Jane the Virgin
Rafael and Jane are back together! They are back together and I have many, many feelings about it.
Let’s start at the end: The final song-and-dance number is delightful. I love all the self-aware bits about secondary versus main characters, I love that River Fields is dancing in it, and I love that the musical number demonstrates that Laird was obviously cast primarily because he could throw in a deep bass note when called upon. It’s nice that it tied in so well with Mateo’s role in the school play, and on a more meta level, it absolutely cracks me up that this huge, all-cast giant musical number can get away with some hilariously rudimentary choreography because — guess what! — it’s actually the same musical number as the one performed by a whole class of first-graders! When the premise calls for dance numbers no more complex than a series of jazz hands and a few grapevines, you can get away with some adorably goofy shots of all these adults just poking their hands at the air and calling it good.
The musical number also makes a lot of sense for Jane at this moment in its last season. Jane has been driven apart from Rafael since the first episode. She loves him, something she’s always maintained even in the moments when she was wildly confused about Michael. Even when he told her no, she’s wanted to be with him to the point of doing some seriously unfortunate, thoughtless things. She corrected that, happily, but she’s continued to yearn for him, and she’s tried to be patient. When Rafael nixes things with Julie, it’s because he’s realized that the person he wants is Jane. The show needed a big gesture to celebrate their reunion, and it needed some scene that would communicate how dramatic this is, that this should feel like a culmination. It needs to communicate that this is a big, deep sigh of “finally!” Finally these two have figured it out! If ever there was a time for a grand musical statement, this is it.
But by the way, poor Julie. Never has a character been more doomed from the start. She exists solely so that she can be kicked to the curb, and I’d feel bad about it except that she was making snarky GIFs about Jane in her Insta Stories! Go make snarky GIFs about someone else, Julie!
I’m happy that Jane and Rafael are presumably going to be together now. They have to be because you don’t do a full-cast back-lot musical number if this relationship is going to blow up again tomorrow. But here, I confess, I wish there had been a tiny bit more buildup before the big musical blowout. I wanted one of those classic Jane conversations, where everyone sits quietly outside and hashes out all of their feelings before leaping into the big celebratory bonanza. Jane and Raf dance around it a bit when they’re trapped in the hippie vegan apartment Jane’s thinking about renting, and there’s that lovely moment where they sit together to think about Mateo’s treatment plan and end up with their foreheads resting against each other. But I’ve been burned by them so many times! Rafael has gone from love interest to villain to love interest to friend to lost bad boy to stand-up father to jilted lover, with several swings through snotty rich guy and polite acquaintance in between, and I guess I’m looking for a bit of a longer runway where Jane and Raf talk about all of the steps they’ve been through together. There’s no reason it had to happen in this episode, but if these two kids are going to convince me they can really make it this time, I’m going to need to see them show their work. Possibly in the form of a couples counseling session.
The secondary story of Jane and Rafael continues to be the story of Mateo, whose behavioral therapy is not working. He needs help focusing during rehearsals for the school musical, and he continues to have meltdowns in highly stimulating social situations. Rafael is in favor of medicating him; Jane wants to give it some more time before they make that decision. I’ve held back on getting into the specifics of the story on Mateo’s ADHD diagnosis because I wanted to watch how it played out, and it’s an arc that’s obviously still in flux. There will surely be an upcoming story where they deal with his meds, and try to assess whether they’re actually making things better. If I had to guess, I’d say that there will also be some time where they have to adjust his dosage. But I’m mostly interested in seeing how this story plays out in the aftermath of that.
On the whole, though, after initially thinking that Jane’s depiction of his ADHD felt a bit too trite (that flashing montage meant to demonstrate his distraction always felt too simplistic), I think the show’s integration of how ADHD impacts what Mateo actually feels about the world has gotten better. I know of more than one parent who has decided to move to medication after their kids have said out loud, as Mateo does in this episode, that they don’t want to be this way anymore. Mateo is asking for more help than he’s been getting. It’s good that Jane is going to give it to him.
There’s a smaller story in “Chapter Ninety-Three” about Xo, who’s finished her cancer treatment and has a new lease on life, but who’s also frustrated to find herself in exactly the same place she was before she was diagnosed. She has long struggled to find a purpose. Dance hasn’t seemed like something she really wants to devote her life to in a very long time, and without a passion around which to organize her life, she feels adrift. It feels right for Jane to loop back to this story now that Xo’s been declared cancer-free.
And speaking of Rogelio-related stories, what appeared to be a plot about Rogelio hiring a massive bodyguard to protect himself from River Fields’s vengeance turns out to actually be a story about River falling in love! Laird, the enormous bass-singing man Rogelio gets as protection, is actually a plant by Darci, sent there expressly to win River’s love.
But sadly, Laird is not the only person doing his job under false pretenses. As it turns out, Krishna did not come back to work for Petra just because she wanted her job back. Krishna’s working with Milos, and they’re presumably going to take the hotel back together! Things have been so rough for Petra lately, and she was really trying to treat Krishna better (sort of), and this is just the last thing she needs. Ugh! To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• Sometimes Our Narrator is a big, organizing, full-sentence kind of presence, a voice that gives us lots of context and hand-holding. Sometimes, as in this episode, he’s more of a cute interrupter, and I do love this version of him. Rogelio thoughtlessly forces his PA Rudy to eat a cupcake even though someone points out that Rudy has a gluten allergy. Does he? Rogelio asks. Narrator: “He does.” Or later, as Xo asks Mateo about the most important element of a musical, and Mateo offers “glitter!” Narrator: “YES!”
• Everyone brings their A game to the musical number at the end, but you can quickly see who’s doing their best, and who’s really living. There is no doubt about Rogelio. Rogelio is loving every dang minute.
• Sometimes I look at a scene like the one between Rogelio and Xiomara, where they try to hash out Xo’s dissatisfaction with her life and her guilt about not feeling grateful, and I think about how much Rogelio has grown over the course of this show. I cannot imagine the Rogelio we met at the beginning of season one ever having a conversation as mature as the one he and Xo have here, and yet it still feels entirely in character. It’s one of the things this show has quietly done best over its five seasons, and one of the things I’ll miss the most when it’s gone.