Welcome to Chapter Six, Janesters! Last week’s poll on Michael netted a win for the reader-supplied category of “Jerkules,” which I still can’t stop laughing at. “Zero” came in not far behind, which is correct. However, a full 15% of you voted for “Hero,” and now I feel like I hardly know my audience.
WE WILL SEE HOW YOU DO THIS TIME. Okay. Recap on.
BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT
I thought it was a joke category before, but this week we had TWO skillfully incorporated product placements that genuinely added to characterization and/or story: Target and MINI.
I loved Jane ordering dresses from Target.com in advance of her first day of teachering (makes total sense), and Michael’s handing the package to her when he comes to try to reconcile is a solid tiny detail that makes their world that much more real. However, I’m going to hand the award this week to MINI Cooper, both for the great visual jokes and the genuinely moving father-daughter moment the cars made possible.
THIS WEEK’S BEST TELENOVELA TWIST
Oh man. I mean, I know there was a lot of juicy stuff again this week, but I just can’t NOT hand this award to the opportunistic nuns of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic High School, using Victoria and Valeria’s evil stepsister Jane the Pregnant Virgin snipe-site as a means to a boost-in-mass-attendance end.
Opportunistic nuns. C’mon!
THIS WEEK’S MVP(arent)
Without a doubt (but with no small degree of surprise on my part) this week’s MVP was Rogelio. His grandiose “empty” gestures and general superficiality was revealed to cover up real emotion and best-intention parenting—with Jane AND with the twins—and his willingness to walk away from any romantic relationship with Xo in order to keep building his relationship with Jane would have been commendable for any non-cartoon person. Keep it up, Ro!
PREVIOUSLY ON JANE THE VIRGIN
Jane the Pregnant Virgin turned an unfortunate medical mistake into a thoughtful choice. Her mother, Xo, kept one really important secret from her—the identity of her telenovela pop star father, Rogelio, who is now finally in Jane’s life. Her fiancé, Worst Detective Michael, kept a billion really important secrets from her, causing her to walk out on him. Her boss and accidental baby’s father, Raf, started falling in love with her—and she, secretly, with him. Raf is trying his damnedest to divorce his machinating wife, Petra, but she owes money to the Czech mafia and so has gone to every length possible to milk money from their crumbling marriage—most recently falsifying domestic battery to blackmail Raf into throwing as much cash at her as she needs just to make her go away. Also, two grisly murders have happened on Raf’s hotel grounds, both connected to the mysterious drug kingpin Sin Rostro, whose case Worst Detective Michael is on.
And that is just a fraction of what has happened in the first five episodes of this amazing show.
They kissed! THEY KISSED.
Oh–we should dig deeper? FINE.
Magic Mike(chael Cordero)
Because everything that has happened between Michael and Jane these first few episodes have so clearly been leading up to an ending, the guiding flashback this episode is to the beginning—Jane’s and Michael’s beginning. Specifcally, their encuentro significada when he, as a baby patrol cop, knocked on the door of her 21st rager to report a noise complaint, and she, as a hammered birthday girl, mistook him for a stripper and his gun for a toy gun and accidentally blasted a hole in her ceiling plaster.
Because he was as terrible a patrol cop as he is a detective, Michael ignored the fact that he was still on duty and stayed at Jane’s to binge on telenovelas/flirt. He was introduced to the telenovela genre with an episode in which the Meant To Be paramours kiss in the snow on a yacht—imagery ultimately made more significant by the plaster “snow” that fell on him and Jane as they shared their first kiss under the hole she shot on his way out the door to the job he had been pretending not to have.
Speaking of that door, Michael is at it again in the present day, trying to command Jane into “working past” everything so they can just get married. I don’t know if I’m in the majority on this, but using “baby” to address someone who is rightfully upset with you makes you sound even more in the wrong, regardless of your relationship. However, as Michael is no stranger to instinctive infantilizing and dismissal of Jane and her POV (even if he does come around to the right way of thinking later), his using “baby” here is no surprise at all.
Anyway, Jane isn’t even close to ready to forgiving him or working past anything. All she can see when she looks at Michael is a flipbook of the moments when he lied to or gaslit her, all with the goal of getting her to give the baby up to a couple toxic with issues, when he knew that finding a stable, loving home for the baby was Janes No. 1 Priority. And as far as getting married goes? She’s definitely not committed to it now (even if she is keeping her ring on for the time being).
Our Jane of Sorrows
Hot on the (w)heels of this emotional car wreck, Jane discovers that she has finally received her student teaching placement—her final requirement for graduation, which she now can’t put off because Pregnant—at a Catholic high school.
This assignment is an issue for two reasons: First, Jane specifically requested a middle school. Second, Jane’s own HS experience was…subpar…so the prospect of returning to one to teach, Catholic or not, is less than appealing. Miranda is Student Affairs is less than compassionate towards Jane’s situation, however, so Jane is stuck with the assignment.
A third reason this particular assignment is an issue, Xo and Alba note, is Jane’s position as a pregnant virgin (don’t tell the nuns!). This is played initially as a joke, because our Villanueva women are nothing if not great at seeing the light side of tough situations, but once Jane gets to the school and finds Rogelio’s mean girl ex-stepdaughters enrolled there, waiting to take Jane down using just this fact as their main weapon, the joke turns real.
Yes! Jane has inherited not just a cartoon of a human for a father, but also his cartoon of an evil ex-wife and her twin mean girl daughters. And because he is super excited about Jane’s existence and incapable of doing anything by degrees, Rogelio thinks it is a splendid idea to invite Jane, Xo and Alba to dinner with him, his ex-wife/current manager Melissa and her twin daughters.
These girls are, of course, expertly cast. Their timing of every pointedly awkward comment regarding Jane’s pregnancy, both at #AwkwardFamilyDinner as well as at school on Jane’s first day, is perfect, as is their invented meltdown in the courtyard when Jane tries to be an authority figure and get them to take down their joke website on her second day. Nothing Jane can think of on her own works to stop their reign of terror—in fact, her one effort to step in and talk to Rogelio about their jealousy results not in him sitting down to talk with them, but rather in him giving them each a car to match Jane’s, which in turn leads to them throwing a tantrum big enough to get Jane fired—so Jane turns to Xo, and ultimately Raf, to help her take the low road.
(P.S. More hereeeee)
With ^ acting as bait, Jane lures the twins away from their phones and uses what she finds therein as blackmail to get them to stop terrorizing her at school. However, when the girls (genuinely) break down and complain that at least Jane’s got great parents who actually love her, while they are stuck with Mean Queen Melissa, Jane’s true nature shines through and she accompanies the girls to the principal’s office, where, after they confess to their crimes and get Jane reinstated in her teaching assignment, she officially forgives them.
Stick Shifts and Safety Belts
Also in need of Jane’s forgiveness is Rogelio, whose inappropriately grand gift of a NEW CAR Jane doesn’t fully understand until after she tries to give it back to him. Because while she saw it (superficially) as Rogelio showing off his wealth and (cynically) as him trying to buy his way into her affection, what it actually represented was Rogelio’s desire to have a role in at least one big part of Jane’s impressively mature, put together life. He didn’t even have his life together enough to get himself a car until he was 35, and now he sees her, with all her responsibilities and goals, and he wanted to do something for her that would actually help her with all of it. And not only does our cartoon robot explain this all clearly and without any weird cartoon robot tics, he admits he went about giving the gift the wrong way.
Rogelio! Jane and I kind of almost love you right now.
Xo’s Big Night
Remember that time Raf agreed to booking Xo at the hotel for a showcase? The writers (and Raf) did, and the big night is just around the corner. Not having performed in such a legit space before (or in a long time at least), Xo is super nervous—nerves not helped by either Rogelio’s “coaching” method or his manager/ex-wife.
Melissa does everything she can to trip Xo up—including hiring a band made up entirely of women Rogelio has slept with at one time or another, then “accidentally” dismissing them on the night of Xo’s performance due to “miscommunication”—but Xo is Xo and pulls through with a gorgeous acapella set that brings tears to her mother’s and daughter’s eyes.
What she does not pull through with is sticking to Jane’s advice to take the high road with Melissa, which ultimately ends with Xo running to complain to Rogelio about his ex just when Rogelio and Jane are about to have an especially significant moment of bonding. When Xo sees what she’s done, and adds it to all the memories of times her romantic entanglements led to unhappiness on Jane’s part (especially with the mean girls in high school), she realizes that she and Rogelio can’t pursue their attraction any further.
And to his credit, Rogelio agrees—AND admits that he has a problematic tendency of looking the other way when it comes to Melissa’s worst behaviors.
More love to Rogelio. Dude is RAKING it in.
Michael’s Big Night
A dude not raking it in is Michael, who is at a dead end both in his Sin Rostro investigation and his relationship with Jane. The first he at least has a crumpled paper clue from murdered bellboy’s locker to follow up up on; the relationship with Jane has precisely zero open doors. She’ll barely talk with him, even when he texts her about her surprise HS assignment after he gets her calendar notification thereof.
Michael, beaten down, goes to Xo in a last-ditch pursuit of advice as to how to get Jane to overwrite her flipbook of mental Michael Messed Up images. Xo’s advice—basically, give her time—is sound, but Michael is kind of a selfish jerk and can’t accept that, so when Jane’s fit of forgiveness of Victoria and Valeria expands to possibly include him, he jumps in with both feet and an anvil and sets up a champagne dinner (DUDE. SHE’S PREGNANT.) on a police patrol boat to try to recreate the yacht-in-snow scene from their first shared telenovela.
After a day of too many grand gestures, though, this is one too many, and coupled with Michael’s pitch of basically “Jane, let me tell you what you NEED to feel and when you NEED to feel it and what you NEED to think about and what you NEED to forget” (and also thoughts of RAFAEL but she is keeping that secret even from herself), Jane figures out where she stands in relation to him, and hands him back his engagement ring.
This is a coup for the audience, and a smart move on Jane’s part. The only good thing to come out of it for Michael, though, is a drunken Eureka! moment staring at shipping containers across the water and realizing that the scrap of numbers he and Sourpuss Partner found in Disgusting Tom’s locker was not a phone number, but a shipping container code. He drunk dials Sourpuss Partner to tell her he’s cracked the entire, enormous Sin Rostro case wiiiiiiiiiide open, and I am so very sure he is right.
Quick poll! How Do We Feel About Michael Now:
- Pobrecito: 4.49% (4 votes)
- Good riddance: 60.67% (54 votes)
- I’m still super conflicted (and the happier for it): 33.71% (30 votes)
- Other: 1.12% (1 votes)
Believing in Meant To Be
Both Michael and Jane use the 21st birthday flashback as a touchstone as they try to make their way through the fallout of her discovery of his lies, but where Michael saw hope in their Meant To Be, Jane finds a more likely Meant To Be in someone else. That someone else? Obviously Rafael, who spends the entire episode just absolutely refusing to be flapped by Petra’s increasingly desperate grabs for the upper hand. I mean, he’s got a literal rap sheet of way worse nights in jail, so the single night he spends there as a result of Petra’s bruised accusations is more of an irritant than a defining moment—it doesn’t hurt that it leads to a very sweet heart-to-heart moment with Jane as they compare notes about their equally complicated, frustrating lives.
Within a couple days, Raf manages to lever Petra and Magda out of their apartment, which they are squatting in in order to not break some “abandoned property” loophole in some contract, by shutting off their water and power (which leads to the very best line of dialogue yet, when Petra has to tell her mother that no water means she can’t flush…just…those words coming from Petra’s mouth…perfection). He also finds a housekeeper who was on duty (or will claim in court to have been) when Petra left, unbruised, the night she says Raf hit her, making Petra’s claims (and her ability to pay back the Czech mafia) fruitless.
The only task that repeatedly eludes him throughout these adventures is telling Jane how he feels about her in the handful of cracks their interactions offer. But just when you forget how serious these writers are about keeping their honest characters honest and so think Raf’s going to go the “nice guy” route and not tell Jane at all, in order not to color her thought process w/r/t Michael, he just tells her. In detail. How deep and singular a connection he feels, and how he’s not someone to believe in fate, but the chances of them them kissing five years ago, then ending up here? Well:
What if it’s meant to be?
And Jane, when Raf finds her moping over her breakup after Xo’s performance later that night, lets her glowing heart guide her and entertains the possibility that he’s right.
And then they kiss. And the white flower petals snow down around them.
And then I go into ultra-stress mode because obviously any major romantic win a mere six episodes in means trouble is definitely on the horizon. And Raf has proven himself repeatedly to be SUCH A GREAT GUY now that probably he will end up being Sin Rostro. It would be just Jane’s luck.
ON THAT NOTE
Let’s try predicting a twist for once:
Which face is Sin Rostro’s face?
- Solano Sr. He’s a pretty big jerk with a lot of money and useful-for-drug-running beachfront properties. 34.15% (28 votes)
- Rafael. WHAT A TWIST. 7.32% (6 votes)
- Magda. She’s carrying around a lot of resentment for whatever happened to mar her face, it would make sense she would use that detail to run a drug ring. 26.83% (22 votes)
- Michael’s sourpuss partner. CORRUPTION. 2.44% (2 votes)
- Alba. Lady can track the hell out of werewolves; surely she can manage a double life as loving grandmother and ruthless drug empress. 0% (0 votes)
- Rogelio. His robot smile really IS covering something hinky up. 0% (0 votes)
- Michael’s brother. He’s a pretty big jerk with NO money, but ties to the (cleanest cut of) Miami’s underworld. 3.66% (3 votes)
- Rose. She’s awfully dedicated to that plastic surgery recovery spa renovation project…trying to build a new drug ring HQ? 9.76% (8 votes)
- Valeria and Victoria. They don’t have ONE face, but TWO. And they seem pretty advanced in sociopathy for their age. 0% (0 votes)
- Lochlin. Dude barely got enough screen time to warrant his paycheck before being summarily telenovela-twisted right back out the fourth wall. He’s primed for a comeback. 12.2% (10 votes)
- Nicolas. Being Rogelio’s goofy, bowing PA is the PERFECT cover for villainy. 0% (0 votes)
- Other: 3.64% (3 votes)
Other funny possibilities welcomed, of course. I will add the best ones to official poll as they come through.
See you next week, Janesters.
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.