Ah, the holidays: a time when eggnog flows freely and tempers run hot, making for a combustible combination that’s inspired many a prime-time drama. That was the case on Jane the Virgin, which saw our heroine struggle to keep her temper in check when faced with a double-dealing baby daddy and grad-school tuition payments. But really, can you blame her?
The night kicked off when a sweet flashback featuring 6-year-old Jane, who threw a temper tantrum when she found out Xo stole chocolates from her Advent calendar. (Something similar happened to me as a kid, so I’ll just say it here: I get where she’s coming from.) After some one-on-one time with Alba, Jane learns an anger management technique: C-A-L-M, an acronym for things — Cheese, Abuela, Lists, and Monkey — that help keep her temper in check. Fast forward two decades or so, and we find that Jane still uses that technique. (Only she’s substituted Michael for her stuffed pet monkey.) Try as she might however, Jane is P-I-S-S-E-D that Rafael paid someone to turn Michael in and isn’t in the mood to deal with her baby daddy when he drops by the outdoor mall, where she’s in line with Mateo to see Santa. It’s a picture-perfect scene: Santa looks cheery, Mateo is adorable in a little elf suit, and the Miami sun is shining — but before you can say “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!” Jane has engaged Rafael in a standoff AND given Santa a piece of her mind when he dares interrupt said fight.
That scene sets the tone for much of Jane’s interactions with Rafael during the episode, which sees her cut off Rafael from their shared calendar, only to have Rafael retaliate by asking to have Mateo for Christmas. This really sets Jane’s ears a-burning, and before you know it, there’s talk of a custody battle. However, Xo — who becomes the real voice of reason this episode by making sure Rogelio stays on budget and counseling Jane in matters of the heart — advises her to slow things down and try therapy. There, at a doctor’s office that’s received decent reviews on Yelp and the only place that they could find on such short notice — Jane and Rafael experience a breakthrough of sorts. The real problem is they’ve unconsciously perfected the art of acting on the other’s triggers — in Rafael’s case, desertion issues, and in Jane’s, matters of money and trust — which has helped escalate the true nature of their issues. Why does everything always make so much sense when a couple is seated on the therapist’s couch?
Although Jane ends up seeing the light when it comes to Rafael, she’s absolutely livid at the idea that somehow her scholarship check didn’t go through, leaving her future next semester in limbo. How’s a girl supposed to cough up $15K on a moment’s notice? Problem is, Jane never had a free ride — the money came from Rogelio, who created a fake scholarship in order to pay for Jane’s tuition. Broke Rogelio = no tuition check. One of the fastest ways to earn some cash is through a writing contest, and Professor Chavez (oh heyyy, Adam Rodriguez!) is happy to coach Jane through the process. And it seems like she’ll need all the help she can get because the contest is only accepting submissions in the historical fiction, thriller, and sci-fi categories. But Jane’s a romance writer — can she successfully dip her toes outside her favorite genre?
It turns out that she can since her life is providing plenty of fodder for drama that she’d ordinarily have a hard time coming up with. Case in point? When the Villanueva family finds that its Christmas tree topper (which Xo admits to having broken right around the time of Mateo’s christening) has gone missing, Jane is able to spins it off into a period-driven piece about her grandfather Mateo, who started the tradition of placing the angel ornament on their tree.
Sometimes, though, real life is better than the stuff of fiction — or at least, that’s the case on Jane the Virgin, when Michael sets out to find Luisa’s mother. He and Detective Barnett employ Luisa’s help in scoping out the mental institution where they suspect she’s hiding, only to find that Mutter swapped identities with a mute woman. Luisa’s funny flirtation with Detective Barnett aside, there’s something really troubling about the way that Mutter deserted her family for a life of crime and danger. Is Luisa really to blame for falling in love with a psychopath (Rose), when all she knows is conflict and dysfunction? Sigh.
NEXT: Paging Dr. Phil…