We’re going to analyze Petra.

Posted: October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been on a Jane the Virgin kick (more like obsession) since my cousin recommended me the show.  I binged all three or four Netflix seasons literally as fast as I could.  It was especially helpful I was also home sick in the middle of the binge for four days, so it was quite optimal binging-netflix conditions.  A little background here: I’ve always been interested in actual telenovelas.  I wanted to learn Spanish better and the first thing I was going to do once I did that – in all seriousness – was watch a telenovela.  I could apply for bilingual jobs, but, of course I would watch a telenovela…

And you know what?  In all honesty, I have no idea why.  They’re just so dramatic and over the top, from what I’ve heard, that the pull is significant.  Even if they appear to be entirely ridiculous, there’s still some comedic value in ridiculousness, even if it’s not intentional.  I think this mild obsession to watch one stems from my Spanish high school teacher, who very much loved the language and the various aspects of the culture along with it.  Maybe it was just so I could say I could watch a Spanish telenovela, I don’t fucking know why I had such a thing with it.  The point is, it hasn’t gone away, and here I was binging Jane The Virgin, in all of it’s occasional insanity, hilarity, and utter ridiculousness.  And, it’s fair to say, I was hooked from the 5th episode.  Lucky for me my graduate school work hadn’t taken off horribly, so I had extra time at my disposal to just binge, and binge, and binge, until I realized the Netflix portion was over and I had to actually watch it on T.V., and wait like a normal goddamn human being.

Regardless, as much as I was falling in love with the show, I was also frequently evolving my emotions on certain characters.  I will try to keep this spoiler free, HOWEVER, THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES.  SO SPOILERS AHEAD.  

What I can say I love about this show is that your feelings toward a character, or their predicament, is constantly changing.  Everything is fluid and it’s one of those shows where missing an episode really is not an option.  Were I to miss one of the new season, I would not watch the week after.  Past a certain point the narrator can’t even keep up with everything, because he’s slowly cut out Petra’s and Raf’s divorce and entire history.  Or where Rogelio came from.  Because some attitudes in the present, at least of this post, are inexplicable without some context, and that context is no longer being explained by the narrator.  So, you really need to start from the beginning.

And that’s precisely what I will be doing.

My now favorite character, hands down, without a shadow of a doubt, is Petra.  Yes, THE Petra.  The evil villain one.  The master manipulator one.  The one who sleeps with men to get them to agree to her demands.  The one who fakes emotions better than she actually deals with them, and is more convincing she cares when she actually doesn’t – because once she does, she doesn’t know what to do with it.  Yes.  That Petra.

Image result for petra gif jane the virgin shock

You.  Right now.

Here’s the thing: Petra initially starts off as nothing more than the crazy ex-wife.  She literally starts off as nothing more than a trope – the gold-digger sexy blonde who thinks she can just get away with anything she wants, and get anything she wants, because she is a sexy blonde and more importantly, is aware she is a sexy blonde.  If Petra is confident in nothing else, it’s that she’s too sexy for her shirt.  It’s only once she takes in a particular hostage at her mother’s urging that we start to see the real Petra.  Her mother is, as it seems, extremely toxic to Petra – as it stands, she only took in Ivan from what I recall because her mother urged her to.  Then her mother fed him the food he was allergic to in order to either kill him, or make it seem as though they saved him to get him to trust them.  So basically, you might think Petra is the master manipulator, but her mother really is.  Because her mother did, indeed, manipulate her all those times.  If she were as masterful as the viewer might think, she would have no problem with dealing with her mother.  Simply, that’s just not the case.  The only time I remember Petra really, truly, without a plan, it was because of her mother.

And this is where we delve into the rest of Petra’s problems.

We learn that Petra left her native country because of an abusive stalker boyfriend who threw acid at her mother, who she seemed to care about, genuinely.  The problem is, this is where all of her problems lie. Petra cared about her mother, who did nothing more than manipulate her to get what she wanted in the end, even willing to throw Petra under the bus to do so.  So, essentially, she escapes a boyfriend who, stereotypically, is supposed to care about you with her mother, and an incident regarding her mother is what prompts this.  Then her mother plays her own tricks on Petra, who is now left broke (a la the split with Rafael) and clamoring for the same stability – not necessarily love.  Petra had to become someone else to escape her abusive ex, in a war-torn country, in a family without a father.  Even if she did love Rafael, well, that’s not really what she’s after.  She’s not necessarily just after his money – she’s after his stability, and maybe even was after that the whole time during their courtship.  She can’t figure out what she wants – but that’s because she’s never had a chance to be Petra or Natalia.  Natalia was, as previously mentioned, stuck in a war-torn country with an abusive ex-boyfriend after her and a manipulative mother.  Petra is now just the first-world-problems version of Natalia.

Then, to really get things going, Petra’s twin sister Aneska shows up, and forcibly puts Petra in a coma.  Now most people do not have a coma-crazy sibling no matter how bad your siblings may be, but all of this is why I truly adore Petra as a character.  Everyone Petra knows she is supposed to care about is constantly throwing her emotions for a loop – her mother manipulates her, her sister is a bit out of her mind, and even her lover wasn’t really who he said he was.  Regardless if you view those events as ridiculous telenovela events, this speaks to why Petra is the way she is.  She even so much as teams up with her abusive boyfriend from five years ago to determine if he was correct, and see if her mother was lying to her – and if you must know, he pretended to kill her, at that (which is always a possibility in abusive relationships).  Perhaps more than anything else, it is apparent Petra is a woman trying to just do one thing, and that’s look out for herself, in between all of the manipulation and wrongdoing done to her.  After you’ve been through so much, it’s easy to simply remove your feelings from a situation and just sit and smile and pretend you actually give a shit.  Which she does incredibly well… and just about all she does with the exception of a few situations when she’s first introduced.  Even when Petra is nice, she reverts back to being manipulative and angry after nobody realizes SPOILERS Aneska isn’t Petra.  It’s just another way of protecting herself.

Image result for petra gif jane the virgin

One thing I noticed about Petra when she and Jane were trying to get a friendship together was that Petra was really bad with emotions.   We never really saw her and Rafael’s  marriage while it was happy – we simply saw it in snippets – but you can imagine, perhaps, her problems with emotions probably played some part in it’s inevitable downfall.  Petra is more convincing she cares about you and whatever situation is there when she is lying.  The times she was sleeping with Locklan? Convincing.  The times she was playing the hotel owner next door? Also convincing.  Her becoming friends with Jane,  even temporarily,  opened a new door to Petra we never really saw: how hardcore emotional she really is, which is a testament to just how affected she probably was by her mother and her sister. She’s even so much as mean to Jane when Jane is nice to her, probably because she’s a little like “what the hell”.  It is worthy to note she also doesn’t have any friends.

Petra now gains her own real, genuine power by playing the field and obtaining shares of the hotel, initially as a means to get back at Rafael.   The thing is, this is when I truly loved Petra as a character and when I – yes, I’m going to say this – related  to her.  She didn’t want to be a mother,  but out of sheer desperation to keep someone in her life, she made that happen (not that part).  Upon finding her footing in the hotel, I finally feel like I have a Petra that belongs.  I feel like Petra fits in.  It is Petra, not Rafael,  the so-called hotel owner who gets the hotel back on track and she is aware of that.  She is at home in her office,  she’s extremely analytical and even more complicated.  Put simply, this is the exact moment I knew Petra was one of two favorite characters in this show.  She didn’t fit the role of motherhood, she was manipulative our of desperation, and now that her own situation has changed she has all the power – and is finally feeling sure of herself.  She stepped into the role of motherhood and got used to it, but I would definitely say not as much as Jane has.  No – Petra is the badass kind of mother.  She doesn’t fit the usual stereotype anymore, does she?

And that, is in part thanks to Rafael.   When Petra is pregnant,  Rafael becomes less of the former spouse Petra is pining over and more of her life coach.  How to respond to things,  how to handle Jane,  etc.  He encourages her to try her best at motherhood and that she can handle the hotel and kids at the same time.  And she listens.

Teaching us how to take our shirts off.

And this, in the end, benefits her enough that she finds herself.  His absence, both in his hotel and seemingly in Petra’s life, forces her to find who she is and what she wants.  As you learned last episode SPOILERS Petra dumps Rafael after spending so long pining after him.  She already rejected him once already, saying she feels second-best to Jane and always has.  She realizes she will never be anything more than a cheater and a manipulator to Rafael, who threw some shade at her behavior for manipulating men to get what she wants.  And this is when I realized Petra had her own stability and life she created for herself.  We even see a little bit of a sisterhood – albeit very dramatic, pothole-laden one – between she and Jane.  Petra lashed out to Rafael on Jane’s behalf, and Jane did the same for Petra to ensure she wasn’t hurt by Rafael.  And this is a thing women actually do, as a woman: when it comes to a man hurting another woman, we put everything aside, because fuck that. She cares, but she also holds people accountable for their actions, now.

And I think we all have something to learn from both Petra and Jane, who are both extremely different people.  Petra learns how she should be treated and how she should be valued, and clearly she has not found that yet.  There are valuable lessons to learn from their, er, whatever it is at this point., and whatever Rafael is to them both.  In the eyes of them both, Rafael is no longer seen, well, awfully favorably (can’t say I didn’t see that coming – more on that later).  And although their strong attitudes clash and don’t necessarily mesh – as Petra is the no-bullshit woman people fear when she’s angry – and Jane is the forgiving sweetheart who takes a little while to be pushed to the point of anger, when they work together they’re a strong team (as shown by the birth scene and the book scene).

And truly, in the end, we are always stronger together.

Especially when it comes to men.

Because fuck that.

Except Rogelio.

Image result for rogelio de la vega gif

He’s acceptable.

 

 

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