Monday, May 11, 2015

REVIEW: 'Jane the Virgin' - Jane Gives Birth in 'Chapter Twenty Two' and It is Perfection!

The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 1.22 "Chapter Twenty Two" (Season Finale)

Jane insists that Xo and Rogelio go to Las Vegas to perform their show, but once they leave she goes into labor. Xo does everything she can to get back to help Jane. Michael and Rafael put aside their feelings for each other, and Jane, to help make her labor easier. Petra learns some very important information that concerns Rafael, leaving her to decide if she should tell him.

Jane the Virgin just closed out a near perfect first season of television. Seriously, this season has been phenomenal. The show is so powerful, unique, emotional and funny. It can be absurd and heartfelt with the transitions in between seamless. It's a carefully crafted narrative with purpose that gives such strong emotional weight to all of the characters. Each episode was told in a way that made every single detail and story important while never forgetting the larger scope of the show. It's crazy that this whole thing happened to Jane in the first place. Her life is so different now than at the beginning of the series. And yet, the show is just as capable of connecting with the viewers on a deep personal level as it did in that very first episode. That's just a powerful masterstroke of clever and inspired writing.

The show works so remarkably well because Jane is such a powerful, complicated and fully realized character. She is the center of the show. Crazy things happen around and to her. And yet, the show never forgot how much this whole experience is changing her life for the better. It was unexpected and miraculous. But in the end, when she is holding her son, it's the happiest she has ever been in her entire life. Her heart is filled with joy. So much chaos and uncertainty has happened getting to this point. Several times she's worried that she won't be ready for the realities of being a mom. It is a very scary prospect. When she's going into labor, she doesn't want to make too big a deal about it because Xo and Rogelio are out of town in Las Vegas for their show together. When it's time to start pushing, she doesn't think she can do it. The pain is intense and she is exhausted. And yet, she is surrounded by a family who loves her. They are all here for her. Crazy things are happening in their lives as well. And yet, the birth of Jane's baby takes precedence over all of that. They need to be Jane's strength.

It's because of a beautifully symmetric moment between the birth of Jane and the birth of Mateo that Jane is able to deliver her son. It's a powerful emotional beat as each respective mother tells their daughter that they need to have five more minutes of pain for a lifetime of happiness. That is such a moving piece of writing. As this season has showcased, Jane has created so much happiness for Xo. Her life got so much better because Jane was a part of it. That strength gave Jane the courage to continue on this journey all season long - despite the ups and downs in both her professional and personal life. Mateo will create the same happiness and strength for Jane. That's what's driving her in the delivery room.

Sure, it's a surprise that her baby is a boy. That came right after Jane and Rafael decided on the name Nina and that Villanueva will be the last name. The Villanueva family is a family of strong, powerful and complex woman. The season has done a fantastic job in showing the three generations of this family. They all have different life experiences but they are a family who share a profound love and respect for each other - no matter what happens in their lives. Xo and Alba being there for Jane at all times was one of the most profound and poignant aspects of the season. And now, she is honoring that connection by naming her son Mateo after her grandfather. That reveal brings so much happiness to Xo and Alba. Jane is happy to give that to them. It's a gift of gratitude while still acknowledging that this journey is far from over. These women weren't expecting a boy. And yet, they will love Mateo more than anything else in the world.

The finale really did have to be about the birth of Jane and Rafael's child. It still got to have a lot of fun - with Jane faking a contraction just to mess with her mother and the citizens on the bus all rallying around Jane. It's great and aspirational that even during this chaotic and messy time that Jane can still find the humor and that there are good people in the world. Mateo's birth is the emotional climax of the season. It is perfection. Everything about the sequence is emotional and moving. The moment belongs to Jane and Mateo. The other characters simply exist around them knowing that that is the most poignant thing happening right now.

Of course, that adds fuel to the love triangle between Jane, Rafael and Michael. This season has done a phenomenal job in showing all three of those characters as humans with emotional and personal wants and needs. They've had great moments that make things so wonderful. But they've also been overwhelmed and made mistakes out of fear. Both Rafael and Michael are choosing to voice how they truly feel about Jane now because they don't know if they'll get another opportunity any time soon. It certainly adds more chaos and stress to Jane's life right now. She's focusing on getting into a graduate program and giving birth. Rafael and Michael are a part of her life but they both are asking more from her as well. It's overwhelming in a time where she shouldn't be overwhelmed. The show has done a fantastic job in showcasing how both Michael and Rafael are good for her.

And yet, the finale is able to put all of those romantic entanglements aside in the final third in order to focus on the highly emotional birth of Jane's child. That is the right direction to go in. When she is holding Mateo in her arms for the first time, he is her whole world. It's great that her family is surrounding her with love. But Mateo is so perfect and special that the world stops spinning for Jane. He's the only important man in her life in that moment. Rafael needs to voice his concerns about the future and the dynamic the two of them will have as parents. Those are uncertainties that Jane just can't deal with right now. Michael respects the importance of this moment. He has no idea what the future will hold. He just knows that he needs to be there for Jane as a friend while she takes this time to bond with her son. It's absolutely the perfect thing for Michael to say in that moment.

Jane has spent so much of this season wanting the various people in her life to say the perfect things to her. The kind of reaction that makes that person the right person to be with. Life has always been more complicated than that for her though. Her ideas of perfection for her life never match up with reality. She aspires for more and wants that perfect life. But life isn't perfect. It is messy and complicated. She has had to deal with those complications all season long. However, it seems very fitting that the only resolution the love triangle gets in the finale is of Michael saying the right words and proving himself to be an honorable, generous and kind man. It's clear that his concern for her is genuine but he still respects what she needs. That is the sign of a good man. Her heart glows once again. But this time it is joined by Mateo's. Yes, that could be seen as a sign that Mateo is Team Michael. But it's much more than that too. It's a sign that Jane has so much love in her heart. Right now, she just feels more happiness than she has ever felt before.

That's why it is such a crushing and devastating blow in the episode's final moments when an associate of Sin Rostro's poses as a nurse and kidnaps Mateo. It is such an over-the-top twist. It is in line with the ridiculousness twists that have occurred over the course of this first season. And yet, it's surprising to watch it happen. It is a traumatic experience for the audience. Jane is so happy with Mateo. She doesn't want him to leave her arms. She has her complete trust in the nurses that they will take good care of him. As the last few days have shown, there are some wonderfully kind and compassionate people in this world. She would never fathom something like this happening. What does Sin Rostro want with Mateo anyway? It's a stunning final twist that proves just how unique Jane the Virgin is. Only this show could get away with kidnapping a baby just after he was born. It sets up immediate urgency for the second season. And yet, I'm also hoping that it's not dragged out too long. Jane and Mateo belong together. That's simply how it should be. Michael needs to track Sin Rostro down and save Mateo. This hiatus is going to be long. But that doesn't take away from just how fabulous this season has been from start to finish. Bravo!

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Twenty Two" was written by Josh Reims & Jennie Snyder Urman and directed by Zetna Fuentes.
  • While waiting for their plane in Las Vegas, Xo and Rogelio get drunk with some of his fans from Venezuela and get married! They do love each other but they also finally got to a good place of being friends and family who love and forgive each other. This sudden marriage could create turmoil for them - or it just as easily could bring them back together.
  • Also, in another clever twist, Petra discovers that Rafael has been playing with her emotions towards him at the exact same moment she learns that the clinic made a mistake and there's another sample of his genetic material still viable. And now, she's in possession of that sample - which basically means she's not leaving his life any time soon.
  • I'm going to be so upset if Bridget Regan doesn't continue playing Sin Rostro in the new season. It's been heavily teased that she has changed her face in order to avoid detection from the law, but she was just so great on the show throughout the year. I'm worried that someone new would mess up the character.
  • At least, Michael has a solid lead and will be able to track Sin Rostro down fairly quickly in the new season because Nadine returned and he planted a bug on her phone.
  • As I've said several times already, that's it until this fall for Season 2. Jane the Virgin has been so great this season. I can't wait to see what the show will be able to do in its second season. Fall can't get here fast enough.