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Jane The Virgin’s personal troubles pile up as new professional opportunities arise

All photos: The CW
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Jane Gloriana Villanueva has long dreamed of being a professional writer, and while she had a significant crisis of confidence last week, the universe has assuaged her insecurities by giving her two major writing opportunities. She’s been tasked to write the pilot for This Is Mars after the studio executives were impressed by her outline for the show, but she’s also making a lot of progress with her new novel and there’s genuine publishing interest that doesn’t have any Rogelio strings attached. These are big projects, but Jane is also a working mother who has to figure when she has time to write in the middle of her packed schedule.

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With all this career stress weighing on Jane, it’s a bad week for a Mateo crisis. His troubles with reading aren’t getting any better despite Jane and Rafael’s at-home tutoring, and his teacher is concerned there might be a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. She suggests getting Mateo tested for a developmental disability, creating a rift between Jane, who is eager to have the test done, and Rafael, who thinks doctors hand out diagnoses like candy. The rift grows when Rafael “puts his foot down” and forbids Jane from making a doctor’s appointment, compelling her to go against his wishes immediately and schedule the tests.

A conversation with Petra eventually convinces Rafael that Mateo should be tested, but Rafael’s rage grows when he calls the doctor and finds out Jane went behind his back. He decides that it’s time to bring in a lawyer to work out a custody agreement so that Jane can’t make any medical decision for Mateo, which sends Jane into a panic. She chases after him in her car, and when their argument causes Rafael to get in a fender bender, Jane volunteers to stall his clients by pretending to be his real estate associate. The house showing is one of those incredibly awkward scenes built around an unnecessary lie, and when the prospective buyers ask Jane to give them information about the home, she pretends that she’s actually a realtor instead of just telling them the truth of the situation.

A positive side effect of Jane’s bumbling is that it makes Rafael look really good when he finally arrives, and the house-selling experience ultimately opens his eyes to why Jane is in the right when it comes to Mateo’s testing. Hearing the buyers talk about raising their future son makes Rafael realize that he’s been so concerned about Mateo being “normal” that he’s lost sight of the actions that need to be taken to ensure that their child has what he needs to succeed. If there is a developmental disability, they need to know so they can plan accordingly. It turns out that Mateo unsurprisingly has ADHD, and now that Jane and Rafael have this information, they can find specific solutions. The buyers also convince the parents to work out a custody agreement by looking at it like insurance, something to have in place while things are good so that there are clear rules in case things get bad.

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“Chapter Ninety-One” continues to lead Jane down the path to eventually writing Jane The Virgin, and as she works on the This Is Mars pilot, elements of her own personal story bleed into her headspace. When she writes about Steve giving Brenda the first Martian flower, Jane’s younger self appears in the scene and tells Brenda to crush the flower in her hand. When Steve and Brenda are floating around in space, Alba appears to ask them if they’ve been married before God. Jane gives up the telenovela gig because she’s way more invested in her autobiographical novel, but she’s starting to imagine her life within a telenovela context. It’s only a matter of time until she realizes that her story would make a great TV show, and it has the perfect part for her father.

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Jane has never written a pilot before, so in order to make sure it isn’t burned by its investment, the studio pairs her with an established writer who has a long, troubled history with The Passions Of Santos and its lead actor. Judy Reyes’ Dina has been absent from this series for a while, so it’s great to have her back to shoot daggers at Rogelio while she mentors his daughter. Reyes plays frustrated anger very well, and the vitriol she has for Rogelio makes for some very tense and funny interactions. When Jane eventually leaves This Is Mars behind, Rogelio has to find a way to keep Dina on board, which he does by bringing out a parade of women he’s wronged in the past who have found ways to forgive him and keep him in their lives: Xo, Darci, and River. It’s a great little scene that highlights Rogelio’s lovable foolishness, breaking down all the awful things he’s done to these people but also the charm that gets Rogelio back in the good graces of these wronged women.

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Petra is in a similar situation as Rogelio, trying to win back the favor of the lover whose life she ruined. Petra has a rough episode this week, largely because she doesn’t see the writing on the wall when it comes to her and JR. Their relationship has had an lot of ups and downs, and while I really like this pairing, it’s increasingly clear that there’s a lot of conflict that hasn’t been resolved. They’re both taking steps to figure out how to fit in the other’s world, but these steps aren’t taking them far enough from the events that poisoned their relationship. Petra’s lies cost JR her career and her reputation. JR is trying to forgive her, but at a certain point she has to be honest about her feelings of resentment.

When JR got the call about a job offer in Houston last week, I knew the days were numbered for their romance. Petra tries to show her enthusiasm for the job prospect by putting on the alter ego of Patty, a big-haired glitter cowgirl, but she’s blind to JR’s eagerness for this new job in a new setting. Petra makes a big mistakes when she reaches out to a Miami immigration non-profit to find JR a different opportunity, and given her history with JR’s career, Petra should’ve stayed far away from the hiring process. JR decides to take the job in Houston because she needs a fresh start, breaking Petra’s heart just when she’s about to propose. Yael Grobglas fully captures this intense sadness as Petra goes to Jane for comfort, giving us another emotional scene that reinforces the sisterhood between the former rivals. This is one of the most important relationships in Jane’s life, and she realizes that Petra is a part of her story who needs to be in her new book, adding an essential piece to complete the Jane The Virgin puzzle.

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Stray observations:

  • I’m so tired of the Rose/Luisa back and forth. I’m hoping that Luisa’s potential heel turn at the end of this episode is a fakeout and that she’s a double agent planning on taking down Rose from the inside.
  • Alba isn’t in this week’s episode because she’s on her honeymoon, but she does get a hilarious moment in a fantasy sequence where River Fields pops her spacesuit and sends her careening to her death.
  • It would be so easy for the buyer couple to be straight, but the fact that it’s a pair of men looking for a home to raise a family in speaks to this show’s commitment to inclusion in all roles.
  • Nothing says criminal mastermind opulence like a sexy night on a submarine with you and your girlfriend dressed like Victoria’s Secret angels.
  • Bobby: “You know who you have to see? Your psychopath ex-girlfriend!” Luisa: “Sociopath.” Bobby: “Oh. My bad.” Narrator: “Mine too.”
  • Petra: “As Patty would say, ‘When you dig a ditch, that dirt’s gotta go somewhere.” Rafael: “What the hell does that mean?” Petra: “It means...get over yourself and have Mateo take the damn test.”
  • “He burned off my eyebrows, got my toe bitten off by a wolf, and paralyzed half my face.” I will never stop laughing at all the awful things Rogelio has accidentally done to River Fields.
  • Petra: “Can I use this rag?” Jane: “That—my sweatshirt…”
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