Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 5, Episode 19, “Chapter One Hundred”
Five years ago, when a 23-year-old Catholic virgin named Jane Villanueva fell asleep in her gynecologist’s office and woke up mistakenly artificially inseminated, I would have never believed that we would end up here, at “Chapter One Hundred.” In 2014, Gina Rodriguez was a relative unknown, now she’s a household name. Prestige television is most readily associated with white antiheroes behaving badly, morally gray undertones (and literally gray set pieces), and limited episode series runs on streaming or premium cable. Jane the Virgin — a dramedy based on a Venezuelan telenovela with bright pastels and over-the-top antics about hardworking Latinos trying to do good in this world — broke the mold. It ends its run a critically acclaimed triumph. Not many get to say that.
Over the last five years, Jane the Virgin has walked a tightrope between the melodramatic and the deeply human, it has led with its own quirky brand of self-aware humor and genuine tenderness. A story about a young woman who loved telenovelas so much that we all watched as her life became one. A story about mothers and daughters, about three generations of Latina women who raised each other and supported one another as they grew and took on new, brave adventures. A story of immigrants and of U.S.-born Latinos. Of belly sweeping and heart thumping romance. Of the dangers that go bump in the night and fighting demons with clear eyes full of hope.
The trick that set Jane apart was that it never lost track of emotional truth. Where other soap operas would spin from one dizzying plot twist to the next, Jane the Virgin always remembered to take time and breathe. Oh you’ve been artificially inseminated? How would a real person react to that? Oh your baby has been kidnapped? How would a mother get over that very real PTSD? Your husband died unexpectedly? You’d probably move back home with your family. Oh now he’s back from the dead? That’s probably going to mess things up with your new fiance and father of your child. And so on.
For all its wild drama, Jane the Virgin’s concluding episode was surprisingly simple and straightforward. Jane and Rafael get married. There’s nothing unexpected there — the entire season has been building up to their nuptials. Jane’s dress is as ethereal and stunning as you might imagine, her hair tied in ribbons and cascading in soft curls down her back. If you’re anything like me, Abuela marrying the two probably made you cry. Mateo — who in a delightful twist on the one singular mystery I’ve waited five years for them to solve, turns out to be have been our narrator all along — is dashingly cute with his missing front teeth and tuxedo.
Yes, there were a few bumps along the road on the wedding day. Rafael gets arrested after trying to get Jane’s new book ending to her hero Isabelle Allende before it’s too late. Jane almost can’t get to him because of a marathon running in front of her house, but in a delightful call back to earlier seasons is saved by a bus (unlike in those earlier years, Jane’s kind of rich now, so she buys out the entire bus to make sure everyone makes the wedding on time.) Xiomara decides she doesn’t want to move to New York after all. This is Mars is an early breakout hit, and his lifelong dream of becoming a crossover star in the United States is finally becoming a reality. In my favorite moment, Rita Moreno returns in a cameo as Rogelio’s mother. Jane the Virgin is undoubtedly going down in Latinx pop culture history, and it’s nice to have la reina grace everyone with her presence in its final bow.
Diane Guerrero and Justina Machado also return for cameos, giving Jane the Virgin an even fuller Latina roster than usual in its last outing. But that’s not all! Anyone who has been reading along with me this year knows how much of a fan I am of Rosario Dawson’s JR and I cannot begin to tell you the high pitch of my squeals when she showed back up to sweep Petra off her feet! I think only dogs five miles away could’ve heard my screams. Lesbian and bisexual women on television are hardly ever given the soft, warm lights and bright flowers and crescendo music of a grand romantic gesture. Seeing JR and Petra together is just … right. Sometimes in life there are perfect, even if rushed, endings. The camera zooming in on JR and Petra’s kiss is one of them.
Still, Jane the Virgin’s last episode is much less about the plot than it is about the heart behind it. The characters that we spent the last half-decade getting to know, settled in their own happy endings. It’s about Abuela turning off the light in the living room and remembering all the memories that the Villanuevas have shared in her home. It’s about Xiomara seeing Jane walk down the aisle and imagining her as a little girl. It’s the family photos taken at the end. It’s Rafael taking Jane in his arms after their marriage for one final big kiss — with their love anthem playing overhead and their signature white flower petals falling all around them.
It’s the two of them, cuddled underneath that same tree once the ceremony is over. “How does it all end?” He asks her.
“They turn it into a telenovela.”