There's no other way to explain it. Cancer sucks.
Chapter Seventy-Eight
Credit: Michael Desmond/The CW

Every once in a while, Jane the Virgin writers craft a story that punches you straight in the gut. They all can’t be wacky antics of the Villanueva clan, right? Sometimes you have to get real and the real takes you to a very depressing place.

Don’t get me started on Michael. I’m still processing my emotions. It may take some time before I can talk about it.

Which brings me to our current reality check. Xo has been diagnosed with breast cancer and like most families, everyone involved is hesitant to share their true feelings. No one wants to talk about the fact that this is stage 3 cancer and Alba’s magic potion with special healing powers (read: Vick’s VapoRub) can’t help in this particular circumstance.

As the doctor discusses surgery and all of Xo’s options, Jane takes meticulous notes. Before diving deep into cancer research, Jane asks Rafael to break the news to Petra for her. When Rafael heads over to the hotel, he overhears Petra practicing a phone call in front of the mirror. She babbles on about how Oprah wants us to tell the truth and her unexpected, strong, romantic feelings. For Jane. Rafael has no idea Petra is talking about “JR” Jane.

When she enters the room, Petra senses something weird is up with Rafael. She quickly dismisses the intuition when Rafael shares that Xo has breast cancer. Petra is genuinely concerned and Rafael decides it’s time to mark his territory by reminding Petra that he is dating Jane romantically. Petra gives him a “duh” look and he asks Petra to give Jane some space.

Rogelio encourages Jane to give Xo some space as well. Perhaps she shouldn’t bombard her mom with color-coded spreadsheets and lists. Jane agrees, but all bets are off when, of all days, Alba serves chicken breasts for dinner. Xo demands they stop tiptoeing around the issue. It’s time to take a vote. What should she do?

Rogelio, Alba, and Jane all concur that preventative surgery is the answer. A double mastectomy is the safest solution for ensuring the highest likelihood that the cancer won’t come back. Everyone on Team Xo heads to the doctor’s office and our patient begins to waiver when the doctor walks her through all of the different boob options. There is a lot to consider, like size, shape, feel, stretch expanders, management of pain.

When the phrase “reconstruct your nipples” escapes the doctor’s mouth, Xo calls for a time out. She just needs to think. Jane suggests a spa day and Rogelio looks sad that he can’t tag along. But he offers to help Alba pick up all the materials for Xo’s post-surgery needs.

Back at the house, Jane tells Rafael that Petra is coming over any minute. Before he can warn Jane about the impending flirt sesh, Petra bursts through the door with a pan full of borscht. She chatters on about the power of Czech comfort food, but all Rafael can see is his current squeeze and former squeeze squeezing each other.

While Petra takes the dish to the kitchen, Rafael lets the cat out of the bag. Jane rolls her eyes and flat out asks Petra if she has feelings for her, which is countered by an emphatic, “EW! No!”

Rafael challenges an annoyed Petra by admitting he heard her practice her coming out speech, as Jane lists all the reasons why Petra’s response to her question is a little too severe. Jane is a catch! Petra interrupts both rants, confessing she has feelings for Jane the Lawyer, not Jane the No Longer Virgin. Rafael and Jane give her props because JR is smokin’ hot in their eyes. You go, Rosario Dawson.

The problem is that Petra has no idea how to communicate with JR. So she trusts the one person who traditionally knows how to handle women. That would be her baby daddy Rafael. Players gotta play.

One 45-minute insecure rant later, Rafael jumps in to tell Petra that all she has to do is woo her. Think: What would Rafael do? Petra responds with a private dinner at the Marbella, complete with long-stemmed red roses. She proudly professes to JR that she likes her and wants to prove it with seduction techniques. It’s a hard pass from JR, who rudely leaves Petra in the middle of a romantic setting so she can go on another date.

What does Petra do? She follows JR, of course. And she crashes her car into another car in front of the very restaurant where JR is meeting the other woman, of course. Petra flies off the handle, irritated at herself for being so needy and wishy-washy. She’s been kidnapped twice, for heaven’s sake. Petra isn’t the pursuer. She’s the one who is pursued. She leaves a bewildered JR in the middle of the street with her bumper dragging on the asphalt.

As it turns out, JR likes vulnerable Petra and shows up at her door later. JR prefers Petra in yoga pants with a messy bun, reeking of pickles. Did anyone else get an Anezka vibe? I’m not saying Petra’s sister is miraculously alive now (although I wouldn’t put it past this show,) but vulnerable, wide-eyed Petra is basically Anezka. Am I right? (Recap continued on next page)

Across town at the medical supply store, Rogelio tries to get Alba to open up about Xo’s diagnosis. He’s met with a bunch of pent-up anger. And while Jane tries to get Xo to forget about her diagnosids, she laughs as the spa locker room fills up with a bunch of naked women. It was like a boob parade. This does not happen in real life. I feel it’s my duty to report this fact.

Xo and Jane try to relax in a mud bath, but as the spa lady encourages everyone to accept and respect their bodies as vessels of living memories, Xo peaces out. Marching back into the topless locker room, Xo declares she wants a lumpectomy. Jane retorts with a list of reasons this is a bad idea. Her mom remains firm. She doesn’t want to have elective surgery for her daughter’s peace of mind. Jane understands and takes to her computer to get all of her feelings out.

Speaking of peace of mind, Rogelio decides to trick Alba into seeing a therapist. He positions Marisol as a “friend” who came over to eat lunch. Alba isn’t buying it. Especially when Marisol uses “it’s important to express your feelings” as idle chitchat. Alba lays into Rogelio. She’s not mad at everyone else. She’s mad at him. He ditches people when the going gets tough. Will he ditch Xo, too? Someone get the VapoRub for Rogelio’s heart.

Later that day, Alba answers the door to sign for a huge gift basket for Xo from River Fields. The staff guy knows all about Xo’s diagnosis and mentions that everyone is wishing Xo well. He also mentions that production for the new show has been pushed indefinitely so Rogelio can be with his wife.

Alba apologizes to Rogelio for her behavior. And in true Rogelio form, he gives her complete permission to treat him like a punching bag whenever she needs. A strong, sturdy, handsome punching bag. I love vulnerable Rogelio!

During Ro and Alba’s reunion, Xo and Rafael have a sweet moment of their own. We all forget that Rafael had cancer back in the day. His words of empathy, because he’s been there, seem to hit Xo squarely in the chest. His advice? Clear the noise. Make room for your own feelings.

Processing is hard work. Especially when you’re a little kid who doesn’t understand cancer. Poor Mateo thinks that praying really hard will help Xo not have cancer. It’s up to Rafael to explain that’s not how it works. Praying does give us strength to get through the hard times and if praying makes Mateo feel strong, he should keep doing it. So the little boy invites his father to kneel beside him. Jane melts. I melt. Rafael is really showing up this episode. So much good advice! Also, cancer sucks.

Jane returns to her room to continue writing about her mom. We are treated to a sweet Xo montage, showcasing her fierce, confident, and sexy attitude. Then Xo talks to the one person who matters. No, it’s not Jane. Or her mother. It’s Rogelio.

Xo explains that her entire life she’s leaned on Jane, but things are different. In this case, she needs to lean on her husband because this decision affects his life as well. She reminds him that she’s been a single mother for a long time and she found her identity in leading with her body. That’s how she attracted men. Now, because of Rogelio, and because she’s a wife, that no longer defines her. Rogelio smiles and assures her that sexiness is a state of mind. Andrea Navedo and Jaime Camil nail the scene. They hug. I cry. It’s all good.

As partners, Xo and Ro announce to the family that she will get a single mastectomy. This time, everyone supports her decision and even agree to the Goodbye to the Left Boob Party, or Bon Boob-yage if you will. Rogelio bids “Lefty” adieu and thanks the boob for adorning the chest of a magnificent woman. He may love the boob, but he loves Xo more.

The three generations of Villanueva women sit on the swing and contemplate the next day’s surgery. Our narrator transitions the scene to a man walking down the street with the foreboding, “You can’t stop evil from coming.” Great. Can we VapoRub this guy out of the picture?

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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