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Jane the Virgin Review: “Chapter Twenty-Three”

(Episode 2.01)

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<i>Jane the Virgin</i> Review: &#8220;Chapter Twenty-Three&#8221;

Not even five minutes into the second season premiere—and forty-three minutes since her newborn baby’s kidnapping on the day of his birth—we find our virgin heroine, Jane Villanueva, breaking out of the hospital to find her son. Not only is she prepped with adult diapers, but the two men in love with her are helping her wobble out of the room. And they both know better than to argue with her about her safety. Sin Rostro and the dragonfly pin be damned, you ain’t seen a mother on a warpath like this.

To take the words straight from the Latin Lover Narrator, Anthony Mendez: “I know, O-M-G, right?!”

This could have gone too far. There could have been too much of a campy twist that sent the premiere way out of the stratosphere, due to the dreaded fear of a “sophomore slump.” The telenovela tropes could have outweighed the actors’ performances, or they could have taken things too far, and dragged out Baby Mateo’s kidnapping. Instead, mother and son were united before the first commercial break, in a scene moving seamlessly between the emotional and the humorous. Did anyone else tear when the Latin Lover Narrator foreshadowed Mateo’s future as a sixteen-year-old breaking his curfew? Just me?

It’s this balance that makes Jane the Virgin a favorite among critics and fans, alike. Gina Rodriguez, the star of the show, is a gem—there was never a moment where we didn’t believe in her performance as a first-time mother facing her worst fears: a missing baby, “broken” maternal instincts, and not being able to nurse Mateo. This trifecta of problems keeps her on her toes (literally, the way she runs to hold the baby is more of a hobble), and despite lack of sleep, she’s able to pull it together and solve the issues at hand. Jane still has to face the romantic entanglement she’s involved in, but that is all pushed aside as a village of intense characters rally around Mateo.

And while the two men, Rafael and Michael, are nothing to sneeze at, we’re able to push them aside for a moment to focus on the more interesting trifecta—the Villanueva women. Alba, or Abuela, is the grandmother and religious matriarch who has a soft spot for telenovelas. Xiomara, or Xo, is her daughter, the wild-child singer and there’s Jane, the granddaughter and daughter. The love they have for each other trumps any differences they have. Last night’s episode featured one of TV’s greatest moments when an emotional Jane asked Xo, “When he opens his mouth, will you stuff my boob in it like a hamburger?” The family moment between Rafael and the three women celebrating “cluster feeding” resonates deep in my bones. I get it. I feel it. I LOVE them.

But the men still play an important role in this episode. Rafael and Michael are both what the Latin Narrator calls Mensch Men, while Rogelio is still wrapping his heart and brain around those paternal waves. The men are written to be supportive of the women, because peacocking specific machismo traits will rally the Villanueva women to shut them out. Rogelio’s insecurities about being a dad and grandfather—think John Stamos’s role in Grandfathered—forces him to overcompensate on social media, but Michael reminds him that he has to think on Jane’s level—be there, be supportive. Rafael is just trying to find his spot in Mateo’s world, without pushing Jane away and Michael, who’s the most suited for fatherhood, isn’t with the love of his life—Jane. But he still finds it in his heart to give Rafael advice about reading baby books, so a mensch and Villanueva Family Advisor, he is. I’m still on the fence about who to root for—Michael or Rafael. But first and foremost, I’m #TeamJane, and even more so #TeamVillanuevaWomen.

Petra, Rafael’s ex-wife, shouldn’t be so likeable for a part-time antagonist, but she’s dealt a shitty hand. If Rafael AND Luisa didn’t try to manipulate her, would she have taken his second sperm sample? I am rooting for Petra, despite her, um, turkey basting fun times.

Stray Observations:

Latin Lover Narrator for Life. I am of the belief that this is Mateo, all grown up, but hey, who knows.

Between Mindy Kaling’s episiotomy stitches ripping two episodes ago on The Mindy Project and Jane’s wobbling/run-walk move, I’m enjoying the physical comedy of new mothers.

Brett Dier (Michael) is a damn peach this episode. The writers of the show gave him a lot to work with and I have to say, I appreciate this growth. Michael, the detective, filled with authority, as he helps other lost men around the Villanueva women. Can we give him a hug?

Ivonne Coll as Abuela is priceless. I need all the gifs of her faces this episode, especially when Xo discusses Slutty Crystal.

Rafael and Michael swimming amongst the lingerie and sex toys of Luisa’s and Sin Rostro’s past. Poor, poor Rafe. He probably found out things about his sister that he didn’t need to know.


Iris A. Barreto is a writer for Fangirlish, freelance writer for Paste and social media intern for Pink is the New Blog. Heavily caffeinated. Forever lost in Westchester, NY & NYC; all GPS apps hate her. You can follow on Twitter.

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