Jane the Virgin: S05E04, “Chapter 85”

Fives seasons into Jane the Virgin, I feel comfortable in asserting that there are 2 virtues one must possess in order to love this show: patience and hope. Seeing is that the show is both a primetime dramedy and telenovela, plot twists, as infuriating or frustrating as they can be, are part and parcel of their design, I can’t exactly hold it against the writers for deploying them effectively. That’s when hope kicks and is there to remind you that when all is said and done, things generally work out. In an episode filled with nightmares coming to life, clinging to those virtues is essential if you wanna enjoy the ride.

Our patience (as well as The Narrator’s) is put to the test immediately by not immediately getting back to the cliffhanger from last week. Instead, the episode kicks off with perhaps JtV’s best cameo to date. Where the hell else you gonna find The Renegade chasing after a girl with a giant teapot? See, as a child Jane dreamed of finding out Lorenzo Lamas was her father. Sounds harmless enough. But thinks turn dark quickly when he threatens to take her away from her mother and abuela and she’ll just have tea parties for two.

In present day, Jane is still struggling with bad dreams but now she has Rafael to comfort her when she is roused from her sleep. The couple is still blissfully unaware of Michael’s recovered memories so the top of their list of concerns is who will go to Grandparents Day at Mateo’s school. Interrupted by a knocking on the door, Jane finds Raf ordered her flowers to commemorate the one year anniversary of her book no one bought, and it’s as strong a case as any that Raf is the one for her. They are also celebrating being back to normal, cause clearly they like to test fate.

Jane isn’t the only one with her head in the clouds. Over at Alba’s, Jane reads the love letters that Jorge is sending her while her abuela adorably mouths along. She tries in vain to ground Alba’s expectations, reminding her the letters are intended to convince immigration that they are truly in love. But Jorge is just so damned gifted, he’s fooled his wife just the same. Before Jane can talk anymore sense into her, she’s reminded that she’s late to work and gets rushing over to the Marbella where Jason Michael, or maybe just Michael now is checking out to head back to Montana.

But relationship woes aren’t reserved for the Villanueva women. Once at work, Petra calls Jane to up to her room for an urgent matter. The butt text Jane convinced her to send JR has resulted in a follow up text with a question, but Petra hasn’t heard back since declaring she still misses her. Petra’s panicking, but Jane tries to tell her to play it cool cause the ball is in JR’s court.

Ah, if only Jane could take her own advice and leave well enough alone. As she strolls through the hotel, she looks over to see Michael in a cab taking off for the bus station. The two lock eyes and she knows, she just knows by the way he looked at her that he remembers. Now, I personally only ever see one particular mopey look that Brett Dier has mastered in his years as Michael, but I’m also not the lady in love with him. Instead of just letting him ride off into the sunrise (I’m fairly sure it’s still morning), she borrows a scooter and chases him down to the bus depot. After flagging down the wrong bus, she’s too late to stop the one to Montana, but as it pulls off, we see Michael was not on it. He claims that he saw her almost get run over and didn’t want to leave it like that, but I’m fairly sure the Greyhound bus just kicked him off for thinking he could bring a hundred pound dog on board. Regardless the reason, Jane lies to Raf and ignores Petra-calls so she can talk to Michael about what this means.

Petra’s now panicking because JR’s replied and she doesn’t know what to do next. But Petra’s got bigger problems, or specially one big problem of the return of Magda. She’s sitting in the lobby reading fortunes and being surly with hotel staff. She then tries to extort her daughter for 100 grand to leave the property. Rather than let Magda cause a scene that would scare away guests, Petra takes off to find out how to get a restraining order.

I’m glad the show doesn’t stick around with Magda for too long cause she’s terrible and nothing they do at this point is going to make her any more or less terrible. Instead we get to see what’s going on with Jane’s very cool mom, Xiomara. As mentioned briefly at the start of the episode, she’s getting ready to have her last round of chemo and is looking forward to the Grandparents Day event. When Mateo lets it slip that Alba was planning on taking him, Xo insists she’s the one who’s going and her doting husband knows better than to object. In fact, he’s ready to call in his glam squad to dress her up for the night and Alba shockingly wants to get gussied up too. She’s decided to look her best for seeing Jorge since she’s convinced their love is real, and I’m just adoring that if it is, their love story will include the words “mini golf” whenever its recounted.

Instead of recounting their love story, Michael and Jane are testing to see how much of him is him again with cubanos. New Mike still doesn’t like them and admits that he now feels like 2 different people. Rather than try to figure out who that is, the two catch up on what’s happened over the past 4 years. It’s the first time they’ve have any kind of chemistry since his return, but if you ask this very partial viewer, it all comes across as very friendly familiarity. It’s not until he tells her he’s proud of her for publishing a book that things take a turn into awkwardly romantic. That’s what you get when you say a person’s full name in a conversation. There’s no way that doesn’t make it more serious. He admits he’s still in love with her and gives her time to process that, i.e. talk to every one in her family.

The first person she sees and tells however is Rafael. He’s understandably distraught and wanting assurances that she’s still divorcing Michael. Jane claims she doesn’t want anything to change but she’s also not willing to take any drastic steps saying this is all new. Raf chooses this to be the worst time for a (sorta) proposal, and waving a ring box in front of her doesn’t help her come to a decision. My default mode is to take Jane’s side on things, but it’s not like she hadn’t considered the possibility of Michael fully returning.

This is when we see Jane’s recurring nightmare. Raf and Michael both pleading for why she should pick them, hounding after her as she runs to a cliff. Was the image of her jumping off a cliff rather than decide between them a bit of foreshadowing? Or maybe it’s just that she’s rather cause herself pain than either of them? It’s likely that she just thinks there are no good options.

Petra’s still waiting on Jane to tell her what her options are on replying to JR, but after 17 ignored phone calls she’s still not her back. Completely preoccupied by her relationship woes, she seems to have forgotten all about Magda (something I would have been fine with the writers doing as well). Her mother is now suing her for the emotional distress she incurred when witnessing Anishka’s death. Petra is prepared to fight back, saying she’s rather spend it all in legal fees than handing her mom a dime. It’s too bad she doesn’t know any lawyers…

At Xo’s final chemo treatment, Jane breaks the news to her family and Rogelio’s response was perfect. From anyone else, “Did he ask about me?” being the first thing they wanted to know would be obnoxious and eye-roll worthy, but from Ro it is just hilarious and endearing. Jane lets him know Michael still loves him, but more importantly, he’s still in love with his wife. Her family looks on sympathetically as she lays out her dilemma, but even Rogelio isn’t going to chime in on what he thinks she should do. It’s not til she finally looks at her phone to see the series of texts from Petra that she knows who will give her the guidance she so clearly needs. Note to self: start using knife emojis and see if that motivates people to reply faster.

Jane shows up at Petra’s door quickly relaying her current crisis and bless Petra for not giving a damn about it. It’s about time she stood up for herself to say that while her problems might not be quite as dramatic, they are still problems she needs help with. Jane does manage to convince her that she can have 5 minutes of her time if Jane returns the favor. Petra doesn’t need 5 minutes to think it over though. Jane hasn’t even had time to pour out a drink before she’s being told to dump Michael and go with Rafael. She makes a solid point that fate does seem to keep bringing those 2 together and even closer to my own opinion, that Michael is her past and Rafael is her future. Cut to 3 drinks and 30 minutes later and Jane’s still trying to debate against Petra’s recommendation but she will not be moved. With a couple more cocktails (if straight liquor out of a martini glass qualifies as a cocktail), the 2 are drafting up some really terrible responses for JR that sound like pure poetry to the very inebriated. They make a pact that Petra will send the text if Jane mails in her divorce papers and you see how alcohol has earned the nickname “liquid courage”. I sure hope this isn’t the last happy hour on the show for these two, because they were positively delightful for drunk people.

Moments after mailing off the papers, Jane runs into Michael who off course says the exact right thing to make Jane immediately regret it. Instead of running from her feelings for him, she runs after the postman and pleads to get her mail back. After blurting out that her husband returned from the dead and giving him the 11 minute rundown (I wonder if she tells the story enough times if she can get it in under 2 minutes), he’s sympathetic to her plight and turns around so she can fish the papers out of his mail bag. He also gives her the advice she really wanted to hear: she should take more time to make up her mind.

Petra was unable to take back her half of the agreement. She’s drunk and trying to distract herself with work, but all she can focus on his her phone and the lack of messages she’s getting. She gets all excited when an unknown number rings her, but it’s neither JR or a robocall, but Rafael. He’s offended she’s disappointed it’s him on the line, but after consoling him with the knowledge that she convinced Jane to get her divorce he couldn’t look happier. She gets off the phone with Raf when a text from JR comes in saying she wants to meet. Unfortunately for Petra, Magda overhears this and knows she’s found some new leverage.

Jane arrives back home, looking far to put together for someone who’d been day drinking pretty heavily, but I suppose that just some tv magic. She finds Raf preparing a couple glasses of champagne and is dismayed to find out its to toast her divorce. She regrets to inform him that she recovered her papers claiming she didn’t want to make that kind of decision while drunk. Before they can hash it out, their boy runs into the room looking cute as a button and ready for Grandparents Day.

Mateo’s not the only one dressing sharp. Back at the Marbella, Petra looks lovely dressed up to go meet with JR. She’s still desperately relying on Jane to walk her through every part of this reunion, up to and including which accessories to wear. Nothing clashes worse than a set of handcuffs with your disgruntled mother attached, and that’s exactly what Magda is counting on. Unfortunately for Magda, Petra’s commitment to not paying her is all too real and she drags her along on the “date”. Fortunately for Petra, Magda’s forced confessions do just the trick to convince JR that she can be trusted as she owns up to every terrible thing Magda throws out there. Petra bears her soul and professes that her biggest nightmare is living without JR and these two lovely ladies are reunited (and it feels so good).

Hell, everyone in the episode at this point is looking pretty great, or to paraphrase The Narrator, “They are looking foine”. Alba’s looking fantastic in an emerald green dress to welcome home her “husband” who doesn’t appreciate the ensemble the way she was hoping. Sadly enough, it turns out that the letters he wrote were his sister’s idea and not the professions of love she had hoped for. But she’s not getting too down about it. She’s convinced she felt a connection in their hug, and I hope for her sake she’s right. Damn you writers, if you don’t give Alba a happy ending I’ll riot, or at least write a strongly worded letter.

Also done up by Ro’s glam team is Xiomara. She’s looking a bit overdressed for a school function but I can’t even judge her. I’m reminded of ast season when Xo’s cancer treatment started taking a toll and she had to come to terms with not looking her best. Seeing her look confident and proud of her appearance was like a breath of fresh air. But my grinning didn’t stop there. She and Mateo surprise the whole family when they bust out a planned dance routine that had me beaming.

That joy is short lived though when the expression on Xo’s face changes entirely as the end of the routine. Ro cleverly distracts Mateo as to not worry him, while Xo goes over to her mother and daughter and urgently tells them they need to go. On the way out the door, Xo collapses and my stomach drops worrying what this show has in store for my next gutpunch.

Much to my relief, she’s just been feeling the effects of dehydration but the hospital would like to keep her overnight. Jane steps out of the room to find a very attentive Rafael waiting for her. He’s packed an overnight bag for Xo, brought coffee for Ro, took care of the kid and is offering to take Alba home. I am at this point yelling at my tv that she needs to flip the script ask this dude to marry her, but I don’t think she heard me since she only hugged the guy.

Rogelio brings in some stuff to make Xo more comfortable and asks in earnest that she take things easy and not try to rush her recovery. That’s when Xo reveals that she wasn’t trying to get ahead of herself in getting better. She’s worried that she might not get better and wanted to make memories with her grandson as a fun vibrant grandmother, not some sick older woman. As anyone who has watched a cancer battle up close and personal, it’s a wish that has to be fairly common as the disease can take away from your identity as much as it does from your health. Xo manages to perk her up though showing her a video Mateo made talking about how tough she is. Right about the time he brags, “She’ll yell at anybody. Honestly, she doesn’t even care.” I am snort laughing through the tears.

Once again the fuzzy feelings are cut short, this time when Raf takes Alba home. It’s very sweet that she offers to be there for him as his deals with what is going on between Michael and Jane and that’s when he is overwhelmed with all the memories of Jane sidelining him while she kept picking Michael. He grabs his son, heads home and finds Jane waiting. She wants to thank him for all he’s done but all he wants to know is whether or not she loves Michael. When she refused to confirm or deny that, he takes it as the answer, the one he didn’t want and asks her to leave. Its possibly the most I’ve ever respected Rafael as he stands up for himself and refuses to go down the same path he went before. Thank goodness for that because I don’t forget the douchenozzle he was for a period of time after their split. It doesn’t make me any less sad though to see the pain his decision causes both he and Jane. And just went I didn’t think it was going to hurt worse, their son comes back into the room to declare that he wants to stay with his dad. That’s when Jane realizes this moment is her actual worst nightmare, and I’m shocked that she walks out accepting it for what it is.

As I’ve said before, Jane’s not going to be able to escape this predicament unscathed. It’s frustrating as hell to see the show caught in this holding pattern of the love triangle because the whole thing should be resolved using lessons from the past. At the same time, I can’t say it hindered my enjoyment of it either. For one, they had some great storylines for all the ladies this week, even if they were brief. Secondly, JR is back and hopefully making Petra a happier woman from here on out. And lastly, I love when television shows make me conflicted and up til tonight, Michael’s return had failed to do that in the slightest. Even though he’s not the choice I would make for Jane, at least now I can see why he’s the choice she might make for herself and I’m calling that progress. So for now, I’m going to keep trying to take deep breaths, remain calm, and remind myself that this love triangle will be resolved once and for all within 15 episodes.