Warning: This post contains spoilers from the April 20 season finale of Jane the Virgin.
Well, that just happened! A season and a half after Michael dropped dead and devastated Jane (and viewers), Jane the Virgin‘s season 4 finale ended with… MICHAEL BEING ALIVE?! When Rose called Rafael with some important information, everyone assumed it was the identity of his birth parents. But what he revealed to Jane in the final moments of the episode was that it actually had nothing to do with him. And that’s when he opened the door to reveal Michael standing in his living room.
And that’s the cliffhanger we’re left with until fall. So EW hopped on the phone with Jane showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman to talk about what she calls the “huge shocking telenovela twist” and what it will mean for season 5.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is a telenovela so the first question I have to ask is: Is this definitely Michael? It’s not like an evil twin, right?
JENNIE SNYDER URMAN: It’s not a twin. I can’t say whether it’s definitely Michael, that will be answered in the first episode of the fifth season. There’s definitely going to be some questions because Rose has a dicey history, but it certainly looks like Michael. This person — and then we’ll talk about him as Michael for clarity — has been somewhere and has had a journey so we’ll be getting into that.
When he died, I remember you saying it was always part of the plan. Was potentially bringing him back always part of the plan?
No, I always left it open as a maybe in that I knew that he was going to be dead for the purposes of the show and for Jane, for the family, for what we wanted to explore in terms of grieving. There was always a little bit of a “who knows, it’s a telenovela” but if I say he’s not really dead dead dead, people would be like, “He could be alive.” So you’re in a tricky position when you talk about that. For a year and a half he was dead and now this character is back and as we move into the fifth season and the theme of things coming full circle starts to emerge, the return of this character felt right thematically in terms of where we wanted to go, in terms of a return to this central love triangle that was so important to the show for so long and now everybody is in really different places. The show began with Jane and Michael, and Rafael just appeared in their life and became so central, and now Jane and Rafael are in this really great place and here’s this person who could be her dead husband. We love a big twist on Jane but we also love to deal with the grounded emotional fallout of it and I think his presence will allow us a lot of conflict and emotion and heart-wrenching storytelling which I want to dive into.
You’ve always said different men can be right at different times in your life, so the question becomes, who’s right for Jane at this time in her life.
Exactly! Those are all the questions and themes we’re going to explore. [Michael and Jane] had this epic love story, she grieved him, what now? You can only really do this on a telenovela, I think, but the fun part for me beyond the initial surprise and shock of the plot twist is wow, if I was Jane, what would I be thinking and feeling and how would I navigate this? If you’re Rafael, what does that feel like? And what a heroic and selfless thing he did by bringing back this person who could jeopardize his entire relationship and who is the physical manifestation of his greatest fear that he would’ve been the second choice and Jane would’ve picked Michael should he be here.
So there was a point in time in the writers’ room where he was dead.
Yeah, he was dead. There was always the possibility. I’d always say, “He’s dead for now who knows?” As we enter our final chapter, the beginning of our ending, I thought about what I wanted to see and what I wanted to feel, and there’s been a lot of plot stuff that I’ve been very sure about. It really had a lot to do with this timing, how much story we wanted to tell and where we wanted Jane to ultimately end up. I made this decision over hiatus that we would go for this and then pitched it to the writers. Then I sat down with Brett [Dier] about this I think about a year ago, and I told Gina [Rodriguez] maybe like toward the end of season 3.
How did they react?
Brett was very excited, as was Gina. I told Gina not to tell anyone else so she’s known for the whole year and then I tried to keep it a secret beyond the writers. We didn’t give out the last page of the script and had Brett secretly come to the table read and in a very dramatic moment, when we got to the end, I opened the door and he came into the table read and people jumped up and were screaming. It was really fun. It felt very spy-esque but we redacted the pages.
Does this whole situation mean that Rose will play a bigger role next season?
Yeah, Rose has her own love story that she’s pursuing, Rose and Luisa, which she believes is the greatest love story ever told so she’s in service of herself and her heart and also her secrets. This has to do with her definitely and has to do with where she’ll go as well.
Will we see any of Michael’s story from the past three years? Will there be flashbacks?
I haven’t really decided that yet. My hunch is no, but that remains to be seen exactly how we’ll open that up. I don’t really expect to but who knows? If someone pitches something delightful that’s worth seeing, maybe we’ll see it.
The last thing we have to touch on is Alba and Jorge. I do find myself hoping this wedding brings them back together.
I think Alba does too. In telenovelas, people get married out of circumstance sometimes and then fall in love and I think she, as a fan of telenovelas, is hoping that’s what happens for her. She got over a big hurdle this year in terms of her relationship with her body and sexuality and it felt too late for Jorge but now who knows? Magical things have happened in this family and I think she has a husband now and it’s somebody that she loves so I think she is certainly going to be hoping that it becomes more real than anticipated.