Jane the Virgin
After last week’s uncomfortable episode of Jane, “Chapter Ninety” is here to put us all back on some much stronger footing. Most of the awkward unpleasantness of “Chapter Eighty-Nine” was necessary in some way or another; the show needed to establish that Jane is desperate to get Rafael back, and it needed to get back to Jane’s life, at a time when, for better or for worse, she has mostly blown it up. Transitioning from the JasonMichael period back into something closer to the show’s status quo probably needed to be rocky because it was a rocky moment for Jane!
Still, “Chapter Ninety” moves on to a stage of that transition that makes for a much stronger episode, and it’s in large part because it lets us get back to some stories that have been left on the back burner for a while. We get a big, messy story about Petra and JR, who are not quite on the same page about Petra’s kids and need to talk that out. There’s a big, sad, weepy story about Jane and Rogelio, a relationship that’s been a bit neglected lately, and while the giant Rogelio-Jane montage at the end of the episode was maybe a tiny bit over-the-top, I was certainly not complaining.
“Chapter Ninety” also loops back to some Luisa-Bobby stuff, which has been simmering for plenty long and was definitely due for a little forward momentum. And of course we get Jane as a writer! Alba and Xo! Rogelio and River Fields! Alba and Jorge’s wedding!! I would never say it’s a disservice for Jane the Virgin to spend time with Jane. But “Chapter Ninety” is an indication of how deep this show’s well of meaningful relationships really goes, and it’s nice to return to stories that had to fall by the wayside while Jane moved through its opening Michael arc.
It’s so nice to be back with Alba and Jorge. Those two are in love, and I’m thrilled for them. But it feels especially meaningful that Jane the Virgin started as a series so rooted in Alba’s convictions about virginity and purity and has finally ended up here, at a place where she, Jane, and Xo can look at a framed image of a crumpled flower and find it hilariously funny. Jane gradually dismantled Jane Villanueva’s guilt about religion and sex, briefly estranging her from Alba in the process, and at last found a way for Jane to feel good about sexuality and for Alba to accept Jane’s stance. It feels even better that Jane now extends that arc all the way back around to Alba. There’s no pressure for her to abandon her beliefs! She and Jorge still get married in a church before they have sex, but the accompanying guilt of it, the way sex is divorced from pleasure, has drained away and been replaced with an outright celebration of how much fun Alba and Jorge are about to have in bed together. Their love is not less worthy or less sexy because they are older. Their wedding is not less deserving of a gospel choir singing about physical pleasure. Alba’s first sex in decades is also worth a cute orgasm cartoon. It’s a way for Jane to pick up the storytelling language the show has already established and apply it to a new character. It feels poignant without being pedantic.
Jane’s writer story is the other big emotional beat in this episode. She’s working on Rogelio’s telenovela This Is Mars (more on this in a moment) and through a fluke discovers that the release of her first novel, the work that established her as “a published frickin’ author,” was not entirely due to her book’s merits. Years ago, not long after Michael’s death, Rogelio quietly told Jane’s editor he’d reimburse any losses if Jane’s book failed to sell 10,000 copies; it was essentially a bribe to make sure it got published.
Jane is furious with Rogelio. So much of her identity has been built on this accomplishment. (Remember when Rafael brought her flowers on the anniversary of her book’s publication?) She has been so sensitive to making this happen without Rogelio’s interference and based entirely on her talent and her work’s merits, but once again this season, something Jane thought she knew about the world has been knocked out from under her, and it’s no wonder she is furious with Rogelio. From this season’s perspective, though, it’s a very effective development — it spurs Jane back into writing her novel, it lets her keep working on the telenovela project, and it reminds us that Jane has never been only about its romances and love triangles. It is a show about Jane working, and I’m thrilled to see her back in a place where she’s happy with her writing.
Now, a word on This Is Mars and the glorious Brooke Shields: She is crushing it. That’s hardly surprising because she’s Brooke Shields, for heaven’s sake, but I was reminded of it anew in “Chapter Ninety” while watching her react to Jane’s long explanation of how fully she planned to destroy Rogelio’s character Steve in retribution for Rogelio’s bribing her publisher. I will not write an ode to Shields’s facial expressions, but I will certainly be making GIFs of them. In the same vein, even though This Is Mars sounds like the silliest television show ever invented — Steve ends up with a tail somehow?? — I am also halfway convinced it would be amazing. They become co-presidents of a Mars colony? Where can I stream this show?!
Meanwhile, as Jane is writing her novel and This Is Mars, as Jorge and Alba are getting it on, as Jane is managing to lust after Rafael from a more reasonable distance, and as JR and Petra are trying to manage kid discipline and JR’s job offer in Houston (sob!), Rafael has let Luisa back into his life and unintentionally let this sneaky dude Bobby in as well. I think Luisa’s on the level now, but Raf, my guy, think about your past and tell me how it’s possible you don’t have a home-security system. I know money’s tight, but that’s gotta be a high-priority budget line item! To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• #Jorgasm made me choke on my drink. I spluttered so long I ended up in one of those coughing fits where someone eventually asks if you’re okay. How dare you, Jane the Virgin.
• “Let’s get this woman laid! I mean, married!”
• The little editing moment where Our Narrator pointed out exactly how much Anna and Elsa look like the creepy twins from The Shining was perfect.
• The moment when Rogelio complained about how the script doesn’t indicate Steve is more handsome with his tail is the moment I fell in love with This Is Mars. “If Steve is extremely handsome in his tuxedo, he should be equally handsome in his spacesuit. Or more so!” (Also love Jane nodding that this makes sense and Our Narrator jumping in with “DOES IT, THOUGH?!”)
• Rogelio is so delightfully indignant when River pushes back on Jane’s writing the script for Mars: “She’s not a river, she’s a swamp!”