Jane the Virgin
Perfectly on cue, Jane the Virgin seems to have divined that Team Michael and Team Rafael devotees, having been through the ringer, might need a little break this week. There’s still plenty here for them, of course — the love triangle is still going strong, and Jane’s painful concern about Rafael’s well-being, as well as her increasing awareness of how much both she and Michael have changed, are carrying that energy quite effectively. But “Chapter Eight-Seven” seems more interested in providing fuel for a different relationship entirely: Jane and Petra.
Much though I’d be delighted to find otherwise, an episode like this suggests that an actually romantic Jane-and-Petra relationship will only ever be the territory of fanfic, a constantly burbling subtext that never fully crests into the realm of canon. And yet it’s amazing to watch this episode strum some lady guitars, as it were. Jane and Petra somehow end up at a lesbian bar together? They end up dancing at a lesbian bar together?! They end up grinding at a lesbian bar together, and then nearly kiss?!! If at least three Jane viewers didn’t fall out of their chairs during that scene, I would be surprised.
It was a pretty horny episode all around, in fact. Xiomara worrying about whether her sex drive will ever return, Alba dishing out expert advice about egg versus bunny-shaped vibrators (“I’m telling you, just think about Barack Obama and turn it on” is an all-timer line of Alba dialogue), Alba’s horniness for Jorge, Jane’s tentative memory of a physical connection to Michael clashing with her observations of who he is now … if you add that all to Rogelio growling, “Tell me how much you want the carnal gift of Rogelio,” it’s just a deliciously thirsty hour of TV.
Just to be extra double-clear, though: As fun as it is to watch Jane and Petra teeter on the brink of a physical connection, these two should not be in a romantic relationship. They would be terrible together. Jane would never get over Petra’s snobbishness, Petra would never really understand Jane’s work — even if you set aside the issue of physical attraction, they fundamentally do not get one another. Does that make the inevitable GIF sets of Jane teaching Petra how to spell out her name with her butt any less provocative? No, it does not. But I want better for these two.
At this point, though, both of the “better” options for Jane are looking pretty dubious. The more time Jane spends with this Michael, the more she can tell that he’s not the same sweet, nerdy, openhearted dude he used to be. His baffled realizations of how sappy he used to be are sincere and hard to move past. But Jane also realizes he wasn’t ever quite the guy she thought he was. She’s so upset when she discovers that Past Michael was investigating Rose, even though he’d promised to stop, and it feels like none of her relationship with Michael is what she thought it was. (It’s a little implausible that she found his investigation this surprising, though. He was a cop! He loved being a cop! And then the target of his long-term investigation gave him amnesia! It should not be hard to tie those strings together.)
Then there’s Rafael, who does not have a pill problem — and by the way, this is why you don’t listen to precocious twin girls who read all about the opioid crisis on their mother’s accidentally unlocked iPad. He’s taking antidepressants, which I am thrilled to discover. My dude’s pattern of self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-medication with sex and alcohol suggests he could maybe have benefited from getting treatment long ago, and I am so glad he’s getting it now. It’s also more evidence that, like Michael and Jane, Rafael has changed. Season-one Rafael would’ve thrown up his hands, abandoned everything, and tried to make it look like he didn’t care. Season-five Rafael is devastated, and is in no way trying to pretend otherwise.
After a break last week, Jane also pulls the Sin Rostro plots back into the show’s orbit. Michael does not remember seeing Eileen’s mask, but he does remember seeing her holding something with the name Buttercup. Miraculously, in ridiculously ’60s Batman detective fashion, this let Past Michael connect the dots to discover that Eileen was actually Rose, which then leads Present Michael to piece together Rose’s plans, which go: something something password, something something Craigslist for criminal enterprise, something something it was shut down but now they’re onto them. You know, the usual.
There’s also the suspicious moment where Anna and Elsa see someone sneaking into their balcony at night. Milos must still be out there somewhere, it’s true, but Petra’s so convinced that the balcony snooper and the fake emails sent from her account are Milos’s work that I am now fairly convinced it must not be Milos.
But I have to imagine all of this will take a backseat once again in the next episode, as Jane and Michael are heading off to Montana?! In so many ways, Jane is a big show. It’s ambitious and full, and in terms of emotions and events, the scope is huge. It’s never been a physically big show, though. It was remarkable when Jane traveled somewhere else in Florida for a book event. When Lina moved to New York, it was like she’d moved to the Moon. Montana is a big deal! What if Jane wants to be a cowgirl now?! To be continued.
From Our Narrator, With Love
• I would never shame anyone’s kink, and I know Alba truly wishes Jorge could return her feelings. But even Our Narrator, when forced to do a sexy close-up of Jorge with milk on his chin, can’t quite see what Alba sees. “Who am I kidding, it’s not even sexy in slow motion!”
• Oh, Narrator, still over here trying to toy with us by claiming that you’re unreliable and have a fallible memory. When Jane and Michael are talking about how notoriously unreliable memories can be, Our Narrator cuts in. “I think I said something like that … but I can’t quite remember?”
• I know I mentioned this in the main body of the recap, but c’mon now, I have to say it again: Tell me how much you want the carnal gift of Rogelio.
• Rogelio’s masturbation fantasy is Xiomara happily having sex with him after her chemo treatment, which is very endearing of him, but this is still Rogelio, after all. “Oh my God, your penis got bigger!” Dream Xiomara tells him. Keep the dream alive, Rogelio.
• “When I saw you strumming your lady guitar, I assumed you’d gotten your groove back,” says Rogelio. Remember how this show’s original title was Jane the Virgin? Remember how much sex fretting there used to be? Look how far we’ve come!