Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 5, Episode 12, “Chapter Ninety-Three”
Mateo really nailed it in his role as the cutest tree in his elementary school musical. OK, he had a complete and total meltdown on stage, so perhaps “nailed it” is an exaggeration. But he was right about one thing: “Everything needs love to grow.” So much of Jane the Virgin has been about love. There is Jane’s love for Mateo, which in a certain light can be viewed as the catalyst for the entire series, starting with Jane’s decision to keep the baby after she was accidentally artificially inseminated. There’s the love between Alba, Xiomara, and Jane – all three women having a famous, unshakable bond. At its heart, even though so much of Jane the Virgin is about family, it’s also about romance. And at the intersection of the two, you find Jane and Rafael.
Rafael, whom Jane had a far away crush on when she was just a waitress at the Marbella. Rafael, who stepped aside when Jane decided to marry her first love, Michael, instead. Rafael, who became Jane’s best friend in the years after Michael died. The father of her child. Her family. Her love. If everything needs love to grow, then there’s no better example than Jane and Rafael. They are Jane the Virgin’s most sweeping romance, one that was tested and stunted, but at every turn planted roots and grew deeper, never broken.
For now, Jane is looking for a new apartment and Rafael has stepped up as her realtor. He asks her to make a “Must List” (hardwood floors, in-unit laundry) and then Jane, ever the overachiever, makes a complementary “Deal Breaker List” on her own (cockroaches weren’t on it, but obviously should have been). Together they visit the perfect studio – or rather it will be perfect, one day, once they get the hippie patchouli smell out of every surface – and they get locked in! Iconic rom-com plot twist!
Rafael has a new girlfriend, Julie, and things have gotten off to an awkward start. First, Julie worries about Rafael’s ongoing relationship with Jane. Then, after Jane reassures Julie that she and Raf are just family to each other and Mateo’s co-parents, nothing more, Jane finds out that Rafael actually isn’t very into Julie at all. Whoops! Apparently she uses emojis too much in her text messages – which sounds like a legitimate reason to break up with someone if you ask me – but Jane encourages Rafael to make his own “Must List” instead. Julie checks almost all the boxes, so he gives her another chance. Jane’s heart breaks a little, glowing in the show’s well-worn yellow and pink love colors, as she sends her best friend out of her life and into Julie’s instead.
Rogelio has some hijinks with River. Petra and Jane do a single ladies night at a bar. Mateo tries so hard at his school play, but his ADHD has made everything insurmountable. “Everyone was staring at me… I don’t want to be this way anymore,” he cries to his mother. She whispers, “come here” and brings him into a family hug right there in the school hallway, Jane and Rafael on their knees so that they can be eye-level with their son. They decide it’s time to start him on medication regimen, a purely holistic treatment approach isn’t working for their family.
Then, we find out Jane got approved for the dream hippie studio! Raf’s prepared the paperwork, but he asks her not to rent it. It turns out there’s one deal breaker with Julie that he just can’t get past – love.
His voice cracks, hoarse. “She’s not you Jane. I love you. I tried to stop, but I can’t. And I don’t want to anymore.”
The two are warmly lit in the Miami sunset, the bay behind them in a distance and a tree with white flowers above them. It’s classic romance framing, and then the music swells. The camera zooms in on their kiss. This is the big telenovela romance that Jane Villanueva has dreamed off since she was a little girl. This is what Jane the Virgin does best. Rafael picks Jane up and her leg pops out behind her. And finally – finally – after episodes of Jane’s heart glowing alone, this time, when Raf gently places her back down on the ground and out of his arms, his heart glows right along with her.
Then in a complete break from reality, the palm trees start singing the episode’s refrain, “There’s one thing that we all know/ everything needs love to grow.” I couldn’t stop laughing through my smiles. It’s perfectly timed to bring levity to a moment that otherwise could have become too cliché.
Jane and Rafael join in on the chorus, singing and dancing along with their entire family: Mateo, Xiomara, Alba, Petra, Rogelio – even River Fields and Milos! It’s playful and pure joy; a pitch perfect tribute to Golden-Age Hollywood musicals. Doing a musical like this winks directly at the audience. It’s a big experimental swing on a show that already plays broad with its storytelling choices, but one that I think definitely pays off.
There’s a final zoom in on Jane and Rafael’s first kiss back together. Anyone who’s ever seen Jane the Virgin knew what was coming next, but when the white flower petals start falling all around them from the tree above them, it’s perfect nonetheless.
The world is love, love, love love.