It should be noted:
Jane the Virgin excels as a genre study, concentrating on and intermixing between the telenovela, the romance, and the crime procedural, with a few added bonus genres from time to time. The romance isn’t afraid to make fun of itself while still giving Jane a fresh hopefulness. The telenovela is outlandish and hilarious, rooted in just enough reality.The insanely twisted Mutter plot, in my opinion becoming a bit overwrought and stale, gets a new, entertaining twist. In this episode especially, the amplification and subversion of genre norms really shines (sometimes literally) and generates added bits of that classic tongue-in-cheek Jane humor.
As always, touches of magic realism amplify Jane’s romantic notions only to disappear as real life complications pervade. In Chapter 34, there was the rosy tint to represent Jane’s idealistic world that would then fade away. In 35, the bubble surrounded a happy family safe from inevitable difficulties, only to burst when the drama sets in. In this episode, Jane’s bathed in a golden light as she imagines what life would be like had she never broken up with Michael. Her fantasies seamlessly transition as she finishes recounting her imaginings of this idyllic life to her mother. In one case, she tells of Michael and Rafael getting along gloriously, cheesy laughter 60s sitcom style, until Xiomara interjects, “Okay, it wouldn’t be like that.” And the golden hue fades away as Jane admits, “Maybe not.”
In a storyline that can get very complicated, some consistency is quite welcome, especially with minute new elements mixing it up a bit. It also shows a great dichotomy between Jane and Xiomara, letting Xo bring her daughter down to reality while giving some great one liners and classic sass looks.
Speaking of, I give you Exhibit A and B:
Once again, the telenovela devices are really emphasized in Rogelio’s story line, and this time at the height of its telenovela-ness. It’s teleno-ception, a telenovela actor within a (sorta) telenovela, with characters reenacting another telenovela (which is all based on a telenovela). Rogelio’s stalker Lola is attempting to create a love story between her and Rogelio by closely matching the plot line outlined by La Miseria, the telenovela in which Rogelio played the leading man. And he is in misery now. As the narrator chips in, the unfolding of events “brings us here, now, to the biggest acting challenge of Rogelio’s career.” Have I mentioned I love the narrator? Rogelio is continuing to pretend to go along with Lola’s machinations and must feign he’s in love with her in order to parallel La Miseria and buy time so he can break out.
It becomes obvious how easily these ideas of grand and unrequited love can be perverted when the plot is turned against Rogelio, when the feelings he’s acting out are truly not (and never will be) reciprocated (she’s crazy). This also leads through some of the most humorous bits of the episode. Of course his phone password would be “007.” And please, use that threatening knife anywhere “but the face.” And is she devotedly and lovingly rubbing butter through his hair?
There’s also the sly dig in a flashback, when Rogelio brags to Xo about his (not thousands, but) millions of stalkers, which proves his high level of fame.
In his efforts to escape, this hostage situation has turned into a battle of wits of telenovela proportions. Rogelio sneakily (and ridiculously) hides his sleeping pill in the secret compartment of his lavender underwear, which of course he has because he’s embarrassed and must hide his wipes used to diminish his greasy forehead (thanks for the backstory, narrator). Oh Rogelio. It will be interesting to see if this turns into a duel of telenovela knowledge, to find out who plans the most ridiculous scheme to reach the respective goal, or if a more subdued answer will be the one that allows Rogelio to escape. Of course, there’s always the chance that Jane and/or Xo will figure out something is wrong. Rogelio has already planted the clue by ending the text with “Besos.” Which Xo realistically assumes is him being cold and distant. Enough clues though, and they might just figure it out.
And then there’s the cop drama. As usual, Michael is in the thick of it, trying to expose an extremely complicated chain of events to bring down Mutter. This time, the drama is played up in a new way, unfolding in the style of Scandal (the show Jane and Michael used to watch together, aw). Jane matches the abrupt cuts, quick pacing, and even the camera flashes are thrown in for good measure. I mean really, Scandal, not in any way based on a telenovela, is just as dramatic as any soap opera. It’s not quite as transparent, but it’s there.
The mimicry could come off as a bit gimmicky. This isn’t Community, where extreme plays on genre would be completely inexplicable except that it’s so core to the show. Jane has always been very cognizant of a world outside the created tv world, and I liked it. I’m past done with the Mutter plot, whose complications and twists left me uninterested many episodes ago. I’m not really sure what all is going on anymore, other than Rose is clearly dead.
For some added fun, this episode also goes back to the on-going buddy comedy between Jane and Petra. It’s the odd couple (you’re oil and you’re water) on a journey towards a common goal, to save Rafael from himself. In true opposites fashion- Jane’s not quite on board with their quest. Petra tricks Jane by guilting her into going to birthing class because Raf has once again failed. Of course, that’s not where they went.
It also bears the point- Petra doesn’t have many friends. It seems natural that Petra would be just about out of partner options. Even Petra’s mother is not a source of friendship. One, she’s in jail now. But two, she’s just never been there for her daughter in any sort of role of comfort. Really, her closest friend has to be Rafael. She’s the one who knows him best. She was with him as he made his transformation from playboy, to respectable business owner, back to playboy again. She was with him through his cancer. They went through miscarriage together. They’re running the Marbella. They have a lot of shared history. Sure, she’s had questionable motivations and actions, but she also loved him, and she knows him. Oh yeah, and she just had his babies that she turkey basted into herself. Petra, Petra, Petra.
In the end, it’s not two dudes going to White Castle, or two secret agents exposing aliens, but Petra and Jane working together to confront a possibly plagiarist author and to make it through an excruciating labor. There’s a nice moment in the bookstore, where Petra uses her strengths to toughen up Jane’s interrogation skills. Because if there’s anyone’s help you would want while planning revenge, it would definitely be Petra. She’s ace. Then, there’s the reversal while Petra is in labor, in which Jane uses her newfound skills to get through to a struggling Petra.
I really liked it. The bits were all interwoven so well, and it was absolutely hilarious. I love Jane and Petra together (hint hint: I love Rogelio and Michael together), the story is progressing, it’s not getting so bogged down, and I am seriously laughing at Rogelio’s awkward situation.
- As funny as I find Rogelio’s quandary, if the same were to happen to me, it would not be funny. Rogelio and I share that moment of self-reflection.
- Rafael has read up on contraception. Good thing he doesn’t have anything else left in the sperm bank or he’d have to add “don’t inseminate yourself” to that list, and explaining that it’s already (kinda) happened twice could get awkward.
- Petra to Rafael: “You’re tired. I’m full term with twins. You have any idea how rare that is? I’m a medical freaking marvel!”
- Pablo’s coming over. This will be interesting, and it will be exciting to see a new side of Alba.
All photo credit to Jane the Virgin and the CW network