Jane the Virgin
Oh, hey! Hello! This is a recap of Jane the Virgin, an excellent show to watch if you’d like to take your mind off of the world slowly crumbling around you. That’s a glib thing to say, of course, and Jane the Virgin is an excellent show to watch at any time. But this week’s episode has Jane and Michael teetering past stress and into full-on meltdown mode. It also has Jane and Michael lying under the stars, taking a deep breath, and trying to figure out how to calm themselves down. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s still very good advice.
The set-up for this stress blowout is a classic Jane the Virgin scenario: an actual, plausible situation that could easily drive any otherwise healthy marriage into tension overload. The deadline for a draft of Jane’s novel fast approaches, and even though she receives Alba’s blessing in a very sweet, very moving scene, Jane has to confront the reality that turning in the novel will also mean someone judging it. Meanwhile, Michael’s committed to pursuing the law school idea, but the application calendar means he needs to take the LSAT right away. Jane grows increasingly worried about her novel, Michael’s LSAT exam, his future as a lawyer, and the fact that Mateo hasn’t said as many words as some of his peers. Michael, whose very short list of flaws now also includes “terrible test-taker,” gets more and more worked up about the LSAT. Inevitably, they blow up at one another.
It’s a good blowup, too. Rather than just one major fight and a reconciliation, the tension ramps up throughout the episode, building and then ebbing and building again. As it so frequently does in real life, one person’s stress feeds the other’s. Jane tries to help herself feel better by bringing all of her worries to Michael, who then responds (understandably) by losing it, because Jane’s concern for the future compounds his own sense of pressure.
They apologize to one another, they calm down, and then it escalates again, this time triggered by Jane’s overly loud printer. When Michael comes home from the coffee shop, he and Jane use some of the essential oils she got from yoga class to help her relax. Michael has an allergic reaction to the oils, of course. And then Jane and Michael hit the jackpot of Things That Would Send Any Relationship Off the Cliff: They are stuck in traffic … with a screaming toddler … and they are running late for Michael’s very important law school interview. Michael’s face is still swollen shut from the oils, and there’s no way out except to just go camping. Running late, traffic, major life events, screaming toddler, swollen face, stress for the future, and then camping? My God.
But they’re Jane and Michael, and so they do what they always do. They are honest with each other. Michael admits that he’s failed all of his practice tests, and he’s epically worried about this test. Jane admits that she’s nervous about the book and Mateo’s language development, and feels frustrated that she can’t share her anxiety without him blowing up. They lie back and look at the stars, putting things in perspective, and the whole plot is so beautifully, characteristically Jane the Virgin. It’s absolutely true to life without feeling mundane or dull. It models both a reasonable human response to a bad situation and a sensible way for its characters to work themselves out of it. It somehow does all of this without coming off as corny or schmaltzy, even though it could so easily fall into sentimentality. Plus, Mateo says a new word: tents. Fine, camping. You win this round.
All in all, this Jane-and-Michael plot works really well for the episode. More broadly, it’s almost always good for Jane the Virgin when Jane and Michael fight. The show’s willingness to give them both real, occasionally unflattering, and very broad ranges of emotions is one of its great strengths.
While Jane and Michael slowly spin out of control, the episode’s other plots focus on Rafael and Catalina, Petra’s discovery of the will addendum, and Rogelio’s conflicted relationship with Darci Factor. The Darci-and-Rogelio story is relatively straightforward: He has feelings for her, but she doesn’t want to admit she has feelings for him because she can see he’s still connected with Xo. So Darci pushes Rogelio away during their disastrous trial date, he’s hurt, and by the end they realize they can’t deny their mutual romantic interest. This is no surprise, because who could resist Rogelio de la Vega?! It’s most interesting for the longer scope of the series, which had pushed Rogelio and Xo together pretty aggressively. In spite of her silly dating rules, Darci is actually a good match for Rogelio, and the accelerated baby-driven timetable of their relationship could move him further away from Xo very quickly. It’ll be interesting to see whether the show doubles down on Rogelio and Xo’s separation by turning Darci into a serious, long-term presence. (I hope not. I still think Bruce is sort of a dud.)
The Rafael/Catalina/Petra/Scott/Anezka mess is, inevitably, much more twisty. Step one: Petra offers Catalina $10,000 if she’ll distract Rafael long enough that Petra can sneak in and get the will addendum. Step two: Catalina has a snippy confrontation with Jane over being territorial about Rafael, and thus agrees to Petra’s deal. Step three: Catalina and Rafael go on a sweat-lodge adventure, and manage to actually bond in spite of both being on the verge of breaking up. Rafael tells her about the will; she tells him that she can’t have children. Step four: Catalina sets up the opportunity for Petra to steal the will, but it turns out Catalina’s changed her mind, and she helps Rafael trap Petra.
Then we get to step five, which is another beautifully Jane twist. Instead of anger or betrayal, Rafael ends up feeling only sadness for Petra, who’s still struggling with the trauma of paralysis and of losing the chance to bond with her daughters. Further, she didn’t even steal the will to hurt Rafael; she did it so that she could destroy it, and hopefully secure her daughters’ financial futures in the process. And so, Rafael gets her a psychologist. Finally. Wow, does Petra need some real help.
All’s well that ends well … except! STEP SIX: Actually, Scott was in cahoots with Anezka all along, and now they’re married, and Scott meticulously taped the shredded-up addendum back together so that he and Anezka can use it to (probably) blackmail everyone. Dammit, Vests! To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love:
- My favorite random Narrator quirk this week is his obsession with an oddly minor detail: When Catalina agrees to Petra’s deal, she asks for $10,000, and also Petra’s watch. For the rest of the episode, our Narrator just will not let the watch go. Rafael and Cat start to get close, but our Narrator reminds us, “She took Petra’s watch, for God’s sake!” At the end, when Rafael does indeed break up with Catalina for good, he yells, “And give Petra her watch back, weirdo!”
- It’s possible at some point I’ll get tired of Jane the Virgin making Trump jokes, but we are very, very far from that point. Rogelio tells Darci that he’d like to grab and kiss her, “but I must ask first since Donald Trump has ruined romance for all of us.” Narrator: “Along with a lot of other things!”
- It is with great, great sadness that I note that Rogelio is done making Tíago. God, I will miss Tíago. At least he finally figures out a good send-off for the show: Tíago goes back to the Garden of Eden and uses his powers of seduction to become the father of all humankind. As Rogelio says in his farewell speech, “What started as a cheap rip-off of Quantum Leap has become much, much more.”
- “Are you trying to say that I’m not an A-lister?” Rogelio asks Darci, baffled.
- These are dark times, and I will never not appreciate some Rogelio dick jokes to help get us through. There are several this week, but the best is when he finally admits, “Okay, I have a boner! Not a physical one — an emotional one! An emoner, if you will.” Thank you, Rogelio. I will.