Given how essential Catholicism is to the general concept of Jane The Virgin, it’s no surprise that the show has spent a lot of time exploring how characters deal with guilt. From the very first episode, guilt has been baked into Jane’s character. She felt guilty about derailing her mother’s life with her existence and having sexual desire when she pledged to keep her virginity until marriage. She found new reasons to feel guilty as her life was complicated by a love triangle and other telenovela twists, and when her husband seemingly died, she felt guilty about pursuing new relationships and dishonoring Michael’s memory.
Now Michael is back as Jason, which introduces all kinds of new guilt to torment Jane. The opening sequence flashing back to major sacraments of Jane’s past—Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage—plays an important part in emphasizing how Jane’s Jason guilt is tied to her religion. That last sacrament is the big one, and when she finds out she is still married to Jason, the guilt intensifies because she’s stuck in a situation where she doesn’t want to go against the church with a divorce, but she doesn’t want to be stuck in a marriage that doesn’t mean anything anymore. And over the course of the episode, writers Chantelle M. Wells and Katie Wech expose new layers of that guilt to add dimensions to Jane’s relationship with her revived husband.
There’s religious guilt over getting divorced, but that’s covering up deeper feelings that rise to the surface the longer Jane spends with Jason. She’s scared to get a divorce because she’s worried that Jason will get Michael’s memory back, and she would feel guilty about getting a divorce so quickly when he’s dealing with such a harrowing experience. A new kind of guilt emerges when Jason confronts Jane about the disappointment he feels from her every time he says or does something that further pushes him away from the Michael she knew. But the most painful guilt comes at the end of the episode when Jane realizes that she wishes Michael never came back as Jason, completely upending her life just as she had finally accepted that he was gone.
While Jane is working through her issues and trying to jog Jason’s memory, Rafael and Luisa visit Rose to find out why exactly she went through with such a twisted, diabolical scheme. The answer is underwhelming, but it also makes perfect sense. Rose ran into Michael at a coffee shop when she was wearing her Eileen face and the mask had come loose. She was going to be introduced to him later that week as Luisa’s new girlfriend, and he would put two and two together so she needed to get rid of him. But she also promised Luisa that she would stop killing people, so instead she fakes his death and wipes his memory, keeping him around as a potential pawn that she can use in the future.
Rose uses that pawn against Rafael in this episode, playing on his fears that Jason is going to get his memory back and ruin the life that Rafael has built with Jane and Mateo. Justin Baldoni has a really juicy internal conflict to perform with this storyline, and he fully captures the mixture of confusion, anxiety, and anger that has taken over Rafael’s mind. Jane and Rafael have a lot that they want to say to each other, but they’re in such a sensitive situation that they’re afraid to actually speak their true feelings. There’s a great scene where the narrator shows us what they would say if they were being totally honest, but then he cuts to the tense reality they now live in.
Last week’s season premiere felt very much like the Gina Rodriguez show, and while she’s undoubtedly the heart of this series, it wouldn’t be such a resounding success without the exceptional ensemble that surrounds her. “Chapter Eighty-Three” still prioritizes the Jane/Jason storyline, but it gives the supporting characters much more to do as it brings back the subplots involving Alba and Jorge’s visa marriage and Rogelio finally getting to work on the U.S. adaptation of The Passions Of Santos, The Passions Of Steve And Brenda (“The First Co-Presidents!”). There are a lot of characters to juggle so Petra ends up on the sidelines, but she does get one scene that further hints at Jason’s attraction to her, and I definitely don’t mind taking a break from The Marbella shenanigans.
I completely forgot that Alba and Jorge got married because it’s been almost a year since it happened, and the way this plot ties in with Jane’s current predicament highlights this series’ tight plotting. Like Jane and Jason, Alba and Jorge are technically married but don’t have the true spousal connection that Alba wants. She has strong feelings for him, depicted in the show’s signature glowing heart, but she can’t let herself get swept away by those emotions when she knows that he doesn’t feel the same way. That’s why she asks Rogelio to expedite Jorge’s travel permit, getting him out of the country so that he can visit his sick mother and stop Alba’s growing affections.
The stakes of this season are incredibly high, so it’s nice to get some very silly interludes on the set of The Passions Of Steve And Brenda, which has a heart-shaped oval office. It’s a classic Rogelio subplot as he freaks out over getting one line of dialogue while River Fields’ monologue is made even longer, so he tries to convince the writers to change it by buying them kayaks (“RoBoats”) and bringing Jason on set as an amnesia consultant. This latter move backfires hard, and Jason’s quiet disposition compels the writers to cut Rogelio’s lines even shorter. Rogelio also has to deal with the insult of seeing his former BFF gush over his rival, and River uses Jason’s actual trauma to criticize Rogelio, who acts like a big baby when he lives a totally charmed life.
As light as the Rogelio plot is, it does have some more serious emotional content courtesy of his own guilt over going back to work while his wife stays at home recovering from cancer. Xo may not have a lot to do right now, but she’s getting some really great scenes this season that showcase how rich Andrea Navedo has made this character. Her short moment with Rafael last week was a poignant display of her tenderness and compassion, but she gets to be more severe in this episode as she shows that her cancer hasn’t made her soft. She shoots daggers at Jane when she uses Xo’s cancer “flaring up” as an excuse to get off the phone with Jason, which sets up a hilarious bit throughout the episode as Xo shuts down conversations by using Jane’s excuse.
Rogelio overcomes his guilt by inviting Xo to set, and it’s exactly what his show needs because she’s the only person who can put an end to Rogelio’s self-destructive diva behavior. When he stretches out his one-word line of dialogue so that it’s as long as River’s speech, Xo is the person who gets him to stop acting like a fool by forcing him to change his priorities. If he wants the pilot to succeed and the show to get picked up, he needs to put his ego to the side and act like a professional. She then wisely taps into his guilt by telling him that his behavior is causing her cancer to flare up and making her feel worse, which does the trick and gets him to say his one word without making everyone crazy.
The chemistry I mentioned between Jane and Jason in the last recap continues to bubble up this week, starting as antagonistic chemistry before developing into something more romantic. There’s a lot of tension at the start as Jane discovers that Jason is the polar opposite of Michael, but it’s the kind of tension you get at the start of a romantic comedy that is setting up these rivals for an eventual coupling. That happens when Jane decides to learn more about Jason and goes line dancing with him, a pleasant evening that takes a rough turn when Jason pulls her close and kisses her. It’s wildly inappropriate, and convinces Jane to let go of her Catholic guilt and move forward with a divorce. This episode’s cliffhanger is a doozy, and after lying to Jane and telling her that his dog ate the divorce papers, Jason pulls them out and tosses them in the trash, revealing a sinister side to the character that drastically repositions him for the rest of the season.
- I really love the transitions on this series and how they amplify the energy from scene to scene to give episodes strong forward momentum until the commercial break. I especially enjoy the stage manager commenting on the next scene in his exclamations, like when he shouts “O.K., moving on! Time for the big reveal!” before Rose tells Luisa why she faked Michael’s death.
- Based on Luisa’s visit by one of Rose’s goons, are we to assume that Rose is planting people in the lives of everyone she knows? Trust no one.
- Mateo is back this week, and he furthers the episode’s exploration of religion as he offers overly simplistic answers to Jane’s Jason dilemma, which she frames as an anecdote about a girl losing her dog, getting a new one, and the old dog returning. He says that God will make it all work out, but Jane can’t get behind this thinking when she knows how much work it takes to actually make things turn out for the best. She ultimately pulls Mateo out of CCD, and I’m very curious to see how Jane’s religious journey continues throughout the season.
- “You know what’s confusing? A husband coming back from the dead so you don’t know if you’re married or not!” I love Alba’s aggressive delivery of this line. She really does not want to talk about the complicated situation she’s gotten herself into with Jorge.
- “He looks dead serious. Or should I say back from the dead serious.”
- “You’re a real victimized victim.”
- Jason: “Pick up the pace!” Director: “That wasn’t any faster, Rogelio.”
- “Jorge didn’t win the visa lottery. I asked Rogelio for help getting the permit expedited. And he turned to J.Lo for a favor.”