This week, Jane the Virgin returned with yet another installment that, in true Jane fashion, gave us oh so much to discuss. Where do I even begin? Let’s see – there was an awkward Villanueva family dinner, two exciting job offers for Jane, and, oh yeah, Lachlan might be evil, no big deal.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s jump right into Chapter Eleven. The theme for this episode seemed to be reconciliation – reconciling conflicts, working past preconceived notions, and finding a way to work together. Except, as you may have guessed, none of these reconciliations come easy – and none of them happen organically. Despite everyone’s attempts to go after what they want, or to get along with each other, no one does so by being honest or even being particularly enthusiastic about finding a resolution. Some characters don’t want to find a solution to their conflict; they’re content carrying on with whatever obstacle they placed between themselves and someone else, and don’t need to reconcile their view of a situation with an opposing view.
I’m speaking a little abstractly here because, as always, the plotlines on Jane converge so much that it’s hard to speak generally about anything. The character criss-cross each other so much in any given episode that the only real way to discuss an episode is to get right to the specifics. So let’s start with Jane, and her first conflict in the episode: that Xiomara doesn’t like Rafael, and doesn’t think they’re right for each other. Jane insists that they are, and invites Rafael to a family dinner, promising to prep Rafael with a list of Xo’s interests, thus ensuring that they get along perfectly.
And when he’s going off that list, he does great – he wins Alba’s approval, and even Xo seems to be enjoying herself. But it’s when he goes off-script that things start to go wrong. What’s so great about this scene is that, unlike so many other new-boyfriend-meets-the-family storylines that have been done, Rafael doesn’t fail by making embarrassing mistakes, or by accidentally letting something slip that makes him unable to live up to Xo’s expectations. He loses Xo’s warming opinion of him by making it clear that he supports Jane. When discussing her new job options (which we’ll get to soon), Rafael tells her that, no matter what she decides, she’s free to make the choice based simply on what she wants to do, not what she has to, because she knows that, if she needs, he can support her financially, as well as the baby. Despite the fact that, just moments before, they had been in agreement that Jane should follow her heart, Xo turns on Rafael, taking his offer to take care of Jane as dismissal of the idea that one should work hard to provide for themselves. They don’t take handouts, she says, and if Jane does need help, it’s her family’s job to help her out – even though, as Rafael points out, they are going to be family.
After Rafael leaves, Jane confronts her mother. She knows that Rafael’s offer was misguided, but doesn’t understand why Xo is so opposed to him. Finally, Xo explains why it’s so difficult for her to accept Jane and Rafael’s relationship: it makes her feel disloyal to Michael, who she knows is still holding out hope that he and Jane will reconcile. It’s small, but this is such an effective way to keep Michael relevant in Jane’s love life, even if he’s not physically present here. After all, we love Xo; we know her well, well enough that we respect her opinions. Having Xo be so firmly on Michael’s side in this triangle is a really effective way to make it clear to the audience that we can’t forget about him. Whether or not he and Jane get back together, whether or not they’re right for each other, that still remains to be seen. What this does is remind us that we can’t forget about him.
Ultimately, Jane accepts that Xo needs time to adjust to all the changes going on, but they both agree that Xo can’t be rude to Rafael. She goes to apologize to him, and without Jane around, they’re both more honest: Rafael asks her to explain why she doesn’t like him, and she explains that she doesn’t respect his character, or his higher status over Jane, and thus can’t see him suiting her daughter. Here’s where that idea of reconciliation comes in – Jane wants Rafael and Xiomara to get along, and wants Xo to get over whatever opposition she had to him. And even though Xo makes an attempt for Jane’s sake, she clearly has no desire to get to know Rafael. Rafael has to cut their conversation short, but they both agree to continue talking about it at a later date, making it clear that they’re both willing to try, for Jane’s sake. Things are resolved, in a way – sure, they’re not the best of friends, but at least agreeing that they need to work things out, or at least fully understand each other, is a big step forward. So this is one of those things I was talking about abstractly earlier. Xo put a barrier between herself and Rafael, one that she’s perfectly willing to keep in place. He’s the father of her grandchild, sure, but so what? What does that matter if she doesn’t think his romantic relationship with Jane will work out? Xo doesn’t feel like she’s under any obligation to like him, and it’s that opposition, not the fact that she doesn’t like him, that’s the biggest obstacle in them learning to get along. She makes an attempt for Jane, but that doesn’t really make it genuine. In fact, in all the various conflicts in this episode, while all of them are unique from each other and handled differently by the characters involved, Rafael is the only person who’s honest. Maybe he wouldn’t have befriended Xiomara on his own, but he knows it’s important to Jane – he doesn’t just want to have dinner with her family, he’s excited for it, and for the chance to get Xiomara and Alba to like him. And maybe he knows more than he’s saying about Sin Rostro, and maybe the contents of his safe hint to a deeper secret that he’s keeping, but the thing is, Rafael is the only truly genuine person in this episode. He’s the only one who’s honest, and who honestly strives for an actual reconciliation of his conflict. No matter what Xiomara thinks, that speaks volumes to his character.
The reason Xiomara and Rafael disagreed over Jane’s future? She’s been offered a permanent teaching position, one that’s even set up to work around her pregnancy and maternity leave. She’s thrilled, but when she goes to visit Rogelio on the set of his telenovela, he gives her some news: he’s gotten her an internship with the show’s writing staff. Her conflict between teaching and writing is once again brought up, but this time, it’s much more than just Jane struggling to figure out which one she likes more, or feels more passionate about. Now it’s very, very tangible, and her decision will have very real consequences – teaching gives her stability and a constant paycheck, but writing, despite being her true passion, is unpredictable. This is the main topic of conversation at dinner, and Rafael and Xiomara agree that Jane should follow her passion, while Alba wants her granddaughter to take the teaching job.
But Jane doesn’t know what she wants to do. So, sticking with her desire to avoid conflict, she decides, at least for now, to do both of them, while still waitressing at the hotel. But after she proposes an idea to the head writer Dina that supposedly gets put into the script, then sees during filming that the idea’s been thrown out, Jane realizes that Rogelio told the writers to act like they thought she had good ideas. It had nothing to do with her talent and all to do with nepotism. So Rogelio, who prides himself on his eye for a good script, tells Jane to write him a scene, and he’ll give her his honest opinion. Of course, he doesn’t usually accept unsolicited material, but he’s willing to make an exception for his daughter. And, true to his word, he tells her that the scene isn’t good – but she has time to grow, and considering that this is the first serious attempt she’s made at writing, she’s exactly where she should be. But more importantly, Jane loved writing the scene; she felt butterflies, just as she did her first day in the writers’ room, that seem like a sign that writing is something she should seriously be pursuing.
Unlike the other characters seeking reconciliation in this episode, Jane is actively seeking a resolution. She wants her conflict to be over, but, for one thing, other people get in her way. She has Alba pointing out the benefits of teaching, and Rogelio and the writers untruthfully evaluating her writing. She’s not really making her decision all on her own; she has forces on either side pushing and pulling her towards a decision. Plus, her desire to avoid conflict leads to her delaying the decision. But as a result of working all three jobs, she’s exhausted when driving home, briefly falls asleep at a red light, and hits the car in front of her. She and the baby are fine, but it’s proof that she’s spreading herself too thin, and Rafael and Xo finally agree when they tell her that she needs to let go of some of her responsibilities. Ultimately, Jane decides to stick with teaching – until, on her way to quit her writing job, the show’s writers stop her and tell her that they loved her scene. Nicholas, Rogelio’s assistant, sent it to them – because, as it turns out, he’s sleeping with Dina, and seemingly is working with her in some plan against Rogelio.
Now, while I can’t speculate as to the show’s intentions for Jane and Rafael, even in the short-term, it seems more notable than ever that his concern for her safety and desire for her to keep herself as stress-free as possible prove to be completely right in this episode. He’s said before that they need to be a team, and that she needs to let herself relax, but here, not relaxing led to something that could have been incredibly dangerous. It doesn’t seem insignificant that Rafael was right; to me, it’s a sign that they are better as a team. Not because then she has someone to help her out, but because he clearly understands her, possibly in a slightly different way than anyone else does, and that knowledge earns him a place on her team. They’re the only ones who approach their problems (at least in this episode) with total, straightforward honesty, and no matter what conflicts might pop up for them, it just doesn’t seem insignificant that they handle things the same way, and that, no matter what, they support each other. Even if Jane doesn’t like the way Rafael is offering to support her, she’s content that he’s at least trying.
It turns out that the butterflies Jane was feeling the whole episode? Those were actually the baby kicking. Even the baby is disguising itself, you guys. That’s how deep this theme of artificial reconciliation goes. But Jane has Xiomara and Rafael in the hospital with her, and they’re both there to feel the baby kick. Again, it’s not insignificant, and I think it speaks to the purpose of this theme of artificial reconciliation. Not everything in life can be resolved quickly, or with each party contributing equally to arrive at a solution. You’re going to have one person who wants it more, or someone who’s more selfish or selfless than the other. But motivation isn’t what determines the outcome; circumstance is the only thing that can do that. So maybe Xo and Rafael haven’t fully worked things out, but in this scene, they’re united in their love for the baby and their concern for Jane, and I have a feeling that’s going to be the key that finally, truly, gets Xo and Rafael on the same page.
Speaking of Xo, she’s got more problems than just Rafael – she’s still dealing with the consequences of her pledge to remain chaste. So she’s avoiding Rogelio’s calls, and flat out circumventing the situation instead of telling him directly what’s happening. Alba urges her to tell him the truth, so Xo invites Rogelio over, and does everything she can to keep the night as un-romantic as possible: she wears sweats, pours garlic on her pizza, and tries to stay away. But Rogelio doesn’t even notice – he’s still just as attracted to her as ever, and the two wind up in Xo’s bed. But Xo imagines her mother watching over them, and the guilt is too much; she jumps away from Rogelio and kicks him out, rather than tell him the truth. Finally, after he comes to the hospital to check on Jane and Xo pulls away from a hug, he confronts her, and Xo’s forced to tell him the truth. But instead of running, like she assumed he would, he assures her he’s not going anywhere.
The next day, Xo tells Alba what Rogelio said, and Alba’s thrilled – so thrilled that she points out what great things can happen when you promise God you won’t let anyone between your legs. Except, those are the exact words Xo used when she made her promise, before she thought her mother had woken up. Finally, Alba reveals that she heard what Xo said but didn’t interrupt because she wanted Xo to make that promise. Xo’s furious, so Alba says she’ll write her an apology letter, something Xo used to do for Alba – except Xo has no idea what she’s talking about. That’s because, as we’re shown in a flashback at the beginning of the episode, whenever the two would fight, Jane would intervene and write Alba a letter, pretending to be Xo, apologizing for everything she’d done. Jane, always trying to avoid conflict, always trying to fix things, tried to fix Xo and Alba. There’s so much going on here in regards to that idea of artificial reconciliation: that Jane tried to force resolution before it could come up naturally, that Alba did the same by manipulating the situation so that she forced Xo into making her decision. No one is being honest here, but doing so made Jane and Alba happier than the truth and the long process of a natural resolution would have. I don’t know which option is better, or if one option is actually better. Again, it just shows how trying to resolve conflicts works in real life. There is no clear answer, or obvious way to do it. No matter what, it’s going to be messy; sure, you can value honesty above all else, but when it draws out pain and fighting, is it really worth it? The differences in how each character approaches their conflicts in Chapter Eleven don’t point to a clear conclusion, because there isn’t one. But little themes like this help ground the drama on the show. It’s not always happening just to up the stakes, or to keep the telenovela theme. Sometimes it’s because in life, conflicts keep growing and building. And sometimes they’re handled smoothly, and sometimes the way you react to it makes it blow up in your face. The thing is, sometimes you’re not the best person to live your own life. Sometimes you need to take a step back to catch up, or to breathe, but you can’t. And with all of the changes Jane has been going through, that then spread out and affect her family, it’s no wonder that no one is able to handle themselves as efficiently and honestly as they might like to.
I talk a lot about how the storylines on this show cross and twist and overlap, and how difficult that makes it to pull an episode apart into a A, B, and C storylines, or even to look at one element singularly. Every aspect of an episode builds on itself; I can’t just look at one interaction between Rafael and Jane and discuss that, because it’s coming on the heels of a previous interaction they had, plus an interaction she had with her mother, plus an upcoming comment he’s going to make to Michael. Everything is just so complicated and dense in that way. But one scene in this episode made me finally understand how the show is able to pack so much into one episode. The scene was the one with Xiomara and Alba preparing for dinner with Rafael, that was sandwiched between Jane preparing Rafael for it and then dinner itself. Now, any other show probably would have just gone from that preparation scene to the dinner itself, at least partially to highlight the differences in their expectations compared to how it actually went. In doing that, it keeps the focus on Rafael and Jane, and on their stakes in this dinner. Seeing Xiomara and Alba in between does a few different things in such a short amount of time. For one thing, it makes every single character involved in this dinner. It reminds us that every character has stakes, which makes the dinner scene so much more dynamic. Every good scene involves real, identifiable stakes for the characters involved. But if this scene only had real stakes for Jane and Rafael, it wouldn’t have registered as much as it does, since we’ve been reminded of Xiomara and Alba’s investment. It also makes the conflict deeper than simply Jane wanting her mom to like her new boyfriend. Seeing Xo beforehand, and hearing her concerns about Rafael, makes her motivations clear; we’re invested in Xo, and in the difficulties she’s having with Rafael, so we’re able to sympathize with both of them when things start going wrong. We’re not just rooting for Xo to like her daughter’s new boyfriend; we’re also rooting for Rafael to like his new girlfriend’s mom. The other benefit of the placement of this scene, given that Xo and Alba’s conversation about Rafael turns into discussing Xo’s problems with Rogelio, is that it allows these two storylines to co-exist. It balances them, instead of making one stop and start around the other. So many shows will go back and forth, and focus on one storyline, then conveniently wrap it up before turning its attention to another storyline. But that’s not how it works here. On Jane the Virgin, everything is happening at the same time. The attention might shift away from something, but that something isn’t stopped completely. It’s merely paused, and will return, flowing in and out around all of the other storylines.
In non-Villanueva news, things have started looking up for Petra. She and her mother are sleeping in shifts to keep one step ahead of Milos, but it’s obvious to both of them that they can’t live this way forever. When Lachlan returns from his trip, he can tell something’s wrong, so he makes Petra tell him everything. He immediately promises to keep her safe: he can be transferred anywhere in the country, so he and Petra are free to leave the Marbella. Until he can make all the arrangements, he puts Petra and Magda in a penthouse within the hotel, with security systems and a guard to ensure that Milos can’t get near them. Finally able to relax, free at least for now from Milos and Ivan, Petra rewards herself with a bath. She slips underwater for a moment, and when she comes back up, she sees yellow tulips on the table – the flowers Milos used to send her. Earlier, she told Lachlan that she was petrified she would see them one day, because that would mean Milos had found her. But it turns out that the flowers aren’t from Milos – they’re from Lachlan, who slipped into the bathroom and placed them there while she was underwater.
I just don’t know about Lachlan, you guys. Clearly he’s not telling Petra everything, and while this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him being duplicitous, until this episode I was just chalking it up to him enjoying a private power play. Petra left him for Rafael, and now he’s got her back and basically has full control over her. That argument can still be made, but I just feel like he has to be involved in something larger. I mean, he was never not evil, but giving her the flowers is too evil for just revenge, right? I’ve seen some people online speculating after this that he’s Sin Rostro. I’m not totally convinced – I’m not saying he is or he isn’t, but I just don’t think what he did in this episode is really enough evidence for that. I do think that he’s going to factor in largely to some huge conflict, though. I mean, his arc began with him connected to Rafael and Petra, and while his presence certainly isn’t unimportant, he has yet to really become connected to the larger plot of the show. I’m thinking whatever he’s doing is going to become much more relevant as we move toward the season finale – either he’s involved in something illegal, or, I think, the season will end with Rafael losing the hotel entirely.
Speaking of Rafael and the hotel, he and Rose are concerned about the fact that Emilio might be Sin Rostro. Rose wants to go to the police, but Rafael points out that, if they’re wrong, it’ll destroy his father’s reputation. Instead, he decides to meet with the contractor who renovated the hotel and see if the contractor knows anything that can point to his Emilio. Turns out, he doesn’t, and looking at a picture of the bathroom that leads to the tunnel, claims that wasn’t his work. His father must have hired a subcontractor, but has no idea who. On his way out, someone stops Rafael, claiming to know who did the work.
Rafael goes to meet the subcontractor, but it turns out that he was followed by Michael, who’s still positive that Rafael is Sin Rostro. Rafael offers the man money in exchange for information, but the man refuses, and forces Rafael to leave – after, of course, Michael gets pictures of Rafael looking like he’s involved in some kind of deal with this guy. After Rafael leaves, the subcontractor calls someone to let them know someone came asking about the Marbella, then leaves. Michael goes to investigate, and after finding out that the man was on the phone with a plastic surgeon (remember his discovery last week?), he gets caught. And beat up. And sent to the hospital. So, you know. Not a great day to be Michael.
It gets even worse when Nadine lets him know that she doesn’t approve of him continuing to investigate Rafael, even after getting specific orders not to. And then somehow it gets even worse than that. See, it turns out that he never removed Jane as his emergency contact, so after she gets cleared from her car accident, she goes to see him. They talk, and she makes it clear that she’s with Rafael, and has moved on. Finally, Michael seems to understand that, and seems willing to let her go. But Nadine, who’s outside and can see, but not hear, the whole thing, assumes that they’re patching things up – so she places a call and lets Lieutenant Armstrong know exactly what Michael was doing when he got sent to the hospital. Uh oh.
After the hint we got last week, I’m getting increasingly worried about Michael. If Nadine and his commanding officer don’t support what he’s doing, there’s nothing keeping him from holding himself to how they want to handle this case. And now that Jane’s made it clear she’s staying with Rafael…? I’m starting to get a little concerned that, if Michael in fact isn’t long for this world, that it’s going to be due to his own mistakes and carelessness. But I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what happens.
Some other thoughts on the episode:
-The on-screen text to remind us about Milos saying he “forgot [Petra’s] birthday, twice; threw acid at her mom, once”
-The students trying to keep Jane from crying when they gave her a gift was so sweet, and made it clear that her love of teaching isn’t one-sided. So many times, we see a character who loves their job, or is good at it, and we know it simply because that’s what we’re told. But seeing that her students appreciate her was such a nice, unexpected surprise. Even more surprising: that the twins were the ones to present her with the gift. Sure, they still think she’s uncool, but even they could acknowledge that she’s a great teacher. And, I mean, the first time we saw the twins, there was almost nothing redeemable about them. This establishes a precedent that people on this show can change – the way they’re labeled in their first appearance doesn’t necessarily define them, or limit their future characterization. I think this idea is going to be hugely important on this show, where things can change in an instant, and that isn’t afraid to present its characters in less-than-positive lights. There’s still something redeemable, that the audience can root for, in every single one of these characters.
-“Friends, workers. As you all know, like Kanye West, I have recently acquired a daughter.”
-Rogelio calling his coworkers his “excellent teammates” made me so proud. He’s growing! A little bit! Maybe!
-Rafael and Jane discussing their baby, and him once again referring to it as their peach. Shut up. Just shut up. And Jane correcting him that the baby is now an apple, soon to be an avocado. Just shut up. Everybody shut up.
-“Why are you so afraid to have your pelvis touch mine?” Okay, never mind, Rogelio hasn’t changed, don’t worry.
That’s it for Chapter Eleven! Let me know in the comments what you thought of the episode. Is anyone else as suspicious of Lachlan as I am? And, as always, who do you think Sin Rostro is, given the little bits of additional information we learned this week? I’ll be back next week with a review of Chapter Twelve; until then, farewell my excellent teammates!
All gifs in this post were collected from janethevirgin-gifs and jane-the-virgin on tumblr.