It’s a good week for Team Michael. Sparks are rekindled between Jane and her ex-fiancée in “Chapter Twenty-One,” further complicating the lead heroine’s life during an already difficult period. Jane’s due date is less than a month away, she’s seeking sole custody of her child, and has to attend the five-year high school reunion she organized; her plate is full, and the return of her feelings for Michael is another pressure to add to the pile. But the reason those emotions come back is because Michael is the person that helps Jane carry that weight, particularly with regards to her reunion.
The best love triangles make it easy to believe that characters could end up with either of their romantic options, and Jane The Virgin has definitely accomplished that over the course of the season. Seeing Michael and Jane as friends during the back half of episodes strengthened a bond that had taken considerable damage, and showed the viewer why the two worked so well as a couple. Their dynamic is relaxed and supportive, and it probably would have stayed that way if Jane didn’t accidentally get artificially inseminated. That threw a curveball at Michael that he wasn’t prepared for, and he made some stupid decisions because he was scared of a future he didn’t plan. Once he lost Jane, he realized that he would do anything to keep her, including raising a child that wasn’t his own, but he hasn’t pushed too hard for a total reconciliation, taking it easy and rebuilding a friendship before charging into romance.
After a couple months of low-stakes flirting, Michael starts to take things a little further by inviting Jane to his commendation for making a major break in the Sin Rostro case, and seeing Michael get the hero treatment is an undeniable turn-on for Jane. Also a turn-on is Michael’s concern regarding Jane’s high school reunion. When Jane comes home from the event, Michael texts her to find out how things went, and she’s able to relieve her tension by venting to Michael, first through text, then over the phone. That transition from texting to talking is a great way of showing the increasing intimacy between the two exes, and when their conversation is over, the viewer can feel the resurgence of love that Jane and Michael are experiencing.
I can’t think of very many shows that explore the specifics of pregnancy as thoroughly as Jane The Virgin, which has spent a lot of time looking at the various steps a new parent needs to take to prepare for a baby. We’ve seen Jane stress out about genetic testing and the baby being in breech, but her deeper emotional concerns about her future as a mother give this show much of its dramatic weight. Jane loves Rafael and Michael, but she also loves the child growing inside of her, and building Jane’s relationship with her unborn baby has made her pregnancy feel real despite the absurd circumstances that led to it. But like Jane’s affections for the men in her life, her motherly love is complicated.
At Jane’s reunion, her pregnant belly is her identity. It’s the primary topic of any conversation, and the complicated situation makes it especially hard for Jane to explain what happened to casual high school acquaintances. The worst reaction she gets is from former crush Alex Mendez, who doesn’t notice Jane’s belly when he sits down to chat with her, but flees in terror when she stands up and shows the bump. Jane wants to scream at her classmates and tell them that she doesn’t want to be just a mom, that she has career ambitions that go beyond parenthood, but she doesn’t say what she truly feels. Instead, the episode shows the angry fantasy version of the generic reunion speech she delivers in real life, a fantasy that ends with Jane going into early labor because she works herself up so much.
Alba doesn’t have a major role in the plot this week, but Ivonne Coll is one of the episode’s strongest comedic forces, helping alleviate the mounting tension in the Villanueva household through humor. She cracks jokes about Rogelio’s ego and Jane’s nesting, but she also has valuable insights when it comes to both. Alba helps Xiomara recognize that Rogelio is afraid of heights, which is why he’s being especially complicated during the rehearsals for their Vegas variety show, and she helps Jane deal with her nesting impulses, which were not taken into account when Jane made her big pregnancy plan. It’s not a huge part, but Coll’s sharp comic timing makes the performance a lot of fun while still maintaining the compassion that is one of Alba’s defining characteristics.
Despite Petra’s attempts to win back Rafael, he’s come to realize that he made a mistake breaking up with Jane and wants to mend things with the mother of his child. Unfortunately, Jane tells him that she wants sole custody before he can apologize and beg for her to come back, so Rafael is put in a position where he needs to get rid of the threat of Petra and Magda if he’s going to win back Jane’s love. Petra is so in love with Rafael that she goes out of her way to show that she’s not a danger to Jane or her unborn child in hopes that she’ll get into Rafael’s good graces again, but even with the ulterior motives, Petra’s conversation with Jane does great work making Petra sympathetic. Understanding the pain that Petra felt when Jane accidentally stumbled into the life Petra wanted with Rafael doesn’t excuse Petra’s actions, but it helps the viewer understand them, which is just as valuable. Petra is still a villain, but the writers are careful to never make her a caricature (unlike Magda, with her scarred face and Natasha Fatale accent).
The high school reunion plot and the custody plot come together very smoothly at the end of the episode as Jane uses the lessons taught to her by high school mean girl Stephanie Kovakovitch to get Magda in prison. Jane changes her mind about the sole custody, but tells Rafael to pretend like she hasn’t as part of a plan to use Petra’s weakness against her, just like Stephanie did against Jane in high school. Petra’s weakness is her love for Rafael, and Jane predicts that Petra would send her own mother to prison if it means Rafael being happy with his child. The plan works, and Petra convinces Magda to go to Michael and confess her crimes.
The thread is tied up a bit too quickly, but fast is how this show moves, and getting Magda out of the way is the best course of action heading into the finale. Rafael wants Jane back and he’s doing everything he can to make things right—getting rid of Magda, putting Jane and the baby over his work obligations—but will it be enough to pull Jane away from her revived attraction to Michael? With the baby coming next week, that’s a question that will have to wait until next season, and judging by all the development done with both love interests, Jane has a very difficult decision ahead of her.
- Juicy Jordan is a ridiculous character, but she’s used sparingly enough that she never gets too obnoxious.
- Jane’s going to grad school! So next season is probably going to have her dealing with being a new parent while taking class, which sounds like it could be a lot of fun. I liked the scenes at Jane’s writing workshop, so I have faith that the show’s writers could do fun things with a grad school environment.
- Things Rogelio fears: acne and leprechauns. I wonder how he’d react to a leprechaun with acne.
- We get a brief scene of Rogelio and Xiomara singing “Suspicious Minds” in Spanish, and I want more of these two singing together. In fact, I would have no problem with a musical episode of Jane The Virgin next season.
- That is a very deep V-neck Rogelio is sporting during his rehearsal. Not that I’m complaining or anything.
- Notable hashtags this week: #SoNotJane; #StillNotJane; #mostlikelytoscrewoverPetra
- “I killed four sharks. They were animatronic, but still quite fierce.”
- “You’re mean, Alba.”
- “O.K. that is definitely cute. I do love ducks!”
- Jane: “There is no color for nesting.” Alba: “I’d go with brown. Like a nest.”
- “Pull her hair! Shiv her!”
- Xo: “Leprechauns aren’t real.” Rogelio: “I know what I saw!”
- “I don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult. Again.”