Family ties are tested, and Rafael gets the shock of a lifetime
Credit: Eddy Chen/The CW

True to Jane the Virgin’s Latin ties, family was the primary focus this episode. Nearly every character found their family ties tested in surprising — and in one instance, absolutely shocking — ways, making for a night whose ending was one of the most satisfying of the season.

Now, Jane isn’t a series that shies away from current issues — among them political advocacy, women’s rights and immigration reform — but “Chapter 31” introduced a gay character in a way that pushed the series further than ever. The setup? Rogelio’s mother, the gorgeous, fabulous glam-ma, Liliana De La Vega (Rita Moreno), has arrived on a visit to the family but sans Abuelo. She’s made up a story to explain his absence to Rogelio, but Jane isn’t quite buying it, and when she presses glam-ma for the truth, it’s comes in the form of some surprising news: Her grandfather has left Liliana for a man, effectively ending their marriage of 47 years.

Jane is sworn to secrecy, but under the duress of sleep deprivation, she spills the news to Xo. We have to give the girl a break here: anyone would crack on 3-4 hours of sleep, especially with the added burden of a crying baby. I mean, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. One thing leads to another, and Abuela finds out, and in a surprising move, she’s actually the one who takes the news most calmly. Now, you might expect a woman of her age to be well, a bit backward, but Abuela takes the matter in stride — in fact, she’s happy he’s “found his authentic life.” Let’s take a moment and give it up to grandma!

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As for Rogelio — well, he’s upset and not for the reasons you might expect. (Jane & Co had to set the record straight after he brought up a misconstrued theory that his dad was dying.)

“Gay? But that’s impossible!” he notes, despite the fact that he mentioned his dad’s bucket list includes seeing Bette Middler in concert and Wicked on Broadway. “Surely there would have been some sign?”

His disappointment stems from the fact that he believed his parent’s marriage was rock-solid — and now it’s not. Things get even screwier when Rogelio’s dad shows up in a later scene and reveals that glam-ma was more than happy to abide by an “arrangement” for the duration of their 47-year marriage. Wait, what??? She knew???

NEXT: #MomLife

The nature of tested family ties was present throughout the night as Jane struggled with sleep training. Ever the modern mom, Jane was determined to give every method containing the word “gentle” a try — meaning no abandoning Mateo to self-soothe. In this, however, Abuela was old school, constantly urging Jane to “toughen up.” It wasn’t until the very end of the episode and a few fantasy-basketball scenes later — where sports commentator John Salley was narrating Jane’s sleep training struggles — that Jane finally reconciled herself to the fact that being a tough mom might allow her to be the best mom she can to Mateo. And guess what? It worked. (And oh, that tough-gal mentality also came in handy when Jane decided to toughen up during her gig as a teaching assistant, standing firm when a rebellious basketball player didn’t want to turn in his English paper on time.)

This small victory was somewhat short-lived, though, when Jane realizes that her and Michael’s romantic relationship is over for good. Now, it pains me to admit that — really, it does — but even I have to recognize that its #dunzo. Why, you ask? Well, Michael has a new girlfriend — something Xo discovers while seeing Michael and a mystery girl interact in line at the cubano sandwich truck and reports back to Jane. One mistaken Facebook friend request later, and Michael shows up on Jane’s doorstep.

“I’m finally happy again,” Michael tells Jane. “And I want you to be happy, too. I want you to be happy.” This might have been difficult to swallow, but it’s exactly what Jane needed to move on.

Notice please that I haven’t yet brought up Rafael. That’s because while Jane was dealing with news of a gay grandpa, a baby who refuses to be sleep trained, relationship drama, and the trials and tribulations of being a new TA, Rafael was spending time with a very pregnant Petra, who was majorly stressing about the possibility of having to take the fall for Ivan’s murder. You see, her dear momma Magda had framed her — and with no way out, it seemed like Petra would be heading straight to J-A-I-L. It’s worth paying special attention to the fact that during his scenes with Petra, Rafael was caring, sweet and extremely patient in a way that we haven’t seen from him in a long time. Is it strictly because Petra is carrying his children? Or could it be something more? Whatever it is, it’s led him to cook a delicious-looking steak for his baby mama, which makes Petra realize that her mother tampered with evidence — just the fodder she needed to turn her in to the cops. Thank goodness! I mean, I know from watching Orange Is the New Black that being preggers in prison is no fun at all. And don’t get me wrong: It was a hard decision for Petra to make, but she had to think of her babies and her duty to protect them as best she can. So it’s off to the clinker for Magda!

NEXT: Mutter’s real identity, revealed

That said, Rafael had some of his own mom issues to deal with in “Chapter 31.” After refusing to pick up his birth mother’s phone calls, he decides to give her a chance over a sit-down at the hotel. There, seated on a couch in his penthouse, Elena shares why she abandoned him. The short of it? Only 24, married to an overbearing husband with a baby she hadn’t planned for, she left out of desperation.

“But I’m here now,” she tells a sad-faced Rafael. “And I’m hoping it’s not too late.”

In the mood for forgiveness, Rafael seems accept her story, until Elena asks him to retrieve a box of her things from his closet. Rifling through the box in his room, Rafael finds a bundle of letters bound with blue silk ties. Wait… Is it… Could it be? Memories of Michael’s warning about Mutter’s signature blue silk ties come flooding back, and within seconds, Elena sticks her son with a tranquilizer. Clearly, Elena’s not the type of woman to mess around.

“Where’s the flash drive?” she demands. “The flash drive you traded for Mateo?!”

You guys: With the revelation this episode that Luisa’s mom passed away eight years ago and is cleared of any suspicion, this can mean only one thing. Rafael’s mother, Elena, is Mutter. To be continued!

Burning questions, stray observations and memorable one-liners:

  • Did anyone else swoon over the Pride and Prejudice references that were made this episode? Namely this quote, displayed as a crawl when Michael tells Jane that he’s seeing someone else: “She had never been more at a loss to make her feelings appear what they were not.” Jane Austen for the win!
  • Jane flipped the script on its signature porch scenes when glam-ma and Rogelio had a heart-to-heart moment of the sort that’s usually shared between Jane, Xo, and Abuela. Reversing the stereotype that Latin men are too macho to share their feelings? LOVE.
  • Petra’s pregnancy style was on point tonight: cutouts, sassy stripes, and more. She may not be feeling great, but girlfriend’s looking good.
  • THIS: “Ricky Martin might stop by for dessert.” —Rogelio
  • Michael’s partner Susanna dug deep tonight by revealing memories of the dad who deserted her in order to help Luisa recall memories about her own mom. The result? Although Susanna had been reluctantly flirting with Luisa in order to make progress in the case, she found herself unexpectedly attracted to her in the process. All this to prove that, yup, Luisa usually gets the girl.

So, what do you think is in store for next week? Will Rafael become unexpected collateral in his mother’s quest for power and cash? How will Jane move on after Michael’s big news? Also, can we all breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that Rita Moreno is returning in all her glory in next week’s episode? As usual, share your conspiracy theories with me on Twitter or in the comments. The plot thickens!

Episode Recaps

Jane the Virgin
A telenovela adaptation, Jane the Virgin tells the story of Jane Villanueva, a virgin who is accidentally inseminated during a routine checkup.
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