Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 5, Episode 8, “Chapter Eighty-Nine”
Heart. Art. Fart. Learning new concepts is tricky, and maybe it’s crude — but sometimes a little flatulence joke can go a long way to make the experience less painful. Mateo’s behind his other classmates when it comes to letter recognition and reading, which is obviously heartbreaking for Jane. Books, romance novels, love of the written word, and the craft of storytelling are all major parts of the Jane the Virgin’s narrative scaffolding, so having Mateo disinterested and struggling with reading is a little bit of a genius subversion. Sadly, he’s not the only one being forced to learn new things. His mama is struggling, too. She has to learn the meaning of boundaries and how to say “No.”
Jane’s spent most of her life lucky in love. Ever the romantic heroine, men have fallen for her the way that rose petals gently lay themselves across the ground. It’s been effortless. So when Rafael stands firm in his desire not to see her (one of the cutest bits of the episode is when Petra’s twins flat out tell Jane at the door that their “Daddy is avoiding you”), Jane is beside herself. She believes that if she just tries harder, if she reaches for the next big romantic gesture, if she strategically stalks his every move, then eventually Rafael’s “No” will turn into a Happily Ever After “Yes.”
I assume you see the problem with this logic. Continuing to push your romantic partner against their will until a “No” becomes a “Yes” is textbook rape culture. Switching the gender of the pursuer doesn’t change that fact. Of course, Jane doesn’t see it. Every romance novel she’s read begins with the passion of the chase (Hot Take: old school romance novels rarely value consent and we probably shouldn’t base our romantic ideals on them. Moving on.) It’s only after Xiomara points it out that Jane finally recognizes the pattern. She’s not creating some grand romance with Rafael; she’s harassing him.
While Jane is learning to sort out the difference between romance and unwanted gestures, Alba and Jorge fall in deeper in love together. Alba’s worried about passing their upcoming immigration interview. Whenever she and Jorge sit down to study the more intimate questions an immigration official might ask about their marriage (how often they have sex is a recurring practice question), she shuts down. She still loves Jorge and more than anything, she wants to respect that he is no longer in love with her. Being together, even to study, is painful.
Alba recruits Xiomara to help in their tutoring sessions. In an effort to curb her feelings, Xo asks Alba to describe Jorge’s worst habit. Her answer? He’s too prideful. She goes on to detail a very charming story about how Jorge never loads the dishwasher correctly and as he watches her, his eyes twinkle in delight. Here is someone who knows his worst sides, and still cares for him. After the couple pass their official interview with flying colors, Jorge tells Alba the truth: He’s tired of letting his pride get in the way. They have their big romantic telenovela kiss right there in the kitchen window, the sun framing them in soft yellow streaks and the wind blowing Alba’s white curtains around them.
The other unexpected romance of the night comes from Petra and JR. It turns out that Petra’s twins saw JR the night she shot Milos. They’ve been practicing shooter drills at school — a quiet, but purposeful commentary on our country’s lack of gun reform, I am sure — and now they think JR is a bad person who will hurt their mom. They’ve been secretly crafting scenarios where JR and Petra might break up, including fabricating an intruder in their bedroom, sending fake emails from Petra’s phone, and using a laser pointer to make JR think an assassin was coming after her. Petra loves JR, but she knows that protecting her daughters is her first priority. She sits her girlfriend down to tell her that the girls are traumatized and the best thing for them would be for Petra and JR to break up.
Sometimes a romantic gesture doesn’t have to be grand to mean the world. JR holds Petra’s hands in her own and looks her in the eyes. She’s never made a secret of the fact that she doesn’t like kids, but Petra has put her all into fighting for their relationship. Now it’s her turn to make an effort. As long as Petra is OK with it, she would like to get to know Ana and Elsa better. She doesn’t say this next part out loud, but it hangs between them softly in the air — JR wants them to become their own little version of a family.
This week, Jane the Virgin spent a lot of time on healthy and unhealthy representations of love, so it’s not a surprise that the episode ends by circling back to Rose and Luisa. The couple has been the longest-running demonstration of a messy, and often toxic, romance. Now Rose is using her underling (posing as Luisa’s neighbor) to manipulate Luisa into re-entering Rafael’s life. I don’t know where we are going with this, but knowing Sin Rostro, it isn’t anywhere good.