After 46 chapters, it’s finally happened: Jane Gloriana Villanueva has lost her virginity. Is it glorious? No. Is she happy about it? Not really. Like everything else in Jane’s life, letting go of her virginity turns out to be more complicated than she expects, and she goes on an intense emotional journey as she tries to figure out why she’s not physically and spiritually satisfied by sexual intercourse with her husband. Tonight’s Jane The Virgin follows a very similar trajectory as Jane’s sexual experience in this episode; it starts off rocky but sticks the landing, providing a triumphant finish that makes up for any missteps at the start.
The first third of “Chapter Forty-Seven” has some questionable plot developments. Jane and Michael finally have sex after a series of interruptions courtesy of Jane’s family members and her advisor, but they accidentally activate the video camera on Jane’s computer and record the session, which is then erroneously sent to Jane’s advisor instead of the book chapter she’s expecting. Jane’s deflowering is accompanied by an awkward, anti-climactic animated sequence. Rogelio is trying to sell The Passions Of Santos to a U.S. TV network and scores a meeting at The CW, prompting various comments from people who have no idea what The CW is. And then there’s Luisa and Rose, who are literally going around in circles in their submarine underneath the Great Barrier Reef, a fitting metaphor for the show returning to a plot that is getting increasingly stale (the narrator even directly comments on this).
At the start of the episode is looks like Jane The Virgin might be breaking its streak of successes, but nearly all of these storylines have a strong payoff. While I have issues with the logistics of turning on a webcam by bumping a keyboard (and the two of them never noticing that they’re being recorded during or after sex), the recorded intercourse opens the door for Jane to tell her advisor that it was her very first time, which helps Professor Donaldson realize why Jane’s writing has been lacking the passion she hopes to see in a good romance story. The video also serves as a helpful resource at the end of the episode when Jane and Michael are trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t on their first night together, and the tape ultimately gets them turned on so they can finally have the revelatory sex they were hoping for the first time.
The anti-climax of that initial animated sequence is intentional because Jane fakes her orgasm, but when she experiences the real thing at the end of the episode, there’s a much longer, far more effective animated sequence set to Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher.” The sequence includes moments like Jane and Michael being cheered on by the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s David, flying over a stadium that displays “Tap That Ass” on the green, and ultimately soaring into space to blow up the sun, a hilarious final visual that captures the sweltering heat and powerful release of Jane’s first truly satisfying sexual experience.
Jane The Virgin approaches sex-related topics with incredible care. Last week’s abortion storyline was nuanced and compassionate, respecting Xiomara’s right to choose what she does with her body and bringing Alba to a point of understanding, even if she doesn’t fully accept her daughter’s actions. This show finds a way to tackle complex issues with a refreshingly direct point-of-view, and there was no doubt in Xo’s mind that she would not have Esteban’s child. The conflict wasn’t whether or not she should have the abortion, but how she would tell the people in her life about it before and after, and I admire the show for allowing Xo to be so confident in her decision-making. Jane’s situation this week is very different, and the show embraces that contrast in how it handles the loss of her virginity. Xo is steadfast, but Jane is nervous and very vulnerable because she doesn’t have her mother’s history of sexual liberation.
Jane’s virginity has felt like a burden for much of this series, but it’s also one of the defining elements of her identity. Even with the stress it’s added to her relationships, Jane believes that keeping her virginity until marriage was the right decision to make, but she spent so much time cherishing her flower that she doesn’t know what to do now that it’s gone. Instead of feeling happy and free after sex, Jane feels hollow and confused, and these feelings are exacerbated by Michael’s negative reaction when she confesses that she faked her orgasm. Michael’s reaction is unfortunate but also understandable, and after all the build-up to the big moment, he wants to be able to satisfy his wife. Jane’s disappointment emasculates him because he puts all the blame on himself, but this isn’t an issue of Michael not knowing how to use his equipment.
Michael doesn’t know what pleasures Jane because they haven’t had any practice with full-on intercourse (although it sounds like they’ve tried other stuff successfully), but more importantly, Jane has emotional barriers up that need to get taken down before she discovers the joy of sex. Michael doesn’t want her talking to others about their problems in the bedroom, but outside assistance is exactly what Jane needs right now, and she gets it from a reliable source: her mother. Writers Carolina Rivera and Micah Schraft tie Jane and Xo’s storylines together excellently this week, and as Jane struggles to give up part of her identity, she becomes very defensive of her mother doing the same when Xo considers giving up her dream of being a famous singer in favor of more attainable career paths.
Jane is so defensive that she snaps at guest star Gloria Estefan, who appears with her husband, Emilio, to check out Xo’s performance at The Marbella. The Estefans turn out to be supportive of Xo’s decision to start exploring new occupations because they themselves have expanded beyond the music industry, but this isn’t what Jane or Rogelio (who cashed in a favor to get them to show up) want to hear. This episode treats the Estefans like royalty—Xo curtsies when she notices them in the audience—which makes it all the funnier when Jane loses her cool and lashes out at Gloria for trying to convince her mom to give up her dream. Jane expects the superstars to wholeheartedly support Xo, but Gloria and Emilio understand just how difficult it is to break into the music business and aren’t going to push Xo down a path that could potentially lead nowhere when there’s the possibility of her pursuing more lucrative opportunities for herself.
Xo quickly realizes why Jane is so fired up about this potential career change, and helps Jane come to terms with the loss of her virginity by explaining that it’s not a loss, but the gaining of a new dimension. That helps Jane approach her sexual relationship with a fresh perspective, but also her writing, and Jane realizes that her reductive ideas regarding Alba’s sister, Cecilia, are keeping her from creating a fully realized character for her story. Throughout the episode Jane imagines different versions of Cecilia—promiscuous, chaste, bitchy—but none of these caricatures inspire Jane to create something meaningful. Jane was never solely defined by her virginity on this series, and the reason this show was able to sell its high concept was because it made Jane a fully realized character with distinct flaws, strengths, and desires. Jane realizes that she needs to do the same with Cecilia in her story, and in the process she inadvertently finds truth when she writes that Cecilia was in love with Alba’s fiancée.
The Sin Rostro story has been the least compelling aspect of Jane The Virgin for a while now, but I’m curious to see how Rose’s change of heart will play out in the future. She says she wants to give up the criminal life but the episode ends with her seemingly killing Rafael’s imprisoned mother, which could be a return to villainous habits or an effort to ingratiate herself to the Solano family by taking out its enemies. I’m hoping it’s the latter, and that Rose’s last evil deeds as Sin Rostro are taking out the other criminal characters that have consistently felt like a distraction from the real meat of this show: the domestic drama surrounding Jane and the people she cares about.
- Eva Longoria directs this episode, and she does a good job maintaining this show’s visual style. I really like the scene when Jane returns to her cleared-out old bedroom, and the sense of isolation and emptiness Longoria evokes by placing the camera at a high angle that makes Jane look small in the expanse of this bare room that holds so many memories. The moment when Jane’s younger self appears to compliment her mom is also great, showing how being back in this room makes Jane feel like a kid again.
- I coincidentally watched the first two episodes of this show with my mom earlier today, which was a great decision because it showed just how far this series and its characters have come from where they started, and made me aware of more subtle callbacks to earlier episodes, like the telenovela backdrop coming down when Rogelio tells Dina she’s his artistic soul mate. This is a nod to a similar scene in “Chapter Two,” which had the telenovela backdrop being lifted when Xo tells Rogelio about the daughter he didn’t know he had.
- Where are Rafael and Petra’s twins? Did they get kidnapped and no one cares?
- I love the fan blowing on Gloria Estefan, but that air is definitely coming from in front of her, not behind, which lessens the impact of the fan joke at the end of her introduction.
- Is Jane’s vision of Cecilia at the end of this episode the first time Gina Rodriguez has spoken completely Spanish dialogue on this series? My memory might be wrong here, but I think it is.
- Can you not say “lube” on network television?
- This week’s hashtags: #docblocked, #feeltheburn, #Estefavor, #Estemajor
- “You have dirty minds, all of you.”
- “Rob Lowe?! Maybe as Santos’ father!”
- “OK! You know what, I just need you to stay out of this, Gloria Estefan!” This is one of my favorite line deliveries from Gina Rodriguez. It had me laughing for a long, long time.