Back in January, a New York Times “Modern Love” column took the internet by storm. In it, a woman talked about how she experimented with the results of Dr. Arthur Aron’s study on love and attempted to use Aron’s method to fall in love with a stranger. The methods include asking each other a set of 36 questions and silently staring into the other person’s eyes for four minutes. In the piece, the author acknowledges the awkwardness of the silent staring but says that by the end of the four minutes, she felt brave and vulnerable and full of wonder.
I thought about this test as I watched Jane and Rafael try to make it through their three minutes of soulful staring, and how vulnerable you have to be to allow yourself to open up like that. Jane and Rafael weren’t able to make it through the exercise, giving up to try an assignment they felt was more productive. Maybe that says it all about their relationship: that they weren’t able to be vulnerable long enough to see if what they were trying had merit or not.
Rafael and Jane have always had a disjointed love affair, as though that weren’t obvious with the inadvertent virgin pregnancy, and as upsetting as it is that their time together seems to be coming to a close before it’s really gotten a chance to begin, there’s something much more troubling happening below the show’s surface.
When Rafael decides to end his relationship with Jane for good, he does so by telling her that he doesn’t love her the way that she loves him, and that the bulk of their relationship was built on the idea that they could be the family that he never had as a child. The idea of Rafael projecting his emotional issues onto an unsuspecting woman at a time of intense psychological trauma is a fascinating one, in truth, one of the most interesting choices the show could make. The problem is that the series immediately tries to undermine the severity of the twist by revealing that Rafael was only telling Jane these things for her own good because she wouldn’t give up on the relationship any other way, and he couldn’t take the risk of poisoning her goodness.
This is a failure on two separate levels. On the one hand, it takes a psychologically complex and completely reasonable plot (Rafael overestimates his regard for Jane due to the unorthodox nature of their situation, combined with lingering childhood issues) and negates it, something akin to a storytelling sin. It’s just wrong to develop an idea that would make for deeply, dramatically interesting canon and immediately abandon it as a red herring facade. Jane the Virgin is too good a show to leave its best story developments out on the branch to rot.
The other failure comes in the undermining of Jane’s agency. Despite trying to reason with her several times, Rafael is unable to make Jane understand that the things he’s dealing with must be dealt with alone. He reiterates how often he disappoints her in an attempt to make her see how feeling as though he’s constantly failing her is only serving to exacerbate his current mental strife. But Jane can’t hear what Rafael is really saying and insists on fixing everything, leaving him no choice but to lie to her in order to exit the relationship and invest in the self-care he needs. As stubborn and positive as the Jane we all know and love is, for her to be unable to see that what the man she loves needs is the distance she refuses to grant him seems like a huge lapse, thus forcing the character into a position where she needs to be deceived in order to be placated. It’s just not a good look for anyone involved and leaves the series in a difficult place heading into the season’s final episodes — one that not even the magical power of love can smooth over.
Sadly for the Villanueva clan, things aren’t going so well for Rogelio and Xiomara, either. Xo has yet to reveal to Rogelio that she kissed her ex-boyfriend while out at the bar, and in the meantime, Rogelio has managed to land a one-night gig in Vegas with Xiomara as his opening act. Too consumed by guilt to be excited, Xo waits to admit her transgression until Ro admits that Jane’s writing teacher, with whom he had a historical fling, kissed him, but timing is not Xo's friend, and Rogelio ends their relationship.
Lina throws a baby shower for Jane and Rafael, a trying affair given the current state of their relationship, but it does afford Lina and Jane the opportunity to have the following exchange with regards to Jane not having a C-section: “You’re going to lose your virginity to your baby?!” “Well, I wasn’t thinking about it like that!” Despite seeking out a therapist to help them work through their current struggles and attempting to repair the relationship through spontaneous skinny-dipping and near-sex, Rafael determines that the relationship can’t continue until he works through his personal issues, telling Jane that he doesn’t feel the same way about her in order to end the relationship. This is finally enough to show Jane that the relationship is over, and she lets him go.
Rafael, with the help of a therapist, determines that the only way he can make peace with the issues he’s dealing with in his personal life is to end his relationship with Jane. His impulse to do so is driven by his need to protect her from his issues, and hopefully allow them both to focus on providing a positive environment for their child.
Meanwhile, Petra, still kidnapped, is taken to the Everglades by Roman. She seduces him and calls the police to report her location so they can rescue her, and after fleeing from Roman’s attack, accidentally kills him by impaling him, just like he supposedly died the first time. In the aftermath, she is shaken and reaches out to Rafael, who is unable to offer her any support, as he has his hands full with Jane, and as a result, Petra reaches out to her estranged mother, who is revealed at the end of the episode as returning to the hotel with Petra.
After rescuing Petra, Michael comes into possession of the actual flash drive containing all of Sin Rostro’s known associates and, after the information is decrypted, finds out that Nadine has been working for Sin Rostro all along. He confronts her, and she tearily admits her wrongdoing, saying that she only did it because of the threats against her family. Michael feels betrayed but gives her the opportunity to escape before informing their boss of her misconduct.
Andie and Michael decide to make their dating official just in time for Andie to realize that Jane knows the truth about her. After awkwardly confronting Jane and asking her not to reveal her deception to Michael, Andie comes clean herself. Michael confronts Jane about not telling him the truth, and she admits that she was wrong not to tell him about Andie, using the “But you seemed so happy!” defense. She then admits to him that she and Rafael have broken up, and after she leaves the hotel, Michael texts Andie and tells her it's over.
Alba recognizes Petra’s mother as the woman who pushed her down the stairs!
How long have I been misspelling Andie’s name?
Will Jane and Rafael be back together by the finale, or are they over until season two?
Word on the street is that Rafael’s sister will be back next episode. Does that mean Sin Rostro will return as well?
How much toast do they eat at a Villanueva breakfast? (I counted no fewer than six slices.)