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Jane the Virgin - Chapter Twenty-One - Review

Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Twenty-One,” was written by the team of Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin and was directed by Stuart Gillard, whose other credits include Beauty and the Beast, 90210, and One Tree Hill. Jane (Gina Rodriguez) starts to have feeling again for Michael (Brett Dier) just as Rafael (Justin Baldoni) realizes he’s made a terrible mistake in pushing Jane away. Everyone seems to be trying to convince themselves that they are “just friends.”

The episode begins with a flashback to five years ago and Jane’s arch rival in high school, Stephanie Kovakovich (Mariah Buzolin). Jane thinks that Stephanie has it out for her because Xo (Andrea Navedo) went with her father and dumped him. In the present, Jane’s five year high school reunion is happening, and Jane doesn’t want to go even though it was her idea in the first place. Xo reminds her of how much she has accomplished – she’s graduated from college, she’s written an episode for a telenovela, and she turned down a great job to write her novel.

Jane tells Rafael she’s seeking primary custody, and he is understandably really upset. Baldoni is excellent in this scene. Jane explains she doesn’t think the baby will be safe at the hotel with Luisa (Yara Martinez), Madga (Priscilla Barnes), and Petra (Yael Grobglas) there. Rafael asks her not to keep the baby from him and even offers to get an apartment. Even Xo is impressed about that! Rafael is still trying to follow in his father’s footsteps, and he’ll have to take a three day trip to Madrid for meetings if he wants to save his father’s hotel empire. By the end of the episode, he’s determined not to go and not to be his father.

Jane is trying to write but ends up nesting. Michael invites her to his commendation ceremony – as a friend. As he’s receiving the award, he is thinking about Nadine. It was hard to tell whether he wished he had or hadn’t turned her in. He tells Jane later in the episode that he’s worried he didn’t do the right thing. Michael does invite Jane out to dinner after the ceremony, but it’s the night of the reunion.

Petra is trying her subtle psychological warfare. First, she and Magda “bump into” Jane as she arrives for her meeting with Rafael – it’s no wonder she was angry and harsh with him – but then, that was Petra’s plan. Petra also tries to assure Jane that she’s no danger to the baby. She asks Jane not to take it out on Rafael because he’s miserable. Petra's endgame is simply to gain points with Rafael. Thank heavens that Jane no longer trusts her!

The reunion itself is awkward and uncomfortable – though I loved teen-Jane talking to Jane in the present through her name tag, especially when she tells Jane to “pull her hair” or “shiv her” in response to Stephanie. However, Stephanie also teaches her a valuable lesson. Stephanie apologizes for having been mean in high school. She also tells Jane that she only started the rumor about Xo to get Jane’s prom date to back out of having asked her – his religious mother forbid him to take Jane when she found out Xo was a “slut.” And she did all that so that he would ask her to the prom not because she was mad about Xo dated her father. There's also some nice symbolism with necklaces in this episode. Jane is wearing a nice small necklace in the flashback and seems to be wearing the same one going into the reunion. But that isn't who she is anymore - and Lina (Diane Guerrero) recognizes it even if Jane doesn't. She gives Jane a much more elaborate necklace that still matches her outfit. Unlike the gigantic gaudy thing that Rogelio brings her! Of course, that's how "big" Jane is to him.

Jane gets valuable advice from the “mean girl”: “Use people’s vulnerabilities against them.” The narrator (Anthony Mendez) reminds us that Jane does love to learn. Jane puts this new talent to work with Rafael, and they carry out a “sting” on Petra, using her feelings for Rafael – which he is completely oblivious to! – to convince her to force Magda to turn herself in for pushing Alba (Ivonne Coll) down the stairs. Just when we think Petra could be a sympathetic character, she turns her own mother in!

After the reunion, Michael messages Jane to see how it went. This leads to texting and eventually to them talking on the phone – it’s a nice progression as we see the two growing closer and finding comfort in their old relationship. Jane admits that she’s afraid she’s not going to do a good job as a mom or that being a mom will take over her life and be how she is defined. Michael tells her that her “schedule” is crazy, and that she needs to give herself more time – “You like plans, so make a new one – a real one.” Michael also confides in Jane that he’s worried about work, that he’s made the wrong decision about something. Without knowing the details, Jane immediately says she’s sure he did the right thing. They both know each other really well. At the end of the conversation, the Narrator tells us the both thought it felt like old times – and we see Jane’s heart glow the way it once did for Rafael.

The next morning Jane tells her new plan to Xo and Alba – she’s going to enroll in a graduate program for writers! She’s going to follow her dream. It’s quite ironic that both Michael and Rafael have helped her get her – Rafael reminded her that she wanted to be a writer in the first place. When she was with Michael, she was focused on their “practical” plans. Xo and Alba are completely supportive, but Xo has been watching and clearly sees that something more than friendship seems to be growing between Michael and Jane. Michael knows about Magda’s arrest because she turns herself in to him, so he ends up celebrating with Jane, Xo and Alba.

Jane thanks Rafael for helping to get Petra to turn in Magda, but also tells him that he was right about them being too different. She apologizes for “making things ugly” by asking for sole custody and admits that she was worried about the baby but also did it out of anger because she was so hurt. Rafael is ready to admit he made a mistake but doesn’t say anything when Jane says they should just be friends.

By the end of the episode, Rafael has cancelled his business trip and calls at Luisa’s urging to try to get her back. Xo doesn’t pick the call up as she watches Michael and Jane growing closer again out on the swing. Of course, a mother would want the person who hasn’t hurt her daughter! Jane asks Michael if he’s really okay just being friends. He says in a perfect world, he’d like more, but it’s more important for him just to have Jane in his life. In an interview, Justin Baldoni said that the only “team” viewers should root for is Jane’s, and I love how the show does such a wonderful job making it impossible for me to really choose between Rafael and Michael now!

Meanwhile, Xo and Rogelio (Jaime Camil) are preparing for their Vegas show and also struggling a bit with their friendship status. When Rogelio shows up at the house, his greeting with Xo is hilariously awkward. We get to see both Camil and Navedo sing and dance, so we know they are both truly talented, which makes their command of physical comedy equally impressive. I really can’t say enough of the entire cast’s ability to move seamlessly between comedy and drama.

It’s clear that like Xo, Alba is not happy with the man who hurt her daughter. Rogelio wants to talk about the Vegas show because they’ve secured an important director – Mitchell Murray (Darin Toonder), and Rogelio is convinced he will help him to get a Tony – the first step on the road to an E.G.O.T (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony awards). He says all he’ll need then is the E.G.O. Alba assures him that he’s got that covered, and he pouts and says, “You’re mean, Alba.” Hilarious!

During their rehearsal, Rogelio suddenly stops it and accuses Xo of trying to flirt with him! She’s angry because she wasn’t, but Alba is able to shed light on what’s going on because of something that happened at Jane’s baby shower. Rogelio wouldn’t come out on the balcony and Alba realizes that Rogelio, like her Aunt Inez – and that’s another funny story – is terrified of heights. Naturally, when Xo confronts him, his ego makes him deny it, but he eventually admits that he is and has tried everything to get over it. Rogelio doesn’t want to get a reputation for being difficult – again – so he won’t say anything to Murray.

As they are being raised up on the dais during the next rehearsal, Camil does a wonderful job showing Rogelio’s terror. Xo suddenly shouts to stop and pretends that she is the one who is terrified. Of course, this is only going to ruin any chance for her own dream of a career singing. It’s one thing for an established star to have demands, but not someone just trying to break in. Rogelio thanks Xo, and she brushes it off as something friends do. She leaves Rogelio looking very thoughtful on the stage. Perhaps he, like Rafael, is finally beginning to realize what he gave up?

This was yet another satisfying episode. The writing continues to remain fresh despite being steeped in the well-worn tropes of the telenovela. I loved that the magical realism we see are all little touches we’ve seen though out the series, so little hearts floating past the screen are just a normal sign of love and we know what Jane’s glowing heart means. It’s also clever that all the subtitles are now just a way of adding meaning – either translation or gloss to the action on the screen.

What did you think of the episode? Are you struggling to decide between Michael and Rafael? How mad do you think Petra is going to be that Jane got the better of her? Do you like Jane’s new plan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.

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