Jane the Virgin 4x10 "Chapter Seventy-Four"
“Jane the ^ Rafael Virgin”
This review was co-authored by two Truth Bee Told writers, Sam Makowski and Michaela Martin.
Sam: “Chapter Seventy-Four” of Jane the Virgin marks Gina Rodriguez’s debut as a director, and focuses on sexual evolution: Jane’s, Petra’s, and even Alba’s.
After growing bored and lonely spending all his time with Baby, Rogelio decides that he has male postpartum depression (MPPD), which is met with...just about the levels of disbelief and outrage that you would expect from his female family members. Rogelio receives plenty of backlash about this self-diagnosis on Twitter, too, most prominently from River Fields (guest star Brooke Shields), who is an actress, activist, and American sweetheart.
Michaela: River Fields is, of course, the star of Suddenly Susanne, The Green Lagoon, and Pretty Babe. I always love it when this show does goofy stuff like this!
Rogelio gets invited onto a talk show along with River to debate the topic, much to his family’s horror. When Xo tells him he can’t do this, Rogelio recites Gina Rodriguez’s personal motto: “I can and I will!” (Which I thought was a nice way to honor Gina in her directorial debut!) Xo, Jane, Alba, and Rafael all convince him that it’s a terrible idea, and he briefly relents—until River is asked about him at a premiere and says that he needs to shut up and stay in his lane. “I will go on The Talk. But I will not be talking. I will be YELLING.”
Sam: The Talk is a show hosted by women with a mostly female audience, so, predictably, things don’t go well for Rogelio. “You are yet another male co-opting the female experience,” River Fields tells him. “You have everything. Leave postpartum depression alone!”
Michaela: At this, Rogelio bursts into tears...fake tears. For the next segment of the show, an animal trainer brings an endangered wolf out, and despite his admonishments to stay calm to avoid exciting the wolf, Rogelio and River get into a shouting match, resulting of the wolf pulling free of his leash and biting River’s toe off. Yikes.
Sam: The video of that happening quickly reaches over five million views and Rogelio worries that he’ll never be able to recover from the disaster, but his agent calls with what might be some good news: the American version of Passions of Santos has been greenlit...but only if he can get River Fields to costar with him.
Michaela: Meanwhile, Petra is being less than helpful when it comes to Jane’s ghostwriting of her book—is it an autobiography? A lifestyle book? A collection of stories? All three woven together! What category would it fit into? Let’s not categorize! It definitely has pictures, though, with Petra’s new haircut. Jane tries to soften Petra’s edges and harshness in her book proposal, but Petra ends up feeling insulted and judged by the fact that Jane feels it was necessary to soften it.
Petra has the idea to have Jane shadow her for a day to see all that goes into running the hotel. But it doesn’t really work out, so Petra decides to send Jane voice memos as she thinks of things—lots and lots of voice memos. One particular memo about being assertive turned out to be her admonishing one of her twin daughters not to let the other walk all over her. Another was a Czech saying—“If you pat a snake with your bare foot, don’t be surprised if someone poops in your shoe”—that may not translate correctly into English. After hours of listening to Petra talking about how important assertiveness is, Jane finally decides to assert herself and tells Petra that they’ll have twice-weekly meetings about the book, but that Petra needs to trust Jane’s writing experience.
Sam: Jane also uses Petra’s lessons about assertiveness later in the episode to get her way. It was nice to see the show acknowledge that Jane has some things to learn from Petra, too, not always the other way around.
Michaela: JR is still “helping” Petra with the investigation into Anezka’s death, but we know that she has an ulterior motive. A maintenance man mentions that Petra’s mother, Magda, had checked out a particular screwdriver used on the balcony screws, on the same day Anezka died—Magda and/or Anezka were trying to kill Petra by removing screws from her balcony. This hits Petra hard, and for the first time we see her really upset about the whole situation, especially considering that her mother is still out there somewhere.
JR comforts Petra as they sit on the stairs, reminiscent of the time Jane comforted her on the stairs when Petra’s abusive ex-boyfriend showed up. JR has seen enough to realize that Petra is innocent, and furiously texts whomever is making her frame Petra, saying, “You said she was guilty. She clearly isn’t.” The mystery figure responds, “Guilty or not—you made a deal.” JR has had enough, and smashes her burner phone. She then coaches Petra for her next hearing, which goes well, and JR makes a comment that soon this whole thing should be over and that they’ll be able to go their separate ways. Petra, surprisingly, looks a little conflicted over this.
The sweet moment ends on a bitter note when JR gets into her car and gets an ominous text: “Either she goes to jail or you do.”
Sam: Mateo is working on a family tree for school, which leads him to question Rafael about his side of the family; Rafael, of course, doesn’t know who his biological parents are, and his adoptive parents are people he doesn’t really want his son knowing anything about. Instead, Rafael deflects Mateo’s questions by saying that Jane’s family is big and welcoming enough to make up for the deficit on this side. However, it’s clear that no matter how much a part of Jane’s family Rafael now feels, a part of him will always wish that he had a family like that, and feel like he is lesser because he doesn’t.
Michaela: Rafael continues to struggle with his feelings about family, particularly when Alba makes Jane go on a double date with her, her church crush, and his grandson, Chris (Jane is, after all, single). Rafael is jealous, not just because Chris is a pediatric surgeon who went to Harvard, but also because he’s close with his family. So he does the logical thing and works the bar at the hotel that night so he can keep an eye on Jane’s fake date. But he can’t stand to just watch, so he starts texting her, and things get...racy. Jane tries to stay polite and engaged with Chris, but gets pretty hot under the collar.
She tells Rafael to put a pin in it, but when Chris leans over and whispers in Jane’s ear (about how their grandparents are having fun together, mind you), Rafael gets positively green and starts loudly shaking his shaker tin. Jane excuses herself to the bathroom and confronts Rafael about his childish behavior, and he admits that he’s feeling insecure because he’ll never be a Chris: “A Catholic doctor?” “Uncomplicated. Light.”
Sam: Rafael confesses that this jealousy was the root of his strange behaviour towards Jane, and Jane emphasizes (during one of their famous sitting-on-the-floor-at-the-Marbella conversations) that if things between them are going to work out, then they have to learn to communicate. The two aspects of their personality that clash against each other (Jane’s judginess, which comes out particularly when Rafael goes to a dark place and shuts down; and Rafael’s tendency to shut down whenever things get hard, brought on even more because he doesn’t want to be judged by Jane) and lack of communication were what ruined their relationship the first time around, so I’m hopeful that they are able to work their way through it this time.
Michaela: I loved the little throwback to the beginning of Season 1 where Jane tells Rafael, “I’m judgy. You should know that about me. You may end up having a really judgy kid,” and the one where Rafael shuts down on Jane when things got hard. They decide that on their next date, Rafael is gonna get as dark as he wants, and Jane is gonna get as judgy as she wants, and then… “we’re gonna have dark, judgemental sex.” Jane also tells Rafael that she thinks he should look for his birth parents, because he clearly isn’t going to have any closure until he does.
Alba and Ronaldo decide to go on another date sometime, this time without the grandkids, so Jane’s off the hook. But as Alba and Ronaldo are saying goodbye, she catches a glimpse of her ex-boyfriend, Jorge, whose proposal she had turned down. Jane knows something is wrong, and when they get home and when Alba drops a teacup and breaks it, she can’t hold back the tears. Sitting on the kitchen floor with Jane, Alba confides in her that she thinks she made a mistake rejecting Jorge. Jane asks her why she did, adding, “It’s bigger in your mind; once you say it, it gets smaller.” Alba admits that the prospect of being intimate with someone after 30 years was frightening, especially since she’s older and looks different now. Jane tells her that sex is like riding a bicycle, but Alba says she feels more like a broken wheel on the side of the road.
Jane has a bright idea, and takes her grandmother to an adult store. Alba is horrified at all the things she sees there, but Jane is determined to help her grandmother more comfortable with sex. Despite Alba’s protests, Jane buys Alba a vibrator—after all, it’s hot pink and on sale! She sneaks it into Alba’s purse, but then it falls out in public, making Alba wish the ground would just swallow her up whole! But it leads to a really good—if a little awkward—conversation between Jane and her abuela, where they discuss the religious stigma surrounding sex. Alba tells Jane that it would be a sin to use the vibrator, but Jane asks her if that’s really true, or if that’s just what’s been drilled into her head by the church. Sex should be about pleasure, she tells Alba, and she deserves to be happy. Sexuality is a part of who you are, and locking a whole chunk of yourself away isn’t healthy.
I’m a Christian, born and raised, so I can really relate to this conversation, and see where Alba is coming from. There’s a lot of taboo surrounding sex, even within marriage, and many women don’t believe they should take pleasure in it. And while it’s an uncomfortable topic for many, I really appreciate how Jane the Virgin doesn’t shy away from such topics, and continues to shed light on them. Even from the beginning, it’s treated sex carefully, not promoting false ideals or being flippant, where it easily could have veered into bawdiness. This episode was a little more sexual than most episodes, what with Jane and Rafael’s steamy shower scene, Alba’s sexuality, and Petra’s raunchy dream about JR, but it was very well done.
Sam: Later, we see Alba give in and try out the toy for herself—and honestly, how often, if ever, has television shown a woman in her seventies giving herself pleasure? I love how this show emphasizes that sexuality isn’t just limited to women who are young.
As a show with the word “Virgin” in the title, one of the main themes of JTV has always revolved around sexuality. At first, it was Jane’s own inhibitions regarding sex—instilled in her at a young age by her grandmother—that were one of the defining points of the series, and it’s not until the third season that we see Jane actually lose her virginity.
Jane and Alba’s “restraint” in this matter was often contrasted with Xo, who did not hold the same views as her mother in regard to sex. And after Michael’s death, as Jane becomes more comfortable with the idea of sex outside of a happily-ever-after relationship, the focus shifts a bit more to Alba, and the religious ideals she’s held her entire life and can’t let go of.
Also following along with this episode’s sexuality theme is Petra and JR; last episode there was a hint of something going on between them, and this episode turns the dial up significantly. Almost every scene the two share is accompanied by romantic background music, and there is some overt flirting going on; at the end of it, Petra has a dream in which JR comes to visit and the two end up making out, revealing an aspect of her own sexuality that Petra hadn’t previously been aware of.
This show has fumbled on occasion with its LGBTQ rep—for a long time, the only two lesbian characters were both crazy (and one was fully the “gay villain”) and earlier this season, Jane’s then-boyfriend Adam was revealed to be bisexual, only to disappear the next episode (which is always a handy way for shows to give lip service to representation but never have to deal with the fallout from it).
However, it has been much better of late; the two episodes prior to this one both featured casual LGBTQ characters and relationships (Mateo’s friend at school had two mothers, and Jane Ramos briefly mentions her ex-girlfriend), and this “awakening” of Petra’s gives the show a chance to do something it hasn’t yet: write the story of a main character discovering another aspect to their sexuality.
It’s too early to tell how the writers will handle this story, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
Michaela: Jane and Petra have their first official meeting about the book, and Jane is exhausted just thinking about all the things Petra has to oversee and do (well, that and Petra’s making her test out stairclimbers for the hotel gym). She asks Petra if there’s anything she does to relax, and off the record, Petra tells Jane that sex is how she lets go and enjoys herself. She talks about how good Rafael is in bed, and it’s clear that Jane isn’t just hot and bothered from the stairclimber.
Sam: After hearing from Petra just how good Rafael is in bed, Jane decides she’s done waiting to have sex with him and rushes over to his apartment to tell him so. Unfortunately, a cable guy is currently installing cable and overhears, much to Jane’s chagrin; the situation is saved several minutes later when the cable guy leaves and Rafael climbs into the shower with Jane (mimicking her aborted attempt to get into the shower with him in 4x01) and Jane proceeds to lose her “Rafael” virginity.
This marks the fourth episode in a row that has ended with a moment between Jane and Rafael, which have only grown increasingly steamy (excuse the pun) as time wears on; it leaves me wondering where they can possibly take things next.
Michaela: The very last scene of the episode shows a hooded figure breaking into Petra’s office and planting the aforementioned screws from the balcony in her drawer, so it will look like Anezka’s death was premeditated. Who do you think is trying to frame Petra? I feel like it’s gotta be someone we know, because the intrigue is wasted if it’s some random person. Maybe Magda? And what is this mysterious person holding over JR’s head?
Sam: I was also thinking Magda, but I feel like they already laid the trail with Magda, so that’s too obvious...maybe Rose? Luisa? I’m sure we’ll find out, if only after a couple more episodes of stress.
Sam: “Thank you, JR.”
“Did you just give my nickname a nickname?”
I love Petra and JR’s ongoing battle about nicknames!
Michaela: “You can’t have postpartum depression; you didn’t...partum!”
Sam: “Will the package include HBO?”
“Good. I love a...full package.” You can see the moment Jane regrets what she’s about to say before she even says it, and that poor cable guy!
Michaela: Having Michael’s cat, Faith N. Whiskers III, snuggle with Jane as she worked on Petra’s book was such a cute touch.
Sam: I love that this show’s quick turnaround time between filming and airing means that they are able to reference current issues without much of a delay, allowing them to say things like “#MuellerInvestigation” in regards to Mueller screws being used on the balcony Anezka fell from.
Michaela: Did anyone else notice Petra rocking the #BiBob this episode?
Jane The Virgin returns with new episodes on Friday, March 2 at 9/8c on The CW.