It should be noted:
Fail, fail, fail, pass. There are more stark red Xs than bright green checks, as the narrator gleefully puts scenes through the Bechdel Test. Ah yes, that is the test that requires that two women, with names, must discuss something other than a man. It’s a moment of self-reflection, as the narrator points out just how often Jane the Virgin fails it. In fact, Jane’s draft fails it. Her professor, who already doesn’t like the romance genre, introduces the idea to Jane and this week’s theme to the audience. And Jane’s novel doesn’t pass one bit. But more on this later.
A large portion of this episode is concentrated on our dear Alba and the “Curse of Pablo Alonso Segura.” Pablo, being the man Alba fell in love with way back. The curse, being the terrible accidents that seem to happen whenever he is around. After he and Alba secretly met in the garden as young lovers in Venezuela…
…only frost grew from then on, even in the summer.
It continues. The lights going out. The waiter falling. Is he clumsy, or is it the curse? The water rushing from the Villanueva’s ceiling. A lot of bad occurrences happening at once. Of course, no one died this episode, so bad is still relative in my opinion.
But Pablo is charismatic and attractive, and Jane and Xo think Alba should give the relationship a real shot. Does all of this discussion of Pablo and Alba pass the Bechdel? Quite simply, no.
But, what does it do wonderfully? It’s a serious treatment (ok, there’s a curse, but as serious as this show will get) of love between an older couple. Notice, not an older man and a younger Hollywoodland woman. In fact, the woman is exalted more than the man. Xo and Jane think that Pablo is “fine,” but it’s Alba they fawn over. She needs to take off that sweater and flaunt it. She is a beautiful woman, deserving of love, and a force in her own right. Plus that tango? Wow.
Petra, on the other hand, has been passing the Bechdel Test splendidly.
The stereotypical gender roles are flipped, with Rafael taking an active role and Petra the “absent father.” Petra’s back to running the hotel, and she wants nothing to do with the babies she (sorta) made with a man. She prefers to pass the mothering duties onto her nannies while she runs the business. Rafael wants her to be more involved, and says, “She’s working already, and I can’t bring it up without her accusing me of treating her like a 1950s housewife.” Petra may be going too far, but she’s not going to give up everything like Jane did right after childbirth (and there’s the nice contrast of two reasonable reactions). These scenes pass the Bechdel Test AND highlight unfair expectations for men and women in childrearing. Perfect, right?
Of course, not all women want to be mothers, but again, Petra’s the one who secretly turkey basted the babies into existence in an effort to keep a man. Which failed the ideas set forth by the Bechdel Test in such a spectacular way, but how Petra is acting now is not necessarily better. Her behavior largely seems to be based on her discomfort with the babies, and that’s why she’s avoiding them. She’s falling back into her old, spoiled ways of expecting others to serve her. The last thing I want is old Petra back.
So she passes the test, but I don’t think she’s truly happy and her family certainly isn’t. At this point anyway, about 9 months later, keeping a man is no longer her goal, but she still has her little Anna and Elsa. While it’s perfectly fair for her to go back to managing the hotel, completely avoiding her children is still an issue. She fears she’s not made for motherhood, but Rafael comforts her that she’s perfect for it, she just needs to give it a real chance. Moving forward, Petra will have the challenge of blending “mother” with “businesswoman,” and reconciling these recent little additions with her newfound independence from her mother and her sharp sensibilities as a business owner. It’s not easy, and it’s not fair that women feel so much pressure in this respect. But Petra’s improved so much that this sort of situation pales in comparison to blackmail and hostage taking. But back to hostages a bit later.
And as Professor Donaldson states, the Bechdel Test must be treated as a baseline (and it isn’t always). Sadly, many works do not pass this test even in a 2 hour movie, and this certainly is horrendous. It’s fantastic that the test highlights this problem, but it’s also easy to oversimplify a complex matter. Passing does not equal a feminist and realistic work. Jane adds some nuance to her story, and it now passes the test. It probably is a better story. But something can pass and still not be good (Petra ignoring her babies). Something can fail and still be wonderful (Alba and Pablo’s modern romance).
So now, to turn to our recently saved hostage, Rogelio. There’s been some real character growth in this episode. Yes his kidnapping has luckily led to legions of new fans, an interview with José Díaz-Balart at Telemundo, and he does ask the cop what concealer is best to cover his head wound. “Surely I’m not the first to ask this.” But he shows a real vulnerable side to Jane. This situation has affected him deeply, and facing death has caused some trauma. This time Jane is more than present for him, and their relationship has strengthened. Rogelio’s still his old self, but has gained some perspective. He’s growing up <3
And of course, Michael rescued our damsel in distress. It was always going to be Michael.
There are two remaining major storylines, though less compelling to me.
There’s a lot of back and forth between Rafael and his brother. It keeps Raf involved in the storyline, similarly to how Michael was kept in with the Mutter plot while out of Jane’s favor. Also similar is how much I feel like paying attention to these scenes. Even so, Rafael is real trusting of his new family member considering his stepmother killed his father. Is it just a trick to get his brother to trust him?
Then there’s Michael’s parents. I understand Jane’s need to please. I understand Michael’s parents’ compulsion to protect their son. I understand Michael’s assertion that it’s really not their choice. I get it, and that’s all there is to me.
- Rogelio, making the best of everything: I feel that I’m accessing this whole new set of emotions and their corresponding facial expressions. I’m more… wounded now. But sexy wounded.
- Michael: My parents are coming to the party. Apparently the, uh, book club ladies were really feeling you.
Jane: Yeah, well, I mean, those are my people.
- I miss #Jetra
All photo credit to Jane the Virgin and the CW network