Jane the Virgin: S05E03, “Chapter 84”

I’m going to be honest here.  After the waste of time with recycled plot that was Chapter 83, I found myself dreading having to watch and recap the follow up to it.   I was in no mood for more of a love triangle I’m not invested in or Rogelio having temper tantrums fueled by his ego. It turns out that my anxiety was all for naught as those very recycled plots led to some very appreciated social commentary. It seems fitting that an episode that emphasized the importance of speaking up for yourself helped Jane the Virgin find its voice again.  

The chapter kicked off showing just how “bossy” Jane can be as she dictates to Rafael their plans for the day, which happen to include getting new divorce papers.  Before they part, Raf accidentally kisses her on the forehead, intended to show how the romance is lacking in their lives, but if a forehead smooch is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.  She heads to Alba’s to meet up with Jason to get signed papers, but instead he shows up with flowers and intentions to court Jane before throwing in the towel. If there was any doubt that Jason Michael is completely terrible, blackmailing a woman who’s made it very clear she’s unavailable and uninterested into a date should put those doubts to rest.  

Jane and Alba discuss when she’s going to tell Raf about JM’s indecent proposal, but are interrupted by Xo coming downstairs with the piece of paper River gave her last week.  I’m not entirely sure why River decided to disclose she’s making twice as much as Rogelio, but now one of the Villanueva women are going to have to break the news to him. In walks Ro in a joyous mood singing the praises of his partnership with his costar. After a quick game of Not It, Jane breaks the news and a quiet storm is brewing in our beloved Ro.

What I thought would be an explosion of anger on the set of The Passions of Brenda and Steve turns out to just be some childish pouting when Ro decides to ruin their scene with fair noises of both the mouth and armpit variety.  He goes on to whine about how he must be half as good to make half as much and it’s hard to take his side when he’s just sounds like a spoiled kid.

Over at the Marbella, Jane is breaking the news to Raf about the requisite date with JM, something I have a hard time paying attention to with Mateo in the background playing pattycake or dancing with the giant parrot the roams the halls of the hotel.  I do know that she distracts him from his anger by promising him a date and just as things are getting sexy, the screams of Mateo seeing his resurrected step father halt any kind of intimacy. Its apparent they aren’t going to be able to keep him in the dark about what’s happening and do some great coparenting with mostly honest answers to any and all of Mateo’s questions. The little guy is freaked out about what this means for his family, so Raf decides to cancel plans with his ex and their kids.

After his rough day at work, Ro’s back at home bemoaning how difficult its going to be putting up with River for another 7-10 years.  I love that even when he’s feeling low, his self confidence project his show is going to last several years longer than the one we’re all currently watching.  Xo agrees that he deserves to make as much as River but also points out how awesome it is that River is winning in the fight for gender parity. I find myself impressed that they were able to naturally weave in this topic, finally making this ongoing work feud reap some benefit as Xo drops knowledge and several celebrity names, much to Ro’s delight.  Xiomara’s title of Rogelio Whisper appears earned as he decides to table his whining til he’s read up more on the issue.

Ro might do well to stop by and get some advice from Petra’s twins, who are well versed in women’s equality.  They are having breakfast with their half brother and the mom’s when Jane gets a text from JM apologizing while still being an asshole reminding Jane of their impending date.  Petra notices that she is upset, but before she can find out what’s up, the kids break out into a fight and this solid family unit quickly splits into factions. Mateo is upset that the girls are excluding him and the girls are rightly upset that Mateo resorts to violence, however mild, when he’s unhappy.  It’s hard to take a side in this fight because Jane does tell her boy to use his words, but Petra stands behind her daughter’s choice of self-defense, even if she’s still attacking after the Mateo leaves her alone. It’s clear these two aren’t going to see eye to eye any time soon and they go their separate ways.

Behind the scenes at the telenovela, Ro, armed with more information on gender parity, tries in vain to convince River to join his cause in getting him a raise.  She informs him that gender parity is not about fair pay for men and that she has fought hard in a sexist industry to get paid her worth. She’s completely on point, but adding in that bit about how in America she is the bigger name deflates the pride that would have swelled in me for her well thought rebuttal.

Back at the hotel, the kids are still going at it but their fight is ruffling more feathers than just Jane and Petra’s.  The parrot informs the mothers that the kids have destroyed the play room and based on the look on Petra’s face, it ain’t pretty.   Trying to force apologies fails miserably and Jane has to physically remove her riled up boy before he goes charging at the twins again.  Jane and Petra don’t let the feud end just cause they aren’t in the same room and debate back and forth on the proper conflict resolution for their brood.

Speaking of escalating conflicts, Ro is more furious than ever about the pay gap and even Xo is unable to calm him down.  He’s going on a rant that makes him even less sympathetic, decrying that he’s a victim of gender inequality. He’s completely losing his shit and I’m quickly losing respect for him, but it only gets worse. In the midst of a meltdown, he turns to kick a prop that’s just been removed and ends up nailing River in the face.

In an effort to make sure there’s no more kicking in the Marbella, the kids and their moms are trying out parenting advice they got from interwebs and having a talking session inside a tent that’s being purposed as a neutral space.  Turns out cramming people at odds into a really tiny space is not that great of an idea as tensions flair again and Petra blurts out that Mateo is not the only one feeling left out.

It speaks volumes to how much I hate JM that when he appears back on screen I find myself wishing we were back to watching kids scream at one another.  He’s there to negotiate, er demand, that the date be moved from coffee to a fishing trip, proving once again how little he knows about Jane. I really don’t know what’s sadder: that he thinks he’s being charming as he forces her to do something against her will or that their are undoubtedly people out there who think he’s being charming.  

As to our other victim of toxic masculinity, it’s reveal that River’s face has been half paralyzed from Rogelio’s kick and there’s no telling when she’s be recovered enough to work.  The suits are informing Ro that production is being delayed, but River, will not be letting that happen. She insists that the show go on and they just shoot her from her good side. She’s acting like a boss and it’s clear that she’s earning her pay.  Ro even admits as such back at home with his whisperer, but he opens up why he’s so hurt about the pay disparity. It’s not just typical jealousy but that the show was his passion project. He worked so hard to get the show to an American audience and it’s built on his culture but the higher ups think he’s only worth half as much.  He’s beginning to question why he tries so hard to get the approval he so desperately craves from a country that does not value or accept him. It’s a poignant scene and one that makes me really appreciate the show for not just championing one cause over another.

He’s not the only one struggling in the face of modern racism/nationalism, as the show cuts to Jane reading about massive deportations.  It’s not exactly the kind of reading material you’d expect on date night, but when Raf shows up we find out why that is. She’s canceling on his plans because of Petra’s freudian slip.  She tells him he’s been focusing more on Jane and her problems and neglecting the other half of his family and sends him on his way. Since she’s already spoiled the mood, she decides to tell him about JM upgrading their date just before he heads over to the hotel.

There, to absolutely no surprise, he runs into JM in the lobby.  Raf decides to white knight for his lady love and tell JM to back off but JM gives no fucks.  As far as he sees it, Jane is still his wife and he’s already stolen her away from Raf once before and right about now my skin in crawling.  I really wish the following slap fight had actually occurred, but season 5 Rafael is an evolved Rafael so he keeps his mouth shut and his hands to himself and walks away.

Instead of seeing how Raf’s family time goes with Petra and the girls, the show jumps to the next day with Jane on his forced date with the jerkwad.  Much to my dismay, after some reluctance, Jane softens her stance and the two have some bonding time on a rowboat and JM weasels his way into getting close to her.  Right about now I’m fantasizing that JtV is in a shared universe with Dexter and he’s going to roll up any minute in a boat and do us all a favor and end this storyline. Unfortunately, he’s too busy being a lumberjack somewhere so we’re left wondering if Jane is falling for this bs.  

Smelling of fish, she returns to the Marbella and it’s only moments before the tension that’s been mounting between her and Petra comes to the surface once again.  This time however Jane chooses to confront the problem head on and straight up ask why Petra is picking fights. Banished to the conflict resolution tent by the children, the truth comes out.   She’s hurt that Jane has come to everyone but her about JM’s return and worries Jane doesn’t like her. The two almost playfully tease each other about how like don’t have to like each other to love other and when Jane says she sees Petra as her sister and Petra concurs, I swear if there was a camera on me you’d have seen my heart glowing just a bit.  Instead the camera stays in the tent and its shows that ladies dishing over Jane’s JM problem. Petra, never one to shy away from questions that aren’t about her, wants to know if Jane’s getting any of those old feelings back for JM. Much to my relief, Jane says that despite fears that she would it turns out she just feels like he’s not her Michael. And much to my great joy, Petra advises her to send Jason back to Montana and get back to her current healthy relationship.  In turn, Jane gives her a piece of advice on how she can tactfully reach out to Jane the Lawyer with a good old fashioned buttdial. Petra taking this advice literally and trying to sit on her phone might be the most endearing thing she’s done in 5 seasons of JtV.

These two aren’t the only ones mending fences.  Over at the show, River finds Ro and informs him that after having a one on one with Xo, she now sees that his fight for pay equity is just and that she will join him to get his money.  It’s hard to take any of this too seriously with Brooke Shields contorting her face in ways I still don’t understand but this wouldn’t be JtV without some absurdity in all the seriousness.

At this point in the episode I’m just wore out cause they’ve already covered so much ground but there’s still more to take in.  Jane heeds Petra’s advice immediately and shows up at JM’s room and tells him it’s time for him to go back to Montana. He agrees, admitted that after the date he knew it was time to go.  He apologizes to Jane for forcing her past her boundaries but he’s just so lost and he’s been convinced by all the old video footage that she might have been the answer to his problems. Just when I think I might soften up my hate for this guy, he then admits he knew it was time to move on cause there’s no way he could date a control freak who talks to much.  That’s obviously me paraphrasing (well maybe not so obvious since JM is an ass) but the fact that he’s just rejecting her cause she’s not his type and not, you know, she’s already in a happy committed relationship, just is the icing on my hate cake.

Now feeling more assertive than ever, Jane goes home and informs Raf and Mateo than JM is leaving.  Her conviction even shows in her parenting when she forces Mr. Sweet Face to sleep in his own room so she can set some limits and also have some sultry time with Raf.  After 16 minutes of bliss, the two start discussing plans for the future. Her time with Petra has her reflecting on her sibling free childhood and that’s not what she wants for Mateo.  I’d argue that’s not what Mateo has since he’s already got 2 sisters, but really her point is that she wants to expand the family. I’m not sure if it’s weird or not she jumps over artificial insemination straight to adoption when you consider how her first baby was made.  I guess maybe she doesn’t want Raf worrying she’ll get feelings for her next sperm donor. Only Jane knows, but I will say I really like the idea of this family expanding even more.

Oh how I wish the episode had just ended here, but that’s far too satisfying and not nearly suspenseful enough for a telenovela.  While over at Alba’s house discussing the nature of souls and soulmates, a ring of the doorbell brings JM back to the doorstep, this time with divorce papers and a fishing rod.  The two amicably say their goodbyes and I’m seriously questioning if the show is really going to let him go this soon after his return. I begin to hold my breath when Jane calls him back to grab the fishing pole, worried that it or the following embrace is going to lead to a torrent of memories restoring him to his former self.  So relieved that he starts to walk back off, I make the mistake of exhaling and he hits the rod against the ceiling causing paint chips to fall on his head like little flakes of snow. Clearly exhaling was the jinx that ruined it all, because just like that, a quick montage of the romance of Michael and Jane play out in his head and damnit, Michael is back…probably.  

This episode was firing on all cylinders for so much of it, I can’t even rag on it for an ending that left me frustrated as hell.  I mean, I get it from a writing standpoint that the premise is too rich to let go after a mere 3 episodes. But that understanding still doesn’t make me happy that just as Jane thought she was moving on she’s likely going to be more conflicted than ever.  I’ll admit that I am a bit curious if those memories came back with a better personality, or if JM’s crappy attributes will become meshed with his Michaelness or if he’s just back to the man Jane married. Whatever he may be, I can’t imagine me jumping onto the Michael ship after all this JM unpleasantness.  I’d love to see Jane stick to her conviction that moving forward with Raf is the best thing for her but I know that’ll never happen. At least I can take comfort in knowing she’s got a sister she can go to (and better) to work through her feelings on this.