Life is all about adjusting your perspective and attitude. It’s an exercise in choosing to believe the glass is either half full or half empty, and Jane is going to straddle that line for as long as she can.
There are many bumps in the road for all members of the Villanueva family. For starters, Jane and Rafael can’t afford a place together unless big steps are taken to save money. Jane asks for extra shifts at the Marbella. Rafael ditches his gym membership and uses heavy boxes as weights. He even starts (gasp!) riding the bus.
After weeks of cutting back here and there, finally, they can see the results. As an incentive to keep living on a budget, Rafael takes Jane to a spacious apartment that will (fingers crossed) soon be theirs. Jane daydreams about her family eating breakfast and leaving for work. This imaginary moment fills her glass, metaphorically, with hope and a sense of pride that she and Raf can make it work.
That’s not the case for Rogelio and River. There’s trouble in paradise with the script. The American producers completely side with River, agreeing to downplay many of the classic telenovela tropes. River says the drama is cheesy. That’s when the vein in Rogelio’s head almost pops.
He mulls it over and realizes that his opinion is extremely important because he is an expert at telenovelas. It’s supposed to be cheesy. It’s supposed to be dramatic. That’s what romance is all about! By the way, Rogelio owns the rights to the show and if River doesn’t respect his vision, he’s going to take his vision elsewhere. River concedes. Point Rogelio.
Meanwhile, as Jane and Rafael scour a flea market, Raf casually mentions that Chase, the guy who cut him out of the real estate deal, wants to cut him back in. Jane weighs the pros and cons. I imagine she was just about to pull some grid paper from her purse when she hears a very loud crash.
There’s Mateo — standing in front of the remnants of a very old clock. “You break it, you buy it” is a real thing in the world of retail. Unfortunately, this particular clock must have come over on the Mayflower because it costs four thousand dollars. Cue the perspective change.
Jane and Rafael are forced to move back in with Alba so they can pay off the clock. Someone needs to go frame a white flower so Alba can hang it over Jane’s bed. My point? No one is having sex under Alba’s roof. Jane completely ignores the rule and Alba walks in during horizontal playtime. Once everyone is fully clothed again and Jane is back from apologizing to Alba, Rafael delivers the best line of the night: “So what went down after your grandmother saw my junk?”
That was a small hiccup, sure, but Jane insists they keep their eyes on the prize. She is in a writing zone and is excited about her next book. Rafael is eager to move forward with Chase and even though he’s a total d-bag, Raf can press on for three months before payday.
He eagerly takes Jane to the property and asks her to ignore the trash and graffiti. Then Rafael’s dream starts popping up all around him. He takes Jane on a virtual journey of what he hopes the hotel will represent. It’s a pretty cool perspective.
Poor Xo is at her first chemo treatment wearing a cold cap. Although the annoying head accessory is extremely painful, the purpose is to keep cancer patients from losing their hair. Xo meets a fellow cold cap buddy named Donna.
In just seconds, Donna endears herself to Xo simply by understanding what it means to have cancer. They discuss implants and hot flashes. Donna suggests Xo try pot brownies for the pain, and encourages her to stay positive. Cross the finish line strong. Keep the faith.
Back at Alba’s house, all hell breaks loose when Alba spanks Mateo for reaching for the hot stove. Rafael barks at Alba that they are not a hitting family. Alba spouts, “My house, my rules.” Rafael refuses to stay under her roof and marches out the door.
This puts Jane in an extremely awkward position. As Jane power walks with her mother, Xo encourages Jane to give it some time. Suddenly, the scene morphs into another day nine weeks later. Jane and Xo are strolling down the same street. The side effects of chemo are evident as Xo ignores the mythical finish line and tries her hardest to reach the tangible bench just ahead.
Jane sits by her mom and fills her in (and us) on what’s happened over the past couple of months. The hotel is a month from breaking ground, which means there is still another 30 days before Rafael receives a paycheck. They have saved enough money to pay off the clock, but since they aren’t living together, they are like two ships passing in the night.
The good news? Jane is cranking out her book. Xo is excited for her, but doesn’t want to read the book while suffering from chemo brain. Cut to Xo shivering with her cold cap as Rogelio tries to distract her with tales of River Fields.
A nurse checks on Xo, and is encouraged by her great attitude. Xo casually wonders out loud where Donna is and the nurse’s face drops: “There was an unexpected recurrence. She had some complications. Donna passed away three days ago.” The nurse explains that it was sudden. Things progressed quickly. But Donna knew and asked the nurse to give Xo a card and her pot brownies. Donna wants Xo to keep fighting. For both of them. TEARS EVERYWHERE.
Jumping from that heart-wrenching moment to Petra preparing JR to meet her mother was a bit of a pendulum swing. Magda equals hook-eye hatred. The end. This storyline is lacking, in my opinion, especially when compared to Xo’s heartbreak or Rogelio’s drama. Additionally, I think JR is sort of boring.
Magna swears that she saw Petra the night Anezka was killed. She witnessed Petra charge Anezka, break her heel in the process, and fling her sister across the balcony. The broken heel gives JR pause. No one ever mentioned it in any deposition before, but there is an unexplained nick in the floor right where Magda said the scuffle occurred.
Petra is livid. Her mother got in JR’s head and JR now doubts Petra. Petra storms into her closet, hands JR the shoes she was wearing, and demands that she leave immediately. Trust is a big deal and Petra refuses to let her guard down anymore.
I’d like to say, “So long, JR,” but it looks like she’s here to stay. In fact, she’s a hero. JR told the DA that she had been blackmailed. As a result, the case was dismissed. Oh, and she was disbarred. All for Petra. They celebrate with a passionate embrace.
Rogelio’s day isn’t going as well as Petra’s. When he questions the set changes and the costume adjustments, everyone around him has the same answer: River approved it. Once again, he marches into her dressing room to remind her that he owns the rights to the show. Not so fast, Ro. River went behind your back and now she owns the underlying rights to the short story the telenovela is based on.
Well played, River.
Rogelio paces back and forth, trying to decide how he will get revenge on his arch nemesis, when Alba calls. No one knows where Xo has gone. Rogelio finds her at the diner she and Donna used to visit after chemo. Xo spills out every emotion she’s been bottling up inside for the last few months. She’s tired of being positive for the family. She doesn’t want to wear the stupid cold cap. And she’s afraid that her cancer will come back just like Donna’s did.
Andrea Navedo’s raw vulnerability as Xo is exquisite, while Jaime Camil’s (Rogelio) quiet tears are the perfect blend of sadness and admiration. The scene is moving, yet all I keep thinking is, “Where’s Jane during all of this turmoil?”
Well, Jane is with Alba who is breaking down herself in the kitchen. Alba gets fired up when Rafael is mentioned and the anger transitions as she chokes back sobs, “It’s my house. I don’t have control.”
A lightbulb goes off in Jane’s head. This isn’t about Rafael. This is about Xo and Alba’s fear that her daughter will die before her. Poor Alba.
Later, Rafael comes over and everyone forgives everyone. Rafael delivers some bad news to Jane as they sit on the porch swing. The hotel is taking longer than expected. It’s going to be another six months. Jane puts on a brave face and encourages Rafael to hang in there. All he has to do is keep perspective and remember his dream. Then she picks up her computer and types away.
Rafael notices Jane’s passion and he makes a decision. He takes the real estate job with a timeshare guy because it has a good salary and health benefits. He wants that apartment for Jane. And he’s ready to step back so they can bet on her dream. Awww.
Back at Xo’s house, our patient is shocked to see River Fields bust through her door on a rampage looking for Rogelio. Guess who leaked a blind item to the press about River being a diva?
Well played, Rogelio.
River is stressed and how does she cope with her stress? She pounds junk food like any other emotional eater. She grabs a brownie and stuffs it in her mouth, cursing Rogelio the entire time. Xo begins to laugh and invites River to sit down to watch her first telenovela. Someone is about to be as high as a kite because that was a pot brownie.
Rogelio barges in to find his wife and River entranced by what is unfolding on the television. This should be fun.
Our narrator takes us back and forth between Xo and River watching a telenovela and Rafael’s sentimental gesture. Apparently, River turns into a valley girl when she’s baked. Through her awkward “OMG” and “that’s hella romantic” interjections, she totally drinks the telenovela Kool-Aid and becomes a fan. She wants to move forward with Rafael’s original script. Hooray!
Rogelio instructs River to pay attention because the last moments of a telenovela are often a cliffhanger. Notice the scary music. River leans in and the scene switches to Rafael receiving a phone call from jailbird Rose. She has news that is going to change his life forever.