Jane the Virgin
Last week’s premiere episode had to spend a lot of time just registering what a monumental thing has happened in the world of the show. There wasn’t much space for plot mechanics, really — outside of explaining the bare minimum of MichaelJason’s existence and doing a little tap dancing with whatever Rose is planning, most of last week was just emotional fallout.
So finally in episode two, everyone starts to put the pieces of their lives back together and we get a little forward momentum. After her initial shock and frantic monologue, Jane also has to face some deep down truths: she is still married, and she feels guilty about divorcing MichaelJason. As with all of the best, most insidious guilts, Jane’s guilt is multifaceted. She feels bad that she’s only given MichaelJason two weeks and now she’s ditching him. She feels bad that the memory recovery isn’t working, and that Rafael has to worry that Jane doesn’t love him anymore. She feels bad that she doesn’t particularly like MichaelJason, and hasn’t been doing much to get to know the person he is now. But mostly, way down where it really sits and festers, she feels bad because she wishes MichaelJason had never returned.
That’s hard, and it’s something Jane does a nice job of integrating into the story, but it’s also a moment where the plot’s telenovela twistiness really pushes up against these characters’ emotional reality. As viewers, it’s hard not to root for MichaelJason and be thrilled about his return, because it’s such a delicious development for the show, and because beloved people returning from the dead is a wish-fulfillment scenario that only happens in fiction. For Jane, though, it is mostly a nightmare.
Her life as it is now is so hard-won. She has come so far. Jane built an entire life and identity and had it ripped to pieces by an immense, tragic loss, and then she put her life back together bit by painstaking bit and is finally in a place where she’s happy again. And now this second life is falling apart, too.
At least, it could be. He’s not Michael; he’s Jason, and the terrifying thing about him is the hypothetical possibility that Michael might return. It may never even happen! Maybe all of this will just disappear and she can go back to being with Rafael and writing her book. But the possibility still lingers, and even the chance of it is enough to send Jane into a guilt spiral. We see it teased in that silly moment when MichaelJason holds up a shot glass that seems to be sparking memories, only to realize they are memories of NCIS: New Orleans, and we also see it when Jane tries to let go of the person she remembers and learn about who Jason, sans Michael, really is.
It’s time to talk about boot scootin’.
It’s the best scene of the episode: Jane makes a commitment to understand Jason rather than trying to get Jason to understand who Michael was, and so she agrees to go with him to something he does for fun. As it turns out, one thing he does for fun is put on cowboy boots, drink picklebacks, and do gently choreographed group dancing in a dimly lit bar. Jane is amused and skeptical, and then she has fun with it. (No surprise there; we know Jane loves silliness and dancing, and if she can dream-dance with Britney Spears then this cowboy rodeo nonsense should be no problem.) It’s primed to be a classic amnesiac-gets-his-memory back moment. They’re dancing, she’s relaxed with him at last, he’s finally doing something he loves, he forgets himself and kisses her, and bang, everything comes flooding back.
Except it doesn’t, and instead of Jane returning the kiss or MichaelJason remembering his past, it just feels like a violation. He suddenly likes her (as we know from his “dog ate my divorce papers” nonsense), but it only reiterates Jane’s sense that she does not want to be with him. She is just not there any more.
Everyone else’s lives also start moving forward again. Xo is in the middle of chemo, and although everyone is using, “Uh-oh, Xo’s cancer is flaring up!” as an excuse for their own convenience, Rogelio’s worry about her is very real. Alba and Jorge have moved in together, and though they are only in a fake marriage so that Jorge can become a citizen and get a travel permit to go see his ailing mother, Alba’s realizing that she really does love him. Jane and Rafael move in together, and Jane’s deciding whether or not to send Mateo to Catholic classes. Life moves ahead, even after your dead husband comes back with a different name and a weirdly potent NCIS: New Orleans fandom.
But there are still unanswered questions. The explanation Rose gives Luisa for why she wiped Michael’s memory is suspiciously thin — he saw her mask slip a little? That’s it? And what’s with the mysterious number in her notes? It is very funny that a criminal mastermind would leave a long string of numbers in her notes with a big exclamation point next to it, though. Also funny: the idea that Rafael could move Luisa into a condo under a fake name, and that it would be enough to hide her from Rose. Has he met Rose? Does he not remember everything that’s happened over the past four seasons?!
Needless to say, Rose’s new henchman Bobby arrives with a pie for Luisa almost instantly, because Rafael is a sweet, sweet dummy, and once again, Sin Rostro shenanigans are afoot. To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• Some classic intercutting between The Passions of Steve and Brenda, where Rogelio’s character is an amnesiac co-president of the United States, to the main story where MichaelJason has lost his memory. “And now for the big reveal!” shouts Steve and Brenda’s director, before Our Narrator makes a sly cut to Rose talking about why she took out Michael. Or, as Rogelio puts the pieces together that he knows a real-life amnesiac, our Narrator points out: “And that’s when his two worlds collided. As if by design.”
• MichaelJason does try to do his best, but he asks one question that’s just too much for our poor Narrator. “What’s a telenovela?” Jason says. Our Narrator: “GASP!”
• I don’t know where to put this, so I’m just going to put this here: Someone please tell me who on Jane’s writing staff is obsessed with NCIS: New Orleans, and why. Is it because of Scott Bakula?
• Rogelio’s an experienced actor with many shows under his belt, so he’s no dummy. He knows he can’t just charge into the writers’ room and start screaming for them to put his monologue back. He also knows that if River Fields is bribing them with tiny boats full of Ms Field cookies, he’s going to have to do something better: actual boats. To my admittedly untrained eye, it looks a lot like he doesn’t give them rowboats, though? I’m pretty sure those are kayaks?
• It doesn’t matter, because his plan to bring MichaelJason in backfires and he ends up getting his big amnesiac reaction moment whittled down to a single word: “What?” It’s such a delightfully Rogelio move to make him try to hold that word for the full length of Rivers’ monologue, too.
• Arguably the single most #Rogelio moment of the episode doesn’t even have Rogelio in it this week: Alba needs to get Jorge out of the country because she’s falling in love with him, so she asks Rogelio to help her expedite his travel permits. Rogelio does it, by asking for help from his dear friend J.Lo.