Jane the Virgin / Screen

Jane the Virgin: “Chapter Thirty-Seven”

Jane Villanueva is, without doubt, one of the most likable characters on television. She’s sweet and smart and cares about people. Her incredible circumstances have never diluted what a genuinely good person she is, and Jane walks the fine line between being good and being intolerably, and condescendingly good. The show’s done a near perfect job of giving Jane flaws and imperfections that only highlight her decency, making it possible to sympathize with her even if we don’t really agree with what she’s doing. Honestly, I’m not sure I can remember a time when I really didn’t agree with what Jane was doing. Her role on the show allows us to see the ins and outs of all her decisions, even those that would seem questionable to others.

Like Michael’s parents who, once united only by their adoration of Jane, turn up to protest hers and Michael’s engagement. It’s a fairly awkward situation, but one borne of the worries Michael’s parents have about the veracity of Jane’s feelings for Michael after their earlier split. While it seems absurd that someone couldn’t like Jane, it’s easy to trace their skepticism. They know Jane was accidentally artificially inseminated, that she dumped Michael and hooked up with her baby’s father, and now she and Michael are getting married in six weeks. Their perspective is only further clarified when they question Jane about it, all of her answers only cementing their unfavorable opinion. Michael shuts it down, but it’s a not quite pleasant look at our heroine and her decisions. If we weren’t inclined to see things from Jane’s point of view, to absorb the nuances of her choices, then we might have a very different opinion of her. “Thirty-Seven” doesn’t do the greatest job trying to make this about Jane overcoming her need to be liked, not with either Michael’s parents or her new advisor. It’s not totally ridiculous that Jane would want Michael’s parents to like her (they will be related for like, ever), and her advisor liking her work is pretty important to Jane’s writing ambitions so her trying to get over their opinions of her doesn’t seem as simple as everyone tries to make it.

The Paola/Lola story is also unbalanced in its execution. For such a quick moving show, this plot seems to have gone on forever (which is likely due to that hiatus), and it’s nice to see it being wrapped up. It’s still difficult to parse what this is supposed to do for the show at this point. Once Rogelio’s finally rescued by Michael (in a very anticlimactic sequence), there’s some indication that his character has been sobered by his ordeal, which could have been an interesting element to use. It’s nice to see him and Jane reconnecting, and her being the person he confides in about what happened, but I’m wondering how much of it we’ll see in coming episodes. Still, I’m just glad we’ve reached the end of the Paola/Lola storyline. She already felt tedious, with Jane already having a number of dangerous women in its roster. Adding Paola/Lola doesn’t do much but remind me how little we’re seeing of Mudder.

Speaking of Mudder, she’s nowhere to be seen in this episode either. I don’t know what the reasoning behind it is (maybe scheduling issues with the actress), but it’s not working. Rose had the benefit of being onscreen before we knew she was Sin Rostro, which made her disappearance in later episodes feel more intentionally mysterious than what’s happening with Elena who just seems to be in the wind because the show can’t make room for her. It’s been using standins for the time being, and this week it’s Derek.

It seems I’m never going to be pleased with a Rafael storyline. Ever. Even when I should be, even when the potential is there. At the top of my wish list for season three will be a more substantial storyline for him, and one where it doesn’t seemed doomed to fail. For a moment I thought Derek may not be so creepy, and Rafae would finally have the familial links he’s been looking for, but Rafael’s quickness to trust him (after Derek delivers a very moving speech about no longer having any family) screams that Derek is more closely entwined with their mother than he’s let on.  I’m just so eager for Rafael to have a storyline that will be satisfying and also have a happy ending for him, and one that doesn’t have mansplaining to Jane and/or Petra from time to time.

Neither Rafael nor Petra get the screentime their respective stories really allow, and Petra’s is the weakest of the bunch. “Thirty-Seven” is a packed episode, and not as seamlessly done as others, so a lot gets lost in the shuffle. When Petra’s sent home with the twins, her apparent disinterest in her daughters concerns Rafael. I’m hesitantly excited about seeing which way it will go: if Petra will react better once she’s had time to adjust to Elsa and Anna or if she’s really as ambivalent about them as she appears. It could be a really well done and thoughtful storyline, to have a new mother just not into being a mother. There are plenty of women who don’t care for children or motherhood, and Petra, who plunged into pregnancy mostly so she could entice Rafael, could be this way. Rafael and Jane are certain she just needs time to bond with the twins (because the mother/child bond is so strong), but what if that’s not it? I resent the sentiment that any woman who’s had children is naturally inclined to being a mother, and Jane could do something really different by tackling the story of a mother who’d really rather not be one.

Stray Observations

  • I appreciate the show adjusting Petra’s wardrobe to account for her post-pregnancy body with less form fitting clothes.
  • Pablo arrives in Miami, and he’s seemingly very cursed. But he and Alba are also really sweet so I’m conflicted. That being said, I’m concerned with what his apparent unluckiness is going to do to everyone else’s lives going forward.
  • Michael:”My mom is not as mad as she was when she found out my dad slept with his dental hygienist.” Jane:”But it is a point of reference?”
    Michael: “It is a point of reference.”
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