Welcome to Chapter Two of Jane’s life story! Two weeks down, and the CW has already ordered a back nine episodes to make a full season. YES.
I am still working on finalizing my JtV award categories, but I have at least two I am willing to start giving out:
THIS WEEK’S MVP(arent)
As was charmingly made clear in the crowded sonogram scene (and the TWIST scene at the party), almost all of the main characters on this show can be considered parents. Not Zaz or Luisa, maybe, but everyone else. And do Zaz and Luisa deserve any awards? NO. So without any further ado, I present you with Chapter Two’s Most Valuable Parent: Xiomara!
Jane may be learning the hardest lessons of new-mom-dom, but it is Xiomara who makes strong parenting decision after strong parenting decision throughout this episode, from standing up for Jane’s well-being to her diva of a secret-soap-star father, to making a milkshake-singing fool of herself at Jane’s quinceañara to keep Jane’s heart from being broken (and then keeping a secret even after the acute danger had passed), to helping Jane acknowledge both the sucky emotional burden that has been forced on her AND her right to react selfishly because of said burden. So what if Xiomara made the questionable decision later to get a bit XXXO!O!O! with her secret-soap-star ex? After that Olympic-level parenting she threw down the rest of the ep, she deserved it.
THIS CHAPTER’S SUBTITLE
Okay, so not REALLY an award. But considering the fact that our unseen narrator is too traditional to give Jane’s chapters any title beyond the numeric, what else is a girl to do?
Thus: Chapter Two: A Baby Is Not a Milkshake.
Now to come up with a few more categories. If you have an idea, put it in the comments! And if I am still flailing next week I’ll make a poll, try to coax out all you silent readers (i.e., my people).
Now, to the recap!
PREVIOUSLY ON JANE THE VIRGIN
Jane’s abuela seriously warped her 10-year old granddaughter’s mind with a very vivid demonstration as to how purity, once lost, can never be recovered. It involved crushing a very lovely white flower, which Jane, in a COMPLETELY HEALTHY MOVE, framed and hung on her bedroom wall. So now Jane hasn’t ever, ever had sex, even with her hot detective fiancé. Nonetheless, she is pregnant. Thanks, Dr. Alver, sister of the unwitting sperm donor father (who is also the owner of the hotel where Jane works, as well as the ex-playboy who Jane kissed years before she met her fiancé)! With the support of her mother (herself an accidental mom) and grandmother, and the prospect of giving the baby to a very loving couple, Jane has decided to continue the pregnancy. Her fiancé isn’t super great with the idea, but is trying. The very loving couple though? Pretty much on the brink of divorce, mostly due to the fact that Petra (the wife) is sleeping with Raf’s (the husband’s) best friend, and is only sticking around to fulfill the pre-nup terms and make bank.
I liked going by character last week. Let’s try that again.
Because Jane is, until the very end of the episode, thinking as much about everyone else as about herself.
Jane kicks off the episode by calling a family meeting to establish the fact that “the event” is not going to derail or change her life in any way. Alba volunteers her opinion that Jane should keep the baby (hey, it’s America! she can say what she wants!) which Michael, attending a Villanueva family meeting for the first time ever, immediately shuts down. Jane supports him in this, and doubles down on her anti-change position by declaring that the baby will no longer be referred to as a baby, but as a “milkshake.” She gets this bizarre code name from the memory of her quinceañara, where her mom interrupted “the event” to do an impromptu and embarrassingly pelvis-jutting karaoke rendition of Kelis’ “Milkshake.”
Jane uses this memory as a reference to her ability to roll with punches of any sort; Xiomara uses it for something else entirely, as we will see shortly. For the moment, however, Xiomara’s major input is the advice that Jane sue Dr. Alver. Jane takes it into consideration. She also takes into consideration the fact that she has never met Petra, and for both her own comfort and to reassure Alba that Petra is not some telenovela villainess with a false eyepatch (really), Jane texts the Lady Solano to set up a coffee date.
Before Jane can make this coffee date happen, however, she has a run-in with sperm-donor/boss Rafael, who continues his habit of putting his foot in her mouth whenever he talks to her. Offended and infuriated, she accidentally lets slip to her work friends that she made out with him way forever ago, which they interpret as an appropriate opening to bring up Raf’s supes douchey past. What? Has Jane not even Googled him yet? Because guuuuuuuurl…
Did Raf…did he get in a brawl at a COLOR RUN??
This revelation sends Jane fleeing to Michael with a billion new ideas for her unborn baby that none of them include handing custody over to one Rafael Solano. In a fit of uncharacteristic reasonability, Michael talks her down from her spiraling and suggests that she give Raf, the seemingly-reformed survivor of cancer, another shot. And thus does Jane end up inviting not just Michael and her mother and abuela, but also Raf and Petra Solano to her very first sonogram. It is, understandably, awkward.
In a showing of medical professionalism (at last!), the sonogram technician carts everyone but the biological parents out of the room, then has the good grace to look supportive but STAY SILENT as Jane and Raf ramble their way through awkward non-couple responses to the situation. Namely, Raf for sure wants a copy of the sonogram, whereas Jane wants no printed reminder of her milkshake situation. The wait for the image to render on the screen gives the two time to make a connection over Jane’s practical (teaching) vs. heart’s wish (writing romance) plans and Raf’s nightmare of a past. Both boil down to a paralyzing fear of failure. And with one shared realization under their belts, the universe sees fit to give them a second in an early baby heartbeat that brings both biological parents to tears, and many rapt audience members to arms over Jane+Raf being the ship to sail.
While Jane and Raf are bonding, however, Michael is getting more and more worked up about all the new unknowns this baby has dumped on his and Jane’s plans. His solution: ask/demand that she quit the job she has had for four years, with all her friends, with health insurance, just to soothe his ego. Remarkably, Jane doesn’t slap him. She isn’t at all happy about it, but does recognize that a partnership requires some level of compromise, so goes home to start on some applications. When Xiomara finds her doing just this, however, and basically voices our collective WTF?, Jane finally allows herself to breakdown and admit that, regardless of how fervently she insists, what she is in charge of now is not a milkshake but a baby, and how can she not get attached to it? And even if she knows she still wants to give it up, and knows that’s right, how can she also deal with knowing how much that will hurt? And damn if this whole scene didn’t just punch holes in my heart.
Xiomara uses this opportunity to reintroduce the idea of a lawsuit—not to take retribution, but to try to make up for at least a fraction of this pain Jane is feeling that is only going to get bigger and harder. Because, while she will accept Jane’s insistence on avoiding the idea of anything being unfair, there is no denying that the situation sucks. And while Xiomara may have been a screw-up who deserved a surprise pregnancy, Jane isn’t, and deserves now more than ever to be selfish and put her own needs first. Jane agrees to the latter, but takes offense at first, and reminds Xiomara that her continued pursuit of her singing dream reminds Jane of what bravery can be. Then Alba comes out to thank Dios that they can stop calling the baby a milkshake, and the Villanuevas hug it out.
The next day Jane calls Michael on her way to work and leaves a fantastically loving but firm message that she is the one dealing with the biggest change right now, and she needs constants in her life, so while she loves Michael and doesn’t want to hurt him, she is keeping her job. And she is, and does, and Michael knows well enough to hear her and agree and come with a grand gesture apology as she is preparing to work the big hotel party later that night.
At the party itself, Raf, too, has an apology for how he offended her, and just the best face when he supports Jane’s decisions both to finally pursue her dream of writing, and also to sue his sister. He has an even better face when he agrees without a second’s thought to invite Xiomara to perform at the hotel the week her pop idol, Paulina Rubio, is coming to town.
Jane, girl…good luck with all that. GOOD LUCK.
Button that shizz up, man. I’M TRYING TO WRITE HERE.
Unaware of Jane’s conviction in his marriage, Raf starts the episode demanding a divorce from Petra. He knows she’s just trying to wait out the pre-nup (and while I love his face more by the minute, I sure do hate when people use “sweetheart” derisively). Petra simultaneously knows Jane won’t give him the baby if it’s just him. IN FACT, Petra has just accepted Jane’s texted meet & greet invite, so what do you say to that, Raf? Hmmm?? Raf won’t be strong-armed, however, and makes the decision to tell Jane about his divorce plans as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, Jane is too anxious about meeting Petra (and making sure she doesn’t have an eye patch, she jokes, poorly) for Raf to feel confident spilling those particular beans, so he instead declares, unbidden, that Jane should totally sue his sister. WHOOPS. First, Jane totally had no idea that Dr. Alver was Raf’s sister. ALSO she is totally offended by his assumption that she is in it for the money. AND that she is “just a waitress.” And basically that he doesn’t know how to speak thoughtful human words when facing Jane (I mean…just look at her! Anyone would stumble to make sense their first few interactions).
Against Jane’s gut desire, however, he does at least score an invitation to her sonogram, where, being the biological father, he alone gets to be the one to stay in the room with her. He uses that time VERY WELL and manages to bond with her over his own youthful horroshow and his memory of their first meeting, when she admitted to him that she dreamed of being a writer.
Could they BE cuter? Seriously. I need to know. I need to prepare myself for the rest of the season.
All of his interactions with Jane only make him more convinced of his plan to divorce Petra—more due to a realization of what is worthwhile in life than any concrete desire to pursue Jane—and he tells Petra as much even as they are putting the final touches on their snazzy white party outfits to impress his dad later that evening. Well, he tells her through his sustained, “sanctimonious” silence, which she uses as an imaginary first volley in a war he’s not really fighting. She comes up with some vague if feelingly recounted story about how his ceasing to love her is as acute a hurtful act as was her going behind his back to get pregnant, and somehow this show of emotion—plus the single tear she squeezes out—is enough to convince him to give her one more shot. To his credit, he at least prefaces this change of heart with the warning that he isn’t sure they’ll manage to get past their old hurts. Still. Dude. You can do better. Like, being alone. Being alone would be so much better.
Dr. Luisa Alver
Missing from this still is the perfectly timed hesitation in the typing as “inseminater” came to a close, and “(sp?)” got tacked on.
Luisa makes some…interesting choices this episode. Her first questionable choice is to keep practicing medicine until she gets her official notice. Her second questionable choice is staring at a bottle of vodka while sitting in her office in the middle of the day. Her third questionable choice…
X-X-X-O!-O!-O! Oh, friend. NO. NO. NO.
The vodka-staring at least at a reasonable explanation: as an alcoholic, she knows that no matter how bad everything else gets, if she’s not drinking, she’s still doing okay. So yeah, things right now are bad, but she’s not drinking: there’s at least that. It’s wise in the way of self-knowledge, if not in the way of practical behavior.
Anyway, the reason her third questionable choice was even possible is that Luisa found some indecipherable legalese about her brother in her insurance paperwork, and need her ex-lover, the ex-lawyer, current-trophy wife Rose, to come interpret it for her. The bottom line? No one would insure Luisa and her history of substance abuse on her own, so Rafael put up his hotel as collateral. GREAT MOVE, KIDS. So now Raf’s hotel is on the line. And even still, he’s insisting Jane sue.
What he did not insist was that Luisa attend the big fancy hotel party. But TOO BAD. Because that is her fourth questionable decision of the day. To be fair, it seems as though it was more their father’s fault than anything—and yes, Daddy Solano does know what Luisa did, but she wasn’t drinking when she did it, and that is the important thing. That, and that she is family. And yes, Raf does too know why Luisa is so coddled (I SENSE SHENANIGANS).
And speaking of family…
Rose is DADDY SOLANO’S TROPHY WIFE. And if you guys think THAT was the (step)mother of all soapy twists for this, only our second time around the JtV block, JUST YOU WAIT.
Petra gains some layers this week! But alas, no eyepatch.
She is still machinating her way to a pre-nup payday, and still “boning” Raf’s best friend behind his back ((to borrow Jane’s friend’s er, colorful, terminology), but she is at least giving both of those things her all. To wit: accepting Jane’s invitation to coffee, micromanaging details for a party at the hotel to impress Raf’s father, and using Zaz as a sounding board to practice her “I still love you” speech (“maybe add a tear,” he suggests, to her utter exasperation at so humiliating herself)—all to impress Raf into not divorcing her. She also has a very interesting conversation with Michael while they wait outside the exam room at the sonogram appointment, wherein Michael reveals that he knows about her affair, and she intuits that his top priority is to ensure Jane gives up the baby. The mix of emotions she runs through in that scene—shock at having been discovered, sadness at having to give up Zaz to continue her payday plan, satisfaction in recognizing a need she can exploit in another person—is fascinating.
Also fascinating? How she reacts to Zaz throwing her around the hotel room and trying to choke her to death upon her breaking up with him. She looks truly frightened at her possible fate (which we can see through Michael’s stakeout binoculars), but that fear turns to a feline satisfaction as soon as he has her up against the wall—satisfaction, she purrs at Zaz, that he passed her test of being willing to fight for her. Then she attacks him with her mouth, only breaking apart when she “realizes” they both have to get ready for the big party.
Our initial reaction is meant to be the same as Michael’s—that is, what the actual fuck—but once we follow her out of Michael’s line of sight and into the hall and we see how truly shaken Petra is from that encounter, the whole thing reads differently. Petra was introduced to us as a “man-eater,” and is clearly well-versed in manipulating people to her own benefit, but it is not sadism or evil soulmate recognition that prompted her creepy smile and abrupt makeout session: it was her mastery of her own weapon as a means of self-defense. Fighting Zaz off would have only escalated the attack; leaning in bought her her freedom.
It also bought her the realization that she still does have feelings for Raf, who at least has not tried to kill her over the course of their relationship. She makes this declaration of love to her tarot-reading mother, who we learn has a burned face (her “sacrifice” for Petra) and is in a wheelchair. Intriguing and depressing, both. Also intriguing: Petra’s ability to add that tear to her speech to Raf that Zaz recommended.
As the narrator informs us, it turns out lying is easy…when you’re telling the truth.
Michael is trying super hard now to be good, and to do right by Jane. He isn’t always succeeding with his initial reactions (“Happy to provide the male perspective”; “I want you to quit your job”; colluding with Petra), but his follow throughs are commendable (“Whoops…just here to listen and observe”; “I screwed up, of course you should keep your job”; colluding with Petra…really, that one might go either way). He mostly gets a pass from me this episode because of his willingness to be IN IT with Jane, all the way, even when we know he is not comfortable with the situation. He talks her down from her initially frantic reaction to Raf’s sketchy party guy past; he waits for her at the doctor’s office even though it totally freaks him out…
…he DOESN’T lash out when he learns of Jane and Raf’s ancient history of a kiss; he makes that very well-done grand gesture apology at the end.
Really, I much prefer that Michael’s character is as messy and difficult to pin down as he is—as much as we like to see perfect Prince Charming types on our screens —even (or especially) with the romantic lead that is meant to be the weaker/more boring of the sides of a triangle—the blurry grayness of Michael’s personality is much more real and compelling.
Oh, and on the (kinda) non-Jane side of Michael’s life, he and his partner continue the stakeout of Roman Zazo/Sin Rostra. This is how Michael learns about Petra’s affair in time to use it as blackmail to ensure that she and Raf stay together long enough for Jane to feel okay giving them the baby. It is also how he sees enough of Zaz’s violent temper to perhaps respond to Petra’s vague promise of asking him for a favor by [redacted]. Perhaps.
Basically, Roman “Zaz” Zazo is just the world’s biggest tool. And that is his descriptor BEFORE he puts the hurt on Petra for daring to try to break up with him. Most of his terrible life choices were covered in other sections, but the real coup for us all is how he ends up:
Officially the worst party Jane’s ever been to. Thanks for overriding her Milkshake quinceañara, Zaz. Only kind of sorry you are dead.
Farewell, Evil Prince. We hardly knew thee. We will not regret it.
Xiomara is the real heroine of the hour. From the very first, Rogelio (secret-soap-star dad of Jane) is calling Xio incessantly, showing up at her door, demanding that he be made known to his daughter. Rather than break such life-altering news to Jane when she is in the midst of another major life alteration, however, Xiomara commits to again looking like the bad guy, letting Jane think it’s her good-for-nothing ex-(married)boyfriend’s calls she is fielding, not Rogelio’s.
It is commendable that upon hearing he is a father, a huge telenovela star would go out of his way to become a part of his adult daughter’s life, without any (evident) angle on using it to further his celebrity. It is not commendable, however, how much he dogs Xiomara without considering any of the numerous reasons she might be dragging her heels. And so Xiomara is equally commendable for chasing him down and demanding that he cool it already.
He doesn’t. And just when Xio is about to break down and give in to Rogelio’s deepest desire that his daughter get the pleasure of getting to know him (DIVA), Jane reminds her of her ‘Milkshake’ performance at Jane’s quinceañara all those years ago, and Xiomara remembers that it wasn’t self-interest that drove her to do something so embarrassing, but rather the desire to divert her daughter’s attention away from the image of her superfly date cheating on her with some rando in the corner. And just like that, Xio is back to being the bad guy for Jane’s good, telling Rogelio that he WILL wait and that not always getting what you want is just what it means to be a parent.
And then they totally hook up. And totally shock Alba in the process.
And that’s it! That’s this week’s show! What are YOUR thoughts? I’ll see you in the comments below, then join you right back here next week, when Jane finally…decides to have sex. AHHH.
About the Contributor:
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. A Wyoming expat, she now lives in Maryland, where she runs the DC chapter of the FYA Book Club. She can be found talking about Teen TV on Twitter, and her longform criticism can be found on Authory.