When a show moves as fast as Jane The Virgin, four episodes can feel like a very long time. I’m surprised that the series has kept the Petrafied plot going for as long as it has, but “Chapter Forty-Eight” is when Anezka and Magda’s scheme starts to unravel. Turns out that stealing a person’s identity is very tricky when that person has a lot of financial responsibilities and complicated ties to those around her, and Anezka can’t keep the façade up when she’s pressured to take the next step in her mother’s plan.
Tonight’s chapter makes up for the total absence of Petranezka last week, and the script by Sarah Goldfinger, Jessica O’Toole, and Amy Rardin wisely ties the drama surrounding her character directly to Jane and her more relatable personal problem this week. Jane and Michael can’t afford their new home because the paralyzed Petra stopped paying half of their rent, and when Jane finds out that Petra was subsidizing their rent, she becomes inquisitive about her secret benefactor’s recent behavior. The script mines a lot of comedy from Anezka not knowing the details of major events in Jane and Petra’s relationship, and eventually all the little moments of weirdness add up and Jane figures out that Petra isn’t actually Petra.
Before that realization, Jane tries her best to sort things out with Petra in a respectful manner, even inviting Scott and Petranezka over for dinner when she finds out about the rent subsidy. Jane won’t let herself get too aggressive because Petra did technically do something very nice for her and Michael, but she gets the perfect opportunity to vent her frustration when Petranezka pushes her into The Marbella’s pool, kicking off a classic telenovela catfight. It’s totally over-the-top, but the show embraces the fantasy to give Jane this moment of violent catharsis. This is the kind of problem solving that doesn’t work in the real world of her home with Michael, but in the telenovela world of The Marbella, Jane can get satisfaction by duking it out in the pool with the evil twin of her baby daddy’s temporarily paralyzed ex-wife.
Moving in together is already tough, but it gets much harder when financial stress is added on top of the natural stress that comes with acclimating to a new space with another person sharing that space completely. Jane and Michael are just starting this transition when the rent bombshell is dropped, introducing a financial crisis that takes a toll on the newlyweds’ relationship. They have to make significant cuts in their spending to meet their new budget (and they still come up short), and sticking to that budget quickly becomes a hassle for both of them. Nerves are raw because money is a sensitive subject, and Jane and Michael have their first big fight as a married couple when they call each other out on not adhering to the budget.
That fight feels very real, from the rapid escalation of the personal attacks to the abrupt end that leaves both of them feeling like crap, and that conflict makes it very clear that Jane’s life isn’t suddenly going to become easier now that she’s married and not a virgin and living in her dream home. Michael’s petty goodbye and Jane’s peeved reaction to it are all it takes to shake the stability of their marriage, and while the two never really had a proper honeymoon period (what with Michael being shot hours after their wedding), this episode gives the sense that the grace period of limitless compassion and understanding has ended. That’s not to say their marriage is in trouble; any animosity has disappeared by the next time they talk, and they know that this is just one obstacle in the never-ending string of challenges they’ll face as a family. Instead of living with the pressure and stress of a tight budget, Jane and Michael agree that they should just move into a smaller home, which introduces some immediate issues in terms of house-hunting and movie, but will probably be the better decision in the long run.
“Chapter Forty-Eight” spends very little time on the fallout from the death of Rafael’s mother, instead pushing Rafael into a subplot involving him being pimped out by Rogelio. There’s great use of music to enhance humor when Rogelio first tries to convince Rafael to go to the charity benefit with Amanda Elaine, and the intense guitar brings that exaggerated telenovela drama to the silly proposition that Rafael play escort so Rogelio can play sexy baker in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Justin Baldoni plays a strong straight man to Jaime Camil, but the real reward of this story is the unexpected delight of the Luisa and Rogelio pairing. Mourning her break-up, Luisa goes to her brother because she’s afraid she’ll drink if she’s alone, and Rafael pawns her off on Rogelio so he can go to the benefit. Through the power of Sanford Meisner’s acting technique, Rogelio helps Luisa dig deep to explore the emotional roots of her addiction. As someone who studied theater in college, I was in hysterics when Rogelio turned to Meisner to help Luisa, but I also know that there’s actual logic in this course of action and that theater is an effective tool for therapy and rehabilitation.
Over at the Villanueva house, Xiomara and Alba are getting used to life without Jane in the house, and Alba is trying to be as supportive of Xo’s job search as possible because she thinks that’s what Jane would want her to do. Alba doesn’t think Xo will like working as a bank teller, but she hears the voice of young Jane telling her to be supportive so she doesn’t give the warning Xo needs to hear. Alba is making two mistakes here: She’s listening to the voice of a child Jane who has a far more simplistic view of the world and her mother, and she’s also not taking into account how much Xo has changed since the fights they used to have. Xo genuinely wants her mom’s opinion now that she’s an grown woman who understands how much Alba has had to deal with in her own life, and they don’t need Jane to be a mediator anymore because they’re far less antagonistic with each other.
Melanie Mayron steps away from Professor Donaldson’s office to direct “Chapter Forty-Eight,” and there’s some very rich visual storytelling happening in this episode. She makes Jane and Michael’s new house feel like a home by spotlighting the entire space and all the work the couple has already put into it (props to the set design crew for filling the house with lots of well-organized stuff, most likely available at Target). There’s a great shot of Jane and Lina in their flamingo outfits, perking to attention when Scott shows up by turning to the side and kicking one leg in the air, an image emphasizing the ridiculousness of their current work situation and the militaristic control Scott has over his employees.
The Villanueva swing bench has been the setting of many emotional moments on this series, and having the child Jane situated between Alba and Xo on the bench provides considerable information about the relationships that play into that conversation. The space between them represents the tension that Alba is trying to dissolve by looking at the example of Jane, who is completing the picture by sitting between them, but also creating that distance by motivating Alba in the wrong way. Alba is looking to Jane because she misses her as a regular presence in her life, and the child Jane disappears once Alba accepts that her granddaughter isn’t going to be around to fix her and Xo’s squabbles, leaving a space on the bench that Alba fills by moving closer to her daughter.
- This is the first episode with the new Jane The Virgin title card, which makes it seem like the show is just called Jane. I really like this change and how it makes the show’s title a punch line.
- Jaime Camil was on this week’s Last Week Tonight, and he looked sexy as hell. Rogelio should go through a glasses phase on Jane The Virgin because they look very good on him.
- Judging by the preview of next week’s episode, we’re going to be seeing a whole lot of Rafael’s arms in “Chapter Forty-Nine.” No complaints here.
- Alba has a new job and a potential new love interest! I’m excited to see Jane and Alba in the workplace together!
- People in Miami really like venti lattes.
- I love that Rogelio’s evening with Luisa ends with him leaving her sleeping in her room and warning Rafael to be quiet, just like a babysitter.
- What was the message in Elena Di Nola’s Bible? “Angels guard the sun.” Mystery!
- Jane: “Oh shoot! My dad’s gonna be here soon.” Michael: “So…no?” Jane: “So hurry!” Jane and Michael are having loads of sex and I’m very happy for them.
- Michael: “Just don’t wear those overalls. Rogelio: “Of course not. Mine will be much more fitted.”
- “No offense, but you’re not really a value-add.”
- “It is true. You are extremely handsome, I never noticed before.”
- “Family’s overrated. They just ask you to do things, like go to weird charity events so their dad can be in sexy baker movies.”
- “Classic catfight. Every telenovela has one. And then we all make love.”
- Luisa: “All I do is cause Rafael pain. And I think my ex-lover killed his mother.” Rogelio: “I’ve been there.” Luisa: “In real life.” Rogelio: “My telenovela was ripped from the headlines. Go on.”
- “So yeah…that obviously didn’t happen. Oh, sorry. My bad. It actually did!”
- “So, I didn’t get the part. That’s the way the cookie crumbled. (Bites tortilla chip for emphasis.)”