How far will Jane The Virgin go to disillusion members of Team Rafael? As is tradition with love triangles, viewers have developed allegiances to certain characters, and while the show is trying to sway Team Michael fans to Team Adam, the case for Jane’s new love interest is even stronger if less people are rooting for Rafael. I mentioned last week how #DoucheRafael is out in full force this season, and “Chapter Sixy-Eight” reinforces many of the observations I had last week. Rafael has convinced himself that his manipulation of Katherine is noble because he’s doing it to give his family financial stability, and he justifies increasingly self-destructive actions because he’s trying to protect his cubs.
This episode has a wildlife theme inspired by the animal-themed portraits Rogelio has family members take with his new daughter, and Katherine is bringing Jane, Rafael, and Petra’s claws. The antagonism between Jane and Rafael intensifies when she learns that he disregarded her wishes and introduced Mateo to Katherine, who Jane knows is a temporary convenience. Katherine quickly undermines Jane’s authority by getting Mateo an iPad, and it becomes clear that Rafael is threatened by Jane’s power in their family dynamic. She sets the rules, and Rafael goes along with them even if he doesn’t agree with them. He wants to have more control over how Mateo is raised now that he’s living in the same house with him and Jane, and Katherine gives Rafael an excuse to deviate from the structure Mateo’s mother has set.
Jane feels attacked, but she’s also aware that Rafael is spiraling into a mode that she’s seen before. The last time Rafael was involved in Marbella-related shady dealings, he ended up going to prison. Jane doesn’t want Rafael’s kids to lose their father again, but Petra forces her to stay away from the situation because she doesn’t want Jane screwing up this potential deal. The key moment of this episode’s wildlife theme is Jane and Petra’s obstacle course showdown, and they fight each other for possession of Jane’s letter to Rafael like they’re two hyenas with the last piece of food.
This delightful scene spotlights the physical comedy skills of Gina Rodriguez and Yael Grobglas, who doesn’t get many opportunities for this kind of humor as the prim and proper Petra, and it reveals how Rafael continues to get between the two women, even when they’re not romantically involved with him. As long as they are all financially entangled, there’s always going to be this underlying tension with the potential to explode given the right circumstances. The class difference plays into that as well, and Petra wants Rafael to do whatever he needs in order to get the hotel back because that keeps her and the twins in a more luxurious lifestyle.
Alba has a great low-key subplot right now exploring her relationships with the main men in Jane’s life, and while she’s not getting much time in the spotlight, she’s still an integral player in the ongoing drama. Going with the animal theme, Alba is the wise old owl of this episode (#Owlba), giving people sage advice from someone who has the life experience to speak with authority. When Jane is forced to stay out of Rafael and Katherine’s relationship, she goes to Alba for approval that she should get involved because Rafael is the father of her child. Alba agrees that Jane should write a letter, but Alba isn’t there to agree with everything Jane proposes. When Jane expresses frustration about Adam not being fully committed to Mateo, Alba tells her that she should be grateful Adam is committed at all, and that she can’t rush him into fatherhood at such an early stage in their relationship.
Alba also serves up some real talk for Rafael, and even though she prefers him over Adam, she still has plenty of criticism of his recent behavior. When Rafael bemoans the loss of his money, Alba reminds him that her husband, Mateo, renounced his family’s wealth so he could be with her. It was hard, but he didn’t lose who he was. His legacy lives on in Rafael’s son, and Alba wants Rafael to recognize that his need to regain his wealth is coming at a cost to their family. Jane essentially told him the same thing last week, but the tension in their relationship makes it harder for him not to see Jane’s comments as an exaggeration whereas Alba’s words are a scary warning. Part of this comes from Ivonne Coll’s forceful delivery, and she imbues Alba with a stern sincerity that wakes Rafael up and forces him to really look at what he’s doing with his life. Unfortunately, he’s already in too deep with Katherine, and when he tries to break up with her, she hits him with her car.
Even with all of Rafael’s plotting, the Marbella may still be doomed if Luisa gets her way. Luisa is working with Rose’s henchman Carl on the insurance fraud scheme that will burn the Marbella to the ground, and the first step is evacuating the hotel so that they don’t add murder to their felony charges. This plot becomes much more interesting when Anezka reveals that Carl isn’t real. Luisa hallucinating an accomplice is in line with her established history of mental illness, and provides clearer motivation for her actions. She’s not being influenced by an external party; she’s devised a plot that allows her to destroy her vile father’s legacy while freeing her girlfriend, and created a person that can carry the blame and the guilt. I doubt that this is a realistic depiction of having a mental illness that causes hallucinations, but the benefit of being on the heightened telenovela level of the plot is that realism doesn’t matter. What matters most is the effectiveness of the twist, and this one works very well to get me more engaged with Luisa’s story.
On that sisterly note, there’s a new addition to the De La Vega Factor family that gets a lot of attention in “Chapter Sixty-Eight.” Rogelio and Darci haven’t decided on a name for their baby even though it’s been almost a week since her birth, so they try out different names to see what feels best. Amada is Esteban’s suggestion, and it’s my favorite of the names that get tossed around. For a moment it seems like they’re going to settle on Amada, but then they go with the puzzling decision to name her Baby, which is cute for a baby, but will become problematic when she grows up. An adult woman named Baby has to fight against her name to be seen as mature, and I have the feeling that she’ll be using variations on her middle name as she gets older. I felt a swell of emotion when Rogelio announces that Baby’s middle name is Michaelina, once again showing how well this show keeps Michael’s memory active in the story. Michaelina also provides the cute nickname of Lina, which would give Jane’s little sister the same name as Jane’s best friend.
We don’t really see how Jane relates to her new sister beyond the photo shoot at the beginning of the episode, but this episode does explore how Xo is reacting to the new Baby in her life. Xo is trying to keep her distance; she’s reluctant to have her photo shoot with her stepdaughter, and she even teams up with Slutty Crystal to improve attendance at the dance studio, which would get her out of the house. Rogelio is afraid that Xo doesn’t like Baby, but the truth is that Xo is afraid of her affection for the child. She doesn’t want to get sucked back into the baby vortex, and she knows that is something that could easily happen.
Xo didn’t want to have another child because she wants to focus on herself and her own happiness, and she doesn’t want that ongoing self-actualization to be interrupted by Baby. This is a totally reasonable position for Xo, who didn’t find out about this new child until her wedding. This storyline is nicely tied to what Jane is going through with Adam and Mateo, and while the specific situations are very different, they both involve maintaining a certain degree of emotional distance from a significant other’s child. Xo and Adam care about Baby and Mateo, but they also need the freedom to continue not being parents. They’ll eventually acclimate to those roles, and they’ll care for those kids more if they can take some time to transition into these new circumstances.
- Mateo is awful in this episode, but I like that Mateo is awful when his dad is being awful.
- In this episode we see an important part of the parenting process: quelling your child’s urge to shout about bodily functions. All bathroom talk is potty talk, so Mateo lashes out by screaming things like “toilet plunger!” and “diarrhea pill!”
- That Stage Sensations song is going to be in my head for a long time.
- The Reviews sections for Snow Falling on Amazon is filled with pull quotes from various fictional literary figures who have appeared on the show, along with an especially enthusiastic quote from telenovela superstar Rogelio De La Vega. I love this so much, and am very excited to read the book when it’s released on November 14.
- “As I taught Tyra Banks, you have to smize.”
- “Oh, that’s right! You’re a writer!”
- “Maybe if you’re a good boy, she’ll buy you an iPad!”
- “Jeez, does this woman moonlight at the Genius Bar?”
- “They’re not stripper poles. That’s just what they’re called.”
- “A classic bond between a she-wolf and her chipmunk.”
- “There is old saying in Czech: ‘If you talk to someone who is not there, you are going crazy.” Priscilla Barnes’ delivery of this line cracks me up.