‘Jane the Virgin’ returns with characteristic charm

The CW drama combines over-the-top plot with wholesome feeling

ae-JaneTheVirgin-CourtesyTheCWNetwork

The season four premiere of "Jane the Virgin" provides a continuation of the show's kooky plot combined with genuine emotion.

Courtesy the CW Network

The elements comprising The CW series “Jane the Virgin” seem incongruous at first glance. Yet an artificial insemination gone wrong, various crime sprees of an infamous drug lord and multiple love stories all intertwine seamlessly in this melodrama wrought with extravagant twists and turns. “Jane the Virgin” returned for its fourth season Friday, finding Jane (Gina Rodriguez) — as per usual — the focal point of several colliding narratives.

The show has vastly expanded upon its original premise of Jane’s accidental artificial insemination and resulting pregnancy to accommodate the evolving characters. Since the birth of her son, Mateo (Joseph Sanders), Jane — no longer a virgin — has undergone various ordeals ranging in levels of significance and plausibility, the most heart-wrenching of these being the untimely death of her husband, Michael (Brett Dier). 

Much of the third season was shrouded in Jane’s grief, giving the show a melancholy tone which deviated from its previous playfulness. However, the fourth season premiere promises all of the whimsical lightheartedness of its first. 

At the end of the third season, Jane, now over three years out from Michael’s death, comes to the conclusion that she is ready to start dating again, but this time with a more jaded attitude toward fate and romance. She confesses, “I’m not really feeling as full of ‘meant to be’ these days.” But following this decision, in true telenovela fashion, Jane is promptly reunited with an old flame, and it appears that true love may be written in the stars for her after all. 

The premiere picks up right where the third season finale left off, with Jane face-to-face with this mysterious ex-boyfriend. The audience is then formally introduced to Adam Alvaro (Tyler Posey) — or according to Jane’s mother and grandmother, “Babe Adam” — bad-boy artist and Jane’s first love. The running commentary from the omniscient Latin Lover narrator (Anthony Mendez) halts momentarily, and a new voice enters the scene — Adam’s own narrator (Vanessa Marshall), who dubs the episode the latest installment of “Adam the Virgo.” 

This new narrator — known as Latina Lover — fills the audience in on Adam’s life since he broke up with Jane nine years before, and reveals the circumstances which led him back to her. The two voices battle for sole authority over the narrative as Jane’s and Adam’s stories converge. The Latin Lover wins out of course, and by the end of the episode, the Latina Lover narrator has taken her permanent leave, signifying Adam’s official assimilation into Jane’s world.

The episode’s other storylines hint at future conflicts. Mateo’s father, Rafael (Justin Baldoni), has lost his fortune to his vindictive sister, Luisa (Yara Martinez). Stripped of his privilege, Rafael must make difficult financial decisions about Mateo’s upbringing that will lead to further tension between him and Jane. Yael Grobglas shines as both the delightfully cool and calculating Petra and her sniveling twin, Anezka, whose consistent scheming threatens Petra’s stability. Jane’s parents, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and Rogelio (Jaime Camil) have finally tied the knot, but their honeymoon phase is cut short when Darci (Justina Machado), Rogelio’s old co-star and mother of his unborn child, goes into labor. Finally, the crime lord Rose (Bridget Regan) is seen in prison, strangling a man whose significance has not yet been established. As the Latin Lover would say, “straight out of a telenovela, right?” 

There certainly is a lot going on in the season premiere, but the hectic atmosphere is part of what makes “Jane the Virgin” work in the first place. The show goes to great lengths to keep the audience entertained and often leaps far beyond the realm of probability to do so. 

However, the show isn't afraid to poke fun at itself, and its self-awareness makes it even more endearing. The series revels in telenovela tropes — shocking revelations, love triangles and secret affairs are abundant — but at its core, the show possesses a light and innocent feel that is often absent from current TV dramas. “Jane the Virgin” is not necessarily addictive because of its flashy plot twists, though they add to the show’s allure. Rather, much of the show’s appeal stems from the genuine charisma it exudes. 

The beginning of the fourth season embraces a return of the sweet naivete through the rekindling of Jane’s and Adam’s romance. Their burgeoning relationship combined with the various other engaging plot lines laid out in the premiere promise another season as funny, romantic and enthralling as ever. Through all of the over-the-top murder plots, scheming exes and long-lost evil siblings, “Jane the Virgin” once again manages to thoroughly enchant its audience with its effervescent charm, so long as viewers maintain their suspension of disbelief. 

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