Wednesday, May 1, 2019

REVIEW: 'Jane the Virgin' - Jane Reflects on the Past and How Much She's Changed in 'Chapter Eighty-Seven'

The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 5.06 "Chapter Eighty-Seven"

Jane struggles with giving Rafael his space after she discovers that he is hiding a secret. Jane and Michael uncover clues about what happened the day he "died." Petra wants to fit into JR's world and enlists Jane's help. After a few attempts to get back into the groove, Xo and Rogelio work together to try and find a new normal. Alba confesses her feelings about Jorge.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Jane the Virgin.

"Chapter Eighty-Seven" was written by Rafael Agustín and directed by Eric Lea

Part of the value of storytelling through television is being able to watch characters change across time. For this show, the audience has entered its fifth year with these characters and their relationships. We are very invested in the growth they experience and the choices they actively make. As such, it's meaningful when an hour highlights the depth of change these characters have had in comparison to who they used to be. It's startling to see Jane, Alba and Xo all crying on the family porch swing. That has been the location of so many brutal but honest conversations amongst loved ones. The audience has come to trust that whenever a scene is set there it is bound to get emotion. This is a new experience for both them and the audience. They are all trying to present brave faces of being fine. They don't want the others to worry about them because their concerns seem so trivial. However, it's meaningful that Alba feels rejected after telling Jorge her true feelings while Xo has lost her sex drive and may be entering menopause. Those also prove this show's ability to tell strong stories for women of all ages. It may take viewers aback a little bit to see just how sexually suggestive Alba is here. She is objectifying Jorge with everything he does even though no one else can explain or comprehend what she is clearly seeing and feeling. She wants to believe he shares the same feelings. But it's also devastating when it continues to present as nothing more than a scam to help him get his green card. She is still willing to help in that regard because she supports her loved ones. It's just disappointing how this attraction appears to be one-sided. Meanwhile, Xo and Rogelio want to get back in their old routine. But things may have changed too much because of the cancer. Things don't suddenly go back to normal after the chemo treatments have stopped and the tests all point in positive directions. Xo still has to feel comfortable and confident in her body. That too represents a surprising journey for her because she has always been so free and open with her sexuality and desire. Instead, she is the one skittish about the suggestions she is getting from her mother. Even then, it doesn't seem to help her connect with Rogelio, which may be very devastating to their sexual lives as a couple. They love and respect each other. This shouldn't be an insurmountable obstacle but their sexual connection has also defined a lot for them. Meanwhile, Jane wants to navigate her continued feelings for Michael because of the deep love they shared in the past. However, she has focused so much on how he has changed. She has dealt with a lot in the subsequent years as well. She has much stronger relationships with Rafael and Petra. And now, she doesn't feel like she can co-parent with Rafael because he is keeping secrets. Sure, the reveal that he's on anti-depressants doesn't totally work. It's nice that the show isn't just repeating the same story of him going to a dark place whenever things don't go his way. It's important for him to get the help he needs to cope with the ups and downs of life. It's just jarring as a story here with a little too much misdirection and teasing of the audience. But it's also joyous to watch as Jane and Petra continue to connect and show how much fun they are capable of having together. It too can be strange to see them dancing at a lesbian bar with the crowd yelling for them to kiss. Petra doesn't want to mess things up with JR again. However, she still has to learn to trust people when they want to support her. Jane expects that of her friends and family. She gives it as well. She is happy to help Michael retrace the steps of the day he died. It provides a new clue that could lead to Rose's criminal enterprise. But it also highlights how the two of them are different now. They may have different perspectives on the way that things were when they were married. It's more difficult to connect now. And yet, Jane is willing to put in the effort. She accepts his offer to go back to Montana. They may both be doing so to find some clarity now that they are juggling so much unexpected melodrama. But hopefully, it leads to some definitive romantic answers soon as well because the characters deserve to feel happy about their lives too.