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Michael is out of the picture, and Jane can’t wait to get back together with Rafael. The problem is that Rafael isn’t interested. It’s unlikely that his relationship with Jane is truly over, but for now he needs space, which Jane is incapable of giving him. “Chapter Eighty-Nine” has Jane trying everything she can to end up in Rafael’s orbit, and this stalking strategy proves disastrous. After doubling down on telenovela elements last week, the series gets back to more grounded drama this week, looking at a desperate woman’s attempt to win back her ex-boyfriend while dealing with her child’s developmental challenges.

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I’m actually very happy that other commitments forced me to hand last week’s recap over to Caroline Siede, whose romantic comedy expertise (read her biweekly When Romance Met Comedy column!) really came in handy for an episode that essentially functioned as a standalone ranch hand rom-com. I agree with everything she said about a strange episode that didn’t quite work. I never felt the reality of Jason’s old life because the episode was so committed to the heightened telenovela angle, and while there were some profound moments toward the end, the journey to that point was very broad for a show that has been so specific in its character work. That said, the episode did get me to a point where I was fine letting go of Michael to see Jane pursue Rafael for the show’s endgame, proving that the series had matured past the love triangle that dominated so much of its early seasons.

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Jane and Rafael’s relationship is deeply complicated, and it’s reasonable for Rafael to need time to process everything that has happened. He’s trying to take care of his mental health so that he can be a good father to Mateo, but Jane is getting in the way of Rafael’s healing by forcing her way back into his life. The only valid entry Jane has into Rafael’s life right now is through Mateo, and when they find out that their son is struggling with reading in class, they team up to help him learn words and start rhyming. Rafael puts on a happy face when he’s teaching Mateo with Jane and reopens lines of text communication, but Jane sees romantic interest where Rafael is only trying to be a good co-parent.

This brings out Jane’s worst stalker tendencies, building to a particularly painful “grand romantic gesture” that puts Rafael’s job at risk when she interrupts a real estate showing with an unwanted picnic. Jane is thinking in telenovela terms becomes she wants to make the romantic fantasy in her mind a reality as quickly as she can, but that’s a damaging worldview to have when your beloved isn’t buying what you’re selling. Xo asks Jane to view her actions as if she was a man pursuing a woman—prompting a goofy, kinda awkward “Jane The Dude” cutaway gag—and it makes her realize that she’s stepping over boundaries and disrespecting Rafael’s wishes.

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It’s easy for Jane to get trapped in the telenovela headspace because she’s asked by her father to write a proposal for a new version of The Passions Of Steve And Brenda when the pilot isn’t picked up by the network. I’ve long theorized that Jane would eventually create Jane The Virgin, and we start on that path by having Jane get back into the telenovela writing game this week. The network wants something edgy, confusing, shadowy, and dark, ideally with assassins and some kind of sci-fi angle. Jane wants to write a multi-generational romance akin to This Is Us. She and Rogelio end up finding middle ground with This Is Mars, but I have the feeling that the network is going to want something different once they hear Jane’s personal story. And there’s a perfect role for Rogelio!

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While Mateo is struggling academically, The Twins prove too intelligent for their own good, hatching a devious plan to force JR away from their mom. They sent the emails to Milos, pretended there was an intruder in their room, and, in their most twisted act, point a laser at JR’s forehead to make Petra think a sniper is outside her apartment. In The Twins’ defense, they’re suffering from severe trauma after witnessing JR shoot Milos, a little piece of information the Narrator has kept quiet the entire season. Thanks to emergency shooter drills they have to perform at school, The Twins now associate anyone with a gun with a dangerous threat.

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This is a good instinct to have, but the twins don’t have any frame of reference to understand the context of why JR used a gun and why it’s different than a shooter in their school. Petra is shaken by the revelation that her kids could be so cruel and manipulative—they do have Petra as a mother, after all—and she decides that she needs to break up with JR so that her kids aren’t triggered by her presence. JR isn’t willing to give up, though, and she decides that it’s time to put more effort into connecting with the twins instead of detaching herself from Petra’s family. She’s returning the dedication that Petra showed her, and reaffirming her commitment to her girlfriend in the process.

Last week’s episode marked a major shift in the season, and “Chapter Eighty-Nine” is when the show starts the countdown clock ticking down to the finale. Series-long character arcs are getting resolved, with Alba gaining the happy ending she always wanted when Jorge finally realizes that he actually has romantic feelings for this woman who has done so much to help him. With their immigration interview quickly approaching, Jorge and Alba need to make sure that they have their stories straight, but Alba’s feelings are clouding her mind. Xo helps her mother through the studying process by offering her hand and telling Alba to squeeze it whenever she feels romantic feelings for Jorge, helping her push through her nerves and go through the questions with a clearer head.

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During the interview, Jorge’s eyes are opened to the generosity and compassion that Alba has shown him throughout this marriage ordeal. She took a lot of risks to help him get his green card and put herself through considerable emotional turmoil, and isn’t asking for anything in return. The blinders of his pride are stripped away and he sees what an amazing catch Alba is, admitting his love and pulling her in for a climactic kiss that wraps up her big storyline. There’s even an extra bit of closure between her and Xo as they recognize how far they’ve come since their antagonistic early days. Alba has found her happiness, and if Jane can step back and let Rafael breathe, she’ll find hers too.

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Stray observations

  • If you’re trying not to send romantic signals to the baby mama who just proclaimed her love for you, DON’T PUT CUTE EMOJIS IN YOUR TEXTS.
  • Luisa’s evil new bestie is spying on Rafael! Time to get the Sin Rostro train rolling again.
  • Justin Hartley has a very silly cameo this week as Rogelio tries to connect with him during a tanning session. He doesn’t say anything until Rogelio ultimately piques his interest with the topic of body waxing.
  • Contents of a “Ro-morse Basket”: Family photos, flattering to Rogelio; framed tabloid articles about Rogelio, all positive; paper fan with Rogelio’s face printed on it; lavender scented oils; fancy coffee.
  • “Let’s make love and invade Switzerland. (Drops Murphy bed.) They’ve been neutral for far too long.”
  • “What language is that? Let me check. Oh, it is Czech! Sorry, you don’t speak Czech.”
  • Elsa: “We missed our silk sheets.” Anna: “And our lavender bubble baths. Daddy’s isn’t organic.”
  • “I rarely say this but less is more.” This Rogelio quote is especially notable because he’s talking about texting.

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