Jane the Virgin: S04E08 “Chapter 72”

Episode Grade: B+

Welcome back Janeiacs and Happy New Year.  The shows been away for what seems ages so I can’t believe I’m just now getting a chance to say that.  If you’re anything like me, those weeks away and the chaos of winter events make you forget some details of where this story left off.  It’s probably not a great sign that before the narrator recapped, I completely forgot about the show leaving off on what they probably thought was a great cliffhanger: that kiss between Rafael and Jane.  My lukewarm feelings on the moment came flashing back, but much to my relief, it appears our leading lady wasn’t any more sold on it than I was.

When relationships don’t go through the standard steps to develop, a show runs the risk of rathering seeming bold or daring, the pairing seems forced.  And in the case of this week’s episode, Jane and Raf are pretty much literally forced to be paired together thanks to Mateo.  No, not just because they are his parents, but thanks to the lie they told to get him into a decent public school.  Trying to explain to your child why lying can be a good thing and encouraging them to do so must be a very difficult choice for a parent to make.   The show did a great job in balancing the serious subject with some wacky fun during the playdate while the guest kept discovering clues that they were not really inside Jane and Raf’s home. In the end, the guilt proved too much for Raf and when it came time for him to get his own place, he made sure it was one within the school’s district.  A lot of shows would have used this as a preachy teachable moment about how lying is always wrong, but the writers of this series show a respect to the people living on the margins conveying that the line between wrong and right is a very blurry one.

Since we’re on the subject of remorse, I should bring up how Petra is showing absolutely none for her re-departed sister’s death.  Turns out that scene from the winter finale wasn’t misdirection, Petra admits her involvement but maintains throughout it was self defense.  She’s so cavalier at the mere suggestion she’ll go to prison for what was self-defense, she gets quite rude and ends up running off the lawyer she’s hired to consult (played by another big name guest star Rosario Dawson).   It’s not until law enforcement shows up at the Marbella that Petra shows any caring of Aneska’s unfortunate death, but its only for caring for her freedom.  Her selfishness is put on display when Raf finds out that Petra was aware Luisa was not hallucinating and yet kept her locked in a mental facility for an extra week.  I’m not really digging where the show seems to be going with Petra yet again.  There are moments when she’s made to be a sympathetic character, but then a scene with Raf (justifiably) going off on her paints her in the worst possible light and that her actions are indefensible.  But that’s the thing.  Petra does have a defense, and it’s not a bad one, but like so many other times, Petra is painted as a villain with no excuse.

The other big plot of the night was Xo and Ro starting their couples counseling.  Despite Rogelio’s apprehension to the process, it’s not long before the therapist uncovers some deep seated issues regarding his childhood and the pressure to support his family with his acting career.  I suspect it was supposed to amuse me that Ro was seemingly broken by his shrink, bringing up his mommy issues to anyone who would listen, but I found it mostly boring. The writers try to weave Alba into this thread by introducing new found abandonment issues Xiomara discovers in her session.  It turns out that while she always thought of her relationship with her dad as perfect, he was not often around due to working 3 jobs to support his family.  Alba takes this as slander on the man she loved(and loves to this day).  Her strong reaction takes her by surprise, and leads her to the realization that she turned down the proposal last installment because she doesn’t love Jorge the way she loved her husband.  It’s hard to say where the show is going to next with Alba.  Will she go out and try to rediscover passion or is she going to come to terms with the idea that no one will ever be able to make her feel they way she did with Mateo?

And speaking about rediscovering passion brings me back to Raf and Jane.  He thought that kiss was the most magical of his life and is convinced that Jane not feeling any sparks is on her.  He made have been impulsive in that moment, but given that he actually had a printed out case as to why the two of them should try for something more shows that he’s taking this matter very seriously.  I can’t say he completely sold me on why the two of them should give it a go, especially at this point in the story, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ensnared by his charm when he worked Jane up for their second try at locking lips.  Can I say those 2 do make an incredible looking couple and Rodriguez and Baldoni have quite the chemistry?

It might not have been the most explosive return to the back half of the season, but it did give me a lot of food for thought.  It’s refreshing to see a show that’s light hearted and fun also have me pondering what it is to expect out of love and relationships and the things we will do to make life best for those we care about.  I was a little bit dreading I’d have some hiccups getting back into writing with being off for almost 2 months, but just like the show, I just seemed to work back into a comfortable groove.  Maybe next week I’ll be a little bit better rested and trying to infuse some humor into the review. But thanks for those of you who keep visiting my rambling messes trying to sum up these complex (and often convoluted) stories.