In the final moments of this week’s episode of “Jane the Virgin,” Alba (Ivonne Coll) curses Rafael’s (Justin Baldoni) new romance before the blush even fully formed.

Not literally of course — Alba isn’t usually that cruel — but she’s now warned Jane (Gina Rodriguez) several times to be wary of long-lost cousin Catalina (Sofia Pernas), just as Rafael’s falling hard for the leggy sophisticate. Cousin Catalina shares his background and cultural capital, and lives in his world, so Jane’s feeling a little bit like a bumpkin, understandably — but it’s not Jane’s feelings we need to worry about. It’s Rafael’s.

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Alba suspects Catalina is manipulative, just like Alba’s sister… Well, duh. Of course she is — Rafael’s into her, so she’s got to be at least 75% evil genius. Even if Jane isn’t entirely a fluke based on dad hormones and aspirational morals, she’s also probably not the perfect woman for him. There’s a reason he tried going back to Petra (Yael Grobglas).

Still, Rafael falling for a manipulative woman who loves him less than he deserves (and sometimes more than he can handle) is something we’ve already seen him do. Hasn’t he grown and matured and figured out what kind of man he wants to be? Isn’t he smarter than this? When will Rafael stop trying to make his awful Mutter love him, from beyond the grave?

The key is this: There’s another lady that’s a fixture in Rafael’s love geometry, and that lady’s name is “Marbella.”

The hotel is the true love of Rafael’s life, his lover and his legacy, and he’s won her and lost her a thousand times. As it stands now, he’s got her back, but just barely — and he had to team up with vest-wearing Scott (Wes Armstrong) to make it happen — Scott, who in turn admits he’s only in on it for the favor Rafael will owe him, of course. The hotel is the subject of desire and wooing more than any one person on the show, and her fate is quickly becoming one of its core questions: Can Rafael keep her? How dirty will he have to get?

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Rafael’s in new territory, now that he doesn’t feel like he has to prove himself to Jane. But he may still have something to prove to himself — and there’s no mistress for whom he’s quite so willing to roll around in the muck than his Marbella… Even while Catalina, whom the show seems to be positioning as what would happen if you put Jane and Petra in a blender and hit “pulse” a couple times — is working her way into Rafael’s heart.

If Alba’s suspicion about Catalina is correct, then Rafael better pray his new lady love doesn’t make friends with Petra or Scott. Either one could put the Marbella, Rafael’s real true love, in peril once again.

“Jane the Virgin” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.

Posted by:Karen Hopper Usher

Karen Hopper Usher is a writer, reporter, podcaster, grad student, puppy owner, wife and a few other things.