jane. Putting it all into one stuffed episode just makes it feel inconsequential. There’s little doubt that Rafael and Jill aren’t going to last (can you imagine Rafael ending with three kids and a stepson?), but I’d appreciate some attempt at an illusion.

The other plotline is Jane and Mateo’s estate planning, which has Jane freaked out when she realizes how wealthy Rafael is. I’m just going to come out and say that this is stupid. Jane’s always been anxious about Rafael’s wealth, and how different it is from her own upbringing, but it’s dumb, okay? She thinks wealth is going to spoil Mateo and fights his massive inheritance. Wanting to make sure Mateo is going to remain grounded and not rely on his wealth for everything is fine and even admirable, but pretending that such wealth isn’t a huge advantage for him, and that he’s not incredibly lucky to have it, is annoying. It’s a relief when Rafael finally tells Jane that his childhood wasn’t a complete mess because he was rich but because his family was a mess. That won’t be the case with Mateo, who’s being raised by good parents and an exceptional extended family.

Even when the rest of the episode is annoying me, I’m mostly pleased with Petra, though she’s locked in a cycle not totally unlike Jane’s. Every time she seems to get it together, she gets slapped in the face with painful reality. With Milos trying to sell off those grenades, she convinces Jane and her family to speak on Magda’s behalf at her parole hearing and garner her an early release. At this point, I’m terribly uninterested in Magda and Milos, who act as weights around Petra’s anklezs that refuse to allow her the chance to ascend to anything other than desperate and grasping for a better life. Her and Jane are once again the cutest, as Jane reassures a nervous Petra that she’ll figure out motherhood, too and even invites her to Thanksgiving dinner which is positively adorable. Her happiness will soon be crushed, as she returns home to find that Magda’s killed Ivan.

Stray Observations

  • Young Xio looked a lot like older Xio this week.
  • I’m glad Jane’s making friends at grad school, but while Jane’s kicking it with Wesley all I could think of is where is Lina? The next time an episode airs claiming the two are besties I’m going to remember this.
  • And of course Wesley is shady and writing a book on the Solano family. But really, let’s not pretend the Solanos aren’t too wild.
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