It should be noted:
My favorite aspect of this episode was the strengthening (creation?) of a bond between Liliana and Xo. This show always does a great job, even with all of the romance and telenovela drama, of demonstrating the bond between the female family members on the show. Usually, Alba, Xo, and Jane. This episode brings Liliana, a complete contrast to Alba, into the fold.
It’s not a secret that Liliana and Xo don’t get along. Giddy as a schoolgirl, Xo announces to Jane that morning, “And after last night, Rogelio finally sees his mother for the master manipulator she is!” So yeah. They get along real well. And it’s a not secret that Rogelio and Liliana get along splendidly. We finally see what may be the origin of the “Wake-Up Rogelio” song as Liliana sings him awake “It’s a great day to be Rogelio!”.
But then Rogelio hires his mom to be his manager, basically to renew her sense of purpose. Momager…Kris Jenner…yeah, I think we can all see where this is going. In fact, the show was thinking the exact same thing with “She’s the Kris to my Kim.” Wherein Kim is Rogelio. Hey, I can see the drama, and you better bet Kim wouldn’t be wearing peach if she didn’t pop in it. On set, Liliana’s overprotective, overbearing, and straight up rude. She entirely fabricates that her son hates the ending and tells it to the poor screenwriter. She tells the Rogelio’s total diva co-star (pretty much the female version of him) that she could use a lip wax. Can you see Rogelio taking something to that caliber well? To make it up to her, Rogelio has to fawn over her and give her a very comical and obviously extraneous extended close-up in his telenovela. And the worst of all, Liliana switches out Rogelio’s apron at the last minute and this one is not rigged to fly off. Which would have been a scene of epic hilariousness.
So Rogelio fires her and Xo takes it upon herself to accept the blame so as not to witness a dent in Rogelio and his mother’s too symbiotic relationship. I’m sure Liliana would have taken off in a tirade, blaming Xo for it all. Except. Liliana heard Xo trying to convince Rogelio in her over her onset ear piece that “you can’t just fire your mom.”
Liliana’s in a rough spot. She doesn’t know what to do, where to go. She knows that her duties as a mother have shrunk and she’s not even a wife in name anymore. Xiomara gets that sense of loss in a way. Her singing career is rocky, and Jane is a mother herself now and has her own ways. But Liliana says she’ll be ok. And so will Xo. It was wonderful to see their antagonism come to a peaceful resolution, not that it’ll all be fluttering flower petals from here. But it’s progress and it’s character growth.
Plus the men get a little piece of bonding time too. Rogelio thinks his father doesn’t care for him as much. Afterall, he never came to his son’s plays. Where, as his father explains somewhat comically and somewhat heartbreakingly, that so many gay men hang out at the theater, he didn’t want to take the chance of being outed. (Narrator: Ahhh.) It was a cute moment as reconciliations go.
I also (as always) loved the characterization of the narrator. Although Jane is the protagonist, the narrator controls the story, and artfully so.
I loved his “everything is relative” theme. Jane didn’t know Rafael was tranquilized by his own mother who he just discovered was an international crime lord. Jane’s laptop frying can still be distressing. But in comparison, it’s not quite (or not even close) to as bad. The theme takes on the self-deprecation of #firstworldproblems but still emphasizes that everything is situational and just because someone has it worse, it does not mean your own feelings aren’t valid. Although you also shouldn’t blow them too far out of proportion.
With Michael and Nadine, we see the scene multiple times, always with new information and hints. Thankfully, even though his partner Susanna wants to know every detail, the narrator gives us the snapshot version, which characterizes each of their natures well without sacrificing the much-needed brevity. Plus I loved, looking back, that the narrator cheekily inserts, “Damn. Nadine really got under his skin” in the first telling.
We’ll see what happens with the Michael//Nadine story. Nadine was just getting complex and interesting when she died, so I’m glad we still get to see her in flashbacks. Although in this type of story, I don’t believe she’s dead until I see her cold body lowered into the ground, and then they dig it up 6 months later, and she’s still down there, decomposing.
It was a fine episode, but not my favorite by any means. I had a little trouble with the believability (not the magic realism). The man with the top hat symbolizing Jane’s inspiration? Loved it, and the “Portrait of a Young Man”/”Portrait of the Writer as a Young Woman” nod with the guy in the bowler hat representing her inspiration (reminded me of “The Son of Man”). A young girl prioritizing buying a laptop in the early 2000s from a family I would assume doesn’t have a lot of extra money? With 232 hours of babysitting, quinceañera money and comparison shopping, I guess I can accept it (I’m the same age as Jane, and owning a personal laptop wasn’t even on my radar back then). That Jane would not have any backup copies, drafts emailed to herself, drafts on a drive or in the cloud? Not even an old draft? Now that just doesn’t seem very Jane. But complacency happens to us all, so I guess I can rationalize it enough. Compared to these two details, Nadine somehow inserting a chip in Michael’s leg at the beach using a bottle without him knowing seems entirely rational, but that’s all telenovela.
Petra’s not in it much, but her part is important (and I’m thankful we didn’t have to deal with Magda. Speaking of overbearing mothers). As awful as Petra can be, she continually eeks out a little more likability. She’s on bedrest, and she’s being demanding and fussy. Her normal self but multiplied. She fires two nurses. Rafael asks why. And I have never identified with Petra more when she replied, “She was annoying. Too cheerful.” Rafael takes his work to her room, and seems much too good for her as he takes care of her (the woman who artificially inseminated herself with his sperm without his permission to keep him around). But in case we forgot(I admit I did), she’s been through a tricky pregnancy before, one that ended in late-term miscarriage. She’s anxious, she’s already been through that pain once. I understand.
Another strength of this episode is continuing to provide a break from the Jane/Michael/Rafael love triangle. I’m assuming we may get back there, but it’s time for some new blood. Jane’s dream about her professor only reinforces that there will be some sort of romantic intrigue between the two of them. After all, you do not cast a man that attractive as a professor in a show about telenovelas and romance without a little somethin’ somethin’ happening there. We’ll have to see how Jane’s morals and the professor’s aloofness factor into the equation. I still think it’s a good move, but I miss some of the “true love” factor. Jane cycles through some real “winners” on Cynder and Computer Guy was a pure dud (but most people have a few). The nicest moments are actually between Petra and Rafael, despite Petra’s nastiness, but Rafael’s Justin Baldoni could convince me he loved and cared for a potato. We’ll see what happens when he finds out that Petra (fan theory- possible spoiler) actually carried Roman Zazo’s baby (I’m convinced).
- Lina’s purple eye makeup on fleek, and she is me at the computer store. I read all into that subtext (whispers “Go deep”). I’m with ya, girl.
- Rafael’s mussed up hair is off the charts attractive.
- Rogelio’s dad- “No quería que me sacar al closet.” The direct translation is pretty close to “I didn’t want to be sent out of the closet.” Interesting. Although the subtitles used “outed.”
- The 2 solo photos of Liliana in the background as Jane is writing in the living room.
- Jane’s reaction when she realizes her date’s car did not break down, he was just trying to get out of the date.
- Always so topical: Rogelio’s costar almost met El Chapo twice. Also Stonewall.
All photos credited to the CW