Monday, May 16, 2016

REVIEW: 'Jane the Virgin' - Jane Struggles to Get to Her Wedding to Michael on Time in 'Chapter Forty-Four'

The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 2.22 "Chapter Forty-Four"

After moving up the wedding, Jane and Michael find all their carefully made plans thrown into chaos. Jane is also unhappy with her current graduate thesis, but changing it might put a wrinkle in her big day. Rafael is torn about whether he should speak now or forever hold his peace. Petra has her own family drama when Anezka has a medical emergency. Rogelio and Xo finally come to terms with their relationship until Xo gets surprising news.

This has been yet another fantastic season of Jane the Virgin. The show has grown and evolved over time but it has never lost sight of the dreams and goals of all of the characters. It's so difficult to tell captivating stories in a unique and enjoyable way across 22 episode seasons. Jane the Virgin has done it twice and made it look effortless. Yes, there were a number of plots this year that didn't totally work - Rogelio getting kidnapped, the mystery regarding Rafael's half-brother Derek, etc. And yet, the show still found new ways to captivate the audience with the complexities of these characters' lives - all while telling a story with telenovela twists. It has been truly impressive and has helped cement Jane the Virgin as one of the best shows currently airing on television.

This season saw Jane make her final choice in regards to the big love triangle. That has always been a huge proponent of the series. Both Michael and Rafael have been fighting for her love. At times, that has been very sweet. At others, it has been very damaging. Both guys are complex and complicated individuals. They have their own unique flaws and strengths. It's easy to see why both of them would be good partners for Jane. But at the end of the day, it's always more important to be invested in Jane and her personal journey. Yes, that includes romance. She loves the concept and traditions of a relationship and marriage. That doesn't stop her from living her life, chasing her dreams, facing crushing defeats and celebrating triumphant successes. She is her own woman. She has chosen to live the rest of her life with Michael. She loves him and wants to spend a lifetime with him by her side. Michael is a great guy. At times, he can be a little too good. But he has a sweetness to him as well that really drives their dynamic together.

Jane and Michael's wedding is the big central event of this finale. It's a huge and momentous occasion for Jane. She made a promise to her grandmother that she wouldn't have sex until she was married. And now, she is on the home stretch of that promise. It's something that is important to her. She has had so many opportunities where she could walk away from that decision. And yet, she has stayed true to it. It is something she wants to do. She wants it to be special. She wants to do it with Michael. She wants to do it with the person she will spend the rest of her life with. It's her romanticized notion of the world. Marriage has so many more complications and difficulties than that. It takes so much effort just getting to the wedding ceremony. And yet, both Jane and Michael are committed to each other. They want this to happen and they respect the choices that each other have made in this world.

The journey to Jane walking down the aisle is filled with a ton of comedic hijinks. It is somewhat surprising that Jane and Michael haven't talked about a lot of big issues that will come up because they'll be married soon. Jane loves being overly prepared for everything. And yet, Michael presents a solution to the problem that is very practical and meaningful as well. Sure, the audience doesn't get to hear any of the answers - including when Jane will be ready to have another kid. But it's still meaningful that this conversation doesn't dissuade them from getting married. And nothing else can do that either. This isn't the dream wedding that Jane has always envisioned for herself. The date got moved up. The venue changed. Alba's wedding story wasn't as perfect and romantic as she was lead to belief. Inspiration strikes and Jane wants to change her thesis at the last minute. And yet, it is still magical and perfect for her. All of that was made possible because of her family. They want to see her happy. They give her this perfect day that she will cherish for the rest of her life.

Seeing Jane so happy on this momentous day also forces Rafael into not saying anything about his true feelings. He is still very conflicted about this wedding. He still loves Jane so much. His character arc over the second half of this season has been a little static. He really hasn't grown a lot. And yet, it's still so meaningful and earned when he decides not to ruin Jane's happiness. He loves seeing her so happy - whether that's with Mateo walking for the first time or with Michael as her husband. He does not want to stand in the way for her happiness. Sure, it breaks his heart to do so. He would love nothing more than to plead his love for her once more. But it shows immense personal growth that he holds back on that speech. It's devastating. But now, he's finally admitting to himself that he needs to move on. He still finds comfort in an unexpected source - Anezka disguised as Petra. He can't grow too much. But it's a nice and meaningful gesture nevertheless.

It's also so rewarding that Jane and Michael's wedding goes through without a hitch. That ceremony was so beautiful. It's just so moving to see happy things happen to Jane. Life is filled with ups and downs. But this truly was a magical and special moment. Michael reciting his vows in Spanish was a very nice touch. And yet, the show also got to have a lot of fun with the wedding reception. It started with Rogelio bringing out surprise guest Bruno Mars to sing the song to accompany Jane and Michael's first dance. Jane's reaction to seeing Bruno Mars at her wedding was absolutely priceless. And then, Jane and Rogelio got a pretty epic moment with their father-daughter dance. The three generations of Villanueva women got to walk down the aisle together. But Rogelio got to have the most fun at the reception. It was all so specific but also so deeply earned and personal to these characters and their relationships to one another.

But Jane's wedding also brings with it the promise of her finally losing her virginity. The timing is finally right for her. As soon as she and Michael are married, she dreams of a musical sequence where the whole church is telling her to go have sex. That was a hilarious moment to help wipe away the tears. And yet, it also opens some very practical concerns about Jane. The show's title is Jane the Virgin after all. What would that mean if Jane lost her virginity at the end of the second season? The show has earned this wedding. She has found something very real and genuine with Michael. But it's not surprising at all that a telenovela twist will keep her from losing her virginity anytime soon. Michael foolishly needs to go get ice from the hallway to chill the bottle of champagne. When he comes to a major breakthrough with the case, he promptly gets shot. That effectively leaves his fate uncertain for the future. It seems unlikely that the show would give Jane so much happiness only to violently rip it away from her so tragically and suddenly. I doubt Michael's days on the show are over. But it also sets up a very precarious future for the couple where they'll be even more concerned about the various criminal organizations of the city than ever before.

Michael's "death" at the end of the season also felt like something the season was building towards. A lot of fans were speculating about it. But the predictability of the moment didn't take away from how excellent the execution was. That final moment with Michael also brings so much resolution and clarity to the crime story. That plot has been sagging a little bit ever since Rose was killed off halfway through the season. Mutter wasn't a very effective substitute. But it's so surprising when Michael connects all the pieces and realizes that his new partner, Susanna, has been working against him this whole time. He doesn't know why because she shoots him and leaves him for dead. But it's even more surprising when the show reveals that Susanna has been Rose this entire time. This was her elaborate scheme to regain the chip and all the precious information she lost to the police over the last two years. It's also her way of getting back into Luisa's life. That's a very complicated dynamic. There are a lot of big reveals cramped into those final moments of the season. And yet, the show executes them with so much confidence. It is so uncertain what is going to happen to a number of characters next season. However, the show has earned the audience's trust over two well-executed seasons. I know that whatever the show has planned, it will do it with purpose and a passion without ever losing sight of the humanity of all of the characters.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Forty-Four" was written by Paul Sciarrotta & Jennie Snyder Urman and directed by Jann Turner.
  • Jane and Petra's constantly changing relationship has been one of the best stories of the season. It's a dynamic between two polar opposite characters. They do things differently but still respect each other for the choices they make. It's a tad disappointing that they don't have a moment in this finale. But it should be interesting to see what happens next between them.
  • Anezka has been a fun addition to the show during the last part of the season. But now, the show delves into the evil twin twist with Anezka stepping into Petra's life and seducing Rafael all while Petra is stuck in a hospital bed unable to move.
  • Nothing has changed between Xo and Rogelio. They still want to be together but he wants kids and she doesn't. They come to accept that - just as Xo discovers that she is pregnant and Rogelio's rival, Esteban, is probably the father. The show heads into its third season with yet another new pregnancy. But Xo's could be drastically different than Jane's or Petra's.
  • Of course, Jane romanticized Alba's wedding story the way she told it for years. But it was also so moving to see Alba open up about her true wedding day and the family being able to laugh about it.
  • So, Jane has spent all season long working on her thesis and battling this new professor. It has been a rewarding journey that has challenged her pre-conceived notions about romance novels. But after all this build up, it's surprising to see her drop it so quickly for a new idea just to add to the chaos of the wedding.
  • As soon as it was revealed that Jerry was from the same city as Susanna and he provided Michael with an inside joke, it felt pretty obvious that she was going to be the one who ultimately betrayed him.
  • Seriously, Mateo walking for the first time is such a joyous moment. Even though the episode is all about Jane's big day, the show doesn't lose sight of Mateo and the joy he brings to her life either.