I know part of it is a function of still being so early in the season, but it is just so dang refreshing to have so much drama driven by honesty and a refusal to keep secrets—especially on a show that traffics so heavily in telenovela elements. Just a reminder that any set of tropes treated with wit and intelligence and affection can be elevated!
THIS WEEK’S MVP(arent)
Partly because I worry I’ll never get the chance to do so again, but mostly because of how he helped lovingly urge Alba to establish a foundational Villanueva tradition, sending his strength of spirit down through the generations even in his physical absence. Good dad-ing, Abuelo Mateo!
BEST TELENOVELA TWIST
I’m going to dip into the telenovela-within-a-telenovela this week and hand the award to Rogelio kneeling on a step-ladder for Santos’ literal cliffhanger shot. Twisting the twists in the best way possible, just another week on JtV.
BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT
Classic Madonna. Thanks, Lena!
PREVIOUSLY ON JANE THE VIRGIN
Jane was accidentally artificially inseminated with hot hotelier Rafael’s thought-to-be-last sperm sample, and now the two of them have a baby boy. We all know this; it would just seem WRONG not to include it. What we also know is that, after a year of falling in and out of passion with both baby daddy Raf and ex-fiancé Michael, Jane has finally realized that she is in actual love with both—a fact she told both of them, to their faces, at the exact same time. YAY. What we also mostly know, though may struggle to remember, is that Jane had ambitions that got sidetracked by her surprise baby—specifically, of being a romance writer. And she is SO KEEN on following those ambitions that she nearly gave birth in her dream grad school professor’s office to convince him to accept her application late. Commitment! Also committed/committable? Raf’s ex, Petra, who stole and turkey basted herself with the surprise second sperm sample the world’s worst fertility clinic came across, all in a gambit to win back Raf’s heart. Xiomara and Rogelio, too, are gambling on love, only coming from the opposite direction, as they are actually accidentally married, but now have to work through (Rogelio’s) ex hangups in order to build the future together that they both want. Also, some mysterious Swiss woman who probably has beef with Rose kidnapped Luisa! Dang, girl. Always twelve steps off from the main action.
STOP THE PRESSES. This week’s flashback is to Young!Alba! WITH Young!Mateo, who is a straight-up fox. You get it, Alba!
Anyway, Young!Alba was just as attached to tradition as is the Alba we know and love now. Only, all the traditions she knew involved objects and family left behind in Venezuela, which meant that the night before Baby!Xiomara’s baptism, Young!Alba was feeling pretty despondent. Enter Young!Mateo, who offers up the most American of solutions: “let’s start our own traditions.” In this case? A letter to baby Xo, explaining why Mateo and Alba immigrated to the US and describing their hopes and dreams for her, that Alba could read at the baptism.
And she did, and then passed the letter on to a young (and hilariously snotty) Xo on the night before Baby!Jane’s baptism.
And now Xo, she’s passing on…
…a baptismal gown! Ah, a little bait-and-switch there. The gown is all Jane’s frazzled attention has the capacity for right now, still days before the baptism; the letter will have to wait until the last, most heartwarming, possible moment.
So yes, now we have fast-forwarded to the present day, with all three Villanueva women industriously preparing for Baby!Mateo’s upcoming baptism and ensuing house party. Alba, in charge of the master checklist, asks Jane for confirmation on the godparent picks. “Lena confirmed!” Jane says brightly, before shrug-emoji-ing* at the probability that Lena will show up in the black dress from Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” video. And the godfather?
*I stand by this ridiculous phrasing; ¯_(ツ)_/¯ is a totally different thing than actual shrugging, and you just know which one Lena would want to be associated with.
Well, considering that on the night of Mateo’s kidnap and rescue Rafael emotionally asked Michael to the godfather, and now Jane has told both men to their faces that she is in love with each equally… “It’s going to be awkward,” Xo concludes for her daughter, nodding understandingly. Well, yes. And no. Awkward for sure, but that awkwardness is less worrisome to Jane than the certainty that when she calls Raf to confirm his choice, he will change his mind, and they will have to pick someone else to be the godfather…and Jane can’t imagine anyone BUT Michael being the godfather. So. Oof.
“Yes, very sad,” Alba nods. “Now CALL HIM.” There are tasks to be checked off, Jane, jeez, vamanos.
Anyway, joy of joys, Raf is all about the Godfather Michael train. Just SUPER stoked, everything is totally fine, don’t even worry about it, see you at the church later, etc etc etc. Well, cool. Way to worry over nothing, Jane!
Raf, it turns out, was not exactly present for that phone call with Jane RE: Godfather Worst Detective. Why? He was arguing with Petra as they waited in his doctor’s office for official-official pregnancy test results. Because he knows! Last week he got the phone call from the fertility clinic; this week he KNOWS.
The most refreshing thing that happened this entire episode—refreshing in terms of ALL OF TELEVISION, not JtV, because JtV operates on a higher plane—is that Petra’s big, juicy secret, the secret that dumb Scott used to blackmail his way up the Marbella ladder, the secret that a lesser show could have kept dangling from other characters until we all wanted to claw our eyes out…she just admitted. Straight up. No obfuscation, no beating around bushes, no admitting part of the truth while withholding key details until later.
Nope! Raf figured it out and confronted her; she told him the truth. And then peed on a dozen sticks to prove it to him. And then peed on his own personal doctor’s stick for good measure. And not only did she come clean about *being* pregnant, she came clean about why she did it, the good (love) and the bad (coldly planned seduction and lies). And then Raf came clean to HER, being honest about how he had been playing her emotions to get her to sell her shares and shuffle out of his and Jane’s lives forever. Ahhhh. Petra’s emotional honesty was definitely braver than Raf’s calculating truth, but from a storytelling perspective, they are equally valuable, and indicative of one of Jane‘s greatest strengths: give me drama from honesty any day. Screw belaboured secrets and the even more belaboured tension they dredge up.
So yes, now Raf knows Petra’s game and Petra knows Raf’s heart and they both have to move forward.
With a baby.
The way Petra decides to react to her new reality is amazing: she calls Rafael and Jane to her office for a meeting, and bluntly presents the three options she has determined to be most reasonable for her future.
- Seduce a Russian oligarch and convince him the baby is his, cutting Daddy Raf & Bro Mateo out of the picture forever;
- Co-parenting. Or co-co-parenting, what with Jane needing to be included.
“WHAT???” Jane exclaims when Petra includes her in Option #3. “We’re not together.” “Oh?” Petra asks, feigning the world’s subtlest fake nonchalance. “Well, whether you will or won’t be eventually…it still needs to be considered. Because either way, Mateo is this child’s brother.” And dammit if Jane doesn’t realize that what Petra is saying is 100% true.
So, with the clock ticking on the first two options, Jane and Rafael go off to think—Jane about what her imagined (foxy) future!son might say if he found out he had a secret brother living in Vladivostok, for example. And Petra, she revels in the minuscule window the revelation that Jane and Raf aren’t currently together opened for her.
The one you love to hate to love.
(Other) Hot Exes
Also looking for a way in through the minuscule window Jane left open with her revelation last week is Michael, whose position outside the family puts him one step behind Raf in the race to Jane’s heart. Michael, continuing to build on the best new relationship created last season, goes to Rogelio for advice on how to get ahead. Rogelio, continuing to build on the loveable clueless diva with a heart of gold person created last season, recommends the very worst thing: play the aloof macho man. Why? Ro overhead Jane swooning to Xo the other day about Michael’s take-charge attitude when they were investigating Rose’s mysterious Swiss vineyard connection, and in pure drama queen fashion, blew up “confident” to mean “unfeeling and cold.”
“Anything you feel you want to say to her that isn’t macho, write it down instead,” Ro advises, handing over his brand new EP (Rogelio’s an EP now, have you heard? AN EP. AN EP!!!) journal after tearing out his pages of notes. And Michael does, like, so much. He just carries that notebook around with him everywhere, because Michael? He’s a feeler. And with the baptism looming and his godfatherly duties at stake, he’s around Jane A LOT.
Ultimately, Rogelio’s advice both bombs and soars. The Mission: Macho thing, that bombs, and Jane rightfully calls Michael out for even attempting it. The diary, though (“It’s not a diary.” “Can I read it?” “NO.” “Then it’s a diary.”), that works wonders when Michael gifts it to Jane after the baptism so that she can have a written record of every word of support and advice he had for her all week. And I mean, yeah, it’s sweet, and it is good to remember that, regardless of the prescriptive tone Michael takes whenever reminding Jane of it, he does know her incredibly well. But I dunno. I just don’t think I’ll ever be won back to his side on Jane’s behalf.
On the law’s side, though? Maybe! Because Michael does some real, good work this week, getting the Swiss winery’s guest book from the year on the wine bottle’s label couriered over to Miami for handwriting analysis, then follows up with a call back to the winery owners to ask about one random Denise whose signature might match Rose’s from however many years ago. Not so random after all, it turns out! Denise ruined everything.
A cluuuuuuuuuue. Good job, Not-Worst Detective Michael Cordero. We’ll make a real gumshoe of you, yet.
Michael and Petra are not the only hot exes floating around this week—Rogelio’s first ex-wife, Luciana, has joined the fray! And she must be some kind of strega, swooping into Miami all glamour and claws not weeks after Xiomara declared that Rogelio would have to get over her once and for all. Not to mention how her lips seem to spellbind Rogelio’s after he spends a day cathartically trashing her storage locker shrine (and burning his own feelings diary afterwards).
Xiomara finds strength enough to resist Luciana’s evil charms, at least after Alba straight-talks her into being a responsible adult with a clean slate, and her strength gives Rogelio guts enough to refuse to hire Luciana and risk his new relationship, regardless of what is best for Passions of Santos. Still, Luciana manages to conjure up a mysterious old video of Ro to blackmail him with right at the moment he is about to kick her to the curb…
Speaking of polls, Luisa was NOT kidnapped by Rose, regardless of what both she and the majority of y’all thought last week.
She is for real kidnapped, though, and suffering for her past as the Girl Who Cried Ashram, as her absence from major Solano life events evokes annoyance rather than worry from her brother. At least she isn’t suffering physically, though, as she figures out her German-only kidnappers are observing some moratorium on hurting her.
This, more than anything, is what convinces Luisa that it is Rose who did the kidnapping. And since she can’t understand a word of German (and can only SAY “I’m not interested in you, but I’ll have sex with your wife” in return), when the kidnappers start talking about how it’s been a week and Rose hasn’t even noticed Luisa is missing, all Luisa hears is Rose and so doubles down on her suspicions. But then the kidnappers whack her leg with a steel pipe! And it is BAD!
Rafael! Hurry up and START MISSING YOUR SISTER. Who knows what more Stockholm Syndrome might do to her.
Jane’s got some cousin of Stockholm Syndrome going on herself this week, although in her case, her jailer is a 3-week old baby who she loves with more heart than she knew she had. But mama’s got a dream, baby! And that dream is GRAD SCHOOL.
Grad school for creative writing, which…well. I have pretty strong feelings about the utter unnecessity of. But Jane thrives under deadlines and expectations and structure, and it is what she wants, so therefore, I want it for her, too. And her petition to apply late succeeded! She’s in the program!
Only problem? She’s missing one World Lit credit from undergrad. And the summer session? Starts the day before the baptism. Jane’s first reaction is, absolutely not, no way—Mateo is too little, and he has so many milestones and bonding moments she couldn’t bear to miss. “But writing is your dream!” everyone in her life reminds her. “You’re letting the baby derail you from your own plans!” Xiomara adds, recalling Jane to a late-pregnancy moment when she made her mom promise to be blunt with her the moment she let the baby make her blind to everything else.
All true. And so Jane tries to solve her problem the most Jane way possible: she badgers the program director into giving her special dispensation to bring Mateo with her to the lectures. He’s quiet, she promises; it’ll be like he’s not even there. LOLOLOLOLOL NOPE. Within minutes of the first lecture starting, Mateo starts wailing. And in her haste to move him a bit further out of earshot before picking him up to soothe him, Jane releases the brakes on his stroller. And in her haste to swing Mateo around so his cries will face away from the lectern, she jostles the stroller just far enough that it flies down the lecture hall’s steps and goes crashing into the podium, nearly taking the professor’s head off in the process.
Needless to say, no one in the equation is happy. And so Jane convinces herself that she really can’t do grad school this year, that she will just have to wait until next year, and so calls the program director to withdraw. And it is after that that Xiomara gives her the Villanueva baptism speech to read at Mateo’s big day:
“My precious child, these are the things I hope for you and your life: may you be bold, may you be brave, may you be loving and joyful and kind. May you carry with you the vitality and spirit of the generations before you. Whatever you dream for your life, may you summon the strength to follow that dream. Always let your faith be greater than your fear. May you never forget, through all of life’s great adventures, through every moment of every day, that I walk beside you, cheering you on. Hoping for you. Praying for you. Loving you. And may you one day love your own child as deeply as I love you. Today and always.”
And between that and the words of (actual, not patronizing) wisdom she finds in Michael’s diary, Jane changes her mind one last time, deciding that yes, she can and she will.
And so she calls the program director and leaves a dozen voicemails in a row, prompting an email response that establishes rules for email-only contact in the future…and also and re-acceptance, which good news she shares with Rafael, whom she had just come to the Marbella to tell that her vote for Petra’s baby was keep it, both for Rafael and for Mateo. And between those two pieces of good news…
Petra shares a completely fake, impossibly angled smooch photo with Michael to stir of drama, plus—Luciana!
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.