Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jane The Virgin: “Chapter Seventeen”

Illustration for article titled Jane The Virgin: “Chapter Seventeen”

Raising a kid is hard, and there’s a lot to learn in order to be a good parent. In “Chapter Seventeen,” Jane is offered a lot of advice about how to prepare for her child, but all this does is create more pressure. While choosing items for her registry, Jane runs into a new mother that tells her about the values of carrying your baby in a wrap and suggests that she enroll in lactation classes, which unleashes a wave of new concerns that Jane wasn’t thinking about before. As Jane dives deeper into the world of nursing classes and the online parenting community, Xo tries to remind her that being a parent doesn’t have to be this complicated and scary, but Jane is so committed to not reliving her mother’s mistakes that she refuses to listen, much to her detriment.

Surprising no one at this point, “Chapter Seventeen” is another totally charming episode of Jane The Virgin full of exceptional character work and plot twists that keep the overarching narrative moving at its signature brisk pace. As usual, the character development takes precedence, and the script by Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin strengthens the bond between the Villanueva women while complicating the love triangle between Jane, Rafael, and Michael. (Or is that “love square” now that Andie is involved?) There’s also more of the Rogelio/Michael bromance and a big reveal in the Aaron Zazo story, but the episode never feels overstuffed. Instead, it’s a perfectly filling chapter that gives every character the chance the shine, although some spend more time in the spotlight than others.

Jane is the central focus with her pregnancy prep drama, and all the concerns she has about the little things steamroll into bigger fears about her and Rafael as parents. I don’t know if O’Toole and Rardin are parents, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they are because Jane’s anxiety rings very true. The script really digs deep into her headspace as she tries to process all the new information regarding the potential ways she can impact her future child; she hallucinates her six-year-old daughter berating her for her decisions, and after spending time with the online parenting community, Jane can’t look at a baby picture of herself without thinking of all the abbreviations for the things Xiomara did wrong, which appear as on-screen text. The conflict inside Jane is externalized in a way that makes her emotional state incredibly clear to the viewer, which makes it easy to side with her when she clashes with Rafael and Xo.

Rafael continues to move further from Prince Charming territory this week as he makes his work a higher priority than Jane, but in Rafael’s defense, he’s desperately trying to keep his business from crumbling while Jane has an unnecessary freak-out about the future of their unborn child. The writers could do a better job capturing the gravity of Rafael’s financial situation, but Justin Baldoni’s performance at the end of this episode goes a long way to showing how much stress he’s under. Rafael and Petra throw a party without the necessary permits and get caught when cops find underage drinkers on The Marbella’s private beach, which leads to the hotel losing its liquor license and facing a large fine when it’s already losing money.

Rafael turns to alcohol after the disastrous events of the party, and lashes out at Jane when she uses this time to ask about his future commitment to their child’s care. He turns into a jealous asshole, and this is the exact opposite of what Jane wants to see from him right now. He apologizes the next day, but he slips up again during this conversation. Jane just wants Rafael to say that he’ll pitch in when she needs him, but instead he suggests that they get a nanny when things get overwhelming. She’d love for him to take time off, but that’s not something Rafael is considering with the current state of The Marbella. It’s a complicated problem, and they don’t come to an easy solution in this episode. They’ll have to keep working at it, and if the right changes aren’t made, their relationship isn’t going to last.

And maybe it’s not supposed to. Like Rogelio, I’m finding myself firmly #TeamMichael right now, although at the end of the day I am also ultimately #TeamJane. Michael’s relationship with Rogelio has brought out a goofy side of the character that is extremely endearing, and the flashbacks to key moments in Jane and Michael’s romantic past have intensified the chemistry between the characters. Jane and Rafael had this electric connection at the start of the series that has started to cool down as the reality of their situation sinks in, but the show is maintaining the integrity of Jane and Michael’s bond by presenting scenes of them in their prime. The flashback to the first time they said “I love you” to each other is adorable, especially the rush of glee that overtakes Jane when she misinterprets Michael’s words as an admission of love, and there’s a joyful innocence to the entire scene that is a sharp contrast to what Jane is currently going through.


Bringing Michael and Rogelio together was a brilliant move, and the writers know when to keep a good thing going. Michael is instrumental in helping Rogelio deal with his Xiomara drama this week, which revolves around him being unable to say “I love you.” Xo worries that she went too fast moving in with Rogelio before they said those three words, so she tries to cajole him into saying them by using a “love” picture frame. Michael figures out what Xo wants from Rogelio, but Rogelio isn’t ready to say “I love you” just yet. Xo says the words at breakfast when Rogelio confronts her about the previous night, but he can’t reciprocate the sentiment yet because another woman has his heart: his mother. Xo’s bad relationship with Rogelio’s mother is what is keeping him from committing to the very serious phrase that is “I love you,” and until they patch things up, he can’t say the words. In order to remedy this, he’s invited his mother to stay with them, setting up the grand debut of EGOT winner Rita Moreno on the series next week.

As Xo prepares for the arrival of a new mother figure to add stress to her life, she won’t need to worry about being on rocky ground with Alba, who hears about Xo and Jane’s fight over child care and realizes how much their situation echoes the one Xo and Alba were in when Jane was a baby. Alba realizes that Xo is in her previous position, understands the pressure of that role, and suddenly empathizes with her daughter, which forces her to reconsider her attitude regarding Xo’s relationship with Rogelio. “It’s hard to know when to stop being a parent,” Alba says, which is a fitting lesson for an episode that is all about drowning in the responsibility of having a child. As a parent, you take on all this responsibility and you hold on to it for years, but there comes a certain point when you need to let go and allow that responsibility to fall on the child.


But sometimes you need to be ready to take some of that responsibility back on if the kid can’t handle it. After Xo and Alba’s reconciliation, Jane sits between them on the bench and breaks down wondering what will happen if she doesn’t like motherhood, fearing that her affection for her child won’t be strong enough and that Rafael won’t be active enough as a father. Jane is in full-on panic mode, and she needs her family to be there in order to keep her sane. As Xo and Alba hold Jane’s hands and reaffirm that they will always be there for her, Jane’s six-year-old daughter reappears with a drawing of a happy family, making for an especially heartwarming scene as four generations of Villanueva women are brought together. Moments like this are what make Jane The Virgin so special, and all the telenovela shenanigans would mean nothing without the strong emotional foundation built by Jane, Xo, and Alba.

Stray observations:

  • Petra lets her feelings for Rafael get the better of her when she approves of his party knowing that they don’t have the permits, but she can’t help that she loves the man. The look in Yael Grobglas’ eyes when Petra looks at Rafael says all you need to know about how much Petra cares for ex-husband, and I find myself rooting for this dysfunctional couple to get back together. Or maybe she’ll reignite her fling with Roman Zazo, who is somehow back from the dead and has been posing as his twin brother.
  • I really should have expected Andie to be shadier than she initially appeared. I wonder what her big scheme is here now that we know she knew Michael and Jane were an item.
  • Xiomara’s wardrobe looks wealthier, which is a very smart way of showing how living with Rogelio has changed her life.
  • Things Rogelio loves: Hot chocolate, mini-marshmallows, human fans, air blowing fans, mirrors.
  • When are we going to see more Pasión Intergalactica? I want to see how much Rogelio’s performance has improved now that he’s officially a Jr. Detective.
  • “We all turn to different things in times of stress: exercise, a glass of wine, the Real Housewives franchise.”
  • Jane: “He agreed to mani-pedis?” Rogelio: “It was supposed to be a surprise. Now, a parting gift.”
  • “And between you and me, I would like to declare myself #TeamMichael. But first and foremost I must remain #TeamJane. Thus I must encourage you to…#MoveOn.”
  • “You will be lit by my glow.”
  • “You’re doing me a favor. I had no idea where I was going to get my hands on a real baby. That sounded weird.”
  • “Ah, a frame that says ‘love.’ Subtle, Xiomara.”
  • “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the identical twin of the one you were cheating with.”