Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, “Chapter Eighty-Three”
If your husband comes back from the dead, I imagine you would feel a lot of things. Lots of romances like Jane the Virgin would probably reach for elation or excitement – one step closer to the “Happily Ever After” that’s thus far evaded the heroine. Much to the show’s credit, in last week’s season premiere they instead chose to lean into much more complicated feelings of heartbreak and angst. Now we’ve reached the next stage in Jane’s emotional unraveling as she tries to cope with Michael’s return: guilt.
Our narrator originally frames this guilt around religion. The Villanuevas are devout Catholics after all, Jane and Alba in particular. Rafael scoffs that Catholicism hasn’t stopped Jane from having premarital sex or using birth control, but for Jane this is different. Marriage is one of the seven sacraments. In the eyes of God, she is still married to Michael (errr, Jason) no matter how much she wishes otherwise. She simply cannot get a divorce.
As the hour unfolds, Jane the Virgin does what it’s most masterful at: taking the opening theme and peeling it back, sweetly devouring it from new and unexpected angles. For a brief second, over a shared shot glass, it felt as if Michael might have remembered Jane. Wordlessly, Gina Rodriguez takes Jane’s face through a journey of anxiety, nostalgia, love, and ultimately panic and nausea.
She runs to her Xiomara and admits a new truth – it’s not Catholic guilt that’s keeping her attached to Michael. She’s actually terrified that he will one day remember her again. Then she would have to face him and admit that she gave up on their great love story. Even more terrifying? She’s afraid that one day, when he becomes Michael again, she will fall back in love with him.
For Jane, that’s unthinkable. She’s already currently in love with Raf. It’s no coincidence that Rafael spends the hour working through some guilt of his own. He doesn’t know how to admit his resentment towards Michael. He wants to support Jane, but he’s worried about what comes next. Will the love of his life instead walk back into the arms of the love of hers? This fear is of course picked up on right away by Sin Rostro (whom Rafael takes Luisa to visit in jail). She curls her lips into the perfect ice-cold villain smile, pointing out calmly and reading through Rafael’s mask: It’s not how Michael lost his memory that he really wants to know, it’s if it’s reversible and will that put his relationship with Jane in peril. It’s an ugly truth, and one that Rafael is not yet ready to bare.
Xiomara is comically using her ongoing cancer treatments to guilt Rogelio into finally doing his job on set (“Rogelio you are making my cancer flare up!”), earning her the new nickname The Rogelio Whisperer. Meanwhile, Alba is dealing with pangs of guilt of her own; her legal marriage to Jorge is now finalized. This means he can finally travel back home to Mexico and visit his dying mother without worry. It also means that he’s moved into the Villanueva house in case of any follow ups from immigration officers. Alba begins the episode by telling Jane that it’s just a piece of paper that means nothing to her, but in a particularly evocative visual callback – her own heart betrays her.
Watching Jorge, Alba’s heart glows in pastel pink and yellow, beating outside of her chest. It’s just one palpitation. It passes by silently, the narrator doesn’t even bother to draw our attention to the visual effect. But any longtime Jane fan would recognize that beat anywhere. It’s the color of true love. It’s the color of Jane’s heartbeat from when she first fell in love with Michael, then again with Rafael. Now it’s back for Alba.
Alba admits to her granddaughter that she asked Rogelio (who called in a favor from the almighty and all-knowing J.Lo, naturally) to have Jorge’s travel visa expedited. She doesn’t say it out loud, and she doesn’t have to – falling in love again feels like a betrayal to Mateo, Jane’s grandfather. What is she going to do?
As the episode barrels into its third act, Jane tearfully comes clean to Xiomara, her voice cracking at the edges with the pain of this one last hard truth: She wishes Michael had never come back at all. That’s the real guilt that, no matter how hard she tries, she cannot shake.
Still, the guilt doesn’t stop Jane from facing her fear and filing for divorce papers after Jason (I simply can’t call him Michael!) tries to kiss her after some late night drinks and line-dancing. Guilt or not, everything has gotten far too messy. Jane’s ready to put a stop to it.
Too bad that unbeknownst to her, Jason threw those papers right in the trash. Say it with me: “Dun-dun-duuuun!”
Jane the Virgin airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on The CW.