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Jane the Virgin: S04E16, “Chapter 80”

Episode Grade: B

Life’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It may be a cliche but it also is a pretty apt way to sum up this episode. It’s wonderful to have goals (or so I hear) to work towards, but just because you can visualize obtaining those goals doesn’t make the road to getting them any easier. If anything, it can lead to more disappointment and frustration when roadblocks pop up along the way. If there was one lesson I got out of this installment, is that preparing yourself for not getting what you want is just as important as your ambition itself.

When we last met, Jane and Raf had decided that it was time for the 2 of them to shack up. The only problem is that they can’t exactly afford a new place to accommodate the whole family in Mateo’s school district. They decide to set a goal to raise the money required for the first and last month’s rent before they make cohabitating official. I do kinda question why exactly their dream apartment is a one bedroom? I spent a while wondering if in the midst of discovering their bliss, they had forgotten to make a place for their son. But Jane’s fantasy did incorporate play space for the kid, so I’m guessing all three will just share a room. Oh how romantic! But I digress.

It’s not long before this go-getting duo raises enough funds. Too bad little Mateo ran through that cash in a heartbeat when he broke an antique while shopping for a dining room table. Since cohabiting on their own wasn’t financially possible for the time being, Raf decided to move back into Alba’s house. I was incredulous at first that the no nonsense Catholic was going to let these 2 live in sin under her roof, but of course she was never going to permit that. Not only did Alba assert her dominance when it came to bedroom arrangements, but she drew a firm line in the sand when it came to her right to spank her grandson. I can see why this was such a non-negotiable issue to Rafael and respect his decision to not back down, but the issue of spanking seemed like one they could have spent more time on and just glossed over it instead. It turns out Alma was only so upset because she feels like there’s only so long before anyone is going to listen to her, and again, I feel like silencing the voice of older generations is something that the show could spend a lot more time on. Instead, on top of the load they already had to deal with, they crammed in a story about Raf getting back into real estate development just to have him change his mind when it was apparent he wasn’t going to get rich quick and now he’s going to be a corporate shill selling crumby condos because his dream now is that 1 bedroom apartment for his family. Man, that was a lot of words to shove into one sentence, but that’s pretty much how that whole story played out to me. I will say one nice thing about it, and that it does go to show how Rafael has changed over the years and even how the romance of Jane and Raf is much more practical (and stable) these days.

The other person this week with their eye on the prize is Xiomara. She’s recovered quite well from her operation and she’s ready to get her chemo over with so she can go back to being the healthy vibrant women we all know and love. The nerd in me was really happy they included that during her treatments, she was going to be wearing a cold cap in order to try to prevent hair loss. Its a newish procedure that I had just read up about a few months ago because it’s a therapy that was developed at the Mayo Clinic in my city. I could go on and on about the benefits of cold capping, but this is a show review, not a medical journal so I’ll move on. While Xo seems to have managed to keep her hair in tact, after a 9 week time jump, the effects of chemo on Xo have taken a visible toll. I’m quite grateful the jump prevents the audience from having to watch week after week as Xo’s health and strength deteriorate, but that jump doesn’t come without some costs to the show. I was thrilled to see Amy Brenneman sitting in a chair next to Xo in the clinic, the two quickly bonding over this shared experience. Donna (Brenneman) was obviously used to the routine and I welcomed the chance for Xo to find a friend who she could share and learn from. Unfortunately, the friendship was cut short when it was revealed that Donna had a recurrence and had suddenly passed away. Well the effects of that loss where felt by Xo, who got a real wake up call to the potential of fatality, it was pretty much lost on the audience who never really got to know the character to be hurt by her loss.

Donna did leave one important thing for her friend: pot brownies. Those lazy little plot devices would play a major role in helping Rogelio’s vision. See, Rogelio was watching his vision of Passion of Steve and Brenda quickly erode with every little rewrite and revision River Fields had for their show. I will stand behind Ro on this matter, cause seriously, what kind of monster would cut out the genius of two oval offices conjoined to make a heart shape? River comes bounding into Xo and Ro’s home to chew him out for gossiping to the press but instead find Xiomara sitting on a couch, snaking on weed brownies and enjoying some telenovellas. In a moment of impulse stress eating, Brooke, I mean River, grabs a brownie and scarfs it done, none the wiser that its infused with THC. Xo offers her a seat on the couch since the potent edibles are going to leave her in no condition to drive. Instead of sitting around bored for 45 minutes just to pass out 10 minutes into the high setting in (which is how this would have played out in real life) she miraculously stays awake to binge some shows and discover the amazingness that is the art of telenovellas. I can tell the show is trying very hard to add some levity in Xo’s story with this sideplot, but it came off as so incredibly cheesy to me. I can’t even say I laughed at all at it, but I did at least smirk at Brooke Shields stoned amazed face. Hopefully River can remember that she agreed to share in Rogelio’s ideas for the series cause he’s going to need some brownies of his own if she sucks all the passion out of Passion of Steve and Brenda.

That leaves me with just Petra’s story to get to. Color me shocked that Petra and Jane the Lawyer are still making things work after that 9 week time jump. Not that I don’t want to see this couple work, I just never expect the show to allow Petra to be happy for more than one episode out of every 12. That happiness however does come to a grinding halt when JR reveals that she was persuaded by Magda’s story of what happened the night Aniska died. She confronts her girlfriend with details given at the deposition which goes over about as well as you’d expect someone accusing their significant other of murder. After showing JR her intact shoes from that evening in question, she rightfully kicks her out of her apartment and I am genuinely concerned that we have the inevitable ending of Petra’s giddiness. It turns out JR may not want to carpool kids, but she is willing to sacrifice her career to set things right. She confesses to Petra’s judge about the blackmail plot she was part of. The cost of Petra’s continued freedom (since the case was dismissed with prejudice) was Jane the Lawyer getting disbarred. I appreciated JR saying the move wasn’t to restore her relationship, it was to set her conscience right by facing the music for what she had done. It still comes off as hella romantic, but it also doesn’t take away JR’s integrity.

Jane the Virgin had been on a bit of a hot streak. I don’t want to say this episode brought that grinding to a halt, cause it wasn’t a bad episode by any means. I just think that it was one with too many ideas crammed into too little time. Combine that with some tired tv tropes, and it left me more with a feeling of how good it could have been instead of one of how terrible it was. Cause it wasn’t terrible. You know who is terrible? Rose. And why the show continues to make her a thing is somewhat beyond me. I wish they had killed her off seasons ago. Do I care about what information she could possibly have that would change Raf’s life forever? Eh, not really. Regardless of my apathy, I’m fairly certain we’ll find out what that information is next Friday. Until then, I welcome you to share your thoughts on the episode or even share some theories on what makes Rose still relevant.