Jane the Virgin returns to CW
In most television shows, the kidnapping of a baby would take center stage and become the focus of one — if not more — episode of a season. For Jane the Virgin, it's a storyline that is quickly resolved to make way for more important things: the trials of becoming a mother for the first time.
Jane's second season premiered last Monday, picking up on the cliffhanger of Jane Villanueva's (Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez) newborn son, Mateo, being kidnapped by the crime boss, Sin Rostro. In the show's typical fashion, though, we see the newest member of the Villanueva family returned fairly quickly so that the show can use that trauma to bring out Jane's frustrations and fears at becoming a new mother.
We spend the bulk of the episode exploring how her fear from the kidnapping lead to insecurities about how she can function as a mother — not wanting to sleep for fear of losing him, how often he seems to be feeding, and other baby issues that everyone faces.
In the background, we see how everyone else is coping with the same types of insecurities: Jane's mother, wanting to be the second mother to Jane's child; Jane's father, who never had to deal with raising a baby; and especially Mateo's father Rafael, who wants to be the father he wished he had, while also balancing his feelings for Jane after their very recent break-up.
Add in all the weird connections, zany subplots, and multiple storylines expected of a telenovela, and you get a premiere chock-full of things happening. It could very easily have descended into a mess, but Jane's writers have proved time and again that when you know what your show's about and have a clear vision of how you want to show that, you can balance even the craziest of stories.
For Jane, it's a show about relationships and dealing with the known in unexpected circumstances. So, we are given a story about a new mother dealing with new mother things, along with a kidnapping.
Besides that story, we have a recurrence of Jane being hailed as a miracle by the nuns from the school she taught at. Reporters and believers flock to her house to be in the presence of the "blessed" Jane, only to be disappointed by Jane's faux-admission of not being a virgin anymore.
We also see a potential new major storyline with Petra, Rafael's ex-wife and current owner of his family's hotel. As she sees Rafael bonding with his new family, she takes the extreme measure to self-inseminate herself with the one remaining sperm sample of Rafael's. Will we see a new Solano baby this season? Anything is possible in Jane's world.
Rodriguez deftly comes back after her Golden Globe win, perfectly balancing Jane's organized, controlled personality with the inevitable breakdown expected from her character's situation. She's a wonderful physical actor and is able to play that out many times in this episode, most hilariously as she runs (or waddles) around trying to keep up with Rafael and Michael as they search for the broach they need to trade with Sin Rostro for Mateo.
The always present love triangle between Jane, Rafael, and Michael reared its head again, not overtly, but enough to be present. With everything else Jane has going on, it would be nice to see that storyline tabled for a few episodes, giving her (and viewers) time to adjust to motherhood before jumping into yet another romantic relationship. Plus, the story between Jane's parents was fairly comedic last season. With the wedding already done, it would be interesting to see how they develop together as grandparents and a couple.
Overall, it was a strong opening episode for the most emotionally grounded show on the CW, with enough tidbits of what's to come to keep viewers intrigued for the season, while keeping a sincere focus on the relationships that make this show great.