Jane the Virgin, Season 1, Episodes 7 to 13
Airs Mondays at 9 pm ET on The CW
While the premise of a show about a virgin who gets artificially inseminated could have been enough for a show to explore over a season, Jane the Virgin has refused to rest on its laurels, with the pregnancy being only one of several storylines. Even the voiceover has amusingly commented on this in the recaps, noting that “who cares? Lots of way more important stuff is going on.” The writers have managed to pull this off remarkably, building character development and plot momentum in tandem with each other while still keeping the humour in the show, resulting in a highly enjoyable set of episodes.
The show’s focus on characters continues to be a strong point. The biggest proof of that over the past few episodes has been the development of Petra. While she could have been a one-dimensional villain put in place solely to act as an obstacle to Rafael and Jane getting together, the show has instead worked on humanising her and giving her her own storyline, independent of both Rafael and Jane. The audience has had a chance to see Petra and understand her perspective, and the show is richer because of it. Not that this means the Rafael-Jane relationship has gone uncontested. In fact, the deepening of Petra’s character has allowed for the development of Rafael and Jane as well, as both have proven their resourcefulness in the face of Petra’s deceit. In addition, Xo’s opposition to the relationship has not only put a roadblock that doesn’t feel forced, it has also allowed the audience to gain a better understanding of Xo, as well as the relationship between her and Jane. While not all characters have benefitted from this strength, indications are there that this is by design, particularly when seeing the case of Emilio and Rose, both of whom are among the rarity of underdeveloped characters. The lack of attention on them, however, served to further deepen the Sin Rostro mystery, and made the reveal one that worked in the context of the story without seeming like it came out of left field. With characters such as Alba and Michael continuing to gain dimensions, it will be exciting to see how the stories develop, as how the characters react to events will be as compelling as the story turns themselves.
Which is not to say that the story turns have been lacking; instead, the development of characters and storylines have been working in tandem to push each other. While the aforementioned Sin Rostro storyline is one of the bigger examples of how the show has been effectively moving the plot along without it feeling rushed, it’s not the only one. Jane’s breakup with Michael goes a long way towards bringing the Sin Rostro investigation to the forefront, as the detective immerses himself in it first to distract himself, then prove Rafael’s guilt. Similarly, it’s Jane’s disparaging comments about Petra that cause Alba to go up to Petra’s room and subsequently be attacked, which in turn leads to Xo’s vow of chastity. With both Petra discovering her mother’s deceit, and the true identity of Sin Rostro coming to light, how the stories develop going forward will be worth keeping an eye on. In particular, it will be intriguing to see whether the stories intersect, as it’s clear that Rafael is tangled up with Sin Rostro in some form, whether it’s as an underling or an opponent. Petra is one of the few people who has experience dealing with mobsters, and Milos’ purchase of the Marbella means she’ll be sticking around, making her a potentially important figure in what’s coming, whether it’s as an ally or an enemy. The symbiotic growth between plot and characterisation has been seen even in the stories between Rogelio and Jane, as it’s the former’s desire to make up for lost time that brings the latter into the writing room of The Passions of Santos, setting up Rogelio’s exit and opening a new chapter in his life.
The series’ humour continues to be a key strength, and while the balance of humour, characterisation, and speedy plot advancement may make the show look weighty, the series has managed to maintain the lightness it displayed in the pilot. While the presence of a voiceover could have been a weakness, the writers have managed to turn it into one of the show’s secret strengths, as it has become a key source of comedy as well as a distinctive voice among the characters. Similarly, the show has managed to use on-screen text to great effect, whether it’s acting as an audience voice, or helping point out how seemingly absurd storylines aren’t all that different from real-life situations. The writers have been particularly astute in the latter regard with the character of Alba, from showing her anxiety over going to court to the issues she faces with medical care due to her undocumented status. The writers have also been deft in their exploration of how Jane’s rapidly changing circumstances are affecting things around her, whether it’s leading to a grudging acceptance of her school exploiting her pregnancy, or dealing with the changing view her friends have of her now that she’s in a relationship with Rafael. Judy Reyes was a welcome addition to the show, and hopefully Rogelio’s departure from The Passions of Santos doesn’t mark the end of Reyes’ time on Jane the Virgin as well. The concern about the baby’s genetic anomalies is a great example of the show’s ability to pull off emotionally poignant moments, and the combination of all these factors bodes highly for the final stretch of the show’s first season.
– Deepayan Sengupta