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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jane The Virgin: “Chapter Nineteen”

Illustration for article titled Jane The Virgin: “Chapter Nineteen”
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It’s been a while since Jane The Virgin actually tackled the subject of Jane’s virginity, but it comes back to the forefront in “Chapter Nineteen,” which brings Jane closer than ever to losing it. Swept up in the emotional whirlwind of Rafael’s break-up and a stressful make-up, Jane skinny dips in The Marbella’s pool with her baby daddy, and is dead-set on having sex until a security guard ruins the moment. It’s a steamy scene that convinces the viewer that Jane really is going to lose her virginity, but it’s more of the romantic fantasy that has blinded Jane to the reality of her situation in the past.

The renewed focus on Jane’s virginity is evident from the opening flashback, showing young Jane teaching her grandmother’s virginity flower lesson to some of the girls in her 5th grade class at Catholic school. The only sex education these girls are getting is “Sex: Don’t do it,” and Jane helps her classmates get a better idea of what it means to lose their virginity by having them crush flowers and try to restore them to their former glory. There’s one girl that isn’t buying it, though, and young Lina takes over to tell these girls the truth about sex, likely without relying on metaphors.

The introduction of young Lina brings a new dimension to the relationship between the two women as adults, and revealing this first meeting shows the ways their relationship has changed and stayed the same over the years. Lina doesn’t have the biggest role in this series—she hasn’t been sucked into the telenovela craziness yet—but Diane Guerrero’s performance in this week’s episode suggests that it would be wise for the writers to make her a bigger part in season 2. Guerrero and Gina Rodriguez have great chemistry, and the years of friendship between Lina and Jane are felt in their casual, frank interactions. Lina’s speech at Jane’s baby shower this week is short, but full of heart, and hopefully the show will devote some more time to this female friendship down the line.

Lina assumes that Jane is getting a C-section so she won’t lose her virginity to her baby, which is super low on the list of Jane’s problems, but does introduce an interesting wrinkle to Jane’s timetable for sex. Virginity is more than just breaking a hymen, and Jane will still be a spiritual virgin if she doesn’t have sex before giving birth, but Lina’s comments are ringing in her head when she decides to have sex with Rafael. Jane is rationalizing because she knows she’s compromising; If she loves Rafael and he loves her and they’re already having a baby, then maybe it’s the time for sex, because soon her plumbing is going to take a beating from a baby anyway. She can tell herself these things to convince herself to act against her instinct, but when the security guard shines his light on the naked couple, Jane sees the truth of this situation and she can’t keep going.

Jane is in a difficult place after Rafael breaks up with her, but she refuses to accept that this is the end of them. She’s going to fight for this relationship because she remembers the good times, which play out before her in visions of herself and Rafael at high points in their past: their first meeting at the tennis club, that day they fell in the pool, the night they kissed in a shower of flower petals. Tennis Jane, Pool Jane, and Petal Jane are cheerleaders for Present Jane, and it’s a brilliant way of showing how good memories are a major motivating factor in keeping a relationship alive when it starts to fade. But the fantasy Rafaels are largely silent, just like the real Rafael.

Jane wants to fix things and convinces Rafael to go to couple’s counseling with the renowned Barbara Stanbrook (Nia Vardalos), PhD, MFCC, but he’s not especially active or enthusiastic in the session. After the incident in the pool, Rafael goes back to see Stanbrook on his own, and that’s when he really lets bare his soul, revealing his insecure emotional state and his fear that he’ll pull Jane into the darkness with him. Judging by Jane’s actions in the pool, the pulling has already begun, and Rafael decides to firmly break things off with Jane before she compromises any more of herself for his benefit.


If Jane heard any of these concerns, she would fight for herself. She would tell Rafael what she told her mom: “A virgin is not who I am.” She’s held on to her virginity, but it doesn’t define her, and losing it doesn’t mean she’s sacrificing her dignity for a life of sin. She could tell Rafael these things if he actually told her how he felt instead of just breaking up with her again, but he doesn’t, so Jane doesn’t fight. She’s hurt, but she’s also frustrated and tired of trying to fix this relationship on her own, so she accepts it. If this is how Rafael wants to approach his issues, then maybe they really aren’t right for each other, and the magic of those past memories fades when she sees this sad new version of the man she loves, an internal shift that is visually represented by Jane’s past selves following her out of the room when she walks away from Rafael.

This episode features both Nia Vardalos and Jane Seymour in guest-starring roles, which is a caliber of talent you don’t normally get with the older roles on a CW show. Vardalos’ scenes with Rodriguez and Baldoni are very funny—Jane and Rafael’s summary of the crazy events in their relationship is a comic highlight of the entire season—but Vardalos also brings gravity to her character that reinforces the seriousness of this situation. She’s surprised but not frazzled by the complicated backstory, and is a neutral, but not cold, figure that offers guidance without judgment.


Seymour has a much juicier role in the narrative as it’s revealed that Jane’s romance writing workshop instructor Amanda is one of Rogelio’s spurned ex-lovers, and it’s the kind of ridiculous twist I should have expected when she was introduced. (I’m just going to guess right now that Barbara Stanbrook is Sin Rostro’s girlfriend because why not?) Amanda is primarily used to give Rogelio something to feel guilty about when Amanda kisses him, which in turn makes Xo less anxious about telling Rogelio about her kiss with Marco last week.

Rogelio immediately confesses what happened and tells Xo that he would forgive her if she was in a similar situation, but he freaks out and breaks up with her when she reveals her indiscretion in the middle of a photoshoot for Rogelio’s one-night Vegas residency. He’s overreacting because that’s what Rogelio does, but there’s a key difference between the kisses: Amanda kisses Rogelio and he immediately pushes her away, but Xo kisses Marco and keeps kissing him until her guilt catches up to her. Rogelio doesn’t see the kiss, but Xo admitting that she wanted the kiss is enough for Rogelio to paint a picture in his head, and it’s probably far worse than what happened in real life.


This show’s different levels of reality are accentuated in this episode, which really pushes the exaggerated elements in Petra’s storyline. Abducted by Roman Zazo and taken to a secret location in the Everglades, Petra is in a plot ripped from a telenovela, and the over-the-top music is the best indicator that this is a world distanced from the baby shower and relationship drama of the main Jane plot. The contrast of these different planes of reality is a huge part of this show’s appeal, delivering sweeping soap opera thrills while also telling a grounded emotional story with a bright, clever sense of humor.

Once Petra escapes that situation by impaling Roman Zazo (again), she slips into a less heightened level of reality, which allows Yael Grobglas the opportunity to show how recent trauma has had a devastating effect on the character. Petra’s lost her husband. She’s lost her lover. She needs someone to comfort her, and the fact that she reaches out to her mother highlights just how desperate Petra is. That reunion leads to a cliffhanger that promises even more intersection between different planes of reality in the next episode, which will have Petra and Jane going head-to-head because Petra’s mother threw Jane’s abuela down the stairs. Judging by the strength of all 19 chapters of this first episode, it’s sure to be an exciting showdown between Rafael’s exes.


Stray observations:

  • The big recent news for this series is that it won a Peabody Award last week, with the jury describing it as such: “Immaculately conceived, it’s a smart, self-aware telenovela that knows when and how to wink at itself. Its Latina lead, Gina Rodriguez, is incandescent.” Jane The Virgin just snagged The CW a Peabody Award, which is awesome! I’m beginning to think this show has a serious chance at the Emmys now.
  • It’s a rough week for Michael, who discovers that Nadine was working for Sin Rostro and that Andie was stalking Jane. I wonder if he’ll seek comfort from the newly single Jane…
  • When the “Previously On…” recap introduces Rafael, it shows him taking off his shirt on the beach, which sums up a huge part of that character’s appeal. Where’s Michael’s sexy shirt removal scene?
  • I would have no problem with this show incorporating original music numbers if they are all as entertaining as Rogelio’s vain but heartfelt song to his unborn grandchild. And if they all ended with someone getting slapped.
  • The Target commercial that airs during Jane The Virgin with a mother lulling her child to sleep with a Spanish melody is totally adorable. Now I feel the sudden urge to visit a Target. And have a baby.
  • How you know Rogelio is really sorry: He sends you a gift basket with two smoked meats.
  • “I don’t like to use the term triple threat because it suggests im limited to three skills.”
  • Rafael: “And then my ex-wife punched herself in the face so she could have me arrested.” Jane: “And then my ex-fiance found secret plastic surgery tunnels in his hotel.”
  • “Run, Petra! Run!”
  • “I’m truly sorry for not making love with you in Tampa.”
  • “My pores are closely connected to my emotions. When one is clogged, the other is clogged.”