Jane Gloriana Villanueva is a doubter. It’s a side effect of her being an overthinker, and her inclination to doubt has tested her faith in various ways over the years. As a child, it made Jane question religion, and as an adult, it forces her to reconsider her relationship with Rafael. Doubt is the major theme of “Chapter Eighteen,” which continues the downward spiral of Jane and Rafael’s romance, and by the end of the episode, Jane learns that there’s a very good reason why doubt exists.
Recent events have pulled Rafael deeper and deeper into his work, and he pulls Jane along in “Chapter Eighteen,” asking her to skip her favorite family holiday so she can help him get The Marbella’s liquor license back. And Jane accepts because she feels personally obligated: She berated a rude customer that ended up being the city commissioner Rafael needs to schmooze with, and Jane joins Rafael on Easter Sunday so she can make amends with the woman. This gives the audience the opportunity to see how Jane would fit into Rafael’s high-class world, and she has no problem acclimating to this environment.
Meredith Averill’s script gets a bit heavy-handed at times, and some of these choices are more effective than others. Jane’s doubts are expressed by a small imaginary Jane that sits on her shoulder dressed as Doubting Thomas, which isn’t a particularly subtle way of expressing inner thoughts, but is still very entertaining thanks to Gina Rodriguez’s sassy performance. The plot with Jane and city commissioner Alexis Falco could benefit from more nuance, though, and after presenting Alexis as a caricature of entitled bitchiness, the script moves in the opposite direction to get the audience to view her in a more sympathetic light, casting her husband as an over-the-top monster that doesn’t respect her. The script really wants to make sure the viewer understands that Alexis isn’t the “worst person in the world,” but it does that by taking her from one extreme to another, which prevents her from coming across as a believable character.
Jane stands out in a patterned pink dress amongst all the solid pastels of the other woman at the yacht club, but she blends in when she sits down for conversation. Jane was a straight-A student, and because she did her homework, she’s able to smoothly integrate into this environment. But is this what Jane wants for her life? Does she want lunches at the yacht club if it means being away from family? All these things just cause her to doubt Rafael even more, and when Jane sees Alexis commissioner arguing with her cheating workaholic husband, it’s like catching a glimpse of a frightening potential future. When Jane goes to the people in her life about these concerns—first Andie, then Alba and finally Xiomara—they tell her not to give in to these doubts, but she has these feelings because something is wrong and needs to be addressed.
Jane needs Rafael to step back from his work and really commit to being a father, but he’s so caught up in his own personal issues that he can’t see how desperately Jane needs him. It’s important to remember that Rafael is dealing with the loss of his father, and he’s working through his personal feelings by throwing himself into his work. If he’s able to replicate his father’s success, maybe he can get rid of the shame his father left him with. Rafael is already in a sorry state when his mother shows up at The Marbella out of the blue, revealing to her son that his father paid her $10 million to stay out of their lives after he found out she cheated on him. She’s lived three hours away this entire time and has never made contact, and this information rocks Rafael’s world in all the wrong ways.
Jane doesn’t know about the re-emergence of Rafael’s mother when she visits him at the end of the episode, so she doesn’t know what has set off this devastating chain of events that concludes with Rafael suggesting they take a break. She doesn’t realize that he’s having a major emotional crisis revolving around his own parents and his fears that he’ll be like them with his child, and that he’s pushing her away because he’s resigned himself to a future where he can’t be the father Jane wants him to be. All Jane knows is that she had all these doubts, and suddenly they seem very justified. The final moments of the episode are heartbreaking, with Gina Rodriguez fully realizing the overwhelming sorrow that Jane experiences as she realizes what Rafael is doing. She crumbles in the hallway, tears streaming down her face, and in that moment you know that she’s never going to forget this pain.
Doubt also comes into play with Xiomara and Rogelio, who are pulled apart by the arrival of Rogelio’s mother Liliana De La Vega, played by legendary Latin diva and EGOT winner Rita Moreno. She fits perfectly into the world of this series, and has fantastic chemistry with Jaime Camil, immediately establishing the strong bond between mother and son that has dictated Rogelio’s questionable actions for years. You see, Rogelio never told his mother that Xo was pregnant, because back then he didn’t want Xo to keep the baby and he didn’t want his mother to be disappointed in him. So when Liliana tells Xo that she can never forgive her for keeping her pregnancy a secret from her son, Xo is justifiably angry.
After Rogelio comes clean to his mother, Liliana tells the two that she thinks they should break up, saying that they’re both too headstrong and proud to make a relationship work. Xo storms out in a rage, but she lets Liliana’s words get to her, planting seeds of doubt that blossom when Xo runs into her charming ex-boyfriend Marco. They flirt and even share a kiss, but that small indiscretion just proves to Xo how much she actually wants Rogelio and sends her running back to him, just in time to hear him finally say he loves her. That’s one of the upsides of doubts. When they are assuaged, you have more confidence than ever, and Liliana’s interference strengthens Rogelio and Xo’s relationship while their daughter descends into despair.
- In this episode’s final moments, there’s a rare misfire with the Latin Lover Narrator. As he talks about the value of doubt, he starts to sound like typical voiceover narration, delivering a short speech that bluntly sums up the big message of the episode without his signature style. There’s a rhythm to the narrator’s delivery that is interrupted with this slightly languorous final passage, and it makes me appreciate how quick and snappy his other lines are.
- Aaron Zazo is definitely Roman Zazo, and by the end of this episode he has Petra as his hostage. I’m crossing my fingers that this is setting up a Petra, Roman, and Rose team-up that will ultimately lead to them seizing control of Miami’s criminal element.
- There’s a close-up shot of Rafael’s butt in this episode, so let’s all raise a glass to director Edward Ornelas for thinking about what’s really important.
- Cheech Marin returns this week as Alba’s love interest Edward, accepting Alba’s proposal of a date even though he’s a priest. I’m excited to see Alba get back in touch with her romantic side.
- Rafael has a half brother. That’s definitely coming back into play.
- Michael looks quite adorable in his date sweater. I can see why it is his date sweater.
- #SWFWB: Single White Female Writing Buddy
- “Young Jane looked forward to the chocolate eggs. Xiomara looked forward to busting out her spring wardrobe. And Alba? Well, she looked forward to celebrating the resurrection of her Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”
- “Let’s put Liliana in a food coma. Or better yet, a real one.”
- “Behave yourself. I won’t be here. But I’ll know.”
- “I can forgive the cat. Even though the stench of Gordito’s scorched fur will forever haunt me.”
- “And I told her she should get an abortion. And also a perm. But the abortion was a way worse part.”
- “Who cares if your eggs are too old? We’ll buy fresh ones. Combine my DNA with anyone, and the child will be extraordinary.”
- “Uh oh. I guess he didn’t miss her by a hair.”