The season has officially started! AWARDS season, that is. And continuing its meta glory, where the fictional world Rogelio’s character El Presidente lives in is reflected in the “real” world Jane lives in, so too is Jane’s fictional world reflected in ours—that is to say, Jane the Virgin has been nominated for a billion Golden Globes! Okay, two. But one of them is for Gina Rodriguez as best actress in a comedy or musical, and singing Virgin Mary help us all if she doesn’t win. I mean, look at those chops:
I am rooting for you so hard girl.
On to the recap!
PREVIOUSLY ON THE PASSIONS OF SANTOS…
Santos, el Presidente of North Ecuadoras, affirmed his love for Marisol while they drank wine on their yacht, only to have their affair interrupted by a storm, stranding them in the middle of the ocean with a wild leopard. El Presidente saved them by killing the leopard and turning it into a luxe shrug for his lovely lady friend…
Santos and Marisol are captured by pirates and chained up in a cave! But Santos isn’t an army general and the president of North Ecuaduras for nothing, and very quickly he formulates a plan to liberate himself and his lady friend, one that involves matches, a nail file, and a constant cable connection.
Oh wait. That’s what Ivan the Hostage needs, and what he does not [spoiler] get, leaving him stuck as wheelchair-bound Magda’s irritating companion, and leading right into this week’s…
BEST TELENOVELA TWIST
Magda can walk! And it is NOT A MIRACLE.
BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT
The internet. From WebMD to Wikipedia’s history articles, it can solve all your problems!
THIS WEEK’S MVP(arent)
The obvious choice would be Jane+Raf, who learn the “better together” lesson, but their looming parenthood is so much the point of the show as a whole that I want to hold out and give them some more time to settle into their roles. So this week’s MVP award is going to a ALBA, who pulled double duty stepping up as parent—singing Paulina Rubio lyrics to Xo to urge her to keep following her dreams—and as grandparent—tipsily storming the halls of the Marbella to confront Petra about her baby scheming.
PREVIOUSLY ON JANE THE VIRGIN
Jane was artificially inseminated with her hotelier boss’ sperm. She was engaged, he was married, now they are (basically) neither, and are giving their own romance a shot. This despite the fact that Rafael’s ex—who has a secret identity—is scheming to get as much of his money as possible, and Jane’s ex, Worst Detective Michael, is constantly up in Raf’s hotel business while on the hunt for notorious drug kingpin, Sin Rostro. Also important: Jane has a secret lifelong dream to to be a writer; her mother, Xo, has a very NOT secret dream to be a pop star.
Jane’s first time
In what has become the JtV tradition, Chapter Nine’s flashback to Jane’s childhood is equal parts sunny whimsy and shadowy grimness. The flashback starts out as a sweet memory of Jane’s first time writing a short story, after which her mood is so bouyant that even the fact that ALL THE THINGS in her room grow animated mouths to congratulate her only makes baby!Jane smile harder, not have nightmares like the rest of us would.
However, as Jane runs excitedly into the hall to show her mother, she overhears Alba and Xo discussing how Xo’s singing dream isn’t paying the rent, and that dreams have to be put aside for practicality. Thus Jane slinks back to her room, vowing to keep her writing dream a secret, and Alba continues her reign of well-intentioned terror in Jane’s formative experiences.
A first time…for everything
In a move that should surprise no one, however, Jane has been submitting short stories to various magazines for many years. Her most recent response is from the Cincinnati Review and she is so inured to rejection that she opens it with half her attention elsewhere, only to be shocked by the contents: they want to publish her story! Her nearly autobiographical story…about a young mom with booty shorts and a billion boyfriends who puts the “loose” in “Lucy.” Whoops. So maybe that isn’t the story that she’ll let get published. But someone wants to publish her, and that is good enough for Jane.
Also good in the Villanueva household? Xo’s pop star dreams! Later that day she has her first ever meeting with a record executive who heard her Juanes-produced demo. Between this news and the prospect of taking Raf on his first ever bus ride to go to their ultrasound, Jane has no dearth of options for rechannelling her first ever acceptance letter radiance.
Having put Rafael in THE PREPPIEST DOUCHEBAG shirt possible, the show continues its balancing act with his character by making him the voice of reason when Jane tries to WebMD “nuchal folds” before they get to the appointment. IT’S A WORMHOLE JANE—LISTEN TO RAF. His 14yo inner self also adorably asks if her general warm mood means they are back on again, i.e., if he can kiss her, to which she responds: let’s maybe get to know each other some more first? Like, for example, do you believe in God? And public schools?
These topics are important to cover, of course, but between needing to (correctly) shame the ultrasound nurse for giving them judgmental looks for having these kinds of discussion after getting pregnant (like…it isn’t even okay if the pregnancy wasn’t the result of an accidental insemination), seeing their healthy peach-sized baby on the monitor, and having Petra storm in and demand visitation rights, Jane and Raf have enough on their hands.
Oh no she didn’t
Yes. Yes she did. Petra Solano, née Natalia Czech Republic, invoked an old surrogate contract she and Raf drew up years ago, after her miscarriage. And much like how Jane’s predicament seemed far-fetched until we saw how it played out, so too does Petra’s claim on the baby, until she lays out what was in the contract, and what her position is with the divorce still unsettled. Raf barely holds Jane back from landing a blow by promising (out of Petra’s earshot) that he will just pay Petra off once and for all, no matter how unfair her asking price. Jane is on board with this plan, until…
Petra’s very public lawsuit makes it next to impossible for Raf and Jane to settle with her quietly. Raf’s solution, of course, is to work with his lawyer to come up with the appropriately high right number to convince Petra to drop the case. Jane, crying in the hotel halls on her way to work, runs into Michael, who is there for the WORST reason (Bad Detectiving) but genuinely does want to help Jane. His possible solution? Rig Jane up with a wire to serve as a police tool for getting Petra to talk on tape, as she is still officially a person of interest in Zaz’s murder, and try simultaneously to get her to admit to her willingness to walk away from her suit for the right price.
While both plans hinge on the presumption that all Petra wants is money, only Raf’s proposes to give it to her, and his willingness/ease in doing so incenses Jane, especially when she’s got what she thinks is a perfectly good alternative in hand, vengeful ex-fiancé or no. Raf may be willing to part with fortunes to keep Petra away from Jane and his unborn child, but he is not willing to widen any possible rift with Jane, so after a day apart and plenty of time for contemplation, he texts Jane to say that they should be a team and go with Michael’s plan.
And so Michael swings back by the hotel the next day, ready to bring Raf down help Jane keep her baby/investigate Zaz’s murder spectacle. TBH, I had no idea Michael even still cared about Zaz. And considering the fact that he doesn’t coach Jane on a single question to ask to lead to Petra talking about Sin Rostro’s old second…he doesn’t. BIGGER FISH, I guess, huh, Michael?
Anyway, Jane does sit down with Petra, who makes a really convincing show of just how much she truly wants to be a part of Raf’s baby’s life. Like, really convincing. Like, between her miscarriage and being separated from her father by the Berlin Wall, only to lose him a week before the wall fell, so understanding the desire not to miss out on any love she can share convincing. More and more, Petra is reminding of me of Alison DiLaurentis on PLL—a woman fighting a world of evil men for her freedom and safety in any way she can, even if that means wearing a thousand masks and playing a thousand villains and shooting herself in the foot every time she almost finds a solid place to land. I hate her and feel for her in equal measure.
Finally! Some real detective work!
Not from Michael, you gooses. Never from Michael. Nope, this detective work is done by Raf, who was listening in on the “sting” and found parts of Petra’s story about her father odd. As in, everything Petra ever told him led him to believe she was born in December, 1989…a month after the Berlin Wall fell. Now, considering you had to go to the internet to verify that, Raf, I’d say that’s major points off your plan to send your baby to prep school like you. However, it did give him and Jane a reason to hire a private detective to check Petra out, and ultimately the ammunition to basically blackmail her into dropping her custody case. So, good?
The OTHER detective work
Now we can talk about Michael. Ah, Michael. Haver of Worst Ideas. Maker of Worst Decisions. Sleuther of Worst Detecting. Him. Yes, let’s see how he fares in his hunt for Sin Rostro/redemption this week:
1) Decides that Sin Rostro JUST HAS to be Rafael, not because of any evidence, but because of all the Sin Rostro hotel activity, and also Sin Rostro went off the grid the same time Rafael had cancer. Michael: even Nadine thinks you’re crazy with this one, and she was the one who thought it would be the best idea ever to storm Sin Rostro’s shipping container all by your lonesome without reporting anything in at all. Take a step back, dude. Take a step back.
2) In order to find evidence, enlists this jerk:
Again, Michael: a person who has historically had astronomically awful ideas is telling you to take a chill pill. STEP BACK.
3) Accepts Raf’s stolen wallet from his jerk brother, then uses the key sewn inside to break into Raf’s office in the middle of the night.
A couple things here, Michael: first, anyone who has the wherewithal to a) hide a safe behind bulletproof art and b) sew the key into his very expensive leather wallet—criminal or not—proooooobably also has the foresight to install security cameras around said safe…especially when said safe is in his office, at his work. Second, at his work, where there has been particularly high levels of crime against which one might want to install extra security measures. Like wall safes. And security cameras. Third? That pile of three passports and mere $20k? Well, there are three Solanos currently living in the hotel. And for people such as the Solanos, $20k seems just about right for the amount of emergency cash one would store in a wall safe. Like…what else are wall safes for?
4) In the aftermath of finding an empty safe when he returns to present Raf with a warrant the next day, joins Sourpuss partner Nadine to tear apart the room the shipping crate Serbian disappeared from, only to start hooking up, only to accidentally discover a hidden staircase cut into the floor beneath the bathtub.
Okay, so that last one might be a real coup. But the way he got there? Literally Aria Montgomery could have done a better job with a billion more steps admissible in court.
There have been a lot of great things to come out of this show in it’s short life thus far—the singing Virgin Mary statue; Raf pulling off his shirt on the beach to distract the evil twin ex-stepsisters; “It’s four feet, Baywatch!”—but nothing so far has been as glorious as watching Rogelio prepare for his second Paloma nomination:
This character, who started as a clueless cartoon diva, has rapidly become a heartwarming dork that I want to be in every scene. I mean, he’s still a cartoon diva—ONLY THE AWARD MATTERS—but he is also, truly, my dream #brogelio.
So, Rogelio spends the majority of the episode preparing for, attending, and recovering from the Palomas, to which he has invited as his guests all thre Villanueva women, for whom he also hired a professional hair and makeup team. God he has embraced this family SO HARD. And not once has he offered “the male perspective.” That’s how it’s done, people.
However, regardless of how wrapped up Ro is in Paloma anticipation/his enmity with Esteban Santiago…
…Rogelio still manages to see and care about what is going on in Xo’s life. He even proves his mettle as a multitasker, showing off the kind of “acting” of which Esteban isn’t even capable—intense longing for someone you can’t have—by staring at Xo, whom he can’t have, with intense longing. Also, sitting with Alba and Xo on the porch swing for a quiet afternoon moment, when he could just as easily have been with his handlers, prepping for the show. The juxtaposition between this content found family, and Petra’s unhappy one, is great.
Rogelio does not win his second Paloma, alas. I mock his diva attitude, but he does really care about his work, and genuinely believed he would win, so the half-leap to the stage he has to cut off when he hears Esteban’s name called is really tragic. It is to his credit how quickly he brushes the disappointment off, and how gracious he is with his family at the afterparty later.
Speaking of his family, Xo spends her entire episode chasing disappointment, too. Her initial excitement for her meeting with the record exec—for which she prepares by praying to a poster of Paulina Rubio, which talks her out of sparkly stripper shoes and reminds her how awesome she is—does not end up going well. When she returns that afternoon to tell Alba what went down, she says she could literally see the executive’s face fall the moment she walked in. Recalling the same memory Jane had of that night long ago, Xo laments that she missed her window, and should probably give up the dream of personal stardom and buckle down on the dance school.
Much like any of us suffering crushing disappointment, Xo uses the momentum of her overreaction to immediately set to work on something else—in this case, the dance school, for which she decides to research larger rehearsal space on Jane’s computer. Only, Jane left her acceptance letter for her too-close-to-home short story up on her screen, which Xo of course reads. When Jane returns home that afternoon, herself half-defeated by Petra’s schemes, mother and daughter have a heart to heart that has been twenty-three years in the making: yes, sometimes Jane did feel frustrated by her mom’s casual dating while she was growing up, but it turns out Xo only dated casually because the one serious boyfriend she had made Jane too sad when it didn’t work out. But now Jane is an adult, and Xo’s choices should be her own.
Basically, they tell each other mutually to stop sacrificing and live their lives—with Jane emphasizing how Xo should go after Rogelio, and not avoid a chance at happiness just because of Jane. It is lovely. It also provides another moment of comparison between Jane’s life and Petra’s, as Jane’s mom needs convinced to stop sacrificing on Jane’s account, whereas Magda only continues to remind Petra of how much she should be sacrificing for Magda, considering their history.
Xo’s chance at chasing her dream isn’t dead, either, it turns out, as who should be at the bar of the Paloma afterparty than…
The real Paulina Rubio! Xo does a fantastic job fangirling without going over the top, and actually has ears to hear the advice and well wishes Paulina has to pass along. When she returns to her family—Ro included—they are all almost happier than she is. Ro takes a moment to step outside while the Villanueva women are celebrating (“more champagne!” cries Alba, to her future misfortune), where he catches Paulina just before she steps in her car, thanking her for stopping by the party and talking to Xo. Paulina seems to know Rogelio well—or at least well enough to know that this kind of gesture, and the genuine reaction he is having to her having helped him, isn’t typical. Rogelio, I am so rooting for you too. Xo’s heart is a way better award than an old Paloma.
Alba, crazy mad at hearing the machinations Petra has been up to regarding her grandchild, gets tipsy enough at the hotel party to wander up through the hotel halls to confront the woman. How she finds Petra’s random tiny room is a mystery, but one that we may never get the answer to, because what Alba finds isn’t Petra, but Magda and a man screaming for help. And as Alba wanders tipsily back down the hall, and to the stairs when the elevator doesn’t come quick enough, a pair of strong hands appear at her back and shoves. And those hands, they are Magda’s.
DUN DUN DUN.
Anyway, we should probably do the poll now. Last week Magda was a clear frontrunner with 40% of the vote; Solano, Sr. came in second with 20%. Two of the parents we haven’t yet met—Petra’s dad and Rafael’s mom—were write-ins. I’ve had Raf’s mom in the back of my head for awhile, since they keep bringing up her “abandonment,” but I hadn’t considered Petra’s dad. According to her, he’s long dead. But also according to her her mom is confined to a wheelchair, and we all now know how true that is. So: Who is Sin Rostro?
We’re back January 19! Fingers crossed Alba survives until then. And fingers DOUBLY crossed for Gina Rodriguez at the Golden Globes!
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.