Jane The Virgin had a solid season premiere, but it hit a few rough patches as it set up the new status quo for these characters. Now that the direction for this season is set, the creative team charges full steam ahead into the future, delivering an episode that shows off the series at its best. Jane is firmly in the honeymoon phase of her rekindled romance with Adam, Rafael and Petra are back together and trying to get the Marbella back by any means necessary, and Rogelio and Xiomara are dealing with an extremely ornery Darci, who is on bed rest after her false labor last week.
Much of this episode deals with doubles in different contexts. On the most literal level are Petra and Anezka, but most of the binaries in “Chapter Sixty-Six” deal with characters’ personalities. This is sparked by Adam’s drawing of Fun Jane and Mom Jane, two sides of her that influence her decision-making throughout the episode. Adam brings out Fun Jane, and Jane wants to have sex with him, but she’s still hung up on having sex with someone when their long-term viability is in question. That becomes an even bigger question when Adam is offered a VFX job in Los Angeles, and having this conflict come up so early after Adam’s arrival on the series is a clever way of having the audience feel Jane’s frustration when this conflict arises so soon after their reunion. Jane doesn’t want the pressure of being the person that determines whether or not Adam stays, but events in this episode convince him that he’d rather be with Jane than across the country.
Mom Jane is the dominant presence in this episode, largely because of ongoing financial issues and the uncertainty of Mateo’s education. The show continues to mine the class conflict between Jane and Rafael for riveting drama, and Alba becomes a major player in this dynamic as she develops a friendship with her hunky new roommate. The conditions of the local public school are so bad that Jane doesn’t want to enroll Mateo there, but Rafael doesn’t want to send Mateo to a Catholic school because he doesn’t want his son indoctrinated in Catholicism. That ends up being a moot point because Jane fractures her leg by jumping off of Adam’s roof and sleeping through her appointment the next day.
There is one last option, but that involves lying about their address and saying they live with Rogelio and Xo so that they can enroll Mateo in the snazzy public school in their district. Jane initially lashes out at Rafael because she thinks he’s trying to game the system (like rich people do), but he reveals that it was Alba’s idea. In a heartfelt scene between grandmother and granddaughter, Alba reveals that they used a church friend’s address to get Jane in a better public school when she was a child. The most important thing was for Jane to get an education, and if they had to bend the rules to make that happen, they would do it.
Jaime Camil has always been one of the brightest stars in this uniformly excellent cast, and this episode is a showcase for his talent. Whether he’s bottling up his fury while waiting on Darci, raging at network executives about Fabian, or detailing a Johnny Depp-inspired plot to sue his business managers for his own financial negligence, he imbues everything with over-the-top energy while maintaining believable emotional drive. It would be so easy for a character like Rogelio to come across as a clown, but he’s not just a vehicle for jokes. He has clearly defined motivations and complex relationships with the people around him, which gives his exaggerated expressions a foundation in something real and relatable. Most everything Rogelio does is big, but that’s because he sees results when he acts in this heightened mode.
This episode’s funniest storyline involves Rogelio finally coming to his breaking point with Fabian, but when they refuse to work together anymore, they’re put in an especially dangerous position when the network decides to kill off one of their characters. I knew I was going to love this plot when the executive (played by Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-showrunner of Netflix’s One Day At A Time) tells the two stars that their characters will be swallowed by their love interest and one won’t make the journey out of her butt, but it only gets more hilarious from that point. In a moment that elicited a full-on howl from me, Rogelio utters a classic Grey’s Anatomy quote while standing outside the focus group that will determine which actor will stay on the show: “Pick me. Choose Me. Love me.” But it’s hard to compete when Fabian’s grandmother is in the group shilling for her grandson, so Rogelio takes matters into his own hands, disguising himself as a woman to sway the rest of the group.
My mind immediately went to Mrs. Doubtfire when I saw Rogelio in drag, but the true inspiration for this scene is so much better. In 2012, Jaime Camil starred in the telenovela Por Ella Soy Eva, where his character fakes his own death and disguises himself as a woman to gain the love of a woman who hates him. The hair and makeup for Rogelio’s disguise is nearly identical to how he appeared in Por Ella Soy Eva, and Camil’s familiarity with this conceit means he can go all out for this scene. This is one of the funniest Rogelio moments ever, which is saying a lot considering how much humor he brings to this series, and the scene ends with a great punchline from the Narrator who mentions how uncomfortable he is as the action jumps to Rafael and Petra. Rogelio ends up getting the job, and his time with the focus group teaches him about how the women in his life would like to be treated.
The Marbella ownership drama is increasingly difficult to follow, and I find myself wanting the building to burn to the ground so we can avoid more plot lines where the deed switches hands. That said, tonight’s episode doesn’t spend much time on this storyline, and the Narrator’s exasperation with these events suggests that the writers are also getting tired of The Marbella. Petra and Rafael are both trying to find ways to seize ownership from Luisa, and when Chuck Chesser becomes a viable strategic option, Petra realizes that she needs a fresh start away from both of the men who have dominated her life. Dumping her romantic entanglements is probably a good idea given that her life is about to get extremely complicated with the return of her mother, but she might not have to deal with either Anezka or Magda for long since they are two of the people whose potential deaths are teased with the go-to telenovela cliffhanger. One of six characters is going to die next week, and while I doubt that Alba, Petra, or Rafael will perish, I’d be fine with Anezka, Luisa, or Magda meeting their end because their stories have always been the least compelling.
This episode features six of the 15 Latinas who were at a brunch organized by Gina Rodriguez and America Ferrera last weekend, and the group picture reinforced how this series is providing a major platform for Latinas in Hollywood, not just in front of the camera, but also behind it. Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Yara Martinez, Justina Machado, and Gloria Calderon Kellett are regular or recurring members of the cast, and Eva Longoria has directed for the series. Rodriguez will be making her directing debut this season, and she’s also a co-executive producer this season, which makes a lot of sense given that she has a producing deal with CBS. It’s also worth noting that the director and all three writers for this episode are women, and this series has generally been very inclusive, including the casting for minor roles. Jane’s doctor is Asian, and Darci’s doctor wears a hijab, which is something we see so rarely on television that it immediately stands out. The show’s creative team is making a deliberate choice to have the world of this series be diverse, which makes everything feel more real because the world outside of our television sets is diverse.
- It’s great to see Xo finally lash out at Darci in this episode, especially because we know how much she’s been bottling up her emotions. She eventually can’t take Darci’s behavior anymore, and her outburst forces Darci to reconsider how she treats the people who have sacrificed their newlywed happiness to help her.
- Rogelio gets rid of Fabian, but now he’s stuck working with Esteban, who is being set up for a romance with Darci. That’s going to be trouble.
- I really like the music cue that plays during the roofball scene, mostly because it sounds like Mario Kart music.
- Rafael finally cut his hair. That’s one step in the right direction.
- Seven things that differentiate Fun Alba from Regular Alba: slight smile, undone shirt button, subtle lip gloss, understated bracelet, Bible word search, clear nail polish, open-toed shoes.
- Adam: “Kind of like Bruce Wayne and Batman.” Jane: “I like it. And thank you for keeping the reference basic.” Adam: “And I am your Alfred.” Jane: “Oh, you lost me already.”
- Alba: “I like having him here. We’ve become ‘friends with benefits.’” Jane: “Abuela, that doesn’t mean what you think it means.”
- “My biggest regret in life is that you didn’t drown in the Atlantic.”
- “Never go to the bathroom again!”
- “The woman has gained at least 30 pounds since she got pregnant, and even I know babies don’t weigh 30 pounds!”
- “Posing in the nude with a feline is sooooo 2014!” Cue picture of Rogelio with baby leopard.
- “The editors can make it work! There are all kinds of tricks you can do with doubles!” Cut to split-screen shot of Petra and Anezka.
- “Is it just me or is all this communicating making them a little...dull?”
- “Who knew comic books could be so romantic?” There’s an entire genre of romance comics, Narrator. Get with the program.