Jane The Virgin has thrown some big curveballs in its three seasons, and the fourth begins with one that fundamentally changes the structure of the show. Rather than starting with the usual flashback to a moment in Jane Gloriana Villanueva’s past, the fourth season kicks off by spotlighting Adam Eduardo Alvaro (Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey), Jane’s first love who is currently on the 428th issue of his ongoing story. Our familiar male narrator is replaced by a new female narrator, who recounts how Adam came into possession of Michael’s letter to Jane hidden under the floorboards of their old home. The title card is replaced by “ADAM THE VIRGO,” but then the regular narrator interrupts and pulls us back to Jane’s experience, recounting the story of Adam and Jane’s romance in their late teens, which burned hot and fast before being extinguished when the two were about to be married.
Jane being engaged in the past is a big enough deal that it should’ve been mentioned at some point in the past, but retcons are something viewers have to accept in serialized television. The lack of any mentions of Adam in previous episodes can be interpreted as Jane blocking out that part of her life because it was too painful, which makes his return all the more intense. He’s someone that Jane had erased from her memory, but now he’s back and they’re both different people willing to give their relationship another chance. It’s going to be hard to find a replacement for Michael, but Tyler Posey’s Adam shares that puppy dog quality that made Michael so easy to love. He’s very attractive, but he’s not presented as a smoldering love interest like Rafael.
Adam is much more down to earth and approachable, and he’s an artist like Jane, making a living (sort of) as a comic-book artist. He’s not wealthy, but that’s part of his appeal, especially as money becomes a bigger point of contention between Jane and Rafael. Jane and Adam skinny dip and have a cute reunion date (with Jane’s favorite grilled cheese!), but Jane’s attraction to Rafael is keeping her from engaging with Adam on a deeper level. Jane comes clean about her lingering feelings for Rafael early in the episode, and he responds with anger because he told Petra there was nothing to worry about from Jane. Rafael is a jerk in this episode, which tends to happen when he’s stressed out about family and money matters. It doesn’t look like Adam has the same emotional baggage, although there is the obstacle of Alba and Xo’s disapproval of him, which carries over from eight years back. We discover at the end of the episode that they were responsible for ending Jane and Adam’s engagement, demanding that Adam not show up for their wedding, but they’re willing to give him another chance if that’s what Jane wants.
She doesn’t know if that’s what she wants because she’s not 100 percent over Rafael, but her mind is made up when they have a big fight over financial issues. One of my favorite things about this series is how it engages with class through Jane and Rafael’s relationship, and their very different upbringings have given them very different ideas on how to raise Mateo. With Rafael’s accounts frozen after Luisa and Anezka’s meddling, the future of Mateo’s education is in question. His karate lessons are the first thing to go, and his private school is next on the chopping block. When the family’s financial situation reaches the school’s administrators, the lack of understanding and compassion convinces Jane that she doesn’t want her son enrolled in that school anymore, but Rafael doesn’t want to pull him out before trying everything he can to get his money back, a gambit that includes tapping into Mateo’s trust fund.
In the episode’s strongest scene, Jane thinks Rafael is seducing her when he really wants to talk about what they’re going to do about Mateo, which he reveals when Jane is about to jump into the shower with him. It’s an excellent showcase of Gina Rodriguez’s physical comedy talent, but then the scene builds to a heated argument around class. Jane doesn’t want Mateo to become a person that looks down on people who don’t have money, and Rafael doesn’t want Mateo to live a small life where he counts pennies and doesn’t get on a plane until he’s 20, which prompts Jane to respond that she would feel like a failed parent if she ever heard Mateo say anything like that. It’s a blow-up that highlights the differences that keep them apart, and while I was enjoying Jane and Rafael as best friends, I’m down for a storyline that adds more tension to their relationship.
Xo and Rogelio are married now, but they have no time to celebrate the big event because Darci goes public with the news that she’s pregnant with Rogelio’s child. Thus begins a social media war, with Darci painting Rogelio as a deadbeat dad. He tries to stay out of it at first, but this is Rogelio. He can’t help himself. As part of their custody agreement, Rogelio is allowed to be a part of this child’s life, which means going to sonograms, so when Darci posts from her appointment, he decides to broadcast her deception to the world. Unfortunately, he barges into the examination room as Darci is having her private parts examined, and he ends up livestreaming Darci’s vagina.
This is a violation of a clause in their custody agreement regarding Darci’s reasonable expectation of privacy, and Darci thinks she’s gotten Rogelio out of her hair until he finds a video of her punch a puppy on the set of the The De La Vega-Factor Factor. This whole storyline is ridiculous, but it’s also rooted in Rogelio’s reasonable wish to be a part of his future daughter’s life, which is why Xo tries to be supportive as it all goes off the rails. Xo doesn’t get to do much in this episode, but being pushed to the sidelines is part of her story, and she vents her frustrations while sitting on the Villanueva bench with Alba and Jane, who encourage her to let her emotions out rather than hold them in. I could watch an entire episode of the three of them just sitting on that bench, talking through their problems, and if the show ever needs a bottle episode to save on budget, the writers can set an entire chapter on the porch.
It’s fascinating that much of the conflict in this episode involves the two unseen narrators, who are fighting for control of the story. I don’t know if the dual narrators will be a thing for more than just this premiere, and there’s the potential for their squabbling to get old if it continues for too long, but it’s delightful in this episode. They are both very protective of their respective main characters and want them to be the focus, which creates a lot of humor as the female narrator complains about jumping away from her precious Adam to show Jane and the other people in her life. This also draws attention to how this show has recycled certain plot points like Petra and Anezka’s identity swaps and characters having documents that change everything, and while I appreciate the self-aware humor, that doesn’t excuse the recycling.
The over-the-top telenovela elements have always been an essential part of this series, but they feel increasingly repetitive. As much fun as it is to see Yael Grobglas switch between Petra and Anezka characterizations, that plot point has become tired at this point, and it’s obvious that Anezka is going to show up eventually to reveal Petra’s ruse (as she does at the end of the episode). Same goes for the big cliffhanger ending, which has Rose killing someone in a prison interrogation room after he tells her he’ll keep a mysterious secret until he dies. A good villain is important, but after three seasons, I’d like to see Rose’s character fleshed out so that she feels more like a real person rather than a convenient plot device. The same goes for her relationship with Luisa. I would be far more invested in them if they received the same amount of development as other romances on the show, and while their bond became tighter during their three years together, those were three years that the viewer didn’t see. These writers are good enough that they can easily make these characters more compelling, and that would go a long way to making the telenovela elements feel less like a distraction from the real meat of the show.
- Viewers were up in arms on social media after the actor playing Mateo was replaced, and the “previously on” segment ends with the narrator basically telling them to get over it.
- Gina Rodriguez dusted off her rapping skills as part of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Almost Like Praying” single for Puerto Rico hurricane relief earlier this month, and she salsa danced to the song for The Ellen Show. I love seeing Gina show off her myriad skills.
- It’s fitting that Jane’s first love would be named Adam given how important religion is in Jane’s life.
- Jane’s voicemail to Petra playing through her car’s speakers is a great cringeworthy moment. It’s not the best time for Petra to find out that Jane still has feelings for Rafael, but getting this information after almost being killed by her sister should lessen the blow a bit.
- There is so much shirtless Rafael in this episode, and I love that his sex appeal is highlighted as a misdirect for the shower scene.
- Adults not being able to catch small children on the run is a trope that should be retired, but it is a fun way for Adam to learn that Jane is a mom now.
- The female narrator tries to redirect the story to Adam when he’s watching water boil. I’m pretty sure she’s in love with him.
- I was worried when Adam picked up his guitar, but having him be the composer of Jane’s love theme is a great touch. He’s dreamy.
- This week’s hashgags: #cervixen #hegotcerved #poundpuppies
- Jane’s Narrator: “Seriously? A bad boy into astrology?” Adam’s Narrator: “It has to do with his sister who died of cancer. Dick.”
- “How important can she be if you’re not even sure who she is?”
- “She’s a ding dong.”
- “So we have a problem. Your sister was going to put me in a storage unit.”
- “Wow, dad just put Darci’s vagina on Instagram.”
- “Wait, where are we going? Ugh, are you serious? You’re interrupting her date for what’s her face walking through a hallway with papers?!”
- “Let me guess, more blondie signing papers?”