Jane the Virgin Review: Chapter 58
By: Angela Russo (@Amaruki99)
This Week on Jane the Virgin:
Jane’s parenting troubles continue as she finds herself head to head with Petra, competing for the post of “Room Mom,” at Matteo’s school. After heated rounds of stereotypical pandering and childish bickering, both withdraw from the race and nominate Rafael to the post instead. Alba makes her debut to the dating scene after a comical makeover attempt. When Xiomara learns that Rogelio no longer sees having children as a deal-breaker, she realizes she still has feelings for him and breaks off her engagement to Bruce. After battling insecurity inspired by the drama at her daughters’ school and multiple failed attempts to reconcile with Chuck, Petra takes comfort in the arms of Rafael, rekindling their long-dead romance.
With all the political tension currently rocketing from sea to shining sea we hardly need to fan the flames. Fortunately, Jane the virgin’s nod to the recent election was a pointedly ambiguous representation that did not play favorites to either candidate in any way…which was honestly quite a refreshing change! That being said, this felt like an unnecessary plot device. It added minimal comedic value to the show, and really didn’t advance the plot in any way.
The portrayal of Petra’s relationship with Jane has been markedly inconsistent. Upon returning from the winter hiatus, Jane and Petra were painted as having forged a mom-team, coming together in Rafael’s absence. This bond continued for years afterward with weekly family brunches where they could check in and support each other. Now we are seeing Jane and Petra suddenly at odds again. This comes as an abrupt shift in gears. As recently as the previous episode, Petra was more than happy to give Jane advice about her problematic interactions with the parents at Matteo’s school.
The purpose behind the shift becomes blatantly obvious as – without any prelude – Rafael and Petra experience sparks and end up sleeping together. It was nice to see Rafael be equally supportive of Petra as a mother to his children. Her transformation into a responsible capable manager and mother is certainly laudable. However I’m not buying a renewed romance with Rafael. It feels unbelievable and contrived…especially considering how well Rafael and Jane have been getting along. In the past, Jane and Rafael were at odds on very crucial points of lifestyle and parenting. Now all that has changed. We have witnessed them reminiscing fondly about their romantic history, while supporting each other in the present with a deep-seated newly blossomed intimate knowledge of one another. They are an excellent team in both life and parenting. What Jane lacks, Rafael provides and vice versa. The way I see it, they push each other to be the best versions of themselves. I can only hope that this development between Petra and Rafael is simply an attempt to set up the old love triangle format that has been integral to every season of Jane the Virgin.
Jane – The Hot Mess Mama
While I appreciate the fact that Jane is humble enough to learn with her son, it is a relief to hear her compared to the literary figure of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. For those of you unfamiliar with this character, she is a wealthy widow who, upon the sudden death of her husband, basically goes insane and becomes a recluse, shut up in her mansion still wearing her wedding dress decades later. Some viewers may see this as a severe exaggeration but I disagree. In her own way Jane has done the same by retreating into motherhood. By hyper-fixating on Matteo she has forgotten that “Mom,” is not who she is. It is just one of a multitude of defining factors. When was the last time we saw Jane go out and have fun with friends…or even have a conversation with anyone who is not somehow tied to Matteo? Where is her best friend Lena? We haven’t seen Jane really do much that’s fun. Sure, we’ve seen her dive into her writing…but again the novel is about Michael, and her career supports Matteo. All very practical ventures.
What’s Been Missing:
In general, episodes have felt scatterbrained and overly cluttered with Petra’s relationship with Chuck, while revisiting the overplayed will-they-won’t-they Rogelio and Xiomara relationship, and constantly emphasizing how clueless Jane is as a parent. These things ultimately feel like filler sub-stories that normally would play second fiddle to the central plot. It took a few episodes but the aftermath of this week’s chapter finally acknowledged the missing component – romance for Jane. We have nothing to root for! The show has always relied on either a Jane love triangle, or her path to losing her virginity as a foundation. Without these things the show has lost its sense of direction.
Michael’s death has drastically changed the show. While I myself tend to root more for Rafael and Jane, his absence leaves the show with a gaping hole, for with him died most of the funny hallucination daydream asides, and narrator-typed character translations. The narrator himself seems to be overly reserved and quiet. I much preferred his perpetual interjections and insights. The difference in tone in the back half of season three is quite jarring. Instead of being a fun-loving series full of ridiculous twists and over the top zany antics, it has become very much a hum-drum beat of everyday life and everyday problems of the everyday parent. It has revolved way too much around Jane as a train-wreck mother. With any luck, the arrival of Matteo’s aide Alex will close the door on the endless stream of parenting-focused episodes we’ve been enduring since Michael’s death.
Returning to the Roots of Jane:
Overall season three has felt completely awkward with two very dissimilar and disjointed story arcs. However, the latest installment of Jane the Virgin gives viewers hope that we are on the cusp of change. The writers have dealt with Jane’s grieving process in an incredibly respectful, realistic, thoughtful manner, but it is time for the show to go back to its silly lighthearted roots. Rogelio’s endearing bromances and telenovela antics. Jane and dating. Sex, religion, and spirituality. Speaking of which, where has the faith component gone? It was an enormous part of the first two seasons. While religion can be as much of a hot-button issue for people as politics, it was a subject that was unapologetically front and center as part of Jane’s identity…and handled in a way that was both tactful, open-minded, and not at all preachy. Another interesting point to ponder: Now that Jane is no longer a virgin and is considering getting back on the dating scene, will she still choose to wait till marriage before having sex? I certainly hope that now that Jane’s grieving period has ended, we can move past the grind and get back to what made the show such an enjoyable break from our own reality. Michael fans may be ready to throw in the towel, but I’m far less cynical.
Chapter 58 was directed by Melanie Mayron and written by Merigan Mulhern.