Turns out that Jane The Virgin is a show that substantially rewards rewatching. There are so many different plots being juggled by the writers, so it’s fun to go back and see where seeds were planted for various stories, and because the show had such a strong, confident start, there’s no dip in quality when revisiting past chapters. The series has been remarkably consistent for 16 episodes now, but this streak of successes shouldn’t be a surprise given the exceptional four episodes that open the season. It’s hard to point out any flaws in these introductory chapters, which make it easy for the audience to swallow an absurd premise while building a captivating cast of characters and establishing a world that delightfully blends fantasy and reality. “Chapter Three” spotlights all these positive elements, continuing Jane’s story with a perfect mix of whimsical comedy, emotional drama, and a dash of surrealism.
The death of Roman Zazo at the end of last episode shakes up a number of character dynamics in “Chapter Three,” and leads to considerable events for both of the show’s major couples: Petra’s adultery is exposed when she accidentally mentions the name of Roman’s brother to Rafael, and Michael sets up the dissolution of his engagement with Jane when he lies about his relationship with Petra. The death of Roman is a major turning point for this series that indicates just how heavily it is going to tap into its telenovela roots for wild plot development, but the fallout in “Chapter Three” shows how well the series handles these crazy twists without losing grip of reality.
Recent episodes of Jane The Virgin have spent a lot of time exploring how the reality of Jane’s situation compares to the fantasy of what she wants her life to be, and it’s easy to see how she mixes up the two in her head when revisiting these early chapters. Jane plunges headfirst into the world of telenovelas when she’s accidentally artificially inseminated with the sperm of the wealthy, dreamy man she had a romantic afternoon with five years ago, and she stays there for quite a while. Suddenly people are being murdered at Jane’s workplace and her fiancée is having strange interactions with her baby daddy’s wife, and she’s about to learn that her father is telenovela superstar Rogelio De La Vega. Jane’s reality is starting to look like a fantasy, and because she’s powerless to change it, she just rides the wave and tries her best to keep her bearings.
Eventually the thrill of the fantasy will fade and Jane will be forced to deal with the very real consequences of entering a relationship with Rafael, but at this point in the series, she’s completely swept up in the excitement. Gina Rodriguez does phenomenal work capturing Jane’s pleasure and anxiety as she finds herself in situations that are far removed from her mundane former life, and when the script calls for her to address the craziness around her, she finds the dramatic weight behind the absurdity while offering humorous commentary on how ridiculous things are becoming.
My favorite example of this in “Chapter Three” comes after Jane races down the stairs to confront Michael and Petra, and she explains to Michael why she thinks Petra is acting suspicious: “Michael, I’m saying ‘lurking’ because she was lurking. She’s standing there in front of the door, she wanted to go in, she changed her mind, she started to shake, and then she took a pill. Trust me. Something is off.” Jane is legitimately worried about what this means for the future of her child, and Rodriguez understands that is the major emotional thrust behind Jane telling this to Michael. But that list of shifty behaviors is also a hilarious breakdown of stereotypical telenovela villainess conduct, and Rodriguez’s delivery suggests that Jane is aware of the connection. She’s seen enough telenovelas to know that something is off with Petra, and she wants to know what Michael has to do with it.
“Chapter Three” cements honesty as one of the show’s major themes of the show when a 16-year-old Jane is told by her abuela that a little lie can spiral into a big ball of evil, and Michael’s downfall is set up when he lies to Jane about Petra. He doesn’t want to tell Jane about Petra’s affair because he’s afraid that she’ll want to keep the baby if she knows Rafael’s marriage isn’t sound, but he also knows that the best course of action is to tell the truth. Our trusty Latin Lover Narrator tells us that Michael wanted to tell Jane everything when she asked so that things wouldn’t snowball, but the moment passes and he decides to take a different route. And things do snowball.
Michael isn’t thinking about Jane and Rafael’s budding romance when he lies to his fiancée, but he really should have taken that into consideration. Jane is pregnant with another guy’s baby and there are some pretty clear sparks between the two, so Michael should be going out of his way to satisfy Jane’s needs and be there for her so she doesn’t turn to Rafael for comfort and support. Especially after Jane tells him that she’s ready to have sex. Michael is finally in the position he’s always wanted to be in with Jane, but he mucks it up with a lie because he’s afraid of how Jane will react to the truth.
Granted, that lie isn’t the major reason why Michael doesn’t get laid in “Chapter Three.” It’s likely that Jane instinctively realizes that Michael isn’t being completely honest with her, but there are two characters that create bigger roadblocks for Jane: Alba and Rafael. As always, Alba is in Jane’s head when it comes to losing her virginity, and Jane is compelled to tell her abuela that she’s going to have sex after a musical hallucination in church. (That’s the “dash of surrealism” I mentioned earlier.) Jane isn’t asking for permission; she doesn’t feel comfortable lying by omission, and no matter what Alba says, Jane is committed to her decision.
Religion is a big part of why Jane didn’t want to have sex before marriage, but it’s not the biggest. The real reason Jane waited is because she didn’t want to end up like her mother, and now that that happened without having sex, she’s embraced the idea of having sex. What harm can it do? Especially if it’s with someone she loves and plans to marry. “I don’t think God will forsake me,” Jane tells her abuela. “I’m sorry. I just don’t.” Alba doesn’t initially agree with Jane’s decision, but she ultimately comes around to accepting that Jane knows what she’s doing with her life, and doesn’t let this diminish her affection for her granddaughter.
Ivonne Coll played a far less understanding abuela on Glee, and it’s nice to see her in a role that has more nuance and dimension. Alba has strong values and sticks by them, but she’s also willing to be flexible for Jane because Jane has proven time and again that she knows what is best for herself. Xo doesn’t have that luxury, and Alba has a new reason to chide her daughter after learning that she’s sleeping with Jane’s father. Alba wants Xo to come clean before Rogelio takes matters into his own hands (which he eventually does), but Xo’s fears prevent her from taking the steps needed to prepare Jane for another major change in her life. Like Michael, Xo will let a lie a snowball and damage her relationship with Jane, which may explain why Xo continues to sympathize with her daughter’s ex-fiancé.
The most recent episode of Jane The Virgin explained why Jane’s heart glows when she’s next to Rafael, and “Chapter Three” is the first time we see this visual effect in action. That glowing heart is the thing that is really preventing Jane from going all the way with Michael, representing a feeling of love for Rafael that interferes with her current romantic relationship. She feels it when she touches Rafael’s arm after expressing condolences over his friend’s death. She feels it after he touches her knee while they talk about the hotel’s press release addressing the murder. And she really feels it when Rafael invites her to dance at Roman’s memorial, igniting chemistry that she can’t ignore when she sees Michael for their big date, which is thankfully interrupted by Luisa pulling the fire alarm so her father doesn’t discover her affair with her stepmother. Jane can blame her abuela or she can blame Michael’s strange behavior with Petra, but the real reason she’s not losing her virginity because another man has entered her heart, and she can’t give herself to someone else if there’s any doubt in her mind that he is The One.
Brad Silberling returns to the director’s seat for “Chapter Three,” and once again impresses with cinematic camerawork that heightens the impact of the script and the performances. When Jane and Michael have an innuendo-laden conversation prepping her for her witness interview, the tight close-ups help sell the sex fakeout, making the audience think that this is a continuation of the erotic talk from the previous scene because of the close proximity of the actors and the camera. The illusion is broken when the camera pulls out to reveal that they’re standing in a hallway instead of a bedroom, but even then, Silberling maintains the intimacy by slowly zooming back in on the couple.
Silberling has a skill for framing shots in a way that makes the viewer really feel the atmosphere. Jane’s church is filmed in a way that makes the pastor and choir look like they’re towering over the congregation, signifying the strong influence of religion on Jane’s life. The presidential suite where Jane and Michael are going to have sex for the first time is big and romantic with flowing curtains and multiple balconies overlooking the water; it’s the perfect place for Jane to experience this big moment, which makes it all the more perplexing to Michael when she backs out. Silberling’s visuals match the energy and depth of Meredith Averill’s script, maximizing the drama and humor of the chapter while setting the bar high for future directors on the series, who have done very well maintaining that high level of quality throughout the first season. Every aspect of this series is on point in “Chapter Three,” and it maintains that strength and confidence for every proceeding episode.
- Next week begins a run of six episodes that ends with the season finale. I am eager to see what craziness is in store.
- Petra + Affair = Divorce = Jane Keeps Baby = Amazing montage of Michael Cordero, Daddy Detective
- Rogelio’s signature spicy salad dressing is one of my favorite jokes on this show. Like Alba, I would also like to snag that from the basket.
- Rose’s shady whistling after her hook-up with Luisa is a pretty big tell that she’s a villain. I love seeing how the writers hinted at the Sin Rostro reveal.
- I completely forgot about the scene of Jane and Petra in the nursery, which is a very effective way of making Petra a sympathetic character. It’s important to remember that Petra really does want to raise a child with Rafael. There’s a part of her that wants the money from her pre-nup, but there’s also a part of her that wants to start a family with this man that she loves. She jeopardizes all that by cheating on Rafael with Roman, and her Aaron-related slip-up is just the hint her husband needs to piece everything together.
- “Why is this even locked?!”
- “Yeah, I changed my mind. You’re both gonna cry.”
- “Jane did want the perfect telenovela experience for her first time. Then again, perfect doesn’t exist. Especially in telenovelas.”
- “Hi. Hey. What are you guys up to?”
- “I had this really strong urge—actually urge is not the right word. I had a need. I needed a croqueta. I guess it’s a pregnancy craving or something. I would offer you some but I’m really enjoying it and if I give you a bite I may resent you in a very serious way.”
- “I’m sorry. I’m judgey. You should know that about me. You may end up having a really judgey kid.”
- “It is indeed me.”
- “Virginity, for you and me, if you keep your legs closed!”
- “Jane told herself her heart could be racing for any number of reasons: hormones, nerves, or the spicy chicken arepas.”
- “Thank you for coming. If it’s your first time, we hope it’s an experience you never forget. Let us fulfill your every need. I’m Rafael Solano, and your pleasure, is my pleasure.”