Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 5, Episode 6, “Chapter Eighty-Seven”
Our narrator put it best my friends, over the course of the last five seasons we’ve seen the Villanueva women in the throes of all kinds of emotion. We’ve seen fierce loyalty, love, joy, and yes even sadness – but never have we seen all three Villanuevas break down in tears at the same time! The relationship between Jane, Xiomara, and Alba is at the core of everything that makes Jane the Virgin important and memorable. Three generations of Latinas who ultimately raised each other. Before Jane the Virgin debuted in 2014, that kind of multi-generational intimacy between Latinas, which feels like home to so many of us, had never been seen with such care on US television.
As Jane grew over the years, so did the Villanuevas’ world. The winding map of love interests and friends and international secret spy assassins with faces to go on top of their faces have left precious little time in recent seasons to savor the three women alone. Tonight they were together, on the wooden bench outside Alba’s porch just like we’ve seen a thousand times. Jorge broke Alba’s heart, Jane broke Rafael’s, and early onset menopause from chemo may mean Xiomara will never find her sex drive again. Then through the tears, a ringing bell of clarity – “Did you try the vibrator? I’m telling you, just think about Barack Obama and turn it on!”
It’s not that I don’t support abuelas having a sex life! When I’m in my seventies, I can only hope to have a collection of vibrators still in my nightstand. It’s that after five years Jane’s abuela feels like mi abuela and if my Bueli ever said a sentence like that, I would roll over and probably die on the spot. I gasped! Squealed! Rewound it at a least three times! Every time, the shock and delight remained the same. Plus, Barack Obama? Alba has excellent taste. “Can you believe it?” Xiomara asks. Only two years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine her mother giving such advice.
We’ve all grown, Alba responds as the Villanuevas wipe tears of laughter from their face. And you know what? We all really have.
For Alba, this week’s growth comes from choosing herself and asking Jorge to leave after they finished with his Green Card proceedings (immigration officers stopped by for a “surprise visit” this week – cue my eye roll). She can’t stop her feelings for him, and being in his presence just hurts too much.
Jane’s still stuck in a loop between Rafael and Michael, which is starting to become reminiscent of the show’s second season love triangle in the most tiresome of ways. When Jane told Rafael that she had to sort through her feelings for Michael, he asked her to leave their apartment. Now he’s fighting a rough bout of depression while trying to stay on top of raising his three kids. Jane refuses to give him the necessary space to heal because she feels awful about breaking his heart. She’s also realizing it’s possible that after all these years of separation, she and Michael may have just truly grown apart. Jane Villanueva ended Season Four confident in her bright, loving future with Raf. Then, at the start of this year, she thought her future maybe lived on in her forgotten past with Michael. Now, she’s realizing that her choices might mean that she ends up without either. That great unknown is understandably terrifying, and Jane’s not quite ready to fully face it head on. Perhaps that’s why when Michael invites her on a weekend getaway to Montana, Jane surprises herself by saying yes.
It’s impressive that Jane the Virgin has decided to take seriously the weight of Xiomara’s remission. Other television shows choose to gloss over the grittiness of “What comes next?” after cancer. Instead we’ve held Xiomara’s hand as she struggles with the gap between who she used to be, who she still is in her mind’s eye, and the limitations of her new body. This week those limitations come via sex with Rogelio. She wants it, he wants it, but her body just won’t get there. It’s not just the loss of physical intimacy that bothers her (though Rogelio continues to be his best self, promising his wife that he’d gladly take less sex due to menopause if it means she’ll remain cancer free). It’s that for most of her life, Xo was S-E-X. Her clothes were sexy, her dancing was sexy, she had ownership of her body and its pleasure and it was liberating. Now she feels lost.
Out of everyone in her life, I doubt Xiomara ever thought that her famously conservative, deeply devout mother was going to be the one who came to her rescue. Last season Jane took Alba on a shopping trip to buy her first vibrator and a year later we all get to reap the benefits of that long sowed storyline. I prefer an Egg, Alba knowingly tells her daughter, but you might like the Rabbit – and no matter what, don’t forget the lubrication. I had to watch it with my eyes peeking in between my fingers and my mouth ajar, but sometimes grandmothers really do know best.
(PS: I didn’t get to J.R. and Petra this time around – but they remain my favorite couple on television! May God grant me a girlfriend who looks at me with those same eyes that Rosario Dawson gives Petra week after week. Amen.)