The women of Jane The Virgin have been through some major hardships recently, and it’s time for them to close the door on painful past events and push forward into the future. “Chapter Ninety-Two” is an episode about letting go, with Jane, Petra, and Xo facing struggles that help them overcome bigger issues derailing their lives. For Jane and Xo, those struggles involve clashing with the men in their lives: Jane is at odds with Jorge, who is starting to make his presence very known in the Villanueva house, and Xo is at odds with Rogelio, who is trying to look out for his career while dealing with a costar who is suddenly in love with him.
Jane grew up in a household of women, so she never dealt with the idea of the “man of the house”. That changes with Jorge, who brings a very traditionally masculine presence to the home. And it’s one that Alba loves. She loves being the doting wife who will clear his plate while he watches soccer, but Jane sees a woman being subservient to her husband instead of telling him to clean up after himself. Complicating matter is Mateo’s ADHD diagnosis, and Jane is trying to deploy a behavior modification strategy in hopes of curbing his symptoms without resorting to medication. A big part of that strategy is establishing patterns. Jane wants Mateo to clear his plate from the table and put it in the sink after every meal. She doesn’t want him watching any TV on weekdays. Jorge’s behavior directly conflicts with these patterns, and because Mateo also sees himself as “the man of the house,” he feels free to break his mother’s rules.
Jane talks to Jorge about her concerns, and he feels insulted by her demands. He doesn’t say that he doesn’t like being told what to do in his own home, but that’s the implication when Alba berates Jane for policing her husband’s behavior. We get to see a lot of different sides of Alba in this episode, starting with the prayer she recites during dinner the night before Xo has her PET scan. It’s a moment that rings very true to my personal experiences with group prayer for ailing family members, and Ivonne Coll captures the emotional weight of Alba’s words and her desperate hope that her prayers will be answered and her daughter will be healthy. Coll has the most powerful scenes in the episode, whether she’s praying for her daughter or arguing for her right to be a traditional wife because it’s what that she wants. She shows Jane the independence that she loves to bring up so much, telling her to stop projecting her expectations onto other people’s relationships.
There are a lot of fiery personalities involved in the Xo storyline, but this new subplot doesn’t fully click. I’ve been wondering where Xo would go once her cancer is gone, and she’s thrown into a silly telenovela love triangle that comes out of nowhere. The early placement of Xo’s PET scan phone call telegraphs the positive result that she is cancer-free, and the rest of the episode has Xo reconnecting with her past self in all her impulsive recklessness when she find out River Fields is putting the moves on Rogelio. River immediately kisses Rogelio once she finds out that Xo’s cancer is gone, and Rogelio immediately tells his wife because he’s not a complete idiot. This leads to a Dynasty-style pool catfight on the set of This Is Mars, exaggerating Xo’s character so that she’s operating on the same wavelength as the telenovela stars.
Liz Sczudlo’s script for “Chapter Ninety-Two” expertly uses domestic issues to drive the drama, weaving the Mateo and Jorge storylines together in a way that creates a lot of tension between Jane and Alba. The River, Rogelio, and Xo plotline is far less nuanced, and while that makes sense for the heightened telenovela setting, the River revelation comes out of nowhere and isn’t adequately justified in this episode. I feel like we needed a “River is obsessed with Rogelio” revelation two chapters ago so that could start simmering before this week’s big kiss, because without any sort of lead up its very hard to take this story seriously. The cliffhanger comes across as totally ridiculous, and while I think that’s intentional, having genuine dramatic stakes really helps for those final moments. Where the Xo storyline works is in how it brings back the pre-cancer Xo, reigniting the passion that makes her and Rogelio such a good fit. Their fight turns them on, and they break their dry spell thanks to the surprising aphrodisiac of jealousy and insecurity.
Petra is the most isolated character this week, reeling from her breakup with JR and throwing herself into an ill-advised renovation of The Marbella. Petra has never dealt with a break-up like this one, and she’s an emotional wreck triggered by any little thing that reminds her of JR. She initially thinks that one weepy night with Jane will be enough to cure her heartbreak, but after three weeks she’s still a disaster. This season is doing great work reinforcing the relationship between Jane and Petra, and Jane’s is both the cause of and the solution to Petra’s problems. Jane convinced Petra that fairy tale romance is real and she can have a happily ever after, which caused her to get very invested in this relationship and set herself up for acute grief. But Jane is also the person who convinces Petra to get rid of the engagement ring that has been burdening here, and once she returns the piece of jewelry, Petra actively separates herself from the memory of JR.
Petra has some advice for Jane, too, telling her that she should move out of her abuela’s house and get her own place like the grown woman she is. Jane doesn’t have to stick with shitty circumstances, and there are other options available that won’t require the people around her to make unwanted changes to their lifestyle. She also doesn’t have to stick to a behavior modification plan that isn’t working, and Rafael helps her realize that they can have some flexibility with Mateo if it means he won’t make their lives a nightmare. Family is the thing that will bring Jane and Rafael together, and all of their other personal issues fade away when they’re working together to solve Mateo’s problems. Rafael has started dating, but none of his dates have been noteworthy enough to bring up to the Jane. None of them are going to be noteworthy enough, and the more time Jane and Rafael spend together as parents, the sooner Rafael is going to realize that what he’s looking for is right in front of him.
- Krishna is returning to be Petra’s assistant, and she’s definitely not going to betray the boss she hates in any way.
- Any talking bass will make me think of this iconic The Last Man On Earth scene.
- Jenna Ortega is back as teen Jane for a quick flashback, and it’s wild seeing how much she’s grown over the course of this series.
- The Middle’s Eden Sher makes a quick appearance as a This Is Mars PA in this episode, but I predict that she’s one of Rose’s undercover agents manipulating River to get to Rogelio.
- “I’m so sick of crying. I feel like a Villanueva!”
- River: “Do you know how much Botox it takes to get rid of worry wrinkles?” Rogelio: “Approximately 8 to 20 units.”
- “If you keep trying to have sex with me, I’m going to HR. And if they don’t pay attention, I’ll go to Alyssa Milano!”