Now that I’m all caught up and Jane the Virgin has returned from its winter hiatus, I’m going to be reviewing it every week – mostly so I have some way to get out all of my emotions every week. Because, come on, this is way too much for me to handle on my own.
Chapter Ten began right where Chapter Nine ended: dealing with the aftermath of Alba’s fall down the stairs, and the impending arrival of a huge tropical storm. With almost every character on the show trapped in the same location, things were bound to get a little…dramatic. So grab your swag bag from the after after party, and let’s talk about Chapter Ten.
The episode begins with Xiomara and Jane sitting over Alba’s hospital bed. Because, you know, Petra’s mother pushed her down the stairs in the last episode. According to the doctor, Alba is going to wake up – they just don’t know when. Moreover, there’s no way to tell whether or not there will be any permanent or long-term effects of the fall. So Jane does the only thing she can do: pray, the way her abuela taught her when she was a child. But Alba’s rosary isn’t in her purse, even though Jane remembers her grandmother putting it away during the party. She quickly reasons that it must have been lost when Alba fell, and decides to go to the Marbella to find it – despite the ongoing tropical storm outside.
I didn’t really pick up on this until I started working on this post, but when I tried to organize the episode according to its storylines for the sake of structuring this post, I realized that it was kind of difficult to tell which was the A-plot and which was the B-plot. It opened with the conflict of what was going to happen to Alba, but then Jane’s storyline at the Marbella took up the bulk of the episode. But then everything happening with Alba is what’s shaping Jane’s storyline. It’s impossible to pull all of these elements apart – in fact, it’s impossible to pull apart any episode of Jane the Virgin. The way it’s constructed, it demands that as many characters as possible interact with each other, in ways that make sense and that you would expect. If Michael’s investigating something at the Marbella, of course he’s going to run into the Marbella’s owner, Rafael; if Rafael and Michael are talking, of course Jane’s going to get involved. One of my biggest pet peeves with television shows is when a character miraculously doesn’t join a conversation or an activity that, logically, they should be a part of, just because that’s not what their storyline for that particular episode dictates. But on Jane, they let the characters fully explore their setting or environment. Of course you’re going to be able to feel the effects of something happening offscreen – in this case, Jane’s concern for her abuela that fuels her interactions with her friends and her guilt over the impending layoffs at the hotel. The show never lets you forget that everything that happens is something that, in the world they’ve created, stays with its characters; they’re going to be upset, they’re going to be angry, and that’s going to affect all of their interactions, even if they’re part of two separate storylines.
Given that it’s not so easy to deconstruct this episode, I’ll start with Xiomara and Alba in the hospital. With Jane off to the Marbella, Xiomara has to handle the hospital paperwork herself, but the whole process proves too be too overwhelming to deal with on her own – lucky for her, the sweetheart of the modern telenovela, Rogelio de la Vega, shows up – though he’s attracted a bit of attention, and he got a police escort. He’s coming from an after after party, with his swag bag. Oh, don’t worry, the narrator defines a swag bag for the layperson – it’s a bag of free stuff they give celebrities, even though celebrities are the ones who don’t need free stuff.
With Rogelio by her side, Xo’s able to handle herself a little better – until the doctor comes back into the form and informs Xo that given her mother’s status as an illegal immigrant, she’s going to be deported back to Venezuela as soon as the storm (now upgraded to a hurricane) is over. Xo is horrified that they’re able to do that, and the narrator takes the time to point out that this is a very real thing that happens – it’s called medical repatriation, and the on-screen text urges us to “look it up”. #immigrationreform
But never fear – Rogelio de la Vega is by her side, and he has two very well-placed contacts who he thinks can help him out: a US senator and Gloria Estefan. He’s banking on Gloria Estefan (personally, I was, too). But ultimately, he and Xo are powerless to do anything, so Xo does the only thing she can: she sits by her mother’s side and prays, promising to be a better person and a better daughter, the one she thinks Alba deserves, if her mother would just wake up. It was a beautiful moment, made even greater by the fact that Alba woke up while Xo was praying – but decided to keep quiet and let her daughter finish. We’ve seen Xo’s beliefs come up against Alba’s many times throughout the show, but what’s so great about this constant conflict is that one of them isn’t right. Alba’s advice, to go with God, isn’t ever necessarily the right thing to do, and Xo’s advice, to follow your heart, isn’t ever necessarily the right thing to do. But Jane loves and trusts them both, so she always goes to them both for advice. And even if she decides to follow Alba’s advice over Xo’s, or vice versa, it’s not declaring one character the victor. It’s meant to show that what matters isn’t what value system you have behind you, but what choice you make and why.
Jane immediately turned to prayer during this crisis – not necessarily because she felt like it was the only way Alba could be saved, but because it was something she knew always comforted Alba. So Xo deciding to pray could have been portrayed as a victory for Alba, or a message that prayer was the answer all along. But that’s not it. What made Xiomara’s prayer beautiful was the fact that she was celebrating her mother. She was acknowledging that she wants to be better – for Alba herself, not for God. Every family has some ongoing conflict about value systems. Everyone always thinks that they’re right, and that their philosophy on life is infallible. But the thing is, you can’t change someone’s mind on things like this. So for as much as Alba would probably love it if Xo became religious, it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. But the love and respect Xo showed for her mother by deciding to act more like the person her mother wants her to be? That’s much, much bigger than Xo believing in whatever Alba tells her to believe in.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending: Alba wakes up with no signs of long-term damage from her injuries, and the doctor informs Xo that they’re not going to deport her mother. She immediately turns to Rogelio, but stops herself from kissing him out of gratitude – she made a promise to be good, after all, and she’s going to keep it. But for as much as Rogelio hates to turn down praise, he has to – he had nothing to do with saving Alba.
So who stepped in? The answer to that question once again shows how much the storylines on this show overlap and feed off each other, so I’m going to hold off on discussing Alba’s savior for now and instead turn to Jane’s storyline at the Marbella. She’s torn the place apart looking for her abuela’s rosary, but finally, one of her co-workers, Regina, lets her know she’s found it. Overjoyed, Jane sets out to drive back to the hospital – just as the tropical storm gets upgraded to a hurricane and the wind starts breaking the hotel’s glass doors and windows. She’s stuck for the time being, so she finds her friends, who ask her to use her relationship with Rafael to find out if the rumors that employees are going to be laid off are true. Jane feels uncomfortable: she denies it, but she (and her friends) knows that she’s not in the same position as her friends. Of course she’s not going to be laid off. She is literally carrying the baby of the guy who’s firing people.
Against all of her instincts, she agrees to find out from Rafael if there are really layoffs, and whom he’s planning on firing. The reason for the layoffs? Rafael’s father is trying to get the hotel back under control, and with Lachlan out of town, Rafael volunteers to take control. Meaning he’s responsible for the layoffs – 15% of the staff in each department has to go, and he has to be the one to fire them. The distance between Jane and her friends in this episode shows just how much has changed since she got pregnant – she’s worked at the hotel for four years, but until the last few months, she was just another employee. An employee who’s only taken three sick days in four years, who’s been voted Employee of the Month twice, but still just an employee. Her new situation – the addition of a famous father and a rich boyfriend – also creates such an interesting parallel to Alba’s situation. Jane’s not necessarily well-off on her own, but with Rogelio and Rafael in her life, she’s not exactly going to be destitute. Even if she doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities they offer her (and I think the show’s made it perfectly clear by this point that Jane has no interest in their money and never will), the fact that these opportunities even exist is so rare, especially compared to her friends at the hotel, who have children, or bills to pay, or simply no other option. Jane’s life isn’t perfect, but she can provide for herself. And isn’t that really what everyone hopes for? Isn’t that what parents want for their children, and grandparents for their grandchildren? What about Alba, whose husband gave up his fortune to marry her, who built this life for Xiomara and Jane? It’s cruel to even suggest that she shouldn’t get to be there to witness how happy and secure Jane is. #immigrationreform
On her way to talk to Rafael, Jane gets stuck in an elevator – with Michael, who’s at the Marbella investigating that secret room he and Nadine found in Chapter Nine. It’s a classic telenovela trope, the narrator assures us – made even more classic when the power goes out. Now, this is the first review I’m writing for Jane the Virgin, so part of my responsibility in this post is to pass along some of the opinions I’ve developed from watching the first nine episodes, while still remaining objective as to the content of the show itself. So I’m going to say this delicately: I’m not always a big Michael fan. I understand where he’s coming from, and like I said in my 10 Reasons You Should Be Watching Jane the Virgin post, I think it’s totally clear that all of the decisions he’s made, however misguided, have been made in what he thinks is Jane’s best interest. So really, I guess it’s more accurate to say that while I’m wary of Michael, he definitely has the capacity to impress me, and I am by no means disinterested in his presence on the show.
With that said: Michael really impressed me in his scene with Jane in the elevator. Earlier in the episode, he and Rafael had gone head-to-head; it turns out that the room he found underneath the bathroom led to a surgical room that showed clear signs actual operations had been performed there. His assumption was, well, the same assumption he always has: Rafael is involved. After all, it’s his hotel, and he knows everything that goes on in it. Michael confronts him – and even gives him the opportunity to end the conversation when Jane joins them – but Rafael insists that he has no idea what’s going on in the hotel or with Sin Rostro. Now, sure, the disappearance of what he found in the safe is suspicious, but often, Michael’s distrust of Rafael, which he claims is always based on wanting Jane to be safe, really seems to be more about himself. I don’t think he realizes it, but I think more often than not, it comes from a selfish place.
But in the elevator, for once, everything he said felt genuinely rooted in Jane. More importantly, he does genuinely believe that he has a better grasp on this situation than her, and that he’s able to help her. Whether or not that’s true, it doesn’t matter; what matters is that Michael is doing everything he can to keep Jane from unnecessary conflict, and that’s important. Even more important is that he completely dropped the Rafael issue once he found out about Jane’s grandmother. He didn’t take the opportunity to revel in the fact that Jane was opening herself up to him again, or gloat that he was there and Rafael wasn’t. He was completely in the moment when Jane needed him to be in the moment, and that shows just how deeply he loves her. I may not want Michael and Jane to get back together, but the complications and depth his character adds to the show are absolutely irreplaceable. So, er, I’ll hold off on discussing that ominous final line of the episode for now.
It turns out that Rafael’s list of people to fire does include one of Jane’s friends: Frankie, the only one who was able to talk to Jane calmly about the situation, while Lina and Luca jump to anger about the fact that they might get fired while Jane doesn’t have to worry. Jane begs Rafael not to fire Frankie, but the only other option is Regina – the woman who found Alba’s rosary, who has two kids and very much needs her job. Ultimately, Rafael sticks to his decision to fire Frankie, but the whole issue makes Jane realize just how much her life has changed. I mean, she can take the elevator upstairs and have a personal conversation with the boss whenever she wants – that’s not something that any of her friends can do, or something Jane would have been able to do pre-pregnancy. She actually has input over who should get fired. But for as much power and privilege she’s gained, she’s still not powerful or privileged. It says so much about Jane that when she explains to Rafael how different she feels, she doesn’t expound upon the distance between herself and her friends; she talks about the difference in how she sees herself looking at other people. Specifically, how she looks at children. It’s a subtle thing, but I think the fact that this is what Jane chooses to focus on shows that she hasn’t changed too dramatically – at least, not in the ways that matter. Her life is changing but she’s not drifting so far away that the people important to her won’t be able to stay with her.
The last big plotline in Chapter Ten was Michael’s investigation, and the discoveries he and Nadine made. It turns out the hotel room that led to the secret surgical room is actually one of the plastic surgery recovery suites – and every recovering patient has been relocated to the hospital for the length of the hurricane. This just strengthens Michael’s confidence that Rafael is Sin Rostro, but we see Rafael make that decision as a precaution. The thing is, if Rafael is Sin Rostro (which he isn’t, but I respect Michael, so let’s feel out his argument), Michael needs better evidence. Sure, through a certain lens, Rafael’s decisions look guilty, but they’re all totally justifiable given his responsibilities at the hotel. Rafael’s clearly hiding something, but I don’t think the show wants us to believe Michael’s claims that Rafael is Sin Rostro. My concern, especially given the huge piece of the puzzle Michael uncovered in this episode, is that he’s going to be so focused on proving Rafael is Sin Rostro that he’s going to miss something else – either a big clue or some sense of danger (but again, we’ll get to that final line in due time).
After the hurricane, Michael tries to match up the patients to their files, but discovers one is missing. So they head to the hospital, but they’re too late – the man has checked himself out. They have a set of X-Rays of the same patient taken twelve hours apart that show a different facial structure, leading Michael and Nadine to reason that someone is using that secret room to perform plastic surgery on Sin Rostro’s associates, changing their facial structures so that they remain undetected. Talk about a plot twist.
Aaaand now we’ve reached the end of the episode. Remember that mystery of who kept Alba from being deported? It turns out that after his conversation with Jane in the elevator, Michael called the doctor and told him that Alba was an important witness in an ongoing investigation, and therefore they needed her to stay in the country. As far as gestures go, it was a pretty great one. Jane had zero involvement in it; he didn’t do it to impress her, or to show her how great he is. He did it because he had the power to help and it was the right thing to do. Given his proclivity to break the law and ignore protocol, and his hatred of Rafael, it can be easy sometimes to write Michael off. But moments like this prove that he’s not just the original boyfriend who gets thrown aside when the real love interest is introduced. Michael is important to the show, important to Jane, and the amount of depth the writers have given him just adds so many necessary and intriguing layers to what could have been a rather straightforward love triangle.
So, you know, seeing how great Michael can be made it all the more upsetting when the narrator may have potentially, baaaarely, implied that Michael’s going to die? After Xiomara calls him to thank him for what he did for Alba, Michael asks her not to tell Jane (thus earning serious points, if you ask me), but reaffirms his belief that he and Jane are meant for each other, something that he believed, as the narrator says, “as long as [he] lived, until he drew his very last breath”. That’s…not good, right? I mean, the narrator has hinted at some future events before, but not, like, the entire span of someone’s long and well-lived life. We’re not suddenly jumping ahead and seeing Michael as an eighty-year-old. My prediction is that he’s going to get too close to figuring out who Sin Rostro is, and that it’s going to happen soonish. So, um, can’t wait for the rest of the season!
Some other thoughts about the rest of the episode:
-The mental-hospital-bondage-exhibitionist-lesbian sex (copyright my friend Shannon Leigh) between Luisa and Rose, though. I love that every time we see these two, their sex scenes get more and more revealing and graphic. It’s especially great when you consider that there have only been, what, two other instances of other couples having sex on the show? And when you compare the sex scenes between Lachlan/Petra and Michael/Nadine, they don’t even hold a candle to what they’ve shown of Luisa and Rose. It’s just so awesome to see a show feature a same-sex couple this boldly and unapologetically.
-Speaking of Rose…um, she’s totally Sin Rostro, right? I just can’t see Sin Rostro turning out to be somebody who’s been specifically named as a suspect already, and I can’t see a larger narrative connection for Rose suddenly uncovering a potentially huge clue against her husband as Sin Rostro unless it’s just one big misdirect and she’s trying to frame him.
-I’m so curious to see how Petra’s going to stay involved with Jane and the Marbella now that she’s (for now) without a leg to stand on. She and her mother are free of Ivan, but she’s unable to collect on the terms of her pre-nup with Rafael because she signed it using her assumed name. Without any money, she can’t protect herself from Milos any longer.
-“I drink for free and it’s so close to my gym!” – Lina’s reasons for wanting to keep her job. Honestly, I relate completely.
-I talked about it a little bit earlier, but Jennie Urman talked more extensively about the show’s pro-immigration reform stance. It’s a really interesting read, and it adds a lot of layers to the Villanueva family that help ground them and make a lot of the issues they face seem so very real. You can read it here.
That’s it for Chapter Ten! What did you all think of the episode? More importantly, who do you think Sin Rostro is? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and check back next week for my review of Chapter Eleven!
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