Jane Villanueva is one of the most relatable lead characters in recent television history. And she has to be, on a show like Jane the Virgin. To counter the show’s numerous outlandish plots — artificial insemination, investigations into a drug lord, and women with fake identities and heavy Eastern-European accents — Jane is the stoic and sober, low-key lead in this melodramatic setting. While Rafael’s life at the hotel represents one part of the show — the hammy, telenovela inspired part — Jane herself and the interactions that she has with everyone she encounters represents the rest, and shows us the true heart of the show.
While Rafael and Rogelio — and even Michael, when he’s investigating — exist in a sensational world where ex-wives are Amy Dunne level schemers and murders are continual, annoying occurrences, Jane (and that soft guitar soundtrack that follows her) brings everything into reality. Whether it’s a escort drugging her boyfriend, or her egotistical telenova star father, Jane, in her interactions, brings out the humanity in all of the show’s characters, minor or major. She’s a woman that hasn’t grown up with privilege and so she’s cautious of it. She works somewhere so grand, but only in the backrooms. Her family have struggled- it was revealed last week that her grandmother is technically an illegal resident- and she wears that struggle, never forgetful of the stability that you need for dreams to be an option.
That’s not to say that the melodrama isn’t, in its own right, wonderful though, because part of the reason that Jane the Virgin is so great is because of how it owns its telenova roots. The show can be gloriously campy (Rogelio being the prime example of this), but the outlandish plots and characters (Petra’s mother, anyone?) only work so well because of how Jane and her family put them into perspective. The show resonates so powerfully because of how it somehow, effectively mixes all of its camp with so much sincerity, and that’s all down to Jane and her Golden-Globe nominated portrayer Gina Rodriguez. Jane, in the face of craziness, makes us care about even the strangest of plots. But tonight, she seemed a little tired of it all.
Petra turned up at her sonogram, claiming parental rights to the child that she argued Jane was only the ‘surrogate’ of, and although at the end of the episode, she gets her downfall — of a sort — Petra’s evil-doing act is almost old-hat, now. Or maybe it was just her attack on Jane that seemed so disagreeable. But whatever it was, I wanted her argument to be over already, which with the help of Michael, it was. And that, his participation and comforting of Jane, was perhaps the highlight of the episode.
Michael still loves Jane, and since the anger has partially abated, he’s realized that despite his immense dislike for Rafael, he just wants the best for ex-fiance. A sentiment that he shared with the viewers, as he suggested setting up a wire on Jane, allowing her and Rafael to get enough dirt on Petra to blackmail her into agreeing to their divorce settlement.
Obviously, it won’t be that simple (the narrator himself said it!) but that’s the good thing about Jane’s fast-moving plot. If you don’t like something, it’s probably not going to be around for all that much longer.
Obviously, Petra’s backstory couldn’t live up to the hype that had been created over the past nine episodes, but her mother still won a lot of shock value in that horrible scene where she stepped out her wheelchair to shove Jane’s drunken abuela Alba down the stairs.
From what footage we saw of the rest of the season airing next year, it seems safe to assume that Alba will be fine; but for this week at least, Jane seemed over Petra’s dramatics — and so was I. Xiomara, too, was repeating her struggles of sacrificing her career and love life for Jane, something that her daughter called her out on, suggesting gently that maybe, in doing so, Xiomara was using Jane as an excuse to not do things that might seem a little scary.
Despite the muted quality of this episode, there was still a beautiful flashback at the beginning, as there always is with this show. We saw a young Jane writing her first short story, only to hide it after she heard her mother and Alba arguing over rent. Dreams don’t pay the bills, but Jane has still been cautiously pursuing hers ever since, with a short story- based on Xo — getting accepted for publication. Xiomara might have held herself back for her daughter, but she won’t let it go the other way, with Jane hesitating because of her. She signs the release form on behalf of Jane and after a staged meeting (bless you, Rogelio) with Latin pop star Paulina Rubio, Xiomara feels inspired to hang onto her own dreams as well.
She and Rogelio didn’t get any record dreams or awards in “Chapter Nine,” but both of them won the love of Jane, a prize that they’re both smart enough to value more. I didn’t love this episode, but I do love Jane, and I’m excited to see more of this Golden Globe nominated show next year.
- Rafael took the bus, and told Jane not to use WebMD! Rafael is right, because WebMD is a blackhole for anxious people. An addictive one.
- “We’re taking it slow.” “As long as we’re taking it somewhere.” I miss Michael, but Rafael does have some nice lines up his sleeve.
- “You need to stop calling me niave! Because you’re the one that married Petra, the reason that we’re in this situation!” Shots were fired this week.
- And yes. Petra’s mother appears to be Sin Rostro… I think?