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Title: Jane the Virgin S1.E16 “Chapter Sixteen”
Released: 2015
Series:  Jane the Virgin

I can’t even express how fantastic it was seeing the Jane cast at Paley this weekend (watch the panel yourself there!). We could have listened to them reflect thoughtfully on the cultural impact of the show and talk about how much they all love working together for four more hours, for real.

What a fantastic family they seem to have built for themselves. We are lucky to get to see the fruits of their labor of love every week on our television screens. Well, every week except for the next three, as we have to endure yet another hiatus until April 6.

And now to this week’s episode, which was so good it transported the whole theater who got to see the preview so thoroughly that we were all shocked to find ourselves surrounded by other humans and not actually in our own homes when the end credits rolled.

Singing Jennie Urman’s praises forever.


THIS WEEK’S MVP(arent)

Alba and Rogelio both acted strongly as “parents” this week, but in ways that, while true to their characters (and played for realistic drama with characters with differing opinions), are regressive in ways that I can’t support by handing either this award (men do not own women, whether as partners or children!). So instead I’m handing the award to 2002 Xo and Alba, for trying their best to keep Baby!Jane’s dreams of romance from being crushed by hot Miami festival night reality. Here’s to you guys making up sooner rather than later.

BEST TELENOVELA TWIST

The dog wasn’t even David’s!

BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT

Calle Ocho

Like the #ImmigrationReform moment during Alba’s hospitalization storyline, the inclusion of Calle Ocho as the crux of Chapter Sixteen’s dramatic arcs was both honest to the culture of the characters/setting of JtV (the episode even aired the week of the 2015 festival!), and informative (without being preachy) to [email protected], non-Miami viewers. It was subtle in the way of all the Target mentions that usually win this award, and, like all the Target mentions, totally made me want to go to there

PREVIOUSLY ON JANE THE VIRGIN

Jane was artificially inseminated! Old news. She also broke off her engagement with Worst Detective Michael, and fell in love with Rafael (the baby daddy), who has a mother who disappeared when he was a kid, a father who was drowned in cement by an evil crime lord, and a step mother who WAS said evil crime lord. Jane’s mom Xo fell in love with Rogelio, Jane’s dad, who is struggling in his new telenovela gig as an interplanetary detective. Rafael’s hotel is losing money left and right because people also are getting murdered there left and right. Raf’s ex-wife Petra is now part owner of the hotel, so will have to partner with Raf in whatever money-making schemes might come along. 

THIS WEEK

Flamenco Fantasies, Part I

Chapter Sixteen’s flashback drops us right into the heart of Carnaval Miami’s Calle Ocho festivities, where Baby!Jane, surrounded by her loving family, is falling in love for the first time…with the flashy romance promised by flamenco. “They looked so in love,” she sighs to Xo and Alba as they wait to order churros after the performance. “Don’t you think they looked so in love???” Xo tries to let Baby!Jane believe what she wants to, but then Jane goes behind the churro truck in search of the missing churro guy and finds him macking on the lady flamenco dance, and despite Xo and Alba’s best efforts to convince her that the dancer was really an evil twin, just like in one of their favorite telenovelas—and despite Jane’s best efforts to let herself believe that—Baby!Jane’s bubble of romance is effectively burst.

Modern Romance

Speaking of burst romance bubbles, flash forwards! Where we finally have a show that shows us the reality of modern relationships (friendships included). I am referring, of course, to Rafael and Jane sharing lunch together while staring at their phones.

Or rather, while Rafael stares at his phone, and Jane only manages to get his attention briefly by texting him that his food is getting cold. He apologizes and smiles and explains that he is just frantically trying to get some sort of musical act lined up for the Marbella to promote during Calle Ocho, and while that is certainly true, both he and Jane know that there is more to it than that, as he has been distant ever since Jane declined his sudden proposal a few (show) weeks ago. 

Unfortunately for us who love the two of them being in love, but fortunately for the continued superiority of Jane the Virgin‘s complexly honest storytelling, the cold awkwardness between the two lasts for most of the rest of the episode. Both Jane and Rafael are hurt and mad, and each is a bit in the right and a bit in the wrong (though not really) to be so.

It is obvious why Rafael is still distant and prickly—Jane not only rejected his grand and very genuine gesture, but subjected him to a stealthy test as to how well he knew her. Jane’s reasons are less obvious, but just as valid: he asked too soon, and without ever discussing with her (who is a modern woman and sees relationships as partnerships and not mainstays of patriarchal systems of ownership) that particular relationship step, and it isn’t fair that she be expected to shoulder all the blame for their mutual unhappiness. 

It takes them several missed connections and mismatched conversations—including, memorably, Jane trying to surprise Rafael with her own grand gesture of dinner, wine, and Bon Jovi dancing (only to be surprised by Petra), and her fantasizing about Rafael sweeping into the Calle Ocho concert at the last minute to dance a whole flamenco showstopper with her—

—but they eventually find a moment at the hospital before their maternity ward tour to talk and finally let the other know what each figured out on their own over the course of the episode.

Jane Meets Jane

For Jane, this lesson comes by way of a new, touchy-feely romance writers’ group that she finds by way of Michael who found it it by way of a flier given him by the Cubano food truck owner from the last episode. “That’s amazing!” Jane exclaims, ripping the bright pink paper from Michael’s hands. “I was JUST THINKING how I wanted to find a writing group like I had in college.” Because she is blocked in her own writing. Because of Rafael. Not that she tells Michael this much. “Must be meant to be,” Michael says with his trademark idiot (or, goofball, if you’re feeling gracious) smile, as the VoG narrator informs us how Jane sees the flier as a sign. Thank GOD Rogelio’s diva sighs interrupt them.

And so Jane goes off to the writers’ group, which is led, as our very best luck would have it, by the Open Hearts Collection’s own Jane Seymour. AKA, Amanda Weiner, romance writer and touch-feely compliment card encourager extraordinaire.

Only, Jane didn’t read the footnote on the back of the flier about the compliment cards “and gentle discussion” that is the whole point of Amanda’s group, and so instead writes a very college-writing-class-appropriate critique card of a fellow grouper’s writing. Which she is not allowed to take back. And which prompts the other writer to a flood of tears. 

Frustrated by her own writer’s block, her situation with Rafael, and the ever-worsening situation between her mom and abuela at home (more on that in a bit), Jane goes Peak Jane trying to fix at least this writers’ group mistake.

She writes a multi-page compliment essay for the weepy writer that night, only to show up to the next meeting to be told it wasn’t her comments on the writing that made the woman cry, but Jane’s comments on her marriage. “The couple you said you couldn’t find yourself rooting for,” she explains to Jane, “that’s basically me and my husband. The romance just isn’t there anymore.”

Jane out-Janes herself by inviting the woman and her husband to a romantic weekend at the Marbella (“The hotel with all the murders??” “We don’t like to advertise it that way, but yes.”), then finds Amanda to apologize for being such an interruption the day before. Amanda asks Jane when she will be sharing her own writing, and when informed of Jane’s writers’ block, gives Jane the advice she needs to crack open the puzzle that is her current situation with Raf: the problem is often further back than you think it is. 

And so Jane realizes that it isn’t a grand gesture that will bring her and Raf back to a state of normalcy (despite her Calle Ocho flamenco fantasy), but some honesty about why she is unhappy (the early proposal) and effort on both of their parts to communicate and move forward together.

I Love Rafael and Petra

Raf’s learning experience comes in the shape of a Lucy and Desi dog day escapade with Petra, and it is great. Petra kicks it off by storming into Raf’s office with Rogelio’s Twitter feed pulled up on her phone. “Your almost father-in-law is super tight with Latin pop sensation David Bisbal,” she exclaims triumphantly.

“Are you trying to use some angle to hurt Jane?” is Rafael’s first reaction, which is lovely character consistency and also not unwise, considering Petra’s past. But also it is clear that Petra is just in the game for the success of the Marbella, as her reaction to Rafael’s demand is legit bafflement. “Talk to Rogelio,” she counterdemands.

And so Rafael does, and after some great face comedy as he and Rogelio discuss whether or not Raf should have asked permission for Jane’s hand before proposing (hint: NO), he gets Rogelio to agree to give him the intro to David Bisbal, and, as things work in telenovelas, a day later David Bisbal is strolling into the Marbella with his entourage, ready to perform at the hotel’s Calle Ocho event.

Petra and Raf are equally anxious about the whole thing going well, and so jump all over themselves to make sure that everything goes how Bisbal wants it to go—including everything with his tiny dog, Diablo, who has a special diet and a VERY detailed schedule. 

Unsurprisingly, neither of these two fancy Miami hoteliers has much experience with or affection for dogs. I would presume that Rafael would like dogs, but had a family who never would have even considered letting him visit a dog park, let alone getting a family dog themselves. And Petra…well. Her personal history doesn’t seem to have allowed for much pooch time, either, but also I did not disagree with Rafael’s worry that Petra saying she would “take care of the dog” meant she would kill it. She’s got a sunny Cruella vibe, I can see it.

Anyway, Raf and Petra are left with a very loud dog (he is hungry, as the helpful dog subtitles inform us, and also overwhelmed by the idiocy of his two new caretakers), who they successfully keep track of for almost the whole of Calle Ocho. That is, until Raf is trying to digest Jane’s declaration that he was wrong to propose so early and so turns to Petra for feedback, as it turns out he also proposed to her after five months. “Was that too fast?” he asks, as Diablo barks and barks in the background. “Well, it was quick, yes,” Petra allows, as Diablo keeps barking. “But it also made sense for you,” bark bark, “who has always just wanted a family.” Raf stares at her as new puzzle pieces click together. “That is actually really helpful,” he says, “for me and Jane,” he continues, as Petra’s face lights up a bit in hope. 

And then they realize that Diablo’s barking has disappeared. As has Diablo. And what follows is a literal dog chase through the halls, culminating in Petra finding him humping a pillow in the freight elevator (“Of course,” Raf sighs) and the woman who handed the dog off originally returning for him and admitting that Diablo is actually her dog, and she tricked our proto-Lucy and Desi just to make sure the dog got the best attention possible. Because she is a monster.

Aaron Zazo…Still a Good (?) Guy (!)

Not a monster? Aaron! Maybe! Over 70% of you chose “Aaron is actually Roman who used Aaron as his body double to fake his own death” as your answer to last week’s poll. Which means over 70% of you were (probably) wrong! He isn’t even as sketchy as we thought, calling Michael immediately to hand over the drive he smashed out of his “mother’s” necklace.

It wouldn’t make sense, after all, for Roman to need to use the police to de-encrypt a flash drive that presumably he himself hid in the necklace he gave Petra. It MIGHT make sense for Sin Rostro’s partner and/or rival to do so, though, so…for the rest of you/us, we will have to see. 

Unfortunately, all the Miami Police Department can get off the drive is a single name, of a guy thought to be dead. “Well, I will rattle the cages of his old girlfriends,” Nadine tells Michael as they break down the facts in a parking garage later. “And we will go stake out his mother!” Rogelio declares, from his post behind Michael’s shoulder. Yes, that is right. Rogelio is shadowing Michael, because:

Michael quickly regrets having said yes to Rogelio in the first place (Jane told him not to!), especially when Rogelio starts complaining of hunger and boredom twenty-six minutes into their stakeout. He ends up having fewer regrets, however, after A) it turns out that Rogelio not only loves celebrity impressions in general, but adores Michael’s in particular (terrible taste, Rogelio, terrible taste), and B) Rogelio’s crowd of fans in the streets of Calle Ocho serve as a productive human blockade for the fleeing suspect later that night. 

As for us in the audience, any regrets we might have had are wiped away when Jane’s flamenco fantasy (part II) gives us the ultimate Rogelio-Michael bro-ment:

Jennie Urman promised the Paley audience even more comedy with unexpected pairings in episodes to come. Though how they might top Rogelio and Michael dancing flamenco, I can’t even imagine.

Villanuevas at Odds

While Rogelio is shadowing Michael around the mean streets of Miami, Xiomara is home fighting with Alba over her imminent move-out. See, Jane suggested to Xo last week that with things changing, perhaps she should think about not living with Alba forever. And Xo interpreted that as, ask Rogelio if they should move in together. And he agreed, and now that have found a house they both like (that is, crucially, 200 sq. ft. larger than Esteban’s house), and so Xo told Alba she’d be leaving. And Alba didn’t believe her, until she saw her “packing” (i.e., stealing most of Jane’s cutest clothes).

This sets off a firestorm. First, Alba says she didn’t believe Xiomara when she first mentioned her plan to move out, because Xo is always saying she’s going to do crazy things, and then not following through.

And then when Xo refuses to give up her plan, Alba calls her stupid, because she is ruining her relationship prospects by living in a fantasy world and, no joke, “giving the milk away for free.” Because why would Rogelio want to marry her ever if he is living with her already? And as Xiomara groans, so groans the nation.

Jane, meanwhile, is already at her limit of unhappy situations, between Rafael and her writers’ group debacle, and so is trying her hardest to mediate (while wearing like a dozen different pieces of mismatched clothing she has stolen back from Xo). It does not go well, and Xo and Alba remain off speaking terms for the rest of the episode—Alba not even showing up to the Marbella’s Calle Ocho concert that night, save for in Jane’s flamenco fantasy.

Oh, my hearts. I hope this resolves soon.

Small Intimacies

At the end of the night, all Calle Ocho festivities finished and behind them, Rafael finds Jane at the hospital, where he joins her on the floor to share his revelations about family. “I just wanted to lock this down,” he admits. “To make sure you wouldn’t leave, too.” But that is exactly the point, she says. “I’m here, and I am NOT leaving.” And it is small and quiet, but also the exact right conclusion to their first big hurdle.

“I didn’t even look for her, you know, my mom,” Rafael continues, as Jane holds his hand and things finally start to fall back into place. He just trusted his dad’s explanation (or lack thereof), and now he can’t even ask his dad about it. Which, we hadn’t really been allowed to forget that his dad is gone, but I at least had been more focused on the ridiculousness of his manner of death than I was on the tragedy it is for Rafael, so much else has been going on for him and Jane lately. And so Jane suggests she does. “She may have a good reason for leaving!” she offers. Or not, Raf counters. “Or not,” Jane agrees, perfectly. But he should go searching anyway.

And so the two find that romance hinges less on grand gestures than it does on small intimacies, as they return to the penthouse and Rafael types “Elena Di Nola” into the search bar.

So, since the Aaron Zazo thumb drive twist already took a turn we weren’t expecting (#blessed)…how do we see the Raf’s Missing Mom cliffhanger going? 

Elena Di Nola-Solano…Dead or Alive? 

  • Dead. 0% (0 votes)
  • Dead. Cause of death? Muuuuuurder. 2.56% (2 votes)
  • Alive! 57.69% (45 votes)
  • Alive, and Sin Rostro’s competition. 25.64% (20 votes)
  • Alive and Jane Seymour. 7.69% (6 votes)
  • Alive and somehow related to Jane. 6.41% (5 votes)

NEXT TIME

Won’t be until APRIL 6, Dios mio!


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.

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This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.