Jane the Virgin 4x11 "Chapter Seventy-Five"
Jane the Ghostwriter
Sam: Although this episode is called “Jane the Ghostwriter”, very little of it actually focuses around Jane’s current job ghostwriting Petra’s lifestyle book, as fairly early on, Petra is arrested on murder charges, resulting in her publisher “putting a pin” in the book. Unfortunately, Jane has already quit her job as manager of the lounge at the Marbella, leaving her on the hunt for a new place of employment.
Xo and Rafael also decide to join in on the job hunt—after deciding she no longer wants to run her own studio, Xo is still looking for a direction to take her life in, and Raf is not a fan of his job as a bartender at the hotel he used to own. In the hunt, all three are attracted to things they used to do—Jane going back to teaching, Xiomara going back to school, and Rafael going back to managing properties—but these first attempts at finding something both old and new to do with their lives are all varying amounts of unsuccessful.
The theme of this episode is about “reframing the narrative”, and is applied across every storyline, including a meta-nod to how the narrator reframes the story in his own way. It’s a nice visual reminder of how one’s perspective changes the way a story is told or interpreted.
Michaela: At the beginning of the episode, Jane and Rafael are sneaking around because they want to keep their relationship a secret—originally framed as Jane acting crazy, until we are provided the perspective of Rafael hiding around corners in various states of undress—and Jane is leaving her job at the Marbella to work on ghostwriting Petra’s book full-time. Rogelio is trying to convince the network to pick anyone but River Fields to star opposite him in an American spinoff of The Passions of Santos. And we see Xiomara leaving her house to carpool with an attractive man who teaches a hip-hop class at the studio she teaches at, framed (again) as something that will be important.
I loved the transition from Rogelio telling an actress on the phone that she is his number one choice for the role to Jane taking a roll out of a basket at her weekly brunch with Petra—they love to throw in visual puns of sorts that are always so fun to spot! Petra, surprisingly, has no notes on Jane’s latest chapter of her lifestyle book, so Jane’s all ready to dive into the next chapter, when the doorbell rings. The next thing we know, Petra is being arrested for the murder of her sister, Anezka! The police have found screws that were missing from Anezka’s balcony in Petra’s drawer, implying intent to murder, rather than Anezka’s death being an accident. Petra’s worlds collide when both of the Janes in her life show up to pick her up after she’s released on bail, and it’s the first time Petra sees JR after having the sex dream about her, so she’s a little awkward. She visibly twitches when JR declares, “I’m going to get you off, Petra.”
Sam: I loved the narrator’s taken-aback reaction when JR referred to our Jane as “the other Jane.” Just whose story is this? It reminded me of the season premiere when the Latina narrator was attempting to tell the story from Adam’s perspective.
Michaela: Rafael comes by to check on Petra, but has a little bit of a hard time being nice to her (remember, she left Rafael’s sister, Luisa, in a mental institution for a week after finding out that Anezka and Magda were gaslighting her into believing she was hallucinating), and just as Jane reminds Rafael that not everything is about him, Petra gets a call: her publicist heard about the murder charges and cancelled the book. Jane makes a concerted effort to ask if Petra is okay, rather than focusing on the fact that she just lost her job. Petra says that she’s fine—after all, she didn’t have her entire life riding on this book. Cue awkward smile from Jane.
Jane and Xo have a mini job fair, since Jane has no book deal and Xo isn’t happy at work, and Rafael decides to join them. Xiomara decides she wants to take some college courses, as she never went to college, and would like learning something she’s actually interested in. Jane ends up deciding to try and find a temporary teaching position, though Rafael and Xo are less than convinced that that’s what she should be doing. But Jane’s old advisor, Professor Donaldson, knows of a position opening at the university.
The only downside? Jane will be working with Professor Chavez, aka the hot professor she almost “did the bibbidy-bobbidy with” (Professor Donaldson’s words). While Jane drafts an email to Chavez, Rafael expresses that he thinks it was skeevy of Chavez to have a relationship with Jane, even though technically everything was above-board. As she discusses it with Rafael, Jane realizes that even though she was the one who pursued the relationship, the uneven power dynamic between them made the relationship a bad idea, in hindsight.
Jane’s meeting with Professor Chavez goes off without a hitch (well, a few awkward moments, but really, what can you expect when you’re meeting with the man you almost lost your virginity to and subsequently cried all over?) and Jane gets scheduled to give an upcoming guest seminar. She doesn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare, but we all know Jane specializes in planning. Jane accidentally sees Professor Chavez kissing another grad student of his, which reframes how she sees her relationship with him. If an affair with a student was a one-time thing, it’s a sexy transgression, but if it’s a pattern, it’s pretty skeevy. After some light facebook stalking, Jane learns that Chavez has had relationships with at least four other former students. Decidedly skeevy, then.
Sam: This leads to Jane and Rafael reflecting on their own relationship as it originally started, when Jane was an employee of Rafael’s. As Raf points out, that was different; after all, they were also having a child together. Jane asks him if he had dated employees before and Rafael admits that he had; when he was working under his father he used to take advantage of his position of power over those women, but “he’s a different person now.” I love this discussion about power dynamics, which can sometimes be tricky to navigate as the imbalance isn’t necessarily visible until after the fact, and Rafael’s own self-awareness. So often when male characters say “I’m different now” it’s a plea for a second chance, but here it’s actually true. Rafael has grown in leaps and bounds in the years since Jane first met him.
Michaela: While there aren’t any university rules outlawing this sort of relationship, since Chavez isn’t the grad student’s advisor, Jane still feels she should do something. When she and Xo arrive on campus the next day, Jane hasn’t decided what to do, uncertain if it’s not her place—or if it’s uniquely her place. Xo asks her whether she’d have wanted to know, and that helps Jane decide.
During her guest lecture, Jane keeps accidentally making eye contact with the student who’s dating Chavez, Marissa, then imagines a younger version of herself in her place. She comes to a decision, and asks to talk to Marissa after the lecture (which she nailed, by the way). But Marissa gets the wrong idea when Jane starts talking about the sexual dynamic between a professor and a student, and while Jane tries to explain, the hip muscle she’d pulled while sneaking around with Rafael spasms again, and she falls forward. Her hands go out as she tries to catch herself, and she ends up grabbing the poor student’s boobs. Jane explains the situation to a department head, and has the opportunity to express that she thinks that any sort of romantic or sexual relationship between a professor and student is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed by the school.
Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t get the job, but she’s said her piece and subtly confronted Chavez about it at the same time, since he was also in the meeting. And as Jane and Xo (whose day at school wasn’t much better) leave, Jane sees Marissa, and is able to fully explain the situation with Chavez to her. We don’t know for sure what decision she makes, but she seems to take Jane’s advice to heart.
Sam: Rafael’s hunt for a new job goes a little better. He lands an interview for a commercial real estate gig, which turns out to actually be about selling timeshares to old people. Although Raf is offered the job, he turns it down because of an undeveloped property he spotted, which he wants to buy and build a hotel on. Jane isn’t too happy when he tells her this but they have to put their discussion on hold, because just then Alba comes home and, as Jane and Rafael are both partially undressed, they quickly duck into Jane’s closet to hide.
Michaela: But they’re in for a longer wait than they bargained for, as Alba takes advantage of Jane’s ostensibly empty room to relax on her bed and read a book Jane had offered to loan her. I’ll be honest—I was worried for a moment that she’d be using a...different gift from Jane, but I’m really glad they didn’t go there with Jane and Raf in the closet. Alba eventually nods off as Jane and Rafael text one another about their disagreement, passing Jane’s phone back and forth just like they used to. Rafael tells her that he turned down the other job because there was no potential there, and he’s hurt that after his constant support of her dreams, she isn’t supporting him.
Sam: Rafael sneaks out of the closet after Alba’s falling asleep, leaving Jane to reflect upon his words and realize he’s right. Jane has always been wary of Rafael’s goals in life—sometime with good reason, as it has brought out a darker side to him before—but also because of her own relationship with money growing up, which leads her to judge Rafael’s desires more than she probably should.
Michaela: Jane feels bad about not supporting Rafael, so she sends him a “gag gift that wouldn’t be a waste of money”: a box of legos with a card reading, “to build your empire,” which I thought was so sweet! And Mateo, of course, loved the legos. Rafael plans to have investors pay him a finder’s fee, which basically means he won’t have to put in any money, but will still get profits if things pan out.
Sam: Jane heartily approves of this sensible plan, and the couple have officially successfully navigated through their first fight together—I was a little worried when we first saw Jane’s reaction to Rafael’s plan as their different views on careers has been the cause of most of their previous fights, and was relieved to see them settle it peacefully. I especially appreciated that Jane realized she was in the wrong here, and made the appropriate apology. It’s important that she support Rafael, too, especially given how much he supports her!
Michaela: Unfortunately, Rafael’s so-called friend cuts him out of the deal and leaves him with nothing. But Rafael doesn’t spiral like he once would have—a testament to how he truly has changed. The whole experience made him excited about commercial real estate again, and he proved to himself that he could still spot a property and put together a deal, which he hadn’t done since he found the Marbella. Jane is truly happy for him, but she’s upset that she was relieved not to have gotten the job—she doesn’t want to be a teacher, she wants to be a writer, which is something she told Raf the very first time they met. But her life post-publishing doesn’t look the way she imagined it would. Rafael assures her that it’s okay if she’s lost for a while, especially considering how lost he’s been for much of the time they’ve known each other.
And Jane realizes that Raf is the only thing she’s really sure about, and she wants to tell people that they’re together. Every episode keeps reaffirming that Jane and Rafael truly are right for one another, and Raf’s skepticism when Jane tells him she’s going to go back to teaching and their support of each other’s dreams this week only emphasized that. I don’t believe in soulmates in real life, but hey, this is a telenovela, so I can say without a doubt: these two are soulmates.
Sam: This last scene between them is possibly one of my favourites of the series. They’re so tender with each other here, and while neither of them got what they were looking for—probably for the best, for both of them—they are both nothing but supportive and comforting to each other. Rafael’s little speech about being there for Jane if she needs to be lost for a little while because she was always there for him while he was lost really got to me, and I loved that Jane was the one who said that Rafael is the only thing she’s sure about. So much of this series has been Raf longing after Jane when she wasn’t ready, or when she was with someone else, or when she was grieving, so it’s great to see Jane take this step forward and admit just how essential Rafael is to her life.
Michaela: Meanwhile, JR decides it’s time to come clean to Petra about her involvement in the setup. Back when she worked for the DA, she tampered with evidence to get a client—a girl who had shot her abuser and was facing a life sentence—off, and someone knows and has been blackmailing her to frame Petra. She’s not the one who planted the screws in Petra’s room, and she doesn’t know who is or who’s pulling the strings. Petra is, of course, furious, and tells JR she’s going to have her disbarred and thrown in prison. Poor Petra, always so unlucky in love!
She’s about to turn JR over to the authorities when she notices something in the files JR gave her: a photo of a right hand holding a piece of paper. Now, Magda—whom Petra assumes is the one trying to frame her—as you’ll remember, does not have a right hand anymore, and instead wields a hook. So Petra realizes that someone is helping Magda, and she needs JR’s help to find whoever it is. She calls JR back in and tells her that she needs to get those damning screws rendered inadmissible in court, by whatever means necessary.
JR gets the screws thrown out, and assures Petra that she will get her out of the murder charges. But then we see her texting the ominous blackmailer again saying that she had to get the screws thrown out to prove her loyalty to Petra! But it’s time for another reframing, this one literal: the camera shifts, and we see Petra dictating the text to JR. She has JR tell them that she needs to meet in person, so hopefully we’ll learn who’s behind this framing soon!
Sam: Rogelio is busy trying to find someone to co-star the American remake of The Passions of Santos with him, and is oblivious to Xo’s own career woes; his multiple requests to have Xo watch Baby only remind Xo what it is she doesn’t want to be doing with her life. But when Rogelio pitches his list of possible coleads to the network executives (which includes every Jennifer), they tell him that they’ll only greenlight the adaptation without River Fields if he can get Eva Longoria to star opposite him. This leads to Ro desperately trying to find a connection with Eva—who is his dream leading lady—in order to get a meeting with her.
Michaela: Xo finds him elbow-deep in magazines, watching interviews, drenched in Eva’s signature perfume, with a creepy bulletin board covered in photos and strings. Xo tries to tell him about her schooling plans, but just then, he hears something in an interview that’s playing—Eva is descended from 19th century Mexican President Benito Juarez, whom Ro is also descended from! There’s his in: they’re family—fifth cousins once removed, to be exact.
Rogelio and Eva meet, and she’s on board with the idea of taking a popular telenovela, recreating it for American audiences, and calling it an homage. Here, she winks directly into the camera, then plays it off as having an eyelash in her eye. This was the closest the show has come to breaking the fourth wall, and it was hilarious! It reminded me a lot of when One Day at a Time (another American remake of a popular telenovela) had one of the original actresses come back and make a comment about having just watched a reboot of a series that was pretty different from the original material, but that she still liked.
Eva then tells Ro that she’s in, pending a screen test—for him, not her, as he’s a “relative unknown” (followed by a dramatic gasp from the Narrator and a great play on “unknown relative” and “relative unknown”). Right before the two start their screen test, they discover that they’re not fifth cousins, they’re “cousin-cousins,” making them more than a little loathe to kiss one another. Back to River Fields it is.
Sam: I really thought Ro would be more elated to learn that he’s directly related to his idol, but perhaps the crushing disappointment of not being able to have her in his show took away from that. Regardless, Rogelio now needs to fly to LA to meet with River Fields, and beg her to come work with him. He asks Xo to watch Baby for the weekend, a prospect that Xo is less than pleased at.
The episode ends with Xo entering the house of that attractive dance instructor from the beginning of the episode—a decision that will “change her life forever,” according to the narrator—and it’s framed as if she’s possibly cheating on Rogelio. But given this episode’s focus on reframing the narrative, I can’t help but think (and desperately hope) that something else is going on here. Perhaps this mysterious man holds the key to Xo’s professional future in some capacity?
Michaela: I know we comment every week on how skillfully they weave a theme or two throughout a whole episode (this week’s obvious theme being the framing of the narrative, and the subtler one of being discontent with the direction your life has followed), but week and again I’m just blown away by it! I especially love it when they tie their themes to an aspect of writing, and they had a nice tie-in with Jane discussing narrative framing in her guest lecture. Jane the Virgin shows no sign of faltering from its spot as one of my absolute favorite shows, and I can’t wait to see where they take us next!
Jane the Virgin airs Friday nights at 9/8c on The CW.