Jane the Virgin
After last week’s episode, I ran down the remaining arcs that Jane the Virgin is still playing with, the final questions it has to answer before it pulls everything into a very neat and conclusive final bow. At the top of the list: What’s Rose’s endgame? How does the Sin Rostro story arrive at an ending with a real sense of finality, especially given that for years now she just keeps coming back and back and back? And then, somewhere right below that one, there’s the question of Jane’s career. She has written something she’s proud of, and she has an agent. Will she find a way to a draft of her book everyone will be happy with, and will it ever translate into a sustainable career for her?
“Chapter Ninety-Seven” chips away at both of those concerns, especially on the Sin Rostro front. A classic Jane the Virgin misdirect runs through the middle of the episode: Jane’s agent is brainstorming ideas for how to amp up her book’s criminal element and suggests a story in which her heroine discovers that, during the kidnapping, the villain has switched her baby for another child. Jane can’t get that idea out of her head, and she and Rafael fret about it for a while before finally just getting a paternity test. (Mateo is indeed their child.) I have to say, if this were an earlier episode this season, I’d have to believe this possibility would’ve sent Jane into a much wilder tailspin and she’d have had a chance to flip out about not just the switching but the potential implications for her son. When you get a paternity test, the very next question should be “What do we do if it comes back negative?” It felt a little unlike Jane to not even let her brain go to that place. But again, we’re in the endgame at this point. The red herrings are getting short and sweet, and Mateo is their biological child.
The bigger surprise — which was easy to see coming — is that after Rose completes a daring prison escape, sending her body doubles scattering to create a distraction while she sneaks away, Luisa betrays her. She and Bobby show up at the meeting point, where Rose has gone to get away from the police, but rather than run lovingly into Rose’s arms, Luisa pulls off a rubber mask just like the one Rose has been using all these years and is revealed as a cop. Luisa was working with the detective’s office this whole time! Rose makes a run for it anyhow and manages to escape down a tunnel. Bobby is shot (and presumably killed?) in the crossfire without even a final word of farewell, which … yeah, that seems right for Bobby.
It makes sense that the last move for Rose is just to free her into the wider world, because she has always been scariest when she’s just out there, capable of wreaking havoc. It makes even more sense that Luisa sticks to her guns and refuses to go back to Rose, although that also makes Rafael’s unreasonably chilly good-bye scene feel all that much crueler. But most of all, this plot makes me glad for one very important reason: I am thrilled, honestly just delighted, that the Florida police force has finally gotten its hands on Rose’s mask-making machine. For too long, they’ve been outmatched in sheer technological power, and it’s delightful that the cops now have a meaningful new tool to fight crime that, at the same time, is not a lethal weapon. Would most of its use cases technically count as entrapment? Probably. But I have faith they’ll figure it out.
On the topic of Jane’s novel, her agent requests that she amp up the criminal story toward the end of the book rather than letting the villain just get whisked away midway through. But the bigger potential issue comes from Alba, who once again has strong feelings about Jane including her personal story in her writing. Like the Mateo-being-switched-at-birth story, this one has some elements that beggar belief — given how excited everyone was for Jane’s first book, it’s hard to accept that Alba would have been cool with material about her back then and suddenly alarmed about it now.
But “Chapter Ninety-Seven” saves the story in two ways. First, there’s the addition of new material that might alarm Alba. It’s not just the story of her young love that scares her; Alba feels a little violated by parts about her sexual awakening in the later years of her life. And second, the whole thing gets much more thoughtful once Jane talks with Jorge about Alba’s concerns. It’s not just that she’s private, he tells Jane. Because Alba was undocumented for so long, the idea of being open about the tiny details of her life is still frightening for her. She and Jorge will now need to figure out how to feel more comfortable with having their walls down.
Oh hey, just one more note on Jane’s book: Apparently, it contains the story of a baby being born and then being kidnapped by a terrifying villain. It also includes material about a grandmother coming to appreciate her own sexual desire later in life. Some of that seems … familiar.
“Chapter Ninety-Seven” spends most of its time on the Sin Rostro plot and Jane’s book, but just to get the big, satisfying conclusions underway, it reunites Pond with her mother, River, in a ridiculous “re-create the Emmys” story that is exactly the sort of thing Rogelio would cook up as a mechanism for family unity. The episode also supplies us with a moment of revenge I’d forgotten I really needed: Alba, staring down Magda in the same staircase where she was once nearly killed, finally figures out her new phone well enough to record Magda’s threats.
It’d be too easy for the book and Sin Rostro’s inevitable comeuppance to be the sum total of Jane the Virgin’s end, though, so “Chapter Ninety-Seven” has to throw in a few more obstacles. At last, Xo’s in nursing school, and she loves it. River’s reuniting with her daughter! But River also wants to move This Is Mars to New York so she and Pond can be closer, which means either Rogelio will have to move to New York and have a long-distance relationship or he’ll have to uproot Xo’s nascent nursing career, else he’ll have to give up the show he’s been working toward for years. Whatever the case will be, it’s unutterably rude of River to put this cloud over the most important news of the day: This Is Mars got a series order! To be continued!
From Our Narrator, With Love
• I sure did chuckle at all the commentary about how Jane’s book needs more criminal action toward the end to tie it all together. You can’t just make it about the love story toward the end of the book, Jane! You’ve got to bring in some dramatic twist to make sure the villain really gets her comeuppance!
• Similarly, I love the callbacks to young Jane watching telenovelas and covering her eyes, unable to look because she’s so afraid something bad will happen to the protagonists. “You better look, or you won’t know how it ends!”
• River Fields’s relationship with Pond is quite the mystery, but she does note that she has been paying Pond five times the usual rate for a production assistant. “Wow! Almost a living wage!” Our Narrator quips.
• Only Rogelio — who built a soundstage of Alba’s house for Jane to get married in, who solves all his problems by making them into TV shows, and who sees his whole life through a camera lens — would think to reunite River and Pond Fields by having them reenact the traumatic moment when River failed to thank Pond in her Emmys acceptance speech. Pond is initially underwhelmed by having to be a middle-schooler again. But it’s hard to see why, because Rogelio gravely intoning, “I am very sad to report that your Tamogotchi has died,” seems like a universally good thing.
• I am deeply wounded that I can’t actually go watch River’s Emmy-winning performance in Plath on Plath: The Sylvia Plath Story. It really seems like it should exist.