Jane the Virgin 4x09 "Chapter Seventy-Three"
Jane the Failure
This review was coauthored by two Truth Bee Told writers, Sam Makowski and Michaela Martin.
Michaela: Jane the Virgin sure loves its episode themes, which is something we touched on in last week’s review. This week, the episode centres around trying new things and making big life changes, from Jane and Rafael’s new relationship, to Ro taking time off from work to become the “Danny,” Petra deciding to write a lifestyle book, and Xo making a change in career. (And there was also a bit of a Law and Order theme throughout, like when the Narrator decided we needed a Scandal-themed episode.)
Sam: There’s also a theme of failure (and not giving up in the face of it) woven throughout the episode: Jane worrying she’s missed her shot at becoming a successful author and being encouraged by Rafael to continue writing anyway; Xo realizing that she no longer enjoys running her own dance studio but fearing becoming a quitter, and then understanding that making a change isn’t always the same thing as quitting; Ro wanting to go back to work after a single day of “Dannying” and deciding maybe he isn’t cut out for it; and Rafael, who, left alone in his miniscule apartment, is forced to contemplate just how far he’s fallen.
Michaela: We last left our star-crossed lovers, Jane and Rafael, having just been caught kissing by Mateo. When we pick up, we see Mateo ask his parents if this means that they’re getting married; despite their efforts to explain that they’re just exploring their feelings for one another and that nothing will change for now, Mateo still declares that it’s the most exciting thing ever to happen. Because of course, what child with unmarried parents doesn’t wish for the picture-perfect nuclear family?
Sam: The uncertain nature of his parents’ relationship (between Jane and Rafael kissing and then Rafael moving out the next day, Mateo is understandably confused) begins to affect Mateo’s performance in school, and Jane and Rafael realize that they need to give their son a straight answer about the relationship between them—which means they need to figure out that answer for themselves.
Michaela: Before they get a chance to address their changing relationship, Jane is informed by her publisher that she’s been dropped, because her first book isn’t selling as well as they’d hoped it would. Jane takes a moment to educate her family (and us) about how female authors of color don’t receive the endless second chances most white women do, saying that she now has the “stench of failure” all over her, and that it’s going to be nigh-impossible for her to find a new publisher or agent willing to take her on.
Sam: Rafael, as always, is Jane’s biggest cheerleader, and with his words of encouragement ringing in her ears, Jane sits down to write. She comes up with several romantic scenarios, from a romance between a stable hand and an equestrian to one between an imprisoned girl and her guard (both roles, as always, played by Jane and Rafael), but these fantasies are always ruined when “Rafael” brings up their situation with Mateo.
Michaela: Thanks a lot, Jane’s-imaginary-Rafael! With a meeting with an agent scheduled for the next day (with help from Rafael and Petra) and no inspiration, Jane turns to her other specialty: research. She comes up with three possibilities based on popular romance themes to present to the agent: a reincarnation romance, a Notebook-inspired romance featuring vampires, and a twist on Fifty Shades of Grey where the roles are reversed. However, the agent spots Petra during the meeting and calls her over. Despite Petra’s efforts to keep the meeting focused on Jane, the agent eventually convinces Petra to write a book about her life. Petra offers to turn the book deal down to make amends with Jane, but Jane tells her that Petra’s turning down the book deal isn’t going to make Jane suddenly forget about what Petra has done. “Life isn’t transactional, Petra.”
The agent tells Jane that the Fifty Shades of Grey idea is the best one, so Jane sets out to write an S&M romance novel—something that doesn’t exactly seem up her alley. Yet again, Jane’s imaginary Rafael derails the scene by talking about their relationship and Mateo. Jane berates him, because talking about their son is neither sexy nor romantic, but he tells her that it is pretty sexy and romantic that he’s been in every one of her fantasies, and that it means he’s her romantic hero. Jane didn’t get any book writing accomplished, but hey, she processed her feelings about Rafael!
Sam: “I may be a flawed hero, but I’m yours.” This is great meta-commentary from Rafael on his role in the overall story. He may not always be perfect and it may not always seem like he’s the hero, but there is little doubt that that is the role he’s supposed to play in Jane’s story. I also think (since this Rafael comes from Jane’s imagination) that this is Jane coming to terms with who Rafael is: he is not a perfect person, but she still loves and needs him regardless.
Michaela: After Jane’s revelation, she heads over to Rafael’s new apartment to tell him that she wants to give their relationship a chance, but he tells her that he’s having doubts about whether he’s in the right headspace for a relationship. Raf is afraid he’s going to be stuck in this tiny, ramshackle apartment with not a whole lot of money forever, and he didn’t want to tell Jane because he didn’t want to be dark, and thought she’d tell him that money doesn’t matter.
Sam: This scene reminded me strongly of a similar scene in Season 1: when Jane goes to tell Rafael that she wants to move in together, and he breaks up with her by telling her he doesn’t love her the way she loves him. I love the way it plays out here, because it highlights just how far these two have truly come, since their first attempt at a relationship five years ago. Back then, Rafael was still reeling from his father’s death, had just found out his stepmother was the murderer, and mentally, he was in a pretty dark place; so it wasn’t surprising that he was emotionally unavailable to be with Jane. But instead of talking with Jane about how he was feeling, he chose to break her heart by telling her something that wasn’t true.
Rafael has always had this darkness within him, and sometimes he gives into it. Even Jane brought it up earlier in the episode, by reminding him that it had only been six weeks since he had used Katherine in an attempt to win back his hotel. But now, Rafael has matured enough to acknowledge that that darkness might prevent him from fully investing in a relationship with Jane, and their relationship has matured enough for them to talk over their feelings.
Michaela: As in-tune with one another as they generally are, their relationship isn’t perfect, and they don’t know everything about each other—Jane has dreams of being an accomplished writer with enough money to buy a big house and one for her grandma...and a boat! Rafael can’t believe she’s trying to write an S&M book when he knows she’s not going to be inspired about that, and tells her she should just wait for an idea she actually wants to write.
Sam: I love how Rafael is always Jane’s biggest advocate when it comes to writing. As a writer myself, the scenes where Jane struggles with the realistic difficulties of accomplishing that particular dream always resonate deeply with me. Writing is not easy, and it will very rarely bring you fame and fortune; so it’s important that your main purpose in doing it is because you love it. For Jane to have someone like Rafael, who believes in her unequivocally, who pushes her when she needs it, who supports dreams that many would call farfetched, is so important. And people like that are hard to find!
Michaela: As for Petra, she’s still in the doghouse with Rafael (her assistant’s words, not mine) because she left Luisa in a mental institution for a week after discovering that Anezka and her mother had been gaslighting her into thinking she was crazy. Oh, and there’s that pesky little murder investigation, since Petra shoved Anezka off the balcony, she claims in self-defense. Petra’s lawyer is also named Jane, but Petra is so tired of hearing the name “Jane” that she calls her “JR” (despite JR’s assertion that if Petra calls her that, she’ll call Petra “Peter”). To cover for Petra catching her texting her mysterious employer on a burner phone, JR tells her that her mother has early-onset Alzheimer’s—which, surprisingly, turns out to be true. Is someone threatening JR’s mother, perhaps? JR might not be being blackmailed, but she’s definitely taking orders from someone.
Sam: It seems to me that someone (perhaps even the police) has hired Jane to investigate Petra on the sly, while under the pretence of being her lawyer. Or perhaps Jane is investigating whether Petra is actually Anezka? If it occurred to us, maybe it’s occurred to the police as well—after all, they’ve seen Petra and Anezka work their twin magic before.
Michaela: Convicted by Jane’s accusation of her treating friendships transactionally, Petra decides to do something nice out of the goodness of her heart, and gets JR’s mother an appointment with a top Alzheimer’s specialist. While Petra’s struggling with writing her book, JR shows up with a bottle of wine and a thank-you. Maybe it was just me, but I’m pretty sure there was some flirting going on between the two, what with the wine and the candlelight.
Sam: I saw it, too!
Michaela: JR asks Petra why she’s so obsessed with Jane, and Petra reluctantly admits that she knows Jane is a good person, and thinks that if Jane’s this upset with her, she must be an awful person. She then confesses that she got JR’s mother the appointment to prove to Jane that she doesn’t view relationships transactionally—“Yeah, that makes more sense”—and JR admits that she had an ulterior motive in coming over as well: to convince Petra to give her the hotel blueprints, ostensibly because the police are asking for them, but I’m guessing it’s really for whoever is pulling her strings. She also advises Petra not to take no for an answer with Jane, so Petra decides that they’re going to do their weekly brunch whether Jane wants to or not.
Jane isn’t thrilled about Petra coming over, but Petra knows she won’t get into a fight with her in front of the children, and Petra uses that to her advantage. She tells Jane that she can smooth things over with Rafael in her sleep, but that she knows that she really screwed up if Jane is this upset with her. “You’re my moral compass,” she admits with some reluctance, and reminds Jane that the weekly brunch was never about Rafael, but about the two of them supporting one another.
Sam: I loved Petra admitting that Jane is her moral compass. Petra (and her relationship with Jane) has come so far over the past couple of years; back in Season 1, Petra had no desire for a moral compass and openly derided Jane for being so “good.” After years of Petra hating Jane for being a better person than her, Petra has realized that becoming more like Jane isn’t a bad thing and is maybe something she should aspire to.
Michaela: Meanwhile, Alba catches Jorge kissing another woman at work—his ex, Sofia, who he’d been with for two and a half years—and is faced with the reality that she was Jorge’s rebound. Ouch. Even though Alba is the one who broke up with Jorge, it still hurts more than she thinks it should.
Sam: Alba also confesses to Jane and Xo that she turned down Jorge’s proposal because she just wasn’t ready to take that next step—which resonates with Jane in regards to her relationship with Rafael.
Michaela: At brunch, Petra and Jane team up to convince Alba to win Jorge back, but when Petra tells Alba that she’s a catch in her book, the children bring up the fact that both of their mothers are trying to write books. Awkward. The two mothers finally confess to one another that they’re having a hard time with their books, and Jane suggests that Petra get a ghost writer. But Petra has no idea where she’ll find a writer whom she trusts, who knows everything about her—wait, Jane! The two negotiate a deal, and Petra decides to hand over those blueprints for JR to give to the “detectives,” since she’s in such a good mood. JR texts the unknown villain, asking if they’re sure Petra is guilty (uh oh!) and they confirm, admonishing her not to trust Petra, as she’s a master manipulator. But so is JR, it seems…
Rogelio made a big life decision in the last episode: that he would take a year off from acting to be a stay-at-home dad! Darci, Ro’s baby mama, and Esteban, his fiercest-rival-turned-baby-mama’s-boyfriend, announced that they’d found a nanny to take care of baby Baby, but Rogelio takes one look at Felicia’s resume, tosses it away, saying “bye Felicia,” and declares that he will be the dad-nanny. The Danny, if you will. It’s not as easy as he thought it would be—he loves spending time with Baby (especially taking selfies with her), but he gets very bored very quickly once Darci tells him to stop posting pictures of her on social media. He doesn’t want to prove Darci’s prediction—that he’d flake out after a few days—true, but he wants to go back to doing what he loves.
Xo realizes that she’s not having fun with her dance studio anymore, and that all she’s been doing is paperwork and searching for new students to keep her studio afloat. She feels like she should stick it out, but Alba tells her that if she’s not happy, she should make a change. So she does! She decides it’s time to move on, and gets a teaching job at Stage Sensations. She tells Rogelio, “It’s not like I only gave it three days or three weeks; I gave it three years!” and we can see Rogelio rethinking his rethinking of his decision. Is he going to stick it out and keep being a stay-at-home dad, or is he going to prove Darci’s prediction true?
Finally, Jane and Rafael make an announcement to the family: they’re going to go back to just being friends, and everything will go back to the way it used to be. But once they’re in the car together, they start making out—keeping their relationship a secret is the only way to give themselves time to figure it out without outside pressure.
Sam: I’m curious to see how that works out for them, because secret relationships rarely end well. The description for the next episode states that Jane goes on a date (I’m assuming because she’s pretending to be single), which will likely lead to some tension between Jane and Rafael.
Michaela: There’s another good example of how well Rafael knows Jane in this episode, with both of them simultaneously typing “There’s a lot at stake” in regards to their relationship and their son while texting each other.
Sam: In the unsubtlest of moves, Alba prepares heart-shaped pancakes for Jane after finding out about her and Rafael’s second kiss. She’s the captain of their ship, and I’m here for it.
Michaela: “If you call me JR, I’ll call you Peter.” I love the dynamic between Petra and JR, and am really interested to find out what the story is with JR.
Michaela: “Sorry to interrupt, but Rafael is here, and I thought you’d want to see him since you’re in the doghouse.”
“Krishna, that’s not an appropriate thing to announce when I’m in a meeting.”
“I know.” (Gotta love Krishna getting a dig in at Petra, who hasn’t always treated her very well.)
Michaela: “If you take a selfie and no one sees it, do you even exist?” Rogelio of course is great at the whole dad thing—other than a little constipation issue, Baby was an angel—but it figures he would get bored and upset at not being able to post all his selfies with her.
Jane the Virgin airs on Friday nights at 9/8c on the CW.