If Jane The Virgin was a show about Jane becoming a published freakin’ author, “Chapter Seventy” would make a strong series finale. Completing an arc that began in the pilot with the flashback of Rafael telling Jane she needed to be brave and follow her dream of being a writer, this episode has Jane celebrating the release of her first book, Snow Falling, and it’s a moment of joy tinged with sadness. Because Michael isn’t here to see it. I’ve applauded this show’s handling of Jane’s grief on many occasions, and given Michael’s influence on Jane’s book, it’s inevitable that his memory would be at the forefront of her thoughts right now.
Jane’s can’t stop thinking about Michael, and writers Carolina Rivera and Micah Schraft sprinkle callbacks to past Jane and Michael moments throughout the script so they can use quick flashbacks to indicate the power of these memories. Seeing her book in hardcover reminds Jane of when Michael got her the new Angelique Harper book in hardcover. Working on career planning with Rafael reminds Jane of doing the same with Michael. And then there’s the book. She’ll always think of the “snow” that fell on her and Michael during their first kiss whenever she thinks of her first book, and it will be a moment that fills her with happiness and grief.
This is a big episode for Jane, but also the various men in her life. Rafael continues on his path to redemption, sucking up his pride and getting a job as a bartender at The Marbella so that he can be close to his kids and help provide for the family without getting sucked into the shitshow that is Marbella management. And it’s gotten really bad with Magda and Anezka in charge. Rafael can’t make the release party for Jane’s book because he has to work a shift, but they have a beautiful moment when Jane comes to the bar to tell him how sad she is that he can’t make it. She has him read the acknowledgement at the end of the book, and I got as teary-eyed as he did while reading the words. Their relationship is so deep and heartfelt, and after everything they’ve survived together, these words of thanks are imbued with immeasurable meaning.
Rogelio also gets a major moment resolving a plot line introduced in the pilot. When Jane’s favorite bookstore goes out of business, Rogelio steps in so that she can have her ideal venue for the book’s release party. This creates all kinds of financial complications for Rogelio and Xo, and Rogelio’s plan ends up causing more problems than if Jane just had the party at her publisher’s office. Rafael mentions that fathers can go overboard and lose perspective, and when Jane tries to get Rogelio to stop going overboard, he reveals the guilt that has fueled so much of his behavior. Rogelio didn’t know that he had a daughter, but there was always a suspicion in the back of his mind that Xo kept their baby, and he acknowledges that one of the reasons he didn’t reach out to her was because he was afraid of finding out what really happened. Jane forgives him for this, but Xo has a very different reaction when Rogelio tells her. She’s had her own guilt about not telling Rogelio about Jane, and she’s resentful when she finds out he suspected he had a child.
The weak spot of this episode is Fabian, who comes back to convince Rogelio to give him a ghostly farewell scene on Los Viajes De Guillermo. When Rogelio refuses, Fabian blackmails him by stopping the People En Espanol writer from writing about Jane’s book event. If Jane writes Fabian the dramatic monologue he wants, then the piece will happen. I didn’t grasp how this plot related to the deeper emotional content of the episode until the scene when Fabian forces Jane to rewrite the speech over and over, telling her that he wants people to feel sorry for taking him for granted, and show them how much they miss him when he’s gone. That’s when it clicks: Fabian wants his exit from Los Viajes De Guillermo to have the same emotional impact of Michael’s exit from Jane The Virgin. That’s not going to happen, but that’s what he wants.
Fabian is unhappy with Jane’s speech until she fills it with the most obvious cliches she can think of, which appeals to Fabian’s fundamental simplicity. Unfortunately, Fabian still screws everything up by cheating on the People En Espanol writer and having his dirty laundry posted online, so he has to figure out a new way to get people to the bookstore. He decides to post some naked ghost selfies with Jane’s book covering his junk, and while we don’t know how many people that brings in, all that matters to Jane is that it brings in one specific person: author Isabel Allende, one of Jane’s favorite writers. The opening flashback highlighted Jane’s passion for Allende’s works, and their conversation in the present helps Jane come to terms with her conflicted feelings about her book’s release.
Jane’s favorite book by Isabel Allende is Paula, her memoir written after the death of her daughter. It helped Jane cope with Michael’s death, and she has to tell the author how much it meant to her. Once Michael comes up, Jane can’t stop talking about him, and she seeks advice from Allende on how to accept joy when the person she most wants to share it with isn’t with her anymore. Allende tells Jane that she needs to learn to enjoy her success, and above all else, she needs to live passionately. These words are backed by intensifying guitars, and Jane takes Allende’s advice and decides to embrace what she has an move forward with passion. That means going to Adam’s house to tell him how much she cares about him, but once she gets there, that plan quickly falls apart.
Adam’s behavior is weird this entire episode. He’s not very enthusiastic about the book release; he smiles and makes sure Jane knows he’s happy for her, but he’s distanced himself from the event. It’s clear that something is up when he tells Jane that he can’t make it to the release party because his deadline has been pushed up, and it’s easy to assume that the book’s connection to Michael makes him feel uneasy, especially after the conversation he had with Mateo. Adam was panicking already and then there was the bisexual drama last week, so it’s not that big a surprise when he tells Jane that he was offered the VFX job in L.A. again, this time with a pay bump he couldn’t refuse.
Or didn’t want to refuse. He’s taking the job, and he didn’t want to go to Jane’s big event knowing that he was going to be leaving her so soon after. Jane is heartbroken, but there’s a silver lining: after Michael’s death, she never thought she would have her heart broken again. This sense of loss tells Jane that she’s healing, and while the pain of Michael’s death will always be there, she’s able to open her heart to another person and make a genuine emotional connection.
“Chapter Seventy” isn’t a series finale, and it sets up new plotlines as it wraps up others. Rogelio and Xo’s relationship gets an influx of tension, Jane is newly single, and the Marbella plot continues to deliver dramatic twists in the final moments of the episode. The Narrator promised that someone was going to die, and as I predicted, Anezka is the casualty. Anezka was fun, but her storylines have been repetitive and the Petra/Anezka/Magda dynamic needs something to shake it up. Anezka’s death does the shaking, and while it may look like a suicide, the Narrator makes it clear that she didn’t hang herself. There was foul play going on here, and hopefully this means Petra will have a new mission to discover who killed her twin sister.
- I have a copy of Snow Falling, and I will be using Thanksgiving break to read it. Expect reactions in next week’s recap!
- We get a lot of Jane doing her goofy celebration dance, and it works for me every time. I like to think that Jane knows it makes her look like a dork, and she still commits to it anyway.
- Anezka’s white-socks-and-Mary-Janes combo is awful, but not as awful as the two curls framing her face. That wig is so bad and I’m going to miss it.
- I’m ready for Krishna to get some more screen time. I enjoy her opinions on the craziness of The Marbella.
- I love that Magda matches her eyepatch to her ensemble.
- “FYI, Rogelio had a brief office job in 1998. It still haunts him.”
- “Pro-tip: leave ‘short-term’ off your resume.”
- “Close to midnight. I remember because I looked at my watch and I thought, ‘This is no way to live.’”
- Rogelio: “Rudy! How much do you love Jane?” Rudy: “Uh...a lot?”
- “I assume you’ll get Arianna back on the story if I get you your pretentious ghost monologue.”