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Jane The Virgin confronts her greatest nightmare in a climactic episode

All photos: The CW
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Every telenovela needs a good villain, and Rose has been the flame-haired femme fatale causing trouble since the very beginning of Jane The Virgin. She killed her husband, kidnapped Mateo, shot Michael and faked his death, and then brought him back into Jane’s life right before Rafael was going to propose to her. Rose is an evil person, and now that she’s out of prison, Jane is overcome with fear and anxiety that Rose is going to reappear at any moment. “Chapter Ninety-Eight” opens with Jane in a dark place, ultimately seeking professional help to find ways to push through her anxiety until Rose is caught. Her worries are well placed, though, and it doesn’t take long for Rose to reappear and terrorize Jane one last time.

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With only three episodes left, Jane The Virgin is fully in goodbye mode, wrapping up major plotlines for supporting characters so that next week’s two-part finale can spend time with the main cast. “Chapter Ninety-Eight” is the end of the line for Rose, but before that happens, Michael returns to complicate Jane’s potential book deal. He never signed away his life rights, and Jane can’t sell her book until that happens. Luckily, Michael is in town to talk to Jane about this very topic, bringing his pregnant fiancee, Charlie, along because she’s the one who wants Jane to cut the Michael content out of the book.

It’s fun to spend more time with real-life couple Brett Dier and Haley Lu Richardson, who leans into her rough cowgirl character but can’t fully hide her inherent sweetness. That sweetness comes through when Charlie decides that she’s fine with Jane’s book after all, and seeing Jane and Michael together one more time confirms that the spark between them is completely extinguished. They were in love once, but the world had other plans, leading Jane and Michael to the perfect partners for who they would be after surviving all the craziness.

The Narrator says this is goodbye for real, but I hope this doesn’t mean that Michael is completely written out of Jane’s story. He’s too big a part of her life to completely disappear once him and Charlie raise a family. I don’t know if it would be weird for Michael and Charlie to come to Jane and Rafael’s wedding, but it seems like everyone is in a comfortable enough place where that wouldn’t be too awkward. I feel like Jane will always keep in contact with the Corderos because she’s been through too much with Michael. They’re united for life, even if they aren’t romantic partners anymore.

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Things are looking up for Jane once the Michael situation is settled, but then everything goes to shit when Rose ambushes Jane in her house and holds her hostage. She forces Jane to call Luisa in Belize and tell her to come back to the U.S. so Rose can meet her at the This Is Mars premiere party. Gina Rodriguez really sells the wave of horrified panic that overcomes Jane when she sees Rose, and Bridget Regan feeds on that energy, doing a very solid impression of Gina Rodriguez’s scared face and line delivery. Regan doesn’t have the most frightening presence, but she excels with the campier parts of playing a telenovela villain, which she’s exaggerated even further this season.

When you think about acting challenges, Gina Rodriguez’s performance on this series has an exceptionally high level of difficulty. Her character has had to go through all kinds of over-the-top drama, but she always finds the emotional reality to ground these heightened plot elements. She goes through an intense journey in this episode, but as she spends more time with Rose, her fear is replaced by a new feeling: annoyance. She’s seen how desperate Rose is to win back someone who doesn’t love her anymore, and she’s not scary anymore, just pathetic.

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Jane expresses all of this to Rose, finally achieving the emotional release she has needed for years. From there, everything goes downhill for Rose. Rafael shows up and tackles her to the ground, and then Luisa tricks Rose into thinking she’s swallowed a cyanide pill, moving her in place to fall through a skylight and get impaled on the giant tail of a golden President Steve statue. I burst into laughter when Rogelio’s tail made its triumphant return to kill Rose, a delightful shout-out to Roman Zazo getting impaled on the marlin ice sculpture back in the Jane The Virgin pilot. The symmetry of this final season continues to amaze me, and after seasons of estrangement, Rafael and Luisa are also back to the healthy place they were at when the show began, before she accidentally artificially inseminated Jane and started this whole mess.

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There’s another big scheme happening in “Chapter Ninety-Eight,” but it’s far more innocent than Rose’s plot to get Luisa back. Rogelio needs to convince Darci and Esteban to move to New York City so that Baby can be near her father as he films This Is Mars, and while Darci would love to move back to her home city, Esteban loves Miami too much to leave it. Rogelio gives him a recurring part on This Is Mars to sway him, but he’s too into his Reiki healing to really think about acting right now. Esteban appears to have given up his desire for fame, which just makes Rogelio push harder, offering him a principal villain role because they already have that great antagonism between them. Darci and Esteban set the bait, and Rogelio walks right into their trap, voluntarily giving his rival a major part on his big U.S. debut series.

Esteban may have been acting when he talked about giving up fame and finding joy in other things in life, but his words do resonate with Rogelio, who has been struggling with juggling his professional dreams with his role as a father who wants to be an active part in his young daughter’s life. For Rogelio, the greatest feeling in the world will be when he sees his face plastered all over a room while American paparazzi crowd around him to take his picture. He’s never experienced this feeling so he’s built it up to be this incredible moment of self-actualization, but will it really be better than the joy he feels when he’s with his family, experiencing the biggest moments in the lives of the people he loves most?

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“Chapter Ninety-Eight” ends with Jane selling her book for $500,000, an amount that is five times greater than the best possible number in her head. Jane and Rafael are ecstatic, but Xo’s excitement is cooled when she realizes that Rogelio and she won’t be around when Jane gets the first check. They’re going to miss these big moments if they move away, and given how long Rogelio was absent from Jane’s life, he’s not looking forward to leaving her again. With Rose out of the way, the big threat to this family unit is Rogelio’s ego. Those around him are willing to make sacrifices to accommodate his dream, but if he reevaluates his priorities, he’ll realize that the pursuit of fame will always leave him hungry while family is what truly satisfies his soul.

Stray observations

  • Who would spend $500,000 on Jane’s book? My guess: a TV studio that wants the rights!
  • Mateo is brought up a lot in this episode, but he doesn’t actually appear. I’m surprised he didn’t go to the This Is Mars premiere, although it’s possible kids aren’t allowed.
  • JR is back in town because her mom died, and Petra exhibits some impressive self control by not crashing the funeral to win her ex back. She also has some really great eye make-up at the This Is Mars premiere.
  • Rafael’s brief return to working at The Marbella is done. He wants to spend more time with his family and doesn’t want the stress of running the hotel with Petra. It’s a very smart move because Petra’s an awful boss.
  • Petra: “I promise I wasn’t stalking your ex-girlfriend. That would be creepy. I just saw the obits.” Narrator: “‘Cause that’s not creepy.”
  • “Why help a few scrawny unwashed vegans when you can reach millions of normal people by entertaining them?!”
  • “Esteban sure is working those Este-buns.” I’m going to miss our Narrator and his dumb wordplay.
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