Congratulations to the long-suffering, frequently frustrated, and finally rewarded members of Team Rafael! At long last, your day has come. Rafael hung around through the Michael years, he’s been on-again off-again with Petra about a dozen times, and he’s been to jail. Most recently, he’s hit a new personal low in a way I found a little obnoxious. He’s never been perfect, but it felt unnecessary to pitch him into such a whiny, sexually debased collapse.
At long last, though, things have turned around. He’s now getting the flattering edit from Our Narrator, who reminds us of all the times Rafael supported Jane’s career and all the times he convinced her to be brave. He’s fighting for his role in Mateo’s life, and pushing back against Rogelio’s anti-Raf stance. He’s even given some additional retroactive credit to make up for the “I was in jail and was also a skeezeball” story lines: We learn that Jane unintentionally made Mateo really terrified of getting sick, and that Rafael has been trying to quietly bolster his son’s sense of resilience without disrupting Jane’s maternal protectiveness. It’s very sweet.
Meanwhile, Jane seems to be moving ever closer toward peace with Michael’s death. The book is out. She’s gotten better about talking about Michael and his role in her life. And just as the book helped Jane figure out how to make sure Michael isn’t forgotten, it performed the same role for the show. The book kept Jane the Virgin from moving on too quickly, and it’s given the show an access point for talking about Michael without feeling forced. It was a very smart choice. And now, with the release of the book and the blessing of Michael’s mother, it feels like it’s time to move on.
Wouldn’t you know it, Rafael is waiting in the wings. That kiss at the end is the stuff of #TeamRafael dreams, complete with lovely framing inside the window and the classic Jane the Virgin snowfall symbolism. (In this case, I think it was white feathers? I couldn’t figure out exactly where they came from. Can someone elucidate me on the source of the feathers?) Of course, I can only imagine all the baggage and questions this kiss will raise when Jane the Virgin comes back after the holidays. Jane and Rafael’s kiss feels like a lovely climactic ending, and yet, you just know the real stuff is coming. What does this mean for both of them? How will they figure out whether this will last? Should they tell Mateo? Will Jane finally let Rafael take a look at his financials?
The kiss is obviously the biggest moment of the episode, and it’s what will spur all the major plot stuff between Jane and Raf moving forward. But for my money, the earlier scene between them was even sweeter and more persuasive for the long-term possibilities of their relationship. Jane is setting off on her book tour and she’s nervous, worried that her anger at Adam will taint her tour performance. (By the way, Adam can just go jump right off a cliff, thank you very much.) When Rafael says good-bye with a little hug, then bends over and just gives her a little forehead bump … that head bump, my God. That is some very appealing Jane and Rafael material. I saw that little moment and I thought, “Okay, we’re doing this now.”
Now it’s time to admit that I bid a fond farewell to Anezka at the end of the last episode, and damn it, Jane the Virgin got me. You’d think I’d have watched this show long enough to never accept someone’s death if we don’t actually see their face! But no, I was suckered in by the dangling body and my own readiness to dispense with twin switcheroo plots, and Jane pulled one over on me. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m not mad at the show for two reasons. First, Anezka appears to now be finally, actually, seriously deceased, so I was only off by one episode. Although I could be wrong again? Please no. Please let this be the end.
More important, I’m not mad that we got one more episode with Anezka, because there is one tiny moment with her that’s so funny I literally shout-laughed when I saw it. The Anezka story here is a pretty familiar melodrama conceit: She faked her own death so she could use her funeral to see who actually loves her. (You know, just your usual, everyday agenda in telenovela-land.) Inevitably Petra finds her, they do some more twin switcheroos, they argue, Petra debates about what to do, and Anezka plunges to her death off the balcony. But before that, there’s a scene where Petra bursts into the hotel room and startles Anezka, and she’s so alarmed that she yelps and then growls, as though she’s semi-feral. Yael Grobglas should get an Emmy on the strength of that growl alone. I may make it my ringtone.
There are a lot of high points in “Chapter Seventy-One”: the kiss, the head bump, the growl. On book tour, Iyanla shows up to fix Jane’s life. Abuela turns down Jorge, which is absolutely the right move. Why should she settle for “he’s comfortable and makes me happy,” when she’s never said, “I’m wildly in love with him?” I’d also like to shout out Angry Post-Breakup Jane as worthy of accolades all on her own. It’s so rare Jane just wants to burn everything down, and it felt cathartic to watch her teeter through barely controlled rage. On top of all of that, “Chapter Seventy-One” also gives us the three Villanueva women getting drunk and dancing together, and that feels intensely cathartic and necessary.
Of course, Jane has been political in the past. I’d argue that even when it’s not explicitly about politics, everything about the series’s existence and its fundamental worldview is a political statement. As a result, it’s been fascinating to watch season four at this particular moment. It’s not less political, and it’s not less pointed about the issues and stances it’s trying to perpetuate in the world. But when the three Villanueva women get up and dance in a bar together, when Jane rages around through her life because Adam said he was all-in three times, and when this show celebrates love and hope, it feels defiant in a way it didn’t during season one.
Maybe that’s just me and the way my own perspective has shifted. When these three women talk about how important it is to remember that they’re not in their graves yet, though, and how much they love one another and need to have joy in their lives, it feels like Jane the Virgin is also trying to remind itself of the same fact. I’m glad, I’m grateful, and I need for it to be January so that I can see them all again soon. To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• This is the silliest of complaints, but why didn’t Adam’s narrator get a chance to chime in when he ditched Jane? Surely she’d have something to say in his defense!
• Dear Narrator: I know you said you don’t drink tequila, but I just do not believe you. “Dang Alba, those hips don’t lie!”
• Of course Rogelio does not deal well with sickness. “I am feverish!” “Can you tuck me in a little tighter?” “I am too weak to type!”
• The spat between Rogelio and Xiomara was pretty bogus, but I’m glad they had a chance to work it out. He also seems to see the cards on the table with regards to a Jane/Rafael relationship. I am so interested to know how Jane and Rafael will work this out.