Jane Gloriana Villanueva is ready to stop being a virgin, but despite her chipper optimism at the top of “Chapter Thirty-Four,” committing to losing it is harder than she presumes. The title card ends with a question mark this week, and writer Madeline Hendricks approaches Jane’s new lifestyle decision from a variety of angles, detailing the complexity of the internal struggle between Jane’s outdated, ingrained principles, her desire to change, and her unresolved romantic feelings for men that aren’t Professor Hottie.
The episode opens with a flashback to four years ago when Jane first told Michael that she’s a virgin waiting for marriage, and while Jane doesn’t realize it for most of the chapter, the memory of her relationship with Michael is the main thing holding her back. And it’s definitely Michael, not Rafael, who is lingering in the back of Jane’s mind. Jane gets sucked into the ongoing drama between Rafael and Petra when she decides to help them both by giving Petra some prenatal advice (and a baby shower because Jane’s an overachiever like that), and the only way for Jane to escape is by firmly shutting down Rafael even though he’s still in love with her.
Jane is over Rafael; they’re too different, and she doesn’t see herself fitting in his world. That’s the world Petra belongs in, an environment where money isn’t a concern and there’s always paid help around to help raise your child. It’s always nice to see Jane The Virgin address the tension that arises from the class differences within the cast, and this episode shows the perspectives of both Jane and Petra to bring more dimensions to the class conflict. Jane thinks Petra is getting scammed with overpriced products and using her wealth to avoid parental responsibility, and Petra thinks Jane is being judgmental and acting like a martyr who thinks suffering through every pain of being a parent is an essential part of the process.
It’s up the viewer to decide who is right and who is wrong in this fight, but both women have valid complaints. At least up until Petra brings up Jane’s romantic feelings for Rafael, which play no part in her current animosity toward Petra. Jane is close to Rafael because he’s the father of her child and because the best thing for Mateo is a friendly mother and father, but Petra makes a good point that Jane hasn’t told Rafael that she’s finished with him as a suitor. Firmly shutting the door on her romance with Rafael is something Jane needs to do to get Petra off her back, but it’s also something she needs to do before she starts a new relationship with Jonathan.
In order to move forward, Jane needs to sort through all of the emotional baggage she has from the past, and when it comes to her virginity, that involves three specific people: Rafael, the man who got Jane pregnant without taking her virginity, Michael, the man Jane expected to lose her virginity to until an accidental pregnancy complicated everything, and Alba, the woman who convinced young Jane to make a vow to save herself for marriage. Rafael is the easiest person to take care of because Jane doesn’t have as much history with him (although it’s the most complicated history of the three), and she’s not conflicted about how to handle the situation with him. She knows how she feels and even though it hurts Rafael to hear the words, Jane doesn’t have much trouble saying them.
Jane has more difficulty with Alba, and she tries to avoid bringing up the subject of her virginity around her abuela because Alba has played such a huge role in instilling that virtue in Jane. It’s Alba that ends up making the first move, and given the circumstances, she’s also changed her mind about what Jane should do. Jane is an adult and a mother, so maybe she won’t regret losing her virginity before marriage the way Alba did. This revelation shocks Jane, but it’s very much in line with Alba’s established character. Alba’s personal regrets motivate her behavior towards her granddaughter: Alba’s regret over telling Xiomara to have an abortion when she was pregnant with Jane compelled her to tell Jane not to have an abortion, and her regret at losing her own virginity before marriage compelled her to tell Jane to do the opposite. But Alba can’t fix her past mistakes by preventing Jane from making the same ones, so she finally gives Jane the freedom to act without considering how her abuela will feel.
The abuela thing is what ruins the mood during Jane’s steamy second date with Jonathan, and Jane blurting out that she’s a virgin because she made a promise to her grandmother reveals how uncertain and nervous she is about losing her virginity. Jane takes pleasure in the foreplay—the small touches at dinner, the late night sexting—but when it comes time for the big event, she panics. The first time with the virginity reveal isn’t as bad as the second time when Jane starts crying at the start of a booty call, a reaction caused by the memory of Michael becoming more prominent as she gets closer to having sex for the first time. Seeing a cop’s badge when she gets pulled over for speeding reminds Jane of Michael, and her hallucination of Michael telling her not to have sex is Jane’s subconscious telling her that she’s not waiting for marriage, she’s waiting for Michael.
Based on his fed-up recap of the Sin Rostro/Mutter storyline, even the narrator is getting tired of that plot, and the recap is the first indicator that Hendricks is going to be doing some much-needed house cleaning with the crime kingpins this week. Michael has put a big plan in motion to draw Rose out of hiding, and the climax of that plan is one of the show’s best uses of its police drama element, a thrilling sequence that is given extra intensity thanks to the narrator’s foreshadowing that one of the three women (Rose, Luisa, Susanna) is going to die. There’s a real sense of danger when Rose makes Susanna her human shield in order to escape Luisa’s hospital room, and devoting a small amount of time to reestablishing Luisa and Rose’s feelings for each other increases the emotional impact when Michael and Luisa discover Rose’s murdered body.
Michael’s big plan was all for Jane and Mateo, and once Rose is dead, Michael heads directly to the Villanueva house to confess to Jane: He pushed her away so that he could work the case without putting Jane and Mateo in more danger, but he’s still madly in love with Jane and wants to be with her. The build-up to this episode’s big final reunion is very smooth, and even though Michael and Jane have spent a lot of time apart recently, this episode draws them back together in a way that feels completely natural and inevitable. Of course Michael would reenter Jane’s life just as she decides that it’s time to lose her virginity, but the reunion doesn’t feel contrived or forced, especially in the context of a show where far crazier things have happened.
“Chapter Thirty-Four” is not only Madeline Hendricks’ first Jane The Virgin script, it’s her first TV script, and she makes an outstanding debut. According to Hendricks’ IMDB page, she served as assistant to showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman during season 1, and tonight’s script shows that Hendricks has a very strong understanding of what makes this show special and successful. This episode is Jane The Virgin at its best, effortlessly juggling deep, personal stories about sex and class with bold police drama and a hilarious subplot involving Rogelio’s time-traveling telenovela character Tiago as the #FirstMaleFeminist, fighting with Susan B. Anthony and the rest of the suffragettes for a woman’s right to vote (and make love). Rogelio’s telenovela plot is also tied heavily to his current drama with Xiomara, who wants to marry Rogelio, but doesn’t want to give him the children he so desperately wants.
Rogelio suggests that Xo freeze her eggs just in case she wants to have kids later, and she entertains the notion for a bit before coming to the conclusion that she really doesn’t want to have more kids and she doesn’t want to leave that option open. Rogelio plays the part of a feminist on television, but when it comes to real life, he has difficulty negotiating his personal desires with his fiancée’s needs. Rogelio doesn’t understand what raising a child entails like Xo does, and she’s perfectly content with being a grandmother right now, a role that allows her flexibility and options that she doesn’t have as a mother. This is a pretty serious plotline about an aging woman accepting that she doesn’t want children, even if it means losing the love of her life, but Hendricks handles it with a light touch. That playful quality is what makes this episode such a joy, and Hendricks never loses sight of the fun as she delves into heavier material.
- When Xo tells Jane about her geriatric eggs, she’s wearing a white dress with a yellow circle pattern that makes it look like she’s covered in egg yolks.
- Great use of color in this episode with the surge of pink whenever characters romanticize a moment. It also heightens the reality of the final moment with Jane and Michael when that pink doesn’t appear.
- Who is Rogelio’s prison pen pal Lola and what kind of trouble is she going to cause when she’s released in very near future?
- Rogelio De La Vega = A Revealed Gigolo
- “Maybe they can use it to solve this friggin’ case already.”
- “I really feel…open.”
- “I’m playing the nation’s first male feminist. I think history has really overlooked his point of view.”
- “Is it me or was he way cuter before?”
- “I know the only reason why you cancelled that lunch was because…your mother murdered that guy.”
- “It’s all about the eggs.”
- “That’s it buddy. That’s the end of the sentence.”
- “I do feel better knowing you’ve suffered a little.”
- “To Petra. She’s…having two babies!”
- “It should be noted that when two professional writers decide to sext, it gets very hot, very quickly.”