Everyone has secrets. Sometimes they’re little, sometimes they’re big, but no matter who you are, there’s always something inside you that the rest of the world doesn’t know. It’s just a fact of life: nobody is completely, 100 per cent honest. Not even Jane Gloriana Villanueva.
Growing up, Jane longed to know her father, wishing for someone responsible and wise that could help her deal with the pressures of living in a home environment where she was forced to mature early. In the opening flashback of “Chapter Five,” we see how Jane had to play the mother in her house, making sure Xiomara kept her priorities in order as she acted like a teenage daughter, and doing internet research for Abuela Alba when she learns she has diabetes. When Jane was alone, she would dream that her father was Jimmy Smits, but the episode gives no impression that Jane made these feelings public to the rest of her family.
Maybe if Jane was more open about her need for a father figure, Xiomara would have been more likely to share the truth about Rogelio, but who knows? That’s the thing with secrets. You don’t know how someone is going to react to them unless you reveal them, and the longer they’re kept hidden, the greater the fear that things will go wrong once they are divulged.
The keeping of secrets and the consequences that follow when they are exposed is a major part of Jane The Virgin, and each episode has focused on characters withholding information and how that impacts those around them. “Chapter Five” deals with the aftershocks of Jane learning that her mother had kept her father’s true identity a secret for the past 23 years, and also looks at how the secrets kept by the men in Jane’s life are affecting their relationships with her. In Michael’s case, he risks unraveling his engagement to Jane by keeping knowledge of Petra and Zaz’s affair hidden, and Rafael’s undisclosed romantic feelings for Jane are changing the way he interacts with her, especially when he sees her with her fiancé.
Jane and Xiomara’s relationship is the heart of this show, and Josh Reims’ script is at its strongest when it focuses on how Xo has hurt her daughter and the reasons why she kept Rogelio’s identity a secret for so long. Gina Rodriguez and Andrea Navedo have the kind of natural chemistry that makes their fictional blood bond feel real, and it accentuates the emotion of their scenes together. The writers have done great work detailing why Xo’s decision to lie about Jane’s father’s identity has sparked such rage in her daughter, but they’ve also done excellent work making the viewer understand the reasons why Xo took this course of action in the first place.
After a disastrous first father-daughter meeting with Rogelio on the set of his telenovela, Jane goes back to her grandma’s home to retrieve a recipe to cook for a second father-daughter meeting at Michael’s apartment. With her daughter briefly back in the house, Xo uses this opportunity to try and explain herself, sharing a heart-wrenching account of the pride and fear she felt raising Jane on her own. She tells Jane about how when she was little, Xo would take her to the park where she’d hear the other mothers talk about how great their kids were, but Xo thought they were crazy because it was obvious she had the best one of them all. Because Jane’s father was out of the picture, Xo had formed this incredibly tight connection with her daughter, and she didn’t want to put that at risk by telling Jane the truth about Rogelio.
We’ve seen how resourceful Jane was at a young age. If she knew the truth about her father, what would stop her from seeking him out? And what would Rogelio do when he found out he had a daughter? What if he came back and tried to make a claim on her? What if he tried to take her away from Xo? The easiest way to quell those fears was by pretending Jane’s father didn’t exist, an extremely selfish move, but one that is supported by the characterization of Xo thus far. Having a child at 16 forced Xo to take on responsibility before she was ready for it, and she’s been in a state of arrested development since then.
The flashback shows that Xo acted like a rebellious teenager while Jane kept her in line, and Xo is prone to adolescent flights of fancy. As a young mother, this meant imagining a nightmare scenario where daughter would be taken from her by a vengeful father, and Xo’s imagination continues to get the best of her in the present. She envisions a first meeting between Jane and Rogelio that begins with Jane asking her father if she can move in with him, and ends with the two of them laughing maniacally as they burn a Xiomara voodoo doll, a scenario that Abuela Alba rightfully points out as absurd. (But it sure is a lot of fun seeing Gina Rodriguez enter a heightened telenovela mode of acting during the fantasy sequence.)
Jaime Camil has been very entertaining as Rogelio, but the character is very much a caricature, an intentional choice that widens the disconnect between father and daughter. Thankfully, he starts to get more dimension in the second half of this week’s episode when his exaggerated persona is turned down in order to explore the concerns he has about connecting with a daughter that is now a part of his life. That said, the first half of the episode does great work showing the different ways Rogelio and Jane approach their first meeting. Jane is looking at this as the start of a relationship and worries about the type of bond they’ll create, but Rogelio is looking at this as the start of his latest role as Father, worrying more about outward appearances than emotional connections.
For Rogelio, it’s all about making this first meeting a big production. He has his assistant bow to his daughter when she arrives at the studio lot, makes an overly grand entrance by appearing at the top of a long staircase with a spotlight shining on him, and treats his daughter to lunch in front of a backdrop painted by his set crew to resemble the Mayan temple Chichen Itza. He wants to show her how much money and power he has, but as Xo tells him later, those things don’t impress Jane. She just wants to make a connection with her father, something Rogelio still doesn’t understand when he goes to Michael’s apartment with an agenda to fix Jane’s relationship with her mother. This just alienates Jane further, leaving Rogelio in a position where he has to do damage control to gain his daughter’s trust and affection.
It’s interesting how the script ties Jane and Rafael together, not just through plot similarities, but in the phrasing of specific lines. When Xo apologizes to her daughter and says she made a mistake, Jane responds: “A mistake is losing your keys. You kept my father from me.” When Petra apologizes to her husband and says she made a mistake by sleeping with Zaz, Rafael responds: “A mistake is a parking ticket.” It’s a subtle way of bringing the two characters together through dialogue, showing how their thought processes align when they hear the same word.
While the typewriter text is toned down this week, the episode still uses on-screen text to offer insight into the story, specifically with the subtitles underneath Michael and Rafael’s dialogue that reveal the antagonistic subtext of their conversations. On the surface, the two men are discussing the recent murder in Rafael’s hotel (which becomes murders by the end of the episode), but the intent under their words reveals that the two men are fighting over the affection of Jane and letting that rivalry dictate their relationship.
Because of this romantic rivalry, Rafael acts with unnecessary aggression when he finds out that Jane is uncomfortable with giving the baby to him after she learns that his marriage to Petra is coming to an end. Watching Jane and Michael hold hands while talking about how they’re willing to raise his baby riles up Rafael’s emotions, forcing him to take a hostile stance by saying that he will fight Jane and Michael for custody of his child. And things only become more complicated when Jane patches things up with Rogelio, firmly deciding that no matter what happens, she can’t walk away from this child.
“Chapter Five” isn’t quite as tight as last week’s episode, primarily because of plot developments involving characters that haven’t been adequately realized. Michael’s brother Billy (Ryan Devlin) returns for the first time since his appearance in the pilot, and while Reims’ script fleshes out the brothers’ backstory and why they don’t get along, there’s very little weight to the subplot involving Billy dating Jane’s friend Lina (Diane Guerrero). Michael doesn’t like this development because it means Billy is getting closer to Jane by association, but the relationship between Jane and Lina isn’t strong enough to merit this level of anxiety.
The script gives the impression that Jane and Lina are almost like sisters, but we haven’t seen that type of connection between the two women in previous episodes. At most, Lina is a close work friend, so why exactly is Michael so worried about Billy dating her? The entire subplot reads as a hasty way to manufacture tension, and it ultimately doesn’t add much to the episode. The same can be said of the plot thread involving a bellboy nicknamed “Disgusting Tom,” who is initially introduced as a suspect in Zaz’s murder, but becomes Sin Rostro’s latest victim by end of the episode. The character is introduced solely to die, and there’s no real reason to be invested in him.
What the Billy subplot does offer is an opportunity for Michael to come clean about his previous knowledge of Petra and Zaz’s affair. When Jane tells him about Lina and Billy’s relationship, Michael tells her about how he and Billy used to steal cars and sell their parts until Billy went to jail and Michael cleaned up his act. Jane is surprised but grateful that Michael shares this information with her, and goes on to say that she expects total honesty from him, especially after the wounds left by her mother’s lies. This is the perfect time for Michael to admit to covering up Petra’s affair, because even if Jane reacts negatively to this news, her reaction won’t be anywhere near as bad as if she finds out the new herself. And because Michael leaves photos of Petra and Zaz at his apartment, where Jane now lives, it’s much more likely that Jane will discover his lies.
And that’s exactly what happens. While searching for Michael’s Ronaldo jersey, Jane knocks over a manila folder containing the photos of Petra and Zaz, and when her fiancé comes home, she lets him know exactly how much he’s hurt her. Brett Dier’s performance captures all the pain and regret that he feels in that moment; he understands just how much he’s fucked up, and he’s genuinely terrified of what this means for his engagement. But there’s one plus side to this development: drowning in heartache, Jane knows that there’s only one person that can help her, and Michael’s deception sends her back into her mother’s loving arms. That porch set has become ground zero for some beautifully emotional scenes, and Xo and Jane’s tearful, silent reunion at the end of this episode resonates deeply.
The Jane/Xiomara relationship is a stark contrast to the dynamic between Petra and Magda, one that appears to be built on a foundation of mutual deceit. Last week we learned that Petra’s real name is Natalia and she’s likely of Czech descent, and while this week’s story doesn’t elaborate on her past, it does expound on her twisted relationship with her mother, whom Petra pledged to always take care of after “what happened.” I’m assuming that Magda is referring to the events that scarred her face and put her in a wheelchair, events that will likely be expanded on later in the season. In the meanwhile, Magda is going to do whatever it takes to make sure her daughter walks away from her marriage with as much money as possible, even if it means punching her in the face so that they can accuse Rafael of domestic violence and dissolve the pre-nup.
Petra hasn’t been developed as fully as some of the other main cast members, but like Rogelio, she gets some added depth this week with a quick flashback to better days in her marriage. After being served with divorce papers, Petra tries to repair her broken relationship by seducing her husband in a sexy corset while holding the knit cap she made for their unborn child three years ago, playing to both his libido and his memory. The episode flashes back to a pregnant Petra knitting on the beach while Rafael ponders investing in a hotel with a great location and poor service, and seeing the two of them together and happy provides valuable context for how much their relationship has changed in the three years of “bad luck” following the miscarriage and Rafael’s cancer. Judging by this episode’s cliffhanger, their luck is only going to get worse, and it’s impossible to see their marriage bouncing back from falsified domestic violence allegations.
- Jimmy Smits has to make an appearance on this show at some point, right? Please make that happen, CW.
- The Target product placement begins this week with Xiomara telling Rogelio that Jane likes simple things like going to movies and shopping at Target, and surely enough, when Jane buys groceries, she comes home with Target shopping bags. This will not be Target’s last appearance on this series.
- Magda punching Petra in the face comes out of nowhere and is incredibly effective at showing just how dysfunctional their relationship is. Magda’s chilly, detached demeanor has made her this show’s scariest character, and I’m eager to see just how evil the writers make her.
- The Sin Rostro plot line isn’t doing much for me. I’m waiting for some sort of reveal connecting one of the regular cast members to the kingpin in some way. My current guesses are Nadine or Billy, but neither one of those options excites me very much.
- Considering the resources available to Rogelio, you’d think he could mock up a better fake better picture than the frightening photo he hands to Jane at the end of this episode. But it’s the thought that counts.
- Rafael: “I wanted to talk to you.” Narrator: “Well, that’s not all he wanted to do to her.”
- “Always good to plan spontaneous ice breakers.”
- Rogelio: “So how do you like the set? I had the crew work on it around the clock.” Jane: “Oh, you didn’t have to do that.” Rogelio: “It was no trouble, actually. I didn’t move a finger.”
- “I’m an Honors student, Michael. I can follow a recipe.”
- “Easy, Veronica Mars.”
- “Oh, so illegal stupid things.”
- “Nothing’s perfect. Perfect is a fantasy.”
- “Ooh. Moisturizer’s not going to help that.”