Jane the Virgin 4x12 "Chapter Seventy-Six"
Jane and Rafael
Sam: After deciding last episode that they were going to tell their families that they were dating, this episode opens with Jane and Rafael discussing how they think everyone will react. However, they hardly get the reactions they were looking for, as they find out that Alba, Rogelio, and Xo had a running bet as to when Jane and Rafael would come clean about their relationship (a bet which Alba won, by the way). The only person unaware that Jane and Rafael have been dating for weeks is Mateo, and he is appropriately thrilled when they tell him, even saying that he feels like his heart is glowing — which is a well-worn cliche in this show, and perfectly used here!
When the title comes on screen, “Jane the Virgin” is replaced to say “Jane and Rafael” in a sparkly font that explodes like fireworks. To me, this marked a transition away from this show being Jane’s story to it being the story of Jane and Rafael (which, let’s be honest, it always has been) and I was thrilled to see that acknowledged in the opening titles.
Relationship semantics out of the way, we’re able to focus on the real meat of the episode, which for Jane — with Rogelio’s and Rafael’s help — is about learning to banish her inner critic so she can get over her writer’s block.
Michaela: We see Jane in her room, typing away at her computer, but instead of working on a new book, she’s writing a response to the reviewer who disliked her first book, Snow Falling. She’d thought she’d gotten over the bad review, but when she had pulled up her book on Amazon to remind herself that she’s “a published freakin’ author,” she discovered that the review was linked in the description of the book, so that anyone who wanted to buy her book might be persuaded not to. Jane knows it would be a bad idea, but now that she’s blown off some steam, maybe she’ll be able to work on a book. But now another aspect of Jane’s personality has manifested itself: the Inner Critic sits on Jane’s bed, dressed like a strict librarian, tearing Jane’s writing apart with clenched teeth, despite Jane’s efforts to dismiss her.
Sam: The Inner Critic is such a universal experience for writers, so I really liked that they spent an entire episode on dealing with it. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: the way they’ve handled Jane’s journey as a writer has been so well done. Great accomplishments (such as successfully publishing a book) are easily overshadowed by that little negative voice inside your head. As an unpublished author you think your journey magically stops once you hit that lifelong goal but it doesn’t, and I think Jane is dealing with the “Now what?” that comes after successfully publishing.
Michaela: Jane goes to her mother’s house to vent about her writer’s block, but she’s not home, so instead she ends up talking about her writer’s block with her father. This is something Rogelio can help her with; he shows her his “Failure Folder,” (hidden inside an antique armoire and accessed by a key hidden inside a hollowed out book) where he keeps his most devastating reviews, with phrases like “as subtle as Lady Gaga on speed” and “a well-coiffed buffoon.” Rogelio tells her that he re-branded it into his “Motivation Folder,” and keeps it as fuel urging him to show them all that they were wrong. Jane doesn’t think it’ll work for her, and Rogelio tells her to stop saying “no, but” and start saying “yes, and...” That gives him an idea: Jane needs to take an improv class (the first rule of improv is “yes, and…”) to get her creative juices flowing without the pressure of writing! Jane isn’t so sure, but when her Inner Critic pops up and says it’s a terrible idea, she decides to give it a shot.
Sam: Unfortunately, improv classes don’t go too well for Jane, as her Inner Critic speaks up condescendingly every time Jane is asked to improvise. For an assignment, she’s asked to observe the mannerisms and characteristics of people around her to use in a character. Jane’s impressions also don’t go over too well, but when she finally has a breakthrough in regards to her writer’s block, she decides to base her character off of her Inner Critic. The Inner Critic isn’t a hit with her improv class, but it leaves Jane feeling much better about her writing (and with an assignment marked with a ✓+ that Rafael promises to hang on his fridge!)
Michaela: Rafael is instrumental in Jane getting over her writer’s block. When Jane wants to quit improv, Raf tells her that she wouldn’t let him quit something after just one day. When Jane confides in Rafael that she can’t seem to write anything at all without second-guessing herself (the Narrator has a moment of self-doubt too: “I think it’s the pressure of telling such a fast-paced story”), and that she has a voice in her head — her own voice — that she can’t shut up, Rafael asks her why she’d want to shut her up. After all, he listens to her all the time, and she has some pretty good ideas. Jane says that if she listens to her Inner Critic, it will mean that the review was right — she shouldn’t be a writer. Rafael counters that the review didn’t say that at all. That’s right, he read it a few times! He even quotes a couple of lines from it, and helps her realize that it wasn’t a scathing review, and much of the criticism it gave was constructive.
Sam: Learning to say “Yes, and…” to the own voice in her head (thus taking both her father’s and Rafael’s advice!) is what helps Jane overcome her writer’s block. I really loved the resolution to this storyline. Any writer will be criticized at some point in their career, and often we are our own harshest critics; so learning how to listen to and learn from that voice instead of trying to shut it away can be instrumental in finding your groove again. It’s so easy to get caught up in the criticism and take it personally that you forget that it was meant to be constructive, not said with malicious intent.
It’s not just with her inner critic that Jane makes progress this week; she and Rafael also take (another) big step forward in their relationship!
Michaela: Earlier in the episode, Rafael tells Jane how happy he is, even though his apartment is tiny and smells like hot dogs, because he’s with her, and everything feels right. Jane looks down and starts to say something, but her Critic pops in again to tell her to censor herself, and instead she just tells him that she’s happy, too.
Later, the topic comes up again when Rafael mentions the nightstand that could be Jane’s, for the nights that she stays over. Again, Jane looks away, which is what Rafael was looking for. He asks her why she keeps doing that, and tells her that he’s not trying to pressure her into moving in, he just wants her to feel at home there. She finally tells him that the problem is that everything feels exactly right, like she’s exactly where she should be — because she doesn’t want Michael to have just been a step on her way to Rafael, and she doesn’t want her relationship with Rafael to negate what she and Michael had. Rafael knows just what to say, and tells her that it’s more of a “yes, and…” Yes, she and Michael had a beautiful love story, and he hopes that the two of them will get the chance to have the same.
Sam: ”You and Michael had your own beautiful love story.” Rafael is clearly the voice of the writers in this scene, but I loved that they used him to get this message across. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jane and Michael, it’s important to make clear that, for a while, Jane the Virgin was the story of Jane and Michael. Michael wasn’t just a “stepping stone” on her path to Rafael, as Jane is so afraid of; he was still one of the great loves of her life, and she is allowed to have more than just one love story.
Considering how long it took Rafael and Michael to become friends with each other — their relationship complicated by their mutual feelings for Jane, Michael’s belief that Rafael was Sin Rostro, and the fact that they had nothing in common — I think it’s really great how now Rafael is able to say with no hint of jealousy just how much Jane and Michael loved each other. It shows tremendous growth on Rafael’s part that he no longer harbours any discontent towards the relationship that Jane had with Michael and that they have both moved on enough to have a healthy relationship with each other.
Michaela: Rogelio and Xo also have their ups and downs this episode before coming to a place of understanding. First, Rogelio finds out that Xiomara has been lying about teaching classes at the studio and has instead been spending her time at Brad’s house. Rogelio roars over there under the assumption that Xo has been cheating on him, but is proven wrong when Brad’s boyfriend shows up...while Ro has Brad in a headlock. Whoops.
In the limousine, surrounded by yellow roses (which was Rogelio’s idea of a non-extravagant apology to Xo for not taking the time to listen to her lately), Ro admits that being home all the time has been driving him a little crazy, and asks Xo why she lied. She tells him that she joined the competition to try to rediscover her love of dance, and she kept it from him because it was just a small competition, nothing nearly as large as things he does, and she was embarrassed. Rogelio is determined to be supportive, so he has Xo and Brad, her partner, rehearse at their house while he loudly cheers them on. Xo finally has had enough of his constant cries of “magnificent” and “beautiful” and tells Rogelio he needs to stop suffocating he r— he used to go to work every day, so she had alone time, but now he’s around all the time, and being around him and his big personality all day every day is exhausting.
Sam: I imagine that wasn’t easy for Rogelio to hear (who wants to be told that they’re difficult to be around, especially by their wife?) but it’s true — Rogelio does have a big personality, and I think it’s important for Xo to come clean to him about how and why she needs some personal space now, early on in their marriage. Predictably, Ro doesn’t take this news very well, storming off and calling Jane to tell her that Xo said some very hurtful things. Jane suggests that her father use the same technique she learned with Rafael’s help, which is to see the criticism as helpful instead of hurtful.
Michaela: Then Rogelio’s own Inner Critic appears, dressed in a lavender turtleneck and beret, a silk lavender cravat, glasses, and sporting a thin moustache. “I’ve been waiting 44 years to be set free, and boy, have I got some things to saaaaaaaay!!!” He begins to berate Rogelio (in a very Rogelio-like fashion), calling him things like “delusional halfwit,” “whiny little thumbsucking manchild,” and “pompous, shallow, materialistic, loud, selfish, irresponsible—” “Okay, stop it, I can’t take it anymore — you’re too much!” Rogelio cuts in. His Inner Critic points out that he is Rogelio, and that now he knows how Xo feels, before vanishing in a puff of purple smoke.
Rogelio goes home, where Xo immediately apologizes for being too harsh. But Ro tells her that he came home to apologize to her, because she was right: he is a lot. She tells him that she’s still adjusting, and that they’ve never actually spent this much time together, even though they’ve known each other for years. They’re still newlyweds, and she knows they’ll figure it all out. Rogelio turns on music and asks Xo to dance, and as they do, Xo finds her love of dance again.
Sam: Rogelio and Xo are the most dramatic couple on this show (unsurprising, since they’re both very dramatic people) and it can be exhausting to watch their antics sometimes, but it’s always worth it for moments like this one!
Petra and JR are once again separated from the other plotlines of the episode, as Petra begins spiraling when the blackmailer still hasn’t responded to JR’s requested to meet in person and becomes unsure of whether she can trust JR afterall.
Michaela: JR puts her hands on Petra’s shoulders, tells her to breathe, and reminds her that if Petra goes down, she’ll go down too, so it’s in her best interests to help Petra. Every time JR has touched Petra since Petra’s sexy dream about her, Petra’s looked like a deer in the headlights, trying unsuccessfully to hide her crush, and this time is no different. She gives JR an extensive list of people who might want her in prison or dead, so they have something to look into while they wait for the blackmailer to contact JR.
JR finds a new burner phone in her car with instructions to meet her blackmailer in a parking garage at 3 PM the next day; she responds that she’ll be there, alone, and drives off without calling Petra. However, when she shows up at the parking garage the next day, Petra is the one waiting for her. Petra claims that she knew she couldn’t trust JR — and JR kisses her. She then moves her mouth to Petra’s neck, whispering that she’s being followed, that she’s going to kiss Petra again, and then they need to get into the car. Once they’re in the car, JR explains that she didn’t want the blackmailer to know she’d turned on them, and asks Petra what she’s doing there. Petra tells her that she’s the one who put the burner phone in her car to test her and see if she’d tell Petra about the meeting, which she didn’t. JR protests that she’s been followed by a car all day and didn’t want to jeopardize the meeting.
Just then, JR’s real phone chimes with a message from the nursing home her mother is at. JR finds out once they get to the home that her mother was disoriented and confused and had to be given a sedative, and she expresses her uncertainty about whether putting her there was the right thing to do. But then her burner phone chimes, and the blackmailer asks about the kiss. JR starts texting back their cover story, and Petra asks if she thinks the blackmailer will buy that she was seduced. JR smirks at her and tells her that they’ll have no trouble believing it— Petra was pretty into the kiss. Petra sputters in protest, and JR just rolls her eyes.
Sam: Now that the blackmailer has seen JR and Petra kiss, the two need to sell the story; in JR’s words, “You’re my girlfriend, now.” Petra’s feelings for JR become obvious when she giggles at her phone when she receives that message (Petra! Giggling! There’s something I thought I’d never see) but she still insists on denying that there’s a connection between them.
But that night while they cross names off Petra’s extensive list of who could be blackmailing her, Petra asks if JR needs to stay the night “to sell the highly improbable lie that I’m interested in you” and JR confronts her about her feelings: “The tongue you slipped me during our kiss was pretty compelling.”
Michaela: Petra claims that she knew JR had a plan and didn’t want to undermine whatever it was, and JR responds that that’s good, because she’s not interested in being a straight woman’s guinea pig. Petra tells JR that she’s actually been with several women before, and that it’s not like JR hasn’t crossed lines like this before. They kiss for real, and the two hook up. The morning after, Petra confesses that she hadn’t been with a woman before, and JR tells her that she knew. She gets up to leave, since she has to go check on her mother, and Petra claims she has to get going as well, but then room service brings breakfast for two — making it clear that she wasn’t as cool and collected as she was pretending to be.
Rafael had decided a few episodes ago to try to find his birth parents, and in this episode, he gets a copy of his mother’s wedding certificate in the mail. He has Jane look up the name, and as he sits there on the couch next to her, we can feel his anticipation and fear — I actually found myself holding my breath. Jane finds someone she thinks is his mother. Rafael immediately notes that she looks kind, and Jane says she can see a resemblance between the two. Before he loses his nerve, Raf starts writing a letter to her.
Sam: As an aside, Justin Baldoni (who plays Rafael) revealed on Twitter that they used photos of his own mother to portray this woman they think might be Raf’s! I thought that was a really cute thing for them to do, even if we find out shortly after that the woman is not Rafael’s mother after all — she was just a nurse at the hospital he was born at, a go-between for the hospital and the convent’s orphanage who put her own name on the birth certificate because Rafael’s birth mother was worried about what would happen if her family found out about her son.
Jane is rushing to get ready to go watch her mother’s dance competition, but she encourages Rafael to contact the convent and find out if they have any records. Although Rafael is doubtful, he decides to give it a shot.
Michaela: The rapid-fire sequence of scenes and narration that closes out the episode can only be summarized by writing it out, so I’ll do that here (because it was so intense):
The Narrator confirms that the convent does have records, because “this is a telenovela, after all…”
JR frantically asks a nurse at the nursing home why there was a note pinned to her mother’s sweater, saying that her mother said it was an electrician, which the nurse says they didn’t call. The note says, “YOU HAVE SIX DAYS TO GET A CONFESSION, OR WE TAKE MOMMY WITH US NEXT TIME.”
“And telenovelas have twists and turns…”
Jane, Alba, and Rogelio watch as Xo and Brad dance at the competition. They’re killing it until Brad drops Xo on her side, which clearly hurts.
“...they have ups and downs…”
Rafael talks on the phone to a nun at the convent, who tells him that the orphanage records were sold to Luisa Alver.
“They have gut-punches that come out of nowhere…”
The Villanueva family laugh in a hospital room, Xo in a bed. They toast their apple juice boxes to Xo’s wipeout, and the doctor comes in and tells them that she has a broken rib. He then asks her if they can talk in private, and she tells him that they’re her family, and can stay. The doctor tells them that on the chest x-ray they did on her ribs, they noticed a lump on her breast.
“Like I said, from out of nowhere.”
What an ending — gut-punch was a good way to describe the feeling. So many questions to be answered, like: will the lump be cancer? If so, will Xo survive? Why did Luisa buy the orphanage records? Who is blackmailing JR? What will happen with Rogelio’s TV show? HOW WILL WE MAKE IT TILL FRIDAY TO GET SOME ANSWERS?!
Sam: One thing JTV always does incredibly well is the weaving together of emotions without giving the viewer whiplash. From the knowledge that Rafael’s sister is in possession of his birth records — without telling him — to the Villanueva family laughing about Xo’s fall in the hospital and then finding out that Xo has a lump on her breast, this show always leaves me feeling all the things.
Jane the Virgin airs Fridays at 9/8c on The CW.