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Jane the Virgin?

| Friday, October 28, 2016

janethevirgin_webJoseph Han

With the beginning of the third season of “Jane the Virgin,” we’re still wondering when its title will become a misnomer. The season opens with Chapter 46, which addresses the cliffhanger that’s been waiting for months — Michael has been shot.

Using a flashback to Jane’s childhood, the narrator leads with the question, “How does knowing the end effect the journey?” The flashbacks to follow include the twists and turns that began Jane and Michael’s romance, and the current situation affects out viewing, where we might have otherwise been tempted to root for the cute and bookish neighbor Sam, who Jane has been crushing on for 17 months. 

The main tension of the episode is the uncertainty of whether Michael will survive the gunshot. Jane’s flash-forwards of them growing old together send the message that he can’t possibly survive. Plus, his death would help the show keep its title.

Despite the heaviness of Michael’s condition, flashbacks preserve the show’s usual tone, along with the telenovela-level subplot — Anezka (who I suspect was named purely for the subtly-dropped pun “Anezkatized”) is posing as her twin sister, who she put in a coma to fulfill a mischievous scheme.

Another sub-story is more serious, in Jane’s mother Xiomara’s abortion. The lifelike scenario is set in sharp contrast to the soap-opera-level drama going on with the other characters. The process is realistic; she’s certain of her decision, but still has to deal with the conflicting opinions of family members. Though the impact is lessened by Michael’s condition, the abortion comes into the spotlight in the season’s second episode.

Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman told the Hollywood Reporter that the depiction of Xiomara’s abortion was intentional. After three different instances of people deciding against abortion (Jane, Petra and teenage Xiomara), Xiomara’s decision removes the implied stance against abortion from the show.

The series itself is evolving, yet balancing its tone as tensions rise and characters develop. One thing the show will not be able to maintain indefinitely is its title. Snyder Urman already revealed that the title wouldn’t work through the end of the season.

That moment has been built up for two years and holds as much pressure for viewers as it does for Jane herself. Just like many people, the show has to make this the perfect moment. “Perfect” in this case can come in many quirky or shocking forms. However it presents itself, that moment is imminent. 

The solution will be a change in the title, and redefinition might be a theme that applies to the characters themselves.

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