Jane the Virgin quickly shut down the possibility of Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) rekindling their romance early in Season 4, but following Friday's midseason premiere, the two best friends appear to be on track to potentially take their relationship to the next level after sharing another passionate kiss. But can they make a relationship work?
The pair's heated argument that kicked off the season highlighted the complexities of Jane and Rafael's relationship, specifically their class differences, by exploring Rafael's ongoing personal battle to overcome a complicated relationship with money and status. It was clear at the time that they weren't in the right place to even consider a relationship together. The fight eventually led Jane to seek a relationship with the carefree and mostly baggage-free artist Adam (Tyler Posey) while Rafael reunited briefly with Petra (Yael Grobglas) and later conspired to win back the Marbella by engaging in a fake relationship with a wealthy older woman. But Adam eventually left Jane, breaking her heart (again) in the process, and Rafael ended up alone and bartending at the Marbella after coming clean and paying the price for his deception.
Both Jane and Rafael are in different places now than they were at the start of the season, that much is clear. Although Jane's relationship with Adam didn't pan out the way she'd hoped, he helped to remind her of her youth and allowed her to move on from the role of grieving widow. Meanwhile, Rafael has made progress in reconciling his insecurities and anxiety surrounding money and wealth after falling into a dark place. Still, despite the progress they've both made individually, Jane was hesitant to proceed with a relationship at all, telling Xo (Andrea Navedo) that the kiss they shared in the midseason finale didn't have the same spark and passion previous kisses held.
Jane the Virgin has always entertained the idea that Jane and Rafael were a fated, fairy-tale romance, something that falls in line with Jane's own romantic notion of love and draws heavily from the show's telenovela roots. But the reason the show works as well as it does is because it takes the time to get to these big moments. One of Jane's greatest strengths is its ability to depict complex emotional relationships, whether between mother and daughter, girlfriend and boyfriend, or husband and wife. Jane and Rafael have had more than their fair share of ups and downs over the years, and Jane's hesitation throughout the hour continues this trend.
Although Rafael came prepared with a list of counter-arguments to Jane's thought out reasons of they wouldn't work out -- something that screams Jane on nearly every level -- Jane still wasn't willing to consider a relationship or the idea that he'd merely caught her off guard by his kiss. He eventually came to accept he needed to give up the possibility of a relationship with Jane, which had lived in the back of his mind for a long time. But by the end of the hour, though, after he signed a lease on a studio apartment within Mateo's school district so their son didn't have to lie about where he lived, something had changed. At the very least, Jane felt a familiar desire for Rafael, opening a door to the possibility of more.
But Jane taking a moment to reassess her feelings within the boundaries of their current relationship is in line with where her character is now. After all, she is still recovering from her breakup and her book receiving mediocre reviews. Embarking on yet another serious relationship, especially with someone with whom she shares a long history, is a big step to make and something that should not be rushed into simply because it checks the destiny box. That's not to say it can't or shouldn't be done, of course, just that it's a risk, especially when Jane's heart isn't the only one on the line.
The stakes are potentially much higher for Jane and Rafael now than if either of them were attempting to date other people because of what it potentially means for them as a family. Mateo has a vested interest, even at his young age, in his parents' relationship working out. He's no longer the small child he once was, which means he's aware of his surroundings and his parents' actions. Jane and Rafael can't make choices without explanations the way they once could, which may actually work in their favor, because it keeps their story, however fated it may or may not be, grounded.
Despite the loaded situation they currently find themselves in, there is one very important thing working in Jane and Rafael's favor: their deep friendship. Jane and Rafael's first attempt at a relationship largely fell apart in Season 1 because they entered into it without knowing one another (and because part of her heart still belong to Michael, obviously). Their relationship was fueled by that same promise of fairy-tale romance, complete with sparkling chemistry and the growing bond of their then-unborn child. But there wasn't a solid foundation that could support the emotional relationship they were trying to build and sustain. Five years on, after raising a child together and engaging in several different relationship combinations between them and that has obviously changed. Rafael was not only Jane's tether in the storm that followed Michael's (Brett Dier) sudden heartbreaking death last season, but he has also been her biggest supporter in the aftermath, pushing her to be brave enough to wholeheartedly embrace her dreams of being a writer. Meanwhile, Jane has given Rafael a home when he had none and a family that is always there to support him.
Should Jane decide to go all-in with Rafael now, their friendship provides a sturdy foundation upon which they can build their romance. That doesn't mean their problems will go away or that there won't still be arguments and complex issues that arise between them -- the show has shown this already through Xo and Rogelio (Jaime Camil) continuing to face struggles in their own marriage -- but for the first time in a while, Jane and Rafael do seem to be in a place to at least entertain the idea of making a romantic relationship work. And that is definitely progress.
Jane the Virgin airs Fridays at 9/8c on The CW.
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