Jane the Virgin: S04E12, “Chapter 76”

Episode Grade: B+

Criticism is almost never easy to hear, but it’s especially agonizing when that critic is the voice in your own head. I think for a lot of people, they either block that noise out to press on or let their inner critic convince them to not even try. But how much better would we be (or the world for that matter) if we took note and adjusted accordingly?

As teased from promos, this week started off with Jane and Raf coming out to their family as a committed couple. This news came as a shock to absolutely no one other than their tyke so it’s time for them to move onto other pressing matters. For Jane, that’s dealing with a severe case of writer’s block, either brought on or enhanced by reading critiques of her book on Amazon. Rather than follow her instincts to stoke an internet flame war, she follows her father’s advice and signs up for an improv class. Now, like that vast majority of people over the age of 12, I get no pleasure from watching improv, so I’m honestly not sure if these scenes were meant to be funny or just plain cringe worthy. I’m leaning to the latter considering the tepid responses Jane was receiving.

Between her indignant response to the Amazon reviewer and the insanely irksome Critic Jane persona, I figured the entire episode was going to be used as some therapy or payback from the writers to take aim at anyone who picks apart the work of others. I wasn’t too worried about it hurting my feelings, as I, by no means consider myself a critic, but that still didn’t seem like a fun way to spend the hour. But JtV did something that surprised me. With a little perspective from her new(ish) beau, she begins to embrace the constructive elements of the review and tries to grow as a writer. She also comes to realization that whats works best for her work ethic is the structure of a class, so it looks like our Jane is going back to school.

Speaking of the beau, we learn from our Narrator that Raf has begun the pursuit to locating his birth mother. He starts off this search with little or reserved enthusiasm, but with just a bit of information and some internet sleuthing, Raf’s hopes are high when they think they’ve located her. Considering this is a telenovela and nothing is simple, it comes to no shock to this viewer she was just a red herring, but Raf looks visabally disappointed by the news she was just a nurse working for the hospital who put down her name on his birth certificate when his real mother was too scared to put down her own. It seems like a dead end in his quest, but with some encouragement from Jane, he seeks out records from the convent. Turns out he wasn’t the first person to have this idea, or the first Solano for that matter because *dun dun dun* Luisa already bought them.

For Jane and Raf, those respective stories would have been more than enough for those characters for the night but for better or for worse, the episode also touches on some growing pains for the couple. Both are in agreement that their relationship is going great. The family’s on board, Mateo’s heart is glowing as much as his parents, but they hit a hiccup when Raf offers her a dresser drawer in his place. This is one of those moments that feels super cliche whenever brought up in pop culture, cause I’ve never known it to be as big of a deal as writers always make it out to be. Yet here we are, with Jane revealing that her trepidation on moving forward with Raf is that she worries it’s invalidating the importance of Michael in her life. The confession comes out of nowhere, but I actually kind of appreciate it. The loss of someone that important to you never goes away. The grief and the guilt will pop up in the weirdest places, and confronting and accepting it are really the only options to moving forward. My only critique of this storyline is that it felt like it belonged in a different episode, but hey, it gave a chance for sensitive and swoon-worthy Raf to rear his head with his reassuring response. I’m with Critic Jane on this one, “I have no notes. That was perfect.”

With one couple doing so good, of course the other one had to be struggling. You might remember last week that we saw Xo meeting a mystery man after lying to Ro she was teaching a dance class. She continues the ruse thinking that her self-absorbed husband will be none the wiser. Unfortunately for her, Rogelio does listen to her criticism and tries to make a grand gesture at her place of work to repair their relationship. Instead he ends up tracking her down with the help of an app and discovers she’s not some much stepping out as she is dancing undercover. In a quest to rediscover her love of dancing, she’s decided to enter a competition and chose to keep that from her partner because he’s overbearing. My heart hurt quite a bit with the look on Ro’s face as heard his love refer to him as exhausting.

Luckily for these two, her words aren’t quickly buried into a failure folder, to rest for an eternity with such harsh phrases as “A well-coiffed buffoon” or “As subtle as Lady Gaga on speed”. Man, do I hope that last one is actually a note given to Jaime Camil on how to play Rogelio. But he knew Xiomara loves him so rather than just be able to dismiss her criticism or bury it deep down, he accepts them and apologizes to her for sometimes being too much. The two make up with a dance, which also adorably solves Xo’s problem of looking for her passion for her art. And thank goodness that are in lockstep again, because the episode ends with quite the blow. No, not the one to her head when Xo takes a fall at her competition, but the one the doctors gave to her by revealing they discovered a lump in her breast.

But I don’t want to end this review on a sad note. And luckily I still have a whole Petra story line I haven’t brought up yet. I guess I wanted to save my gloating for last cause I called it from her first appearance that Petra and Jane the Lawyer were going to be a thing. Petra who claims she doesn’t have time for such nonsense on romance (at least not hearing about Jane and Raf’s) because she’s dealing with a murder charge gets quite a boost in her love life. I’m don’t think it’s a great sign for longevity that their first kiss is not only done during a test of loyalty that JR kinda failed but these two do look great together. It’s probably also not great it was primarily as a ruse for whoever is tailing them, but JR was able to tell that Petra was into it and decides to tease the #clitourist. Sorry folks, but it’s time to end any debate over the best hashtag used on the show cause that one is a clear winner after flashing on the screen as JR says she’s not interested in being a straight woman’s guinea pig. Petra lies and says she’s been with other women before. It’s a lie JR claims she was aware of, but doesn’t say if she knew that before or after the two of them spent some time between the sheets together.

So for Petra, there’s progress in her personal life, but she’s no closer to finding out who framed her. I do think there might have been a subtle clue pointing us closer to her assistant but it might be me reading into something. Remember how Jane was having to shadow people’s movement for her improv class. When she mimicking Krishna, Petra sees her and asks why she’s walking with a limp. Now, I couldn’t tell if Krishna was in fact doing that, or if Jane is just really crappy at mimicking, but it seemed like a weird thing to mention if it didn’t have a meaning.

Sorry for that digression, or speculation, but I was trying to ignore my inner critic and bring up something I was probably way too fixated on. I probably shouldn’t care so much in trying to solve who framed Petra since the show doesn’t seem to be that concerned with it either for the time being. With Xo’s cancer scare, there are far bigger things to worry about for the time being. I will say that this episode was a vast improvement over the last outing. I love that the show is back to exploring new territory and remain hopeful it’s as interested in growing as much as its characters are.