Jane the Virgin
In a recent interview with Vulture, Jane the Virgin showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman spoke a little about the inherent difficulty of balancing the many different genre elements featured in any given episode of her show. She explains that story dictates how comedic or romantic an episode ends up being; because there are so many components at play, no two episodes end up quite alike. The benefits of a show having so many different options when it comes to tone are self-evident. When things are balanced correctly, Jane plays like the finest of improvisational jazz: The beats may be unexpected and seemingly disconnected, but together it sings. However, when the final edit of elements is miscalculated, the journey can seem not just disjointed but entirely disorienting.
Unfortunately, “Episode 14” of Jane the Virgin is much more the latter than the former. While the show’s impulses are correct in wanting to move back toward its comedic roots in the wake of the more emotional “Episode 13,” the plot’s volume and content didn’t lend themselves to such light and frothy treatment.
Central to the premise of the episode is the idea that Rafael and Jane have trust issues. The existence of these issues isn’t a particularly surprising revelation, given that the two are in a relationship, which demands a strong commitment, even though they’re just getting to know one another as people. Part of this is simply because they haven’t had enough time or space or opportunity to grow into the relationship as a normal couple would, but another, perhaps more significant issue, is that neither Jane nor Rafael seem to have any particular interest in affording themselves the things they need to form a strong foundation for their future.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect at play here is that the show seems to be well aware of the inherent flaws in Jane and Rafael’s relationship. The episode’s flashback focuses on where the two were five years ago and how very different they were. The problem is not that the Jane and Rafael from the past weren’t compatible. It’s that the Jane and Rafael from the present don’t want to take the time to figure out if they’re compatible. It’s a decision that spells trouble for the future of their relationship.
But matters of trust weren’t the only heavy issue addressed in this episode. Luisa and Rafael also deal with the discovery of their father’s murder, as well as the relationship fallout between the two over Luisa’s wrongful institutionalization. On the heels of that, Luisa is forced to decide exactly where she stands with the woman who stole her heart, not to mention her father’s life. These are all weighty developments that deserve their accompanying emotion, and they are the scenes that play best in the episode. What doesn’t work is the way the show attempts to shoehorn in the wacky comedy of Roman’s secret twin brother or Petra’s Snidely Whiplash–level, over-the-top villainy or, perhaps most crudely considering everything else the character goes through, Luisa’s elaborate attempted escape from the institution. There is a balance to be had between the audaciously comedic and the intensely realistic, but this episode just never manages to find it.
Jane and Rafael aren’t the only ones not able to own up to what they’re really feeling, as Xo and Rogelio are still talking around the fact that he has a job offer in Mexico. Complicating factors this week is another job offer that would allow him to stay in Miami near his family but would require him to take second billing to his sworn enemy, Esteban. If Xo would only say the word, Rogelio would stay in a heartbeat, and if Rogelio would merely express his wish to stay with Xo, she’d be over the moon and beg him to stay, but neither is willing to budge, fearing the vulnerability that accompanies true intimacy and honesty. Thankfully, Jane is able to persuade each of her stubborn parents to admit their true feelings for one another, and the matter is settled. In fact, things are settled so satisfactorily that Xo decides that her abstinence has run its course and the two make with the whispering of sweet nothings.
Inspired by Xo and Rogelio’s admissions and buoyed by the ever-present wisdom of Alba, Jane is able to make herself vulnerable to Rafael and declare herself there for him as he grieves for his father. She also takes the plunge and admits her love for him, a sentiment he tearfully returns.
Petra reveals to Rafael that she’s now (basically) an equal partner in the Mirabella and starts throwing her weight around immediately, going out of her way to try to push Rafael into silent partnership. Rafael is unsurprisingly underwhelmed at the prospect and tries to gain his sister’s assistance in staving off the coup, but is unsuccessful as Luisa has bigger fish to fry.
Having successfully (if unnecessarily) escaped from the institution just in time for Rafael to sign her out, Luisa immediately has to deal with the revelation that it was Rose who was Sin Rostro, and not her father. Rose also leaves Luisa a note, declaring that her love and affection was the only real thing about her life for the last five years. Rose also goes so far as to call Luisa, asking her to run away with her. Luisa is understandably conflicted, what with the whole father-killing thing looming over their relationship, and her state of mind isn’t helped by her brother’s pleas for assistance or Petra’s blatant manipulations, to say nothing of the grief over the loss of her father.
Luisa recounts the details of her and Rose’s relationship to the police before turning over her voting interests in the Mirabella to Petra and fleeing. But Luisa isn’t off to the healing auras of her shaman. She’s fled to the waiting arms of her lover, anxious to be in the midst of the one person, no matter how murderous, she can truly trust.
Michael reveals to both Jane and Rafael that Rose is actually Sin Rostro, a revelation that immediately clears Luisa’s name and inspires her brother to take the steps necessary to bring her home. The police are also anxiously still searching for Emilio Solano, but Rose’s note to Luisa eventually reveals to them Emilio’s final resting place. They’re also anxious to hear anything and everything Luisa may have to report about her history with Rose, but the information is of much more interest to the audience than it is to the police.
Also, Roman Zazo isn’t dead. Except he is? But his twin brother has returned home after an unfortunate secret kidnapping incident involving a Mexican cartel. Also, he is a Jain. Also, it remains unclear if any of this amounts to anything more than the reddest of herrings.
Rafael tells Jane he thinks they should move in together because first comes baby, then comes love, then comes cohabitation and eventual copulation. At least I think that’s how the song goes.
Product placement or no, with as much money as Rafael has, isn’t it a little bit tacky the two are registering for baby gifts?
And if that’s not tacky, what about asking for doubles of everything?
And if that’s not tacky, what about Lina telling everyone to just give money?
(Is it possible I’ve been spending too much of my time reading the archives of Etiquette Hell?)
Will a later season of the show reveal that Lina has a secret twin sister who’s a cast member of Orange Is the New Black, a show that Jane enjoys?
Was Rose intentionally channeling Jessica Rabbit five years ago or was it just a happy accident?
How will we ever make it until March 9, when “Episode 15” airs?