In the second season premiere of “Jane the Virgin,” not even 10 minutes have passed since Sin Rostro kidnapped the leading lady’s newborn baby, Mateo, from the hospital. It’s a move that sets up another season of fast-paced, dramatic antics with plenty of twists and turns to keep “Chapter Twenty-Three” on par with any of season 1’s installments.
Coming off an incredible season of acclaim — including a Golden Globe win for leading lady Gina Rodriguez — “Jane the Virgin” and its writers could have easily fallen into the trap of giving audiences more of the beats that made them fall in love with the show in the first place. Think the overabundance of Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory” or Cookie on “Empire.”
Instead, all of the characters are played just as evenly as they were in the first go-around, at least in the first episode back. Rogelio (Jaime Camil) and Xio (Andrea Navedo) are obviously more concerned about getting their grandson back than they are about the fact that they secretly wed in Vegas, although that inevitable truth eventually surfaces at the right moment. Michael (Brett Dier) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) share some nice moments onscreen together that don’t involve trying to win Jane over. And Petra (Yael Grobglas) is played as a sympathetic character rather than a sperm-stealing ex-wife with crazy intentions. While her actions are required to push the soapy narrative forward, the audience is a little more likely to side with her by the episode’s end.
It’s an important balance in setting up the second-season narrative, given the fact that the entire first-season storyline revolved around a pregnancy. With the baby finally here, the writers have a tall order in that they need to remain true to the original premise of the show while injecting it with the soapy twists that move through the plot at tornado-speed in order to give it that authentic telanovela feel. This is a show that needs to feature ridiculous moments so that it can make fun of itself for having them, as captured by the always fantastic narrator Anthony Mendez.
Indeed, by bringing back former characters like Rose or the nun who briefly hired Jane as a teacher, there are callbacks that feel as though the first season is being honored but that the story is also being pushed forward. As viewers see in the last few minutes, there’s a new sinister force at play in this world, one that may have bigger plans for Jane and her family than anyone we’ve met to date.
Then there’s the idea that season 2 could revolve around another pregnancy, thanks to Petra and her deluded ideas. In the real world artificial insemination — especially of the DIY variety — doesn’t always work. In fact there’s about a 20 per cent chance per cycle, and that’s if everything actually lines up in a medical facility. But in the world of “Jane the Virgin,” reality always takes second place to implausible dramatics, and that’s exactly what makes the show work in the first place.
“Jane the Virgin” Season 2 premieres Monday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. ET.