Ah, love. All-consuming, passionate love has inspired art since the beginning of time. (Archeologists have yet to find heart-shaped cave scribblings, but I’m sure that will happen any day now.) My point is, the pursuit of love is often depicted, but the act—the real, hard work—of it, less so. The latter provided plenty of fodder for “Chapter 17,” as we saw plots unfold that were inspired by the drama, challenges, and frustrations that bubble up to the surface only after you’ve found that special person.
It all seems so abstract and impossible (how could a made-for-TV character find herself less than perfectly in love?) until it played out in a scenario that is probably familiar to many new parents: right in the baby aisle in Target. As Jane cruised the aisles debating pacifiers, she called up someone for advice. Not abuelita, not her mom, but Rafael, who’s skipped the registry session in favor of some time in the office as he plans a spring break bash at the Marbella. “I’m good with everything you pick,” he says. And though Jane has brought her BFF with her for moral support, it’s clear that Jane will need much more than Rafael’s good intentions as she begins to navigate the world of breastfeeding, baby wraps, and sleep schedules. That becomes even clearer when Jane—on the suggestion of a mom she became fast friends with while shopping for baby products at Target—attends a lactation session with Xo in tow. Despite Xo’s warning to not panic—after all, we learn, Xo didn’t exactly rear Jane by the book—Jane later goes down the Internet rabbit hole, where acronyms like DD, SAHM, and CIO on the Milky Madres forum (a clever play on the Leche League by Jane writers) whips her into a panic.
It’s then that Jane’s daughter arrives. Jane doesn’t actually go into labor—my guess is creator Jennie Snyder Urman is saving that for the finale—but a cute six-year-old appears, a figment of Jane’s wild imagination, which serves as a hint to come. But the little girl is less a dream and more a nightmare, and throws a hairbrush at Jane as she says, “You’re a terrible mom. I hate you.” Is this what motherhood is? Confusing choices about childcare that make you run the risk of ruining your relationship with your kids?
If Alba and Xo’s relationship is any indication, than it is. The pair haven’t spoken since Xo moved into a McMansion with Rogelio and they’re each smarting over the split. (Though they’re too stubborn to admit it.) Neither of them wants to move on and it’s worth noting that while Xo has drifted apart from her mother, Rogelio’s getting cozy in another relationship. That’s right—his friendship with Michael has bloomed into a full-blown bromance, which Jane says isn’t healthy. “He needs to move on,” she tells Rogelio. “I’ll talk to him later,” replies Rogelio. “When we get mani-pedis.”
Over foot rubs, Rogelio talks to Michael—but not about distancing himself from the family. Instead, he invites Michael to accompany him and Xo to Rafael’s big blowout at the Marbella so as to meet someone new. After all, though he’s a proud member of #TeamMichael, Rogelio is firmly #TeamJane. “Move on,” he tells Michael.
Jane’s also doing her best to move on after freaking out about her future with a baby and decides to help her writing club friend Andie (Rachel DiPillo) babysit. These two have become fast friends, and while Andi has waxed poetic about her ex, Jane has never once thought about the possibility that she and Andie may share more than a love for fruit salads, signs, and romance novels. So why wouldn’t she offer to babysit while Andie tries to hammer away at her novel? And in that vein, why wouldn’t Jane encourage her to text her ex? (“Hey!”)
I don’t know about you, but I got some second-hand stress watching Jane take care of baby Luna. OMG! Everything started off well when the baby was sleeping, but when the baby woke up in a soggy diaper, all hell broke lose. Jane was in near meltdown mode when Xo walked in and suggested she swaddle the baby, which helped put an end to Luna’s tears. It was a victory that Jane would have loved to share with Rafael, but he was too busy dealing with the party—first with the matter of securing appropriate permits and than at the party itself—to dive into the perils and triumphs of parenting with Jane.
Back to what’s become my favorite relationship in the series: Michael and Rogelio, who have dived a bit deeper with their bromance as Rogelio confides in Michael about some trouble he’s had with Xo. All’s sunny in paradise, but as they prepared to go to the party, they entered into a tiff. See, Xo was baiting Rogelio about love. What does Rogelio love? He loves hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, mirrors and hair-blowing fans—and has no idea that he’s being prodded to say three little words. Once he’s given the full rundown on the situation, Michael correctly guesses that Xo really just wants to be told “I love you.” It brings him back to when he first told Jane those words, which prompts him to open his heart up to Rogelio. He still loves Jane and thinks his love is the sort that will outlast anything that she and Rafael have created.
“That’s why I haven’t moved on,” he tells Rogelio. “I think she’s going to wake up and realize he’s wrong for her.”
“I think they will last, Michael,” Rogelio replies. “And I think you need to #moveon.”
It turns out that for Michael, moving on might be pretty easy—it’s just a matter of responding to Andie’s text. Are these two going to rekindle their romance?
On the subject of romance, Rafael’s totally not in the mood after the police appear at the Marbella and revoke the hotel’s liquor license as punishment for holding such a massive party without the appropriate permits. Rafael’s fuming and tells Jane that he really doesn’t need “any judgment right now.” He’s defensive, angry and after downing a few drinks, decides to tell Jane what he feels about having seen Michael at the party.
“He should have nothing to do with our lives, but here he is at my party with your father. He’s trying to get you back, Jane. And you’re too naive to realize it.”
Jane’s not having it: “I’m not naive, but you’re drunk, and I don’t want to be here anymore.” Though these two end up making up the next morning after—thanks in part to a reappearance by Jane’s future daughter, who tells her that children of parents who argue don’t thrive—one can’t help but feel that their reconciliation acts as a Band-Aid to some fairly substantial issues. Rafael is tempestuous and reckless, while Jane makes it far too easy for Rafael to act first and apologize later. For these two, the words “I love you” acts as a reassurance of their picture-perfect beginning, and less of a promise of action to take.
NEXT: Rogelio reveals something surprising[pagebreak]
Meanwhile, Rogelio and Xo are experiencing some growing pains of their own—and this is after he apologies for their tiff the night before.
“I just got it in my head I wanted you to say it first,” Xo tells Rogelio. “But what the hell. I do, I love you.”
“And I, am getting there with you as well.”
Um, what? It turns out that Rogelio has only exchanged those words with his two ex-wives and his mother. “If I’m honest, there’s one thing holding me back—the animosity that exists between you and my mother. Her approval means a lot.”
If there’s one thing that we can all learn from Jane, it’s that there’s different types of love and sometimes the hardest to navigate is the one between women. Jane, Alba, and Xo all love each other dearly, but their love is made even more difficult by their familial bond. Even so, the porch acts as a place where they all reunite and make up, which they proceed to do. Men might come and go—and may even refuse to pick out pacifiers and say “I love you”—but the women in this family may need one another more than they do any other sort of love.
What makes Jane such an engaging show is how each week, writers draw back layers of each character so as to reveal new, surprising elements that lend themselves to curiously dramatic storylines. Case in point: Aaron and Petra got close during this episode and though Petra was giving off signals that she was interested in Aaron—“Are you a strict practitioner in all areas?” she asks of his adherence to Jainism—she leans in a bit with the backbone she’s developed since breaking up with Rafael, and in the process, learns something surprising. “I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but I do know that’s not Aaron,” she tells Rafael at the episode’s end. “It’s Roman.” Wait, what???
Elsewhere in “Chapter 17”:
- Jane’s complaints about Xo to Alba regarding their difference of opinion made Alba realize that she and her daughter may have more in common than she thought. Is this the beginning of a new stage in their relationship? Might be about time!
- The way Rafael handled the party at the Marbella deserves some special attention. Instead of focusing on a way to work with local authorities to obtain the license when it seemed it wouldn’t come through in time, Rafael decided that he’d rather proceed with the event. “We’ll keep a low profile,” he told Petra. “Crowd control, no bonfires… we’re too far down to back down.” Now, faced with a huge fine and a revoked liquor license, it seems more obvious than ever that Rafael is reckless—and that it usually leads to major consequences. Will he ever learn from his mistakes?
- While we’re on the topic of Rafael… he’s always been quick to say “I love you” to Jane. It seems that unlike Michael, or even Rogelio, Rafael hasn’t really taken the time to understand the meaning of those three words. See, love is more than just a sweet, heady rush of butterflies—as “Chapter 17” proved, it’s about commitment and work of putting emotion into action. That being the case, is Rafael really committed to Jane?
- Rogelio’s mother will play a big part of next week’s episode when she visits. Rogelio has made it clear to Xo that it’s important that she and his madre get along—something they’ve never managed to do in the past. Is it worth it for Xo to put the past behind her in order to forge a future for her and Rogelio?
- While on the porch swing, Jane reveals something serious. “What if I don’t like it? Being a mom… All of it? What if I can’t handle it?” The series isn’t afraid of embracing a bit of controversy now and then, and Jane’s confession certainly speaks to a certain unspoken reality: that many women are scared and even totally uncertain about their aptitude for parenting. And that, as we saw from Alba’s assurance, is totally okay.
- Fantasy has always been Jane’s way of indulging in the rosy, idealized version of life: We’ve seen her fairy tale dance sequences, comedic sequences, and romance novel love scenes happen because of it. But this week, her dreams took a darker tone—in the form of a 6-year-old daughter—proving that sometimes fantasy can hint at a complicated reality.
Total sex scenes this episode: 4 (Petra and Aaron’s steamy makeout sess; Xo and Rogelio’s practically devouring each other’s faces; Jane and Rafael’s kisses before she blows him off in favor of baby prep talk and a sweet flash back to Michael and Jane’s relationship when he first said “I love you.”)
Jane fans, have we seen the extent of Andie’s scheming? Do you think she and Michael will get back together? What about Roman—is he really posing as his own twin? Why? And he is somehow connected to Sin Rostro? So many questions—and a whole week till we get some answers!