If telenovelas are missing one thing (though how could they, they’re perfect), it is adequate self-care routines for the central players. And while “Jane the Virgin” is exceptional in so very many ways, it had not, thus far, been an exception in this.
Well, the times (as the Latin Lover narrator pointed out ominously this week) are a-changing. As of 9:59 PM (ET), January 30, 2017, the telenovela-ravaged psyches of Jane (Gina Rodriguez), Michael (Brett Dier), Rafael (Justin Baldoni), and Petra (Yael Grobglas) have officially made themselves open to the benefits of self-care.
Honestly, we’re breathing a whole gust of relief. Poor Jane has always been just one spark away from anxious (accidental) self-immolation, and Michael, her rock, has seen his chill in a constant plummet since Sin Rostro’s very first appearance in Season 1. Take away his detective job and add in a month of spontaneous cramming for the LSATs, plus the mountain of anxiety Mateo’s tardy first word drops on Jane’s shoulders? Woof.
Rafael and Petra, meanwhile, have always been wonders of science… In that it’s an utter scientific wonder that either of them can still be standing, let alone continuing to glow like ancient gods, terrible and beautiful, as they manage to keep a murder-filled Marbella and two tiny babies alive.
Knowing full well how stories on telenovelas go, it is probably unwise to declare that “things have finally come to a head,” but as Jane and Michael crescendo through the first major psychological roadblock of their marriage, and Catalina’s continued presence in Miami tipping both Rafael’s identity crisis and Petra’s post-paralysis paranoia into overdrive, it seems like things, yes, have finally come to a head.
So what outlets of self-care are our favorite Miamians pursuing? In the Villanueva-Cordero household, the magic spell is, of all things, camping. Yes! Camping! Jane has historically hated it so much, but the absence of stimulus from the real world, plus the vastness of the starry night sky reminding her of her place in infinity, all adds up to a baseline of zen that she (and Michael) spent all episode failing to achieve through any other means.
Rafael also finds his zen through surprising means: A hippie-crunchy psychic rebirth ceremony in a tiny (possibly medicated) steam-filled beach yurt… Or rather, through the deep personal conversation he has with Catalina after he faints in said ceremony and has to be dragged out to the beach to recover.
Talking, it turns out, is key to Petra’s path to turning things around, too. Rafael’s honesty prompts Catalina to be just as honest about the blood money Petra promised to pay her to keep Rafael out of his suite for the day — which occasions a ruse to lull Petra into a false sense of security watching her spy cam feed so that Rafael can catch her in the act. Awesomely, this prompts Petra to be finally, wrenchingly honest about how impossible life has been for her since she escaped Anezka’s drugging.
Where Petra has been using subterfuge and spycraft the last several weeks to try and keep hold of some sense of personal power, it has only served to isolate her further. Hitting the point where Rafael is confronting her head-on in her spy closet about Emilio’s probated will that would kick Rafael out of his inheritance — and how she has destroyed it — her isolation finally breaks. And because of that, Rafael is able to see both how necessary both professional therapy and his own personal sympathy are for her, and how necessary it is for him to look at his own connections. Sometimes, self-care means saying goodbye to the sexy, free-spirited cousin of your immaculately conceived baby’s mom, no matter how hard that might be.
“Jane the Virgin” has always been strongest when serving up models of how to treat one another with love and respect — so it’s no surprise the show has just as strong a lesson to teach us in how to treat ourselves the same way, especially in this time of collective crisis. Taking time out to care for yourself is not just important, but necessary, whether that means a spontaneous camping trip with your loved ones, a steamy ayahuasca ceremony, or professional counseling. Just find a way to take care of yourself, to better take care of the world.
“Jane the Virgin” airs on The CW on Mondays at 9 ET.