Oh, Rafael. Jane loves you so much, so I am doing my best to love you, too. She really cares about you, and she still wants to be with you! But Rafael, buddy, when you do idiot stuff like refusing to get your son tested for a sensory processing disorder or a learning disability, and then you storm off in a huff when you find out Jane made an appointment anyhow, and then you’re so upset that you get into a fender bender and you don’t really apologize to Jane enough? Raf, you make it hard! I am doing my best, but you gotta meet me part way!
On some level, I do get his frustration. It would indeed be infuriating for your kid’s other parent to make medical decisions that they knew you disagreed with. It would make you feel unsafe and insecure, and I’m not surprised he moved for a more formalized custody agreement as a result. It is a good idea to plan for the bad times while things are still good. But it’s still hard to get fully onboard with where his brain is at, because not wanting to get Mateo tested in the first place is just so dumb. Mateo’s teacher recommended it. He’s had trouble meeting the grade-level reading expectations. He’s had a whole childhood history of impulsivity issues. Rafael, I know you were going to get there eventually, but c’mon! Petra even points out how silly it is for Raf to push back against getting Mateo tested, given that he himself is on antidepressants and his other two kids are in therapy. If I were Jane, this would make my ongoing ardor for him get much, much cooler.
To back up a little: After some earlier concern about his progress with reading, Mateo’s teacher recommends that he be tested for various potential issues, and after the ensuing disagreement with Rafael, Mateo ends up with a diagnosis for ADHD. It becomes the organizing theme of the episode; our Narrator keeps transitioning in and out of scenes with a note about how hard it is to focus, and he illustrates Mateo’s diagnosis with a brief, scattered montage leaping wildly from one image to the next.
Beyond her disagreements with Rafael, Jane’s story is also about her difficulty focusing: She’s overloaded with trying to work on her novel while also writing the This Is Mars pilot, and her ideas for one project keep bleeding into the other one. In Jane’s head, Alba’s not in her novel, she’s out there floating in a space suit, reminding Rogelio and River Fields’s Mars characters that they shouldn’t have sex before marriage. (Not sure if the character names are still Steve and Brenda on This Is Mars, but their suits have been modified so they can have sex while floating in the vacuum of space, so how much do their names really matter? Related, I still think This Is Mars sounds fantastic.)
The answer to this problem is very simple. Rogelio realizes what pressure she’s under, Xo helps him see how much she needs to work on her novel, and he releases her from her obligation to the telenovela, finagling Dina into Jane’s role. Boom, Jane has time to go back to her novel. She’s clearly more attached to that project anyway, and she has to get it in motion while Professor Donaldson’s new lover is willing to help her get it off the ground. (Cannot wait to find out who Professor Donaldson’s new lover is.)
Although it’s relatively easy to fix Jane’s problem with focusing, the solution for Mateo’s ADHD diagnosis will be much more involved, for Mateo as well as for Jane and Rafael. They will have to think about therapy. They will have to talk about medication, and Jane is so shaken by the diagnosis that I’m sure it’s something we’ll watch them struggle with over the next several episodes. A further small complaint about Rafael, though, while I’m here: Even though he flips out over the idea of Mateo being tested, he is extremely calm when he receives the diagnosis, while Jane’s the one who loses it a little. Both of Rafael’s reactions are understandable on their own, but together they make me feel like his characterization is just a little uneasy. It seems like a parent who would resist even getting Mateo tested — because he felt like the doctor would find something that’s not there — would likely also push back against an ADHD diagnosis? He’s also such a jerk to Jane about the appointment, and then flips back so quickly when she steps in to stall during his open house. I just want him to apologize to Jane! I know he’s hurt, but his insecurity is making it hard for me to root for him!
If I am feeling uncertain about the Jane/Rafael side of things, I am more than onboard with what’s happening with Petra and JR, which is to say — I am devastated. JR takes a job in Houston, after deciding that she desperately wants the fresh start that job can give her. Petra tries to win her back by clumsily getting her a job in Florida, but that makes things worse. What JR truly wants is to get back to who she is before she got entrapped in Petra’s telenovela life, and while I understand exactly where she’s coming from, that does not make it any easier. The hands-down highlight of this episode is when Petra comes to Jane, weeping, and Jane greets her as a sister. And then Jane writes a quick note to “add more Petra to novel,” which, no lie, is the moment I cried a little.
Meanwhile over on the telenovela side of things, Rafael refuses to believe Luisa when she says that she’s not working with Rose again. Last week he learned that all of Rose’s bank accounts are also in Luisa’s name, and in spite of Luisa’s protests that she had nothing to do with that, Raf will not let her in. (This at least shows good sense, Raf. Luisa is still clearly involved somehow, even though she may not want to be.) Luisa goes to see Rose to ask about the bank accounts, and she learns that in fact, she did sign her name onto the accounts herself, but at the time she was too drunk to remember. Rose is surprisingly forthcoming: She tells Luisa about the bank accounts, she admits that her sassy new friend is actually a Sin Rostro henchman, and she reveals that she has a prison girlfriend now, but only as a stopgap until she can be with Luisa again. The emotional gambit here seems to be Rose hoping that if she puts all the cards on the table, Luisa will see that no one loves her the way Rose does, and she’ll pick Rose over her family in spite of the whole crime situation.
Luisa, newly informed about the real state of things, charges out of the prison and back to the Sin Rostro henchman. But is she with Rose now? Is she going to try to bring Rose down from the inside? To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• I found Our Narrator’s “try to focus” transitions a little obvious? But I did like the ones where the camera actually started to drift out of focus. It’s always fun when the Narrator’s voice blends into the visual storytelling.
• ADD MORE PETRA TO NOVEL is so good. It’s so sweet, and it speaks so much to how far Jane and Petra’s relationship has evolved, but it’s also the kind of self-awareness Jane can do that’s absolutely the show talking about itself, while not seeming overly coy.
• If Petra and JR do not end up back together, I will riot. Petra’s trying so hard to make things work! And as Our Narrator points out, they are so into one another. (“Oooh they nasty!” are his exact words.) I am not giving up hope for them.
• I love that Rogelio decided to bake a giant cupcake to win Dina back, only to be informed by Xo that he just invented … cake. Sweet, sweet Rogelio.
• Am I wrong? Is This Is Mars not actually a great-sounding show? Have I misjudged this, just because Rogelio is so enthusiastic about it? Please do not tell me the truth, please let me live in my fandom for this bonkers, silly, pretend show forever.