Jane the Virgin, Ep. 1.02 to 1.06 deftly balances plot and characterisation

Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll
Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll

Jane the Virgin, Season 1, Episodes 2 to 6
Airs Mondays at 9 pm ET on The CW

Among the new offerings in the fall 2014 season has been the CW series Jane the Virgin, a show revolving around the titular Jane, a woman who finds herself accidentally artificially inseminated. While the premise provided a hurdle for the show, the pilot managed to effectively explain it, while also unabashedly showing off the series’ telenovela influences. As the season has continued, the show has continued maintaining the balance between emotional resonance and fun fantasy sequences. In addition, the series has shown a knack for being able to resolve storylines, rather than dragging them out, while still managing to give time to character development, all of which has resulted in a strong, confident series to date.

The focus on women, and the relationships they have with each other, has been a particularly strong aspect of the show so far. Every storyline, whether it’s the pregnancy at the heart of the show or the investigation into Zaz’s death, all involve atleast one of the numerous female characters the show has. Nowhere is the focus on women and their relationships more apparent than in Jane’s own house, which is comprised of her, her single mother, and her single grandmother. Far from showing their household as lacking in any way, the show instead paints all three women as loving and supportive of each other, a tightly bonded family unit that helps each other get through whatever obstacle they’re facing. However, this doesn’t mean the show’s other women suffer as a result. Louisa and Rose’s relationship has been a great way to show how the former gravitates to comfort no matter the consequences, shedding light on Louisa’s past in the process. Meanwhile, Petra having a destructive relationship with her mother helps the audience understand her better as well. In addition, the show covers a wide spectrum of women, all of whom come with different experiences and their own views of the world, and all of whom get focused on. Between Jane, Petra, Louisa, Xo, Alba, and Rose, the show covers a breadth of experiences, with noticeable differences in age, skin colour, class status, and sexual preferences, making the character list of the show remarkably well-rounded.

Justin Baldoni, Gina Rodriguez
Justin Baldoni, Gina Rodriguez

The pacing of the show has also emerged as a strong suit. Rather than drag out storylines, Jane the Virgin has been happy to push the plot forward, with the unexpected impaling of Zaz serving as the catalyst for this. Perhaps the best example of this has been “Chapter Four”, which saw several storylines come to a head, as Jane found out the identity of her father, Michael came around on wanting the baby, and Rafael revealed his knowledge of Petra’s affair to her. Other episodes have also been quick to reveal how Rose and Louisa are connected, expose Michael’s lying to Jane, and have Petra and Michael enter an uncomfortable alliance. However, this doesn’t mean the show has run out of storylines. Rather, it has introduced new characters and mysteries with equal vigour, keeping the show moving at a strong clip that doesn’t feel too slow or too fast. How the show manages to maintain this will be interesting to watch, particularly as it introduces multiple mob elements and imminent legal proceedings to what initially appeared to be a story of a woman who was artificially inseminated. The organic and unforced manner in which everything has been brought into the show, however, as well as the deft handling of both plot and characterisation by the writers, bodes well for the show, and allows for excitement in seeing how things play out, rather than trepidation.

The show’s fantasy sequences continue to be a source of delight, managing to convey Jane’s inner turmoil in often unexpected fashion, whether it’s by an impromptu choir or the appearance of a glowing halo. The typed exposition has similarly been fun to see, managing to successfully have fun with a necessary part of the show, while also allowing for another outlet for the show’s humour. The narrator is also a potential weakness that the series has turned into a strength, as his personal interjections into the story have brought levity to the proceedings. Gina Rodriguez similarly remains a key strength of the series, as she has managed to successfully sell the fantasy sequences while conveying heartfelt emotion when the show has called for it. The way the show has handled Jane’s pregnancy has been a breath of fresh air, particularly in how it has not minimised her actions or thoughts as the ravings of someone suffering from hormonal imbalances brought about by the pregnancy. Likewise, the weight given to Jane’s decision on what to do with the pregnancy has been wonderful to see. The thought subtitles in the conversation between Rafael and Michael in “Chapter Five” is a great example of the kind of thing this show can pull off, and how the season progresses promises to be worth a watch. It will be especially interesting to see if Carlo Rota plays a bigger part going forward, as he has proven himself an adept performer in prior roles, and is a good fit for the show’s universe.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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