Birthdays can be an emotional time. When celebrating making another revolution around the sun, its difficult to not take stock of one’s life and where you stand. And when you hit those decade mile markers, its damn near impossible to avoid thinking about where you’ve been and where you are going. For Jane Villanueva, her 30th birthday is an emotional rollercoaster filled with heartache, rejection, and challenge after challenge.
The episode starts off with a flashback to 4 weeks prior with Jane’s family convincing her to go all out for her 30th birthday bash. It was a simpler time when the idea of a unicorn at her party seemed more feasible than her deceased husband and life with her family was good. Rogelio can hardly contain his excited pulling out all the stops for the festivity with grand ideas of Jane shaped ice sculptures and signature cocktails.
Cut to the present and Jane once again finds herself at Alba’s house having been kicked out by Rafael. She’s moping in her pjs (which I really want), upset because Raf won’t take her calls and her son hates her. She wants to call off her party, but Alba is having none of it. After convincing Jane to take care of some of her personal hygiene needs, she tries to tell her there’s a lot to be celebrating, but Jane finding her first gray hair ruins any chance of that. She’s set on spending on the day alone, even wanting to cancel on her mentor since she’s been unable to write since Michael’s return.
Over at Xo and Ro’s home, the happy couple is having a cake taste test Xo is fully able to enjoy now that chemo isn’t wrecking her appetite. This inspires her hubby to want to celebrate her recovery, something she is unwilling to do until after she’s had her PET scan. I completely understand her apprehension, but man do I want to see a cake of Xo emerging from the woods. Before they can spar over this, they are interrupted by Darci, Esteban and Baby who have come to visit now that Xo’s immune system isn’t too compromised for Baby’s baby germs. I’ve been wondering when the show would remember Ro had another child, and as I’m excited to see her return, I do not miss having to call this poor child by her name. Baby isn’t quite so excited to see her dad though. With Esteban unemployed, he’s been caring for her full time and she’s grown very attached. Rogelio is obviously resentful of this, but he doesn’t go into a full meltdown and that my friends is called character growth.
Ro’s other daughter isn’t fairing any better as her day goes on. She’s back to behind a keyboard, but the words that come to her, lets just say, are a bit too bleak for a romance novelist. Her foray into dark prose comes to an end quickly when Michael shows up unexpectedly. Jane tries shooing him away saying her life is a mess, but before he can explain why he showed up, Mateo and Raf arrive sending Jane into a panic. She tells him to hide and for whatever reason, he decides Mr. (Not So)Sweetface’s room is the best place for that. Unfortunately for Jane, that’s exactly where her boys need to head to to retrieve Mateo’s castle for show and tell. She tries to stall them by giving Mateo a hug he so clearly does not want, but Raf walks right past and discovers Jane’s (ex?)-husband. He does his best broody threatening face while not saying a word and grabs what they came for. Things so from uncomfortable to terrible when Mateo runs in to get the dragon that goes with it and discovers the man who has wreaked havoc on his family life and responds to him with all the tact you would expect of a 6 year old. It’s painful to see Mateo so hurt, clearly perceptive to Raf’s hostility and mimicking it for all to hear.
But things only get worse for Jane once they storm out of the house. Left with Michael, she finds out the reason for his unplanned visit. Turns out insurance companies don’t appreciate when one of their clients returns from the dead. It’s not a surprise to find out that they want their money back and are looking at the matter as insurance fraud. What is a surprise is how small Michael’s death benefit was for a young police officer, but for Jane 40 grand is an astronomical sum she no longer has.
A trip over to the Marbella to see a reunited Petra and JR should have proved a much happier situation, but there’s still trouble in paradise for these two. For one, there’s a fair amount of tension in the air when JR mentions having to work at the bar, a reminder to Petra that JR was disbarred to help her. Blow number two is JR turning down a sleepover, saying she’s not ready for that again just yet. Before they can speak any more about it, Petra’s assistant comes in informing her that Milos is ruining the buffet by canceling seafood orders and making puns at her expense. I’m not sure what his endgame is here, but if he’s wanting to get under her skin, he’s going to have to flex more mussel (I can make bad seafood puns too!).
Jane’s visit with Rafael is even more awkward and unpleasant. She tries to clarify what happened in the morning and tells Raf about the insurance problem. She apologizes for deceiving him and attempts to placate him by professing that she picks him, but Raf needs more. He wants assurances that she no longer loves Michael, but it’s something Jane is unable to deny even if she really wants to. As sad as I am when he tells her she needs to get the rest of her stuff from his place, I’m still proud at Raf for doing the hard task of letting her go. Accepting what you want to hear is the easy choice, but he knows Jane well enough to know that she’s not going to have to eventually work through her Michael feelings.
Back at Ro’s house, we see his other daughter in tears every time she’s taken away from Esteban. The Baby rejection is beginning to take its toll on Ro who might not have grown as much as I previously gave him credit for. Instead of just letting Esteban receive praise from Darci on his magic touch with Baby, Ro’s gotta rub in just how good his acting career is going. Darci asks him privately to knock it off, telling Ro that Esteban’s work is non-existent and he’s been struggling in his career and Baby-rearing is pretty much his life right now. Once she leaves him alone, Ro gets a mischievous look on his face and calls someone named Barry asking for a favor.
Despite the rough morning Jane’s had, she winds up meeting Marlene for lunch and letting her mentor in on why she’s not gotten any writing done. Her former teacher doesn’t look all that sympathetic to Jane’s plight because it’s just perfect fodder for Jane’s writing. She offends our Narrator by telling her to take a dispassionate look at the situation and take notes that can be used later on when she is ready to write.
When Jane attempts to pick up Mateo from school, Mr. Narrator only needs a couple monotone lines to prove that passion is more entertaining than objective facts while relaying the kid is still pissed. Sure, we would have figured it out when Mateo flees from his mom on foot rather than accept her apology. He’s screaming and hollering to strangers that she’s not his mom. Jane tries to prove otherwise by whipping out an old photo and damn do I love the show for poking fun of the recasting that happened between seasons 3 and 4. Once she finds a more current pic, she’s able to abscond with her little one, very much against his protests. I feel for the kid, but I hurt worse for Jane having to listen as her son repeatedly declares his hate for her. She drops him off over at Raf’s and is super pissed when he excuses their son’s behavior.
She goes over to her parents house to vent about being undermined and I can’t say I blame her. Ro decides this would be a good time to brag about his coparenting skills by revealing he did a great thing by getting Esteban an acting job in Mexico. I wasn’t sure earlier what he had up his sleeve with that Barry phone call, but I certainly didn’t think his plan was to separate Esteban from his daughter so he could bond with her more. Did he not think how this might all blow up in his face if Darci decided to go to Mexico WITH Esteban? Jane decides to point out that he’s not coparenting but just being selfish.
Ro’s not the only one getting admonished, cause back at the hotel JR is confronting Petra about an email to Milos. JR picked up the wrong phone and saw an email that said Petra wouldn’t testify against him if he gave her his shares in the Marbella, but Petra adamantly denies having ever sent it. I’m giving JR some slack here cause it totally seems like a Petra move, but it sucks to see Petra hurt because the trust in her has been broken. She’s not just giving up though, she intends to prove somehow it wasn’t her that sent the email.
Jane is someone who has already gotten her proof gathered. She’s with Michael going over receipts from his funeral, cause I guess people who commit fraud aren’t that committed to spending their newfound fortune on floral arrangements. It’s a bizarre thing to bond over how much someone lavished on you when they thought you were dead, but bizarre is pretty much Jane’s normal. While discussing how they are going to get the money to pay back what they owe, Jane flashbacks to their honeymoon staycation. She gives Michael a look of longing, but when he returns it she looks away to jot down notes about the moment instead.
Darci is also writing, but with a lot more fury than Jane. Ro enters the room with apprehension and after she snaps as him, he continues his promise from last season to respond to her anger with only kind words for the mother of his child. He’s come to ask for more time with Baby and she agrees to it despite having her “rage face” on. That rage was spurred by Esteban dumping her before he heads to Mexico for his new acting gig. So yeah, Ro’s plan is blowing up in his face, just not in the way I imagined it would. Ro admits to her that his jealousy had caused him to get Esteban the job, but she and her ex were already well aware of that. However, this fact changed nothing because it shined light on issues in their relationship. She tells him that if he wants to make it up to her though, he can go by Esteban’s place and pick up Baby’s stuff since her rule book precludes her from doing it herself.
It’s now officially Jane’s birthday, but she is in no mood for a celebration. A call from her son puts a smile on her face, but the boy tells her he’s not feeling well and will not be attending the unicorned festivities. She wants to know if he’s really sick or avoid her, but that sassy 6 year old had the audacity to hang up on her and Rafael isn’t taking her calls. She marches over to his place to let him know she’s done. She does a solid job standing up for herself in not letting Raf bulldoze over her anymore in the parenting department, which is undercut just a hair when Mateo appears in the room and ralphs all over the place. Her instinct to take care of him overrides her anger but Mateo doesn’t want her help. Instead of breaking down, which would be completely understandable, she takes a deep breath and jots down some more notes.
Raf goes to comfort his son who tells his dad he won’t stop being mad at her til his dad’s no longer mad. Pops tells his boy that is unacceptable and that his mother’s love is absolute and that’s when Mateo asks if he still loves mommy. He doesn’t spend too much time on a spiel about the nuances of love, but between the expression on his face and the subsequent look at the card he wrote for Jane’s birthday, it’s pretty obvious he’s still in deep.
Over at the Marbella, Petra is in a tizzy trying to get proof that she never actually emailed her ex. It’s too bad that the video surveillance only shows the busboy’s reaction to being fired and not who was actually doing the firing. Since Travis (the busboy) is unlike to corroborate her alibi, she’s going to have to rely on Jane as an eye witness as she was in the room taking down notes during the event. She inspires her to get to Jane’s party a little bit early with a gift so thoughtfully picked out from what was sitting right in front of her.
Before Rogelio can head over for the Jane themed shindig, he’s paid a visit by Esteban who is returning Baby’s things with some instructions. Ro tries to rush him along, but before he can pass over the bag of Darci’s belongings, his emotions erupt and he sobs in front of Ro who is understandably confused. Turns out Esteban wasn’t dumping Darci to move onto greener pastures. Instead, he saw the lengths Ro was willing to go through to get him out of their lives and decided it would be better to spare Baby the animosity that he had grown up with.
Jane has impulsively decided that it’s her party and she can bail if she wants to so she just drives off without ever stepping foot out of the car. Luckily for the women in her life, they have apps to track her down and do just that. They find her sitting on a park bench taking more notes when a gust of wind magically sweeps them up and sends them scattering into a ditch.
While the ladies are working on Jane, back at the party Ro shows up with Esteban to work on his relationship with Darci. While she doesn’t exactly look it, she’s pleased to know he’s not ditching her for a telenovela star but she is still not wanting to reunite. She knows she’s stuck with Ro for pretty much ever and how can she trust Esteban to not bail again when he inevitably does something dumb. Ro interjects and tries to assure them that he will continue to try to be better and pleads for her to take Estebaby back. She agrees and the hug between the gents is absolutely adorable.
Less adorable is Jane who is officially wallowing, both literally and
figuratively. She confesses the reason she abandoned the party was that going into alone would be accepting that she is moving on in her life without Rafael. Her ladies are kind and supportive and Petra even offers to yell some sense into him, but Jane says she’ll figure it out. Petra grabs the note Jane wrote during the aforementioned firing which will help settle the dispute with JR and goes running off to show her. Left with just her mom and abuela, the women read over Jane’s musings and pieced together it spells out that she still has feelings for Michael.
In a flashback, it’s revealed that the card Raf had been reading early was actually his gift to Jane that professed how much he loved her. But that was 4 weeks ago, and now he’s sitting alone on his couch reading over his words with his little heart a glowing. Just then, Jane rings the bell and Rafael opens the door prepared to reopen that heart to her when she emotionally sucker punches him by telling him he was right and that she needs time to sort out her feelings. He tucks the card away and remains amicable when she acknowledges its unfair to make him wait on her again. Mateo comes storming out demanding to know what she is doing there, and dad puts his foot down and informs the tyke he’s going to be spending the night with his mom.
Trying to salvage her own relationship, Petra shows up on JR’s door with evidence in hand and asserts that she can’t be constantly proving herself if they are going to work. JR accepts that Petra wasn’t lying, but she’s still not ready to trust her completely, especially with what she had lost in way of her career. At least Petra doesn’t accept this as a defeat and instead insists she’ll work harder to make JR feel safe. Thank goodness some people are trying to work things out.
Jane’s no good very bad day comes to an end with another heartache. She may have Mateo at her house, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her. After an episode filled with moments designed to make Jane cry, it’s when her boy rejects her kiss that she finally allows herself to cry. That’s all it took to break Mateo’s surliness and he tries to comfort her. Kids can be so cruel without even realizing the hurt they are causing, but they can flip on that charm and empathy and melt your heart. He apologizes for running away and she uses that as a chance to relate her own runaway story and it looks like these two are going to be just fine.
Also looking like they are doing good, the episode checks back in with Ro and Xo. He’s surprisingly ok with Jane blowing off her celebration and has decided to take some of Darci’s advice in celebrating his wife. I will never stop enjoying the ways the writers figure out how to work Rogelio’s name into a product, this time a Rocovery basket. He recognizes that Xo is not out of the woods just yet, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take joy in the minor victories. She thanks him for all the support he’s given her during her illness and man, did I just want the episode to end on that sweet note.
But this is JtV and the love triangle must be brought back up before we say goodbye for the week. Michael shows up on Jane’s door to let her know that the insurance company has agreed to settle their claim with a payment of $10000. Jane offers to help with the cost but Michael insists he’s got it covered. Before parting he hands her the kind of birthday gift a man 10 grand in debt can afford: the sentimental kind. He’s giving Jane a copy of her book, but not just any copy. It’s his and he’s made notes throughout on his thoughts while reading it. She’s beaming while she skims his notes but the lack of a glowing heart is good news for the Raf shippers out there. Also on their side is the donkey that is still lingering at Alba’s house for reasons. He brings Jane her phone with a pic of her, Raf, and Mateo in simpler happier times and there goes here chance to feel good for a minute. On the bright side, she’s finally inspired to get back on her laptop and start churning out some new material. But sadly she’s not the only one turning to old habit to cope. Back at Raf’s apartment, he’s in his kitchen tossing away his note to Jane and chasing down a pill with some liquor.
This was a weird episode for me. I was genuinely entertained throughout and the hour flew by, but it was also a huge bummer to watch Jane suffer throughout the vast majority of it. The love triangle which has been generally tedious does have some new depth with these added complications, but it’s nearly impossible to relate to with the circumstance so unbelievable. I don’t know any more than Jane what the right choice for her is, but I just want to see the Villanueva women content in their lives and right not that’s not the case. With any luck, next week with be full of some levity after this installment comprised mostly of Jane suffering.