Jane’s best friend Lina is feeling sidelined this week, and for good reason. Jane The Virgin’s writers have trouble finding ways to integrate Lina into Jane’s roller coaster life, so their friendship hasn’t received the same kind of attention as Jane’s other relationships. Lina often feels like a minor character rather than a supporting one, but “Chapter Twenty-Six” takes big steps to fixing that problem, and it does so with the help of Nelly.

As we learned last week, tradition can be a mighty thing, and tonight’s episode strengthens Jane and Lina’s relationship through the ritual of their dance to Nelly’s “Hot In Herre.” First performed at their grade school talent show (as detailed in the opening flashback), that dance was the first time Jane broke her perfect behavior record, and it still has the power to break Jane’s habits years later. In the case of present-day Jane, that habit is her endless concern for her child Mateo, and since his birth, he has never left Jane’s thoughts. This makes sense considering Mateo was kidnapped almost immediately after being born, but for the sake of her own mental health, Jane needs to find some time away from being a fretful mother and have some fun without her kid.

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While dealing with the stress of a new baby (who was kidnapped), grad school, competing love interests, and Petra’s surprise pregnancy, Jane forgets about planning Lina’s 25th birthday party, which she promised to organize after Lina did such a great job with Mateo’s baby shower. Lina is definitely being unreasonable when she gets mad at Jane for dropping the ball with the party (Jane caring about her, again, recently kidnapped newborn is obviously the bigger responsibility), but Lina’s reaction stems from her fear that Mateo is going to pull Jane further away from her best friend. This isn’t news to Jane, who has already seen how great an influence Mateo has on her personal life, and she doesn’t want her son to sabotage the relationships she had before becoming a mother.

One of the ongoing themes of this series is Jane’s fear that her new priorities as a mother will disrupt the firm life plan she had for herself pre-pregnancy, and there’s no way to avoid that inevitable disturbance. Everything changed once she became pregnant and everything changed again when Mateo was born, and the best she can do is try to limit the damage those changes do to the relationships and goals she had in place before this mess started. She realizes that she hasn’t been able to dedicate much time to Lina since having Mateo, and while she doesn’t have the time to set up a surprise party, Jane can still celebrate Lina’s birthday with her. It ends up being exactly what Jane needs to get her mind off her son for the first time since he was born, and the combination of copious amounts of booze, a remount of their “Hot In Herre” dance in the club, and a heartfelt conversation on the bathroom floor allows Jane to reconnect with her best friend.

Jane is able to have this night of frivolity because Rafael is eager to take on more responsibility in Mateo’s life so that he can prove to Jane that shared custody is a good idea, and despite Petra’s ongoing efforts to sabotage her ex-husband’s relationship with the mother of his child, Rafael does a pretty good job with babysitting. Unfortunately for Rafael, being on babysitting duty means he’s busy while Jane is out drunk and especially vulnerable to the charms of Michael, whom she shares a steamy kiss with underneath the papier-mâché mountain brought in for The Marbella’s new yodeling music act. Unlike Rafael’s kiss last week, Michael and Jane’s kiss isn’t rushed. It happens after months of steadily intensifying chemistry between the two, after Michael has redeemed himself fully for past mistakes, and after he’s proven that he can be trusted in the future. Michael has moved slowly and always prioritized Jane’s feelings over his own desires, and his patience finally pays off this week.

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The sexual tension between the two former lovers is off the charts when Michael helps Jane zip up her going-out dress—a scene featuring great direction from Zetna Fuentes, who really amplifies the intimacy between the two—and after reigniting their physical connection, Michael reinforces their emotional one by coming clean about his last secret: letting Nadine go after she turned over Mateo. It’s a secret that could cost Michael his job if it gets out, and trusting Jane with it shows just how much faith he puts in her and how important complete honesty is to him. As we’ve seen over and over again, Michael knows Jane, and he knows exactly how to proceed to convince her that he’s a better partner for her than Rafael. And it works. By the end of the episode, Jane has seemingly made up her (drunken) mind about which man she wants to be with, and she tells Xo that she chooses Michael as Rafael eavesdrops on the baby monitor in the other room.

While the crime boss subplot is handy for creating big shocking plot twists, it generally pales in comparison to the meatier relationship drama. The addition of Michael’s duplicitous new partner Susanna Barnett adds an intriguing wrinkle to his investigation of Sin Rostro’s activity in Switzerland, but it feels like writer Paul Sciarotta is retreading season 1 ground as Michael uncovers a different faceless Miami crime lord thanks to Susanna’s questioning. This new threat, a woman named “Mutter,” is likely tied to Luisa’s recent abduction, but it’s getting harder to connect to Luisa’s story as she becomes more of a caricature. Her “sex-crazed trainwreck” shtick is getting tedious, and it would be nice to see the show’s main LGBT figure receive the same nuanced characterization afforded to the other members of the cast.

Stray observations

  • Rogelio’s secret shame? His audits from when he dabbled in Scientology with Luciana. This leads to very funny conversation where Rogelio explains to Alba how Scientology morphs Christian ideology and turns it into science fiction nonsense.
  • As someone that has a very strong emotional attachment to Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” because of a dance I performed in high school with two friends, I connect to the Jane and Lina plot this week on a very personal level. Anyone else have any dance-centric memories they associate with their close friends?
  • I’m very disappointed that we didn’t get a yodeling scene featuring the Rogelio marionette. If this was Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, that would have happened. (Also: watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! It’s really good and a great companion to Jane The Virgin!)
  • Britney Spears is coming next week! And she’s going to be dancing with Jane! I’m so excited!
  • Michael getting all superior about having seen The Sound Of Music when Rafael hasn’t is why I am #TeamMichael.
  • I love the callback to the closing scene of last season’s finale when Xo steals Luciana’s bunnies and there’s a shot of the bunnies moving further away from Luciana’s location.
  • “Don’t wanna brag, stopped peepin’ my pants yesterday.”
  • “How you say… ‘big bitch!’”
  • “This is a telenovela people, we need some drama! Turn on the wind machine! And kiss like you’ve been poisoned, and the only antidote is each other’s saliva.”
  • “Now give me my bunnies, you monster.”
  • “On the one hand, Rose locked her in a mental institution, killed her father, and kidnapped her nephew. On the other hand…” (Cut to sexy pool makeout.)
  • “All food now.”
  • “Dicapriesque.”

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