Jane the Virgin / Screen

Jane the Virgin: “Chapter Thirty”

Dear Jane the Virgin, please hook Jane up with someone else. Anyone else. Her writing teacher (he’s hot), Petra (she’s hot), someone we haven’t met yet (who will be hot). I’ll take anyone else as long as I no longer have to sit through episodes like this one, which are becoming recurring and no less irritating. Though “Chapter Thirty” treats us to Jane’s delightful and glorious rage after learning that Rafael hired someone to go to the police about Michael, it’s much of the same conflict being retread. That being said, Angry Jane is profoundly wonderful, and it’s nice to see that she’s allowed to be rightfully pissed about Rafael’s decision, and to stress just how angry she is Jane even unlinks hers and Rafael’s calendar.

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like Rafael these days, but I think think “Chapter Thirty” actually tried to make us understand him. I’m just not sure it worked. Jealousy undoubtedly has played a part in Rafael’s decisions about Michael, but he denies it despite sticking to the story that he was “fighting for” Jane and Mateo. Even as the episode forces Jane to look at things from Rafael’s point of view it never asks Rafael to do that for Jane. He has a good, if indirect, point about Michael letting Nadine go which later allowed her to be manipulated into kidnapping Mateo.  And of course he has feelings about Rose murdering his father though I’m fuzzy on how that is Michael’s fault. While Rafael goes on and on about doing what he thought he needed to do to ensure his family’s safety, there’s a conspicuous lack of connection to Jane’s previous grievances against Rafael’s rather dysfunctional family.

The dangerous situations plaguing the Solanos once had Jane considering sole custody so it’s more than a little oversight not to consider that here. Last season Jane argued quite a bit against Rafael’s business partnership with Petra, was going to sue Luisa for accidentally inseminating her, and balked at his familial link to Sin Rostro. But it’s never brought up even when Rafael tries to suggest that Jane was putting Mateo in danger by associating with Michael (Rafael has better footing on the flying glass incident, which also goes conspicuously unmentioned aside from the recap). “Chapter Thirty” only buckles down on the unsavory elements of Rafael’s life, and Jane isn’t even made aware of them. Luisa admits to still being in contact with Rose, and Petra confesses to all of her and her mother’s misdeeds. But like last season, I suspect Rafael would argue against any implication that these are people he needs to cut himself off from in order to effectively parent.

And then to add insult to injury Rafael threatens to involve his lawyers if Jane doesn’t let Mateo spend Christmas with him after previously saying Jane could have Christmas. Now to be fair, we can assume Rafael would have been included in whatever Villanueva traditions were going to be happening that day, only to be excluded after Jane’s discovery. His request to be with Mateo on Christmas isn’t wrong and it isn’t even strange. It makes perfect sense aside from the absence of a mention of just inviting Rafael to Christmas. Neither Jane nor Rafael suggest that Mateo be with both of them at Jane’s. Jane likely would have argued against it, but it’s strange not to be voiced by one of them. Rafael doesn’t even suggest it when Jane refuses to let him take Mateo for the day. Instead he leaps straight to legal action, which is annoying because 1) I doubt he’d really take Jane to court and was only using it as a threat, and 2) he knows it functions well as a threat because Jane and her family don’t have the financial means to employ lawyers as good as his. This is frustrating, and a dicky move from Rafael, though this season has been full of them for him. I keep waiting for some hint of the charm and whirlwind romance he and Jane shared in the first season. It’s been all but completely wrung out of recent episodes, and tossing in a lame mention of Rafael’s charity work isn’t doing the trick.

The longer the love triangle (which becomes less and less of one if you ask me) persists, the more confusing it becomes. Is Jane the Virgin trying to keep it alive or not? At times it seems to determined to finally kill it, with Rafael being the worst and Michael the romantic hero of Jane’s stories. But whatever it’s decision it would be nice if it just made it. At this point I’d be at least slightly unhappy with Jane’s choice no matter what it was, but at least we wouldn’t have to keep seeing it going back and forth in the characterization of both Michael and Rafael.

Surprisingly Rafael’s mother makes an appearance in the episode, and that could have been a promising new storyline for Rafael. He needs to do something. Though his mom goes away, he may finally be getting that in the form of Petra who’s arrested after Magda pins all their illegal activities on her. It’s still frustrating that Rafael’s own character is so muddied that he can’t really have a story that isn’t connected to someone else, but since Petra is especially sad and also very adorable in “Chapter Thirty”, I don’t mind Rafael’s inclusion. Chances are he’ll be more helpful and more charming than he’s been with Jane lately, and he could use a story that will make him more sympathetic.

Michael’s had the benefit of disappearing from Jane’s life, and now he has a storyline separate from her: finding Luisa’s missing, drug lord mother. Even his spontaneous reparation of a broken ornament happens offscreen, as he continues to keep his distance. Though Jane’s still sorting out whatever feelings for him she still has, we’re able to see Michael doing things other than being insufferable. Rogelio requesting they be friends again, and being shot down, is very sad.

Fortunately for the show, it is Christmas. The Villanuevas remain consistently delightful. Alba gets her green card in a sweet but cheery moment, and not even Rogelio’s boring budget can sink what is a charming moment for the whole family.

Stray Observations

  • Why does the show keep implying that Rafael is the devil or something? It did it way too much last season with Sin Rostro, but why in the world would we believe that Rafael’s “secret accounts” were so bad? He’s not the devil, he’s just a jerk.
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