It took twelve episodes to happen, but finally, Jane the Virgin ran out of drama. No more conflicts to elevate. No more plots to thicken. No more twists to throw on us. In fact, Chapter Twelve was downright dull. Stupid, even. Pointless.
…That’s a joke, by the way. A huge joke. Because Chapter Twelve might have been the most important episode of Jane the Virgin so far – almost every long-term plot arc was featured and came to some sort of dramatic head. And holy crap was there drama in this episode. I don’t even know where to start this time – do I follow the drama? Do I bury the lead? Do I address the fact that we finally learned the identity of Sin Rostro? Or the fact that a pretty big character was killed?
Okay, that seems like a good place to start. Let’s mix it up this week and not begin with Jane’s storyline. Instead, let’s tackle Sin Rostro. Oh boy.
You’ll all remember that Rose started suspecting her husband Emilio of being Sin Rostro, and that she shared her suspicions with Rafael. Meanwhile, Michael and Nadine figured out that Sin Rostro employs a plastic surgeon to change the face of his associates; this plastic surgeon is also in contact with the subcontractor hired to build the tunnels in the Marbella. This week, Michael confronts Nadine about going to the chief about his investigation of Rafael; he wound up getting put on suspension, even though he’s sure he’s right that Rafael is Sin Rostro. Nadine reminds him again that if Rafael is involved, he must be working for his father, and because she’s probably as sick of hearing Michael complain about Rafael as we are (a statement I say with love), she accuses Michael of taking the entire case too personally because of Jane. He wants to get Rafael out of the picture, so he’s forcing the details of the case to fit around Rafael, and coming up with reasoning for Rafael’s actions that support his guilt.
It’s always difficult to handle love triangles, and when the best love triangles are ones where each respective leg offers something very different for the character in the middle, it can be difficult to reconcile all of that and keep one option from seeming so much better than the other, or destroying one option to boost up the other. It could be very, very easy for the show to constantly compare Rafael and Michael and juxtapose what they’re doing – point out that Rafael’s supporting Jane, while Michael supported her by breaking the law. But it doesn’t take that approach, even though it seems like Jane and Rafael are going to be together for a considerable stretch of time. It doesn’t make the viewer like Rafael by making them hate Michael; in fact, the show actually takes time to make sure we understand Michael’s motivations, and why he’s making every decision that he makes. And the fact that Nadine specifically called him out for going after Rafael because of Jane makes it clear that the show understands how it’s been using Michael. Too often, TV shows will present a character and tell us their good traits, and use that as the basis to like them. But then the audience looks at their actions, interprets them a certain way, and hates them. By having Nadine call Michael out, it makes it clear that the show isn’t just blindly expecting us to like Michael, or to root for him. There’s been a design behind his storyline, and a design to the choices he’s made, and the choices the writers made about him. When it comes to this triangle with Jane, I’m Team Rafael, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-Michael in any respect. I think he’s been used in a really interesting way on the show, and I’m really excited and curious to see how his dynamic with Rafael is going to change after this episode.
Elsewhere in Sin Rostro-land, Emilio has returned from his trip two days early, and surprises his wife by showing up in their hotel room and telling her he’s going to take her on a long vacation to some secret destination. Needless to say, Rose, who’s still suspicious of her husband, goes to Rafael, begging him to go to the police. But Rafael once again insists that there’s nothing to tie Emilio to the subcontractor or the tunnels, and going to the police and bringing Emilio’s name into the investigation would only ruin his reputation if the accusations were untrue. Later, with time running out before Emilio and Rose are supposed to leave for their trip, Rose tries again to appeal to Rafael – and this time, just as Rafael reminds his stepmother that they have nothing linking Emilio to the subcontractor, they see Emilio and the subcontractor together, near the renovation site at the hotel.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that he’s been suspended for how he handled the investigation, Michael heads to the plastic surgeon’s office, pretending to be there for a consult. He gets his brother Billy to call the office and pretend to be an angry patient, which gets the doctor out of the room; with him gone, Michael snoops through his computer. He searches for the name Solano within the patient records and comes up empty, but finds five results in the doctor’s billing history – all from an account in Emilio Solano’s name. He brings the information to Nadine, telling her that he now believes that Emilio, not Rafael, is Sin Rostro. With this information, Nadine says she’ll get an arrest warrant for Emilio right away.
So, while Michael no longer believes Rafael is Sin Rostro, we don’t know if he still believes Rafael is involved at all. That wasn’t clarified in the scene with Nadine and Michael, and probably intentionally so; Emilio being Sin Rostro doesn’t prevent Rafael from being involved, and this particular dynamic between Rafael and Michael is huge. Sure, Rafael’s relationship with Jane is a huge factor in how Michael regards him, but ultimately, their dynamic exists outside of Jane. It keeps either man from being defined or restricted by his relationship with her. And for Michael to admit that he was wrong and bring this information to Nadine, it shows that he’s capable of rationality, and that his bottom line isn’t being right.
Emilio surprises Rose again by telling her he’s moved their trip up, and that he wants to leave that night. Rose clearly isn’t pleased. She distracts him by taking her clothes off, and tells him she wants to have sex right there on the hotel grounds, and makes him stand inside one of the structures that’s undergoing renovation. Then she turns on a cement mixer and kills her husband by burying him in cement. Because as it turns out, Rose – or should I say, Sin Rosetro – has a secret.
That’s right, folks. Rose Solano is Sin Rostro, and she’s been framing her husband for her crimes. Immediately after killing Emilio, she leaves Rafael a voicemail saying Emilio didn’t show up to meet her and that he must have left the country. This, plus the fact that the plastic surgeon was paid from Emilio’s accounts, is…not good. I’m sure she’ll be caught by the end of the season, but with the police continuing to go after Emilio, Rose is going to be free to Sin Rostro it up – and you all know I’m still worried about Michael and what might happen if he keeps investigating on his own…
With the huge stuff out of the way, let’s talk about Jane and Rafael. They’ve been invited to attend therapy with Luisa, and Rafael is not looking forward to it. He says he’s been through this before with his sister, and he knows how it’ll go – with Luisa ultimately disappointing everyone again. But Jane, always willing to forgive, wants to go and hear what Luisa has to say.
But Rafael’s confident in how the conversation will go: first Luisa will apologize for her actions, then talk about how alcoholism is a disease that she has to live with and work to overcome. And that’s exactly what she does – but then, adding to the conversation they’ve seemingly had hundreds of times before, she tells Rafael how hurt she is that he would institutionalize her, considering what happened to their mother. The original Mrs. Solano had a psychotic break and committed suicide, and Luisa tells her brother that he must have known how scared she would be in a mental hospital because of that. Rafael insists that he does know, but he had her institutionalized because of what their mother went through – so that Luisa’s condition didn’t get any worse, so she could get some help when she still could.
Luisa’s therapist urges Rafael to tell Luisa some of the problems that he’s been going through, to help them understand each other, so he reluctantly tells her about Sin Rostro’s connection to the Marbella, and the bellboy who was killed outside of Emilio’s suite with a corkscrew. When Jane goes to the bathroom, Luisa gives her a letter, begging her to give it to Rose. She says it’s an apology, but really, she knows that Rose is the only person who knows she’s not insane, and therefore will listen to what she has to say. It turns out that the corkscrew was left in Emilio’s room by Luisa the day the bellboy died. She left the room for about an hour, and when she came back, the corkscrew was gone. She begs Rose to stay away from Emilio, and to be careful.
It’s really interesting to me that everyone jumps to be suspicious of Emilio. I can see why the police are, of course – it makes sense that they would get to Emilio from Rafael, and given that Michael found the payments to the plastic surgeon came from Emilio’s accounts, I get why that would cement their case for Emilio. But for Rafael and Luisa, wouldn’t they want to trust their father? But there’s something about Emilio that must make sense with the evidence against him, if they’re not protesting what they’re seeing. It speaks to the large amounts of history between these characters – they know each other’s pasts, and have years of conflicts to have formed biases against each other. And that history is exactly why Rafael can’t forgive Luisa – he knows that she’s messed up before, and the amount of times he’s given her another chance just to end up disappointed has left him completely unwilling to believe in her again. But Jane hasn’t had that experience with Luisa, so she’s willing to forgive. So when Luisa asks Jane to give an apology letter to Rose, Jane says she’ll do it. After all, she believes the best in people.
So she takes the letter, which Luisa asks her not to tell Rafael about. Of course, he finds it almost immediately once they get back to the Marbella. I need to address the way that he finds the letter, because it just says so much about their relationship and about how it’s being handled. Given that Jane and Rafael are disagreeing on how much you should trust people, this moment could have gone so many different ways. Rafael could have been positive Jane was hiding something from him, Jane could have lied about the letter…Instead, Rafael found it while going through her purse to get her phone, which she gave him permission to do. For as much as Rafael doesn’t trust people, he trusts Jane. Knowing Jane, she probably would have cracked before giving Rose the letter anyway, but when he finds it, she immediately tells him what it is. It’s such a small moment, basically inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but it’s so telling. I’ve talked so much about how many storylines the show is able to fit into one episode, but haven’t really addressed how Jane and Rafael always have something to do with each other, even while having individual storylines. If they’re not hugely involved with each other, then they’re at least checking in. They’re always connected, yet still free to do things on their own. And here, Rafael wasn’t mad that Jane was going to help his sister – he simply explains why it’s so difficult for him to trust her, and Jane understands. Neither of them try to sway the other to their point of view, when it comes to Luisa or life in general. They’re content to disagree, and to be different. And that’s huge. Sure, they have differences, and maybe those differences can conflict – but they’re both mature enough, and serious about each other. They’re not going to let their differences get between them. After all, they have their peach (sorry, their apple) – they need to stay strong. And they do, with little difficulty.
This is so important, especially given how vocal Michael and Xo, two people who know Jane incredibly well, have been about their feelings on Rafael. Are they right to be worried? Absolutely – but the thing is, they don’t know Rafael like Jane does. And, okay, normally someone saying something like that about their boyfriend is a huge red flag. But we get to see how well he treats her, and how much he respects and values her. So, okay, maybe they’re not necessarily destined to be, right at this particular moment in time; who knows? But even if something gets in between them, even if starting this was too soon after breaking up with Michael, it doesn’t invalidate what they have, or how they feel about each other. They approach each other with total respect and genuine care. No matter what happens, their relationship matters.
Rafael says he won’t give Rose Luisa’s letter, and throws it aside. After Jane leaves for work, she gets a call from Luisa, asking what she’s decided; Jane explains her decision to support Rafael, which Luisa says she understands. Then she immediately calls Rafael and asks him to at least read the letter, where she reveals what she knows about the corkscrew that killed the bellboy.
Of course, Luisa and Sin Rostro aren’t the only problems Rafael has. His soon-to-be-ex-wife Petra is still in the Marbella, but she refuses to come out of her room. Which is a problem, given that she has an actual job at the hotel, and it isn’t getting done. So he goes up to her room and makes it very clear: if she does her job, she gets her paycheck. Of course, we know why Petra hasn’t left her room – she’s sure that Milos is somewhere in the hotel, so she and Magda are hiding. She wants to call Lachlan for help, but Magda won’t let her. So they have no choice but to stay in their hotel room, waiting for…something.
But with Rafael forcing her, Petra has to leave her room to attend an appointment that day. So she goes downstairs and comes face-to-face with her client – Milos.
Petra is terrified, but Milos promises that he just wants to talk to her, and once he does, he’ll leave her alone if she wants him to. It turns out that he never intended to throw acid at Petra; his target was always her mother. Petra wasn’t supposed to be there that night, so when Milos saw her, he had to think fast, so he threw a koruna on the ground, knowing that Petra always stopped to pick them up. Shockingly, Petra isn’t relieved to hear that he intended to throw acid at Magda, not at her. Some people just don’t get romance.
At some point, Petra ends their meeting, and when we next see her, she’s sobbing in the stairwell. Jane comes across her, and because Jane believes in forgiveness, she sits down and asks what’s wrong. So Petra tells her all about Milos, though first she gives Jane the opportunity to leave, telling her, “You don’t have to be here, Jane. I’m not such a monster that I expect you to be my shoulder to cry on.”
Guys, I love Petra. I think it could be so easy to watch the show, especially in its first couple episodes, and declare that Petra and Michael are villains and should just be thrown aside so Jane and Rafael can find happiness together. But that’s just not the case. I’ve talked extensively about how well they’ve handled Michael in terms of keeping him as a viable person of value in Jane’s life, but haven’t really addressed Petra in terms of Rafael’s life. Ultimately, it’s not equitable – Petra isn’t meant to serve the same function as Michael. Even if their relationship improves, I don’t think she’s going to continue to be an important person in Rafael’s life. But she’s not a villain. And, most importantly, she’s not functionless on the show if she’s not Rafael’s wife. She was a huge obstacle to Jane and Rafael for so long, but this storyline with Milos makes it clear that she’s not just there to get in people’s way. She’s just as capable of being the victim as she is of creating victims. Because for as vengeful and vindictive as she can be, she’s also been hurt. She’s lost things she cared about. Ultimately, she doesn’t want to lose anything else – not another man she loves, not another baby. But in doing so, in trying to protect herself, she pushed everyone away. So for Jane to put all of that aside and stop to see if she’s okay – for Jane to treat her with kindness and basic decency – it means so much. It means that there’s redemption inside Petra. If Jane, the character the audience is meant to align and identify with the most, can ignore everything Petra’s done and give her the chance to move past it, then so can we. And the thing is, it’s not like Jane is the bigger person and Petra was able to benefit from all the extra slack Jane was willing to cut her. Sure, Jane is maybe more willing to forgive and more trusting than the average person, but the point is, Jane didn’t talk to Petra because she’s better than Petra. She did it because it’s what people should do, and that small, everyday act of kindness was exactly what Petra needed.
That particular line also shows that Petra knows how she comes off. She knows that she was terrible to Jane, and that Jane’s reasons for not liking her are totally valid. But moreover, acting that way was a choice, one that Petra willingly and knowingly chose. And it’s not insignificant that Rafael and Petra were having problems before Jane got pregnant – he didn’t leave his wife for the mother of his child, or because Petra changed after the pregnancy. I think one of the first things we learned about Rafael was that he didn’t love his wife anymore. So for all of the terrible and inconvenient things Petra has done, they don’t make her unworthy of being loved, or of having a connection with someone. That’s incredibly important to me, because it shows the level of care and construction that’s gone into presenting Petra as a villain. Because sure, she might be villainous, but she’s not evil – there’s a huge difference.
After talking with Jane, Petra leaves Lachlan a voicemail, begging him to get her out of the Marbella that night. While she’s on the phone, she sees a koruna on the floor – and then Milos grabs her. He takes her to her hotel room, where Magda has been waiting, and says that Petra is the only thing he’s ever wanted, and now that they’re together again, he’ll never let her leave him – and, with her mother watching, and cutting back and forth between Rogelio’s death scene on The Passions of Santos, Milos slices Petra’s neck. She sinks to the floor, dead. It’s…not great.
Magda jumps up out of her wheelchair in horror, and Petra opens her eyes. Turns out the whole thing was a set-up – when Milos grabbed Petra, he explained to her why he threw acid at her mother. It turns out that Magda is a liar: Milos never cheated on Petra. Magda made that up to keep them apart. So to prove that she’s a liar, they decide to fake Petra’s death. I don’t think Milos knew necessarily that she was faking being in the wheelchair, but I guess he was banking on Magda revealing something about the lies she had told Petra. Either way, Petra realizes how much her mother has been manipulating her, and asks her to leave.
So the question now is what this means for Lachlan. I mean, Milos had good reasons for what he did – well, okay, maybe not <justifiable reasons, but I can understand why he threw acid at Magda. And the way he treated Petra just doesn’t seem like he’s the violent criminal Petra described. Sure, it could be an act, and we saw that he’s not totally over his anger issues, but he did seem genuine when he told Petra he would leave her alone forever if she just gave him the chance to explain himself. And we don’t know when he arrived in town, but I got the feeling it was soon before he scheduled his meeting with Petra. So if he didn’t send her flowers, like he always used to, that could be a huge sign that Milos has actually changed, and that the impression Petra has of him might not be totally accurate. But then what about Lachlan? If Milos isn’t telling Petra the truth, is Lachlan working with him? Or is Lachlan just individually a dick?
The last major storyline in Chapter Twelve was all the drama that surrounded everyone’s favorite telenovela, The Passions of Santos. The show’s head writer Dina gives Jane the opportunity to write the script for the next episode – all because of Jane’s talent, not because of Rogelio’s influence (seriously, Jane checked with him, and he had nothing to do with it. He did make a vision board about Jane’s success, but even he couldn’t have predicted how soon everything would work out). Jane’s thrilled until she finds out what’s happening in the episode. Turns out that Santos? El presidente? Santos to whom all the passion belongs? Yeah, the writers are killing him off. It turns out that he’s been difficult to deal with lately (surprising, I know) – refusing to come out of his dressing room, rewriting his lines, yelling at the crew about food…And ever since he made production of the show move across the country, the network just doesn’t have the patience to continue putting up with his demands. Jane realizes that the only reason Dina asked her to write the episode was to soften the blow for Rogelio – who, needless to say, is not taking the news well.
After Rogelio tells Jane how much the role means to him, she convinces him to express that to Dina, in the hopes that seeing his passion will convince Dina to give him another chance. Short version: it doesn’t. Their decision is final.
Out of solidarity, Jane tells Rogelio she won’t write the episode. Really, the way Jane supports him is so sweet – she’s been given this amazing opportunity, writing there, and she knows that Rogelio can be a lot to handle, but she’s still completely on his side. Watching their relationship grow has been one of my favorite elements on the show. She’s so aware of all of his faults, and how much he can be to take, but even if she’s not fully thinking of him in a paternal way, she very much wants him in her life.
Obviously, Rogelio is devastated, and he mopes around the Villanueva’s house, soaking up attention from Alba. Personally, I could have watched an entire season of Rogelio moping, but Xo quickly tells him that leaving the show could be great, because it could lead to so many better opportunities, like a film career. Inspired by this, and certain as ever of his ability to succeed, Rogelio tells Jane to write the episode – and to give him the greatest death scene ever put to film. So, like, no pressure.
Jane manages to finish the script, and before they start filming, she and Rogelio find out who’s playing Santos’ son, who kills Santos: it turns out it’s Nicholas, Rogelio’s assistant. All those examples of Rogelio being hard to work with? That was Nicholas’ doing. He would lie to Rogelio and the writers so that Rogelio looked too demanding, and once the writers’ frustrations with Rogelio reached a boiling point, he started sleeping with Dina so that he would get the part of Santos’ son. Rogelio doesn’t get it; he would have gotten Nicholas the role, if he wanted. Santos didn’t have to die. But Nicholas said that no matter what, Rogelio always would have seen him as an assistant, not an equal, and this way, his entrance on the show will get a huge amount of attention. So. Boooo Nicholas.
They film Santos’ death scene, and Rogelio delivers a great performance. Like, a great performance. He earns the applause of everyone on set – the director, the cameraman, the man in cargo shorts. And then Jane runs up to him and tells him that he was incredible – and calls him dad. It’s such a beautiful moment, and Rogelio doesn’t even mention the show or what just happened. He only cares about Jane, and how happy he is. It’s the perfect moment for Jane to take such a huge step, and though she didn’t mean it that way, it’s the perfect distraction for Rogelio. Now he can turn his focus to becoming a huge film star – with the support of his family.
The biggest theme of this episode was forgiveness, and how one’s ability to forgiveness can lead to or take away their ability to trust. It was first shown in a flashback from when Jane was ten, when she wore a pair of her abuela’s earrings that she knew she wasn’t allowed to touch, and accidentally lost them. She was devastated, and sobbed an apology to her grandmother – who immediately calmed her by saying, “You are my flesh and blood. There is nothing you could do that is unforgivable to me.” Jane takes those exact words and uses them as Santos’ final words to his son in her script. And actually, while this isn’t even close to being the first time we see the main theme of an episode being set up in a flashback between Jane and her grandmother, it’s the first time that I was able to articulate the function of these flashbacks. Jane made her chastity pledge for her grandmother; similarly, her attitude on forgiveness was developed because of her grandmother, just like her attitude on reconciliation that we saw last week was developed because of her grandmother. Though Alba might not be involved with Rafael or Sin Rostro or most of the other big storylines currently going on, Alba is the moral center of the show. She’s the reason Jane developed her sense of morality, and the reason Jane was able to become the center of goodness that grounds the show. She’s the grandmother I think we all wish we had.
I’ve already talked about the differences in how Jane and Rafael approach forgiving people, and how Rafael finds it impossible to forgive Luisa for yet another mistake. But his attitude on it doesn’t seem to jar from what we’re seeing with Jane, and how she approaches Luisa and Petra. Sure, Rafael can’t forgive Luisa, but it’s not out of pettiness, and it’s not out of pride – it’s because of the history they have. Similarly, while Petra doesn’t fully forgive or trust Milos even though he helps her see the truth about her mother, it doesn’t seem jarring that the two don’t fully reconcile before the episode ends. In this case, we’re well aware of the history between them; we know that there’s a lot to overcome before Petra’s able to forgive him. So while a person doesn’t need to explicitly forgive someone to be in line with Jane and Alba’s philosophy, they need to have a reason for it. There needs to be a concrete reason to consider something unforgivable.
But still, the concept of forgiveness, and what makes something unforgivable, is huge when it comes to watching a television show. How many times has a show, or a character, done something that seems so stupid, that makes you scream at your TV and wish you could reach inside and set them straight? In just twelve episodes, I’ve already done that a few times, mostly directed at Michael and Petra. But the thing is, TV thrives on change. Characters need to be put in different and challenging situations, because if they kept reacting the same way to the same things, it would become incredibly boring. So even if it angers the audience, it needs to happen. So as a viewer, you have to understand what’s happening, and move past it. So when the show in question is a telenovela that’s intentionally increasing the drama and adding countless new conflicts every week…? You have to be willing to roll with it, and to accept that not every villain is truly a villain, and that not every hero is perfect. After all, it’s more fun that way.
Some other moments from the episode (mostly Rogelio’s one-liners):
-“I tooted. Let’s not draw attention to it.”
-Rogelio’s vision board with his desire to become a star father-and-daughter team with Jane, just like Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie, “only we will not be estranged and I will be the much more famous one.”
-Rogelio addressing the writers: “Dina, Ricky, Steven. Writers I don’t know.”
-Jane translating Rogelio Speak to Dina was one of the more hilarious bits the show has ever done, but it was also a really sweet moment for Jane and Rogelio’s relationship. It shows that she understands her father, and knows that he’s not trying to exclude anyone when he’s boasting about himself. So even though she gets a little horrified at the way he talks to Dina, she’s not getting offended that he thinks he’s truly the only reason for the show’s success, or anything like that. She understands what he means, and no matter what, she thinks he’s justified in being angry.
-“You can’t have The Passions of Santos without Santos. Then it’s just Passions, and that show failed.” I cried. I’m still crying about it.
-“Is that supposed to make me feel better? That you meant to throw acid at my mother?” “Yes. A little.”
-“I have been told I have the perfect features for 3D.”
-“’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ Charles Dickens said that. It might as well have been written for this moment.” “Or the French Revolution.” “Perhaps.”
-“I didn’t want to wait until I was thirty-nine to get famous.” “I am thirty-five.”
-“You know why it’s so easy for me to forgive your sister? Because her mistakes gave me the two most important things in my life.” Guys, I try so hard not to fangirl about Rafael and Jane in my recaps, but know that this moment made me fangirl hard.
-It’s a subtle thing, but Petra put her hair up in between Milos telling her about Magda and them faking her death, like she wanted her neck to be the center of attention when Milos pretended to kill her. We’ve previously seen her concerned about her hair before, and what message it sends off, so this was a nice moment that created consistency in her habit of using every element of her appearance to create an image and sell some version of herself.
-The Narrator’s reaction to the reveal that Rose is Sin Rostro: “I don’t know what to say. I’m as surprised as you are”
-I’m wondering if Rose and Rafael seeing Emilio with the subcontractor was set up by Rose. It was the second time they had a conversation about bringing their suspicions to the police, and Rafael’s position was staying the same. In terms of writing, you don’t have the same thing happen twice unless something happens to change its second appearance. I wouldn’t put it past Rose to have come up with some excuse to get Emilio to give the subcontractor a check, and then time her conversation with Rafael right for when she knew they would be together.
That’s it for Chapter Twelve! Were you shocked by the reveal of Sin Rostro’s identity? Did you lose your mind like I did when it looked like Petra was killed? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments below, and check back next week for a discussion of Chapter Thirteen!