Jane the Virgin
Anezka had a nice run, didn’t she? But I think we all knew it was time for her to go. The twin switcheroo stuff was fun for a surprisingly long time — much longer than I ever imagined Jane the Virgin would be able to sustain it. It’s also remarkable that Anezka was so fully developed. She had moments of sympathy, she was villainous, and she got a love arc that was both funny and unexpectedly empathetic. She and Magda had a nice little turn as the Keystone Cops of dastardly hotel management. She was never the brightest crayon in the box, our Anezka, but I was weirdly fond of her. Still, I think it’s time for Jane the Virgin to set aside the much-beloved “it was actually her twin sister!” tool from their telenovela toolbox. It’d begun to undermine our love of Petra, who was already a plenty complicated character. So farewell, Anezka. I hope you and Scott can wear matching vests in the special hell reserved for people who were definitely Not Great, but weren’t ever the Big Bads either.
If I’m honest, I feel the same about Adam. Who knows, maybe he’ll be back — reunions, revivals, and unexpected returns are bread and butter for this show, so I’d be surprised if we never see him again. But since the end of season four, a few things have started coming into focus: There is a true love endgame for Jane, she is probably going to write the telenovela that ends up being Jane the Virgin, and we are definitely heading toward Jane and Raf getting back together. Adam needed to be here to prove that Jane could love again after Michael, and he needed to be here because it’s never going to be satisfying if Jane only ever dates one guy.
Adam has been sweet, and I liked him because Jane clearly liked him, and he’s been a useful reminder of a lot of stuff. He’s helped us remember that Jane is young, that she’s not just a mom who has to deal with school pickup and butt wiping, that she wants to have fun and is open to new relationships. He’s also been crucial in establishing how Jane the Virgin will incorporate Michael’s death going forward, and how committed the show is to wrestling with Jane’s grief and her mourning. Plus, Adam was cute! He had the whole comics illustrator thing going for him, which was fun. He’s been a nice way to spend some time.
He’s just never seemed fully worthy of Jane. All the heavy lifting of making him into a viable long-term love match has been performed by elements outside of himself. He had his own narrator for the season premiere. He had Gina Rodriguez’s always amazing performance to bolster their chemistry. He had Alba and Rafael’s disapproval, and one way to help viewers root for a love interest is to show us that some characters are rooting against him. He came out to Jane as bisexual, but even that felt like a layer that had been added to him, not something that was built into the character. (It is unfortunate that the show didn’t live with that story a little longer, though.) But just by himself, on his own? I don’t know if Adam was dynamic enough, sparkly enough, or interesting enough for Jane Gloriana Villanueva.
Sure, I am protective of our heroine. I don’t know if anyone is really good enough for her. She’s just so great, though! You can see the heights and expanses of Jane’s greatness all over again in this episode, as she corners Isabel Allende in a bookstore and they gush about true love and writing and what it means to be a person in the world who has experienced immense grief. Plus, I cannot say enough good things about the Michael flashbacks that pop up in this episode; it feels completely correct that the publication of a book about their love would trigger so many of Jane’s memories. It’s really nice that Jane has a chance to link her triumphant book publication with how much she misses Michael.
The Rogelio plot in this episode was a little forced and I was unsurprised by the continuation of the Rafael redemption arc, but I was head over heels for Jane and Isabel Allende talking about Allende’s memoir, the canon of Latin American literature, the tradition of magical realism, and the importance of living fully. I may have cried a little? There’s just no way I will ever get my fill of a TV heroine talking to her literary icon about how important her work has been. And let us not forget that in addition to being super charming and natural in this episode (something hard for non-actors to pull off in these kinds of cameos), we also got the gift of knowing that Allende came to Jane’s reading because she was drawn there by Fabian’s nudie selfies.
Isabel Allende and everything to do with Jane’s book publication dreams coming true are the best parts of this episode. The Adam breakup is the most correct-seeming part, and the Rafael redemption bits (including Jane reading him her book acknowledgement) are the most anticipated. The weakest part, for me, was the Rogelio plot. It’s hardly bad — few things on this series are actively bad — but I found it both slightly confusing and a little ungrounded. It makes sense that Rogelio would continue to try to compensate for his absence from Jane’s childhood. It really makes sense that Jane would want him to stop making that excuse. But I wanted the scene to end there, with Rogelio agreeing that he needed to figure out how to stop inadvertently messing up her life. Instead, we get this account of how he definitely didn’t know Jane had been born, but he also maybe kind of did, and that’s the source of his continued shame. It feels weirdly late for that layer of Rogelio’s guilt to be showing up.
It feels even more convoluted when it turns into a fight with Xo, who is immediately, righteously furious with him for reasons I did not quite grasp. At the very least, if this is going to be the source of such animus between them, give the fight some more time so Xo can really articulate why she feels so angry. These characters’ lives and histories are so complicated; this was the rare moment where I wanted a bit more hand-holding to remind me of their previous storylines.
Speaking of things that continue to be a little confusing, there is of course all the wackiness at the Marbella, featuring imaginary-but-actually-real Inhaler Carl and Magda’s spectacular collection of bedazzled eye patches and Anezka’s Business Shoes and Petra doing … yeah, again, I am never precisely sure what’s happening in these stories. I know Petra is trying to get control of the hotel back, and somehow nearly manages to do this by springing Carl’s existence on Magda and Anezka. And I know Anezka is dead, and that she definitely did not kill herself. But how do Luisa and Sin Rostro play in? Why does anyone need Anezka to be dead at all? What does this mean for the Marbella? To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• Really, how did Anezka live this long if she trusts Magda? “I am queen, and she is my hand,” Anezka says about Magda. “Well, more like your hook,” Our Narrator amends.
• The inhaler thing is such a weird character tic, and I kind of love it. “Is it just me, or does that shadow totally have asthma?” asks Our Narrator.
• If you pick up a copy of Snow Falling, which is now a real book you can actually hold in your hands, you’ll find that Our Narrator makes some appearances in print as well. So much metafictional goodness!
• “FYI,” our Narrator clues us in, “Rogelio had a brief office job in 1998. It still haunts him.” Celebrities: Just like us!
• Rudy the production assistant is eventually going to get a glorious monologue about how little Rogelio appreciates him, right? “RUDY! How much do you love Jane!” Rogelio yells. “Uhh…”
• Rogelio versus Esteban are the OG rivalry, but it was fun to return to Fabian for a while. “Why would she listen to you, peasant!!” (Also, Fabian’s ghost monologue is pretty great!)