This latest Jane the Virgin plot twist came seemingly out of nowhere. The show, known for its surprise-heavy finales, dropped one its biggest bombshells in a regular February episode, killing off one of the series’ major characters and a fan favorite: Jane’s husband Michael Cordero, played by Brett Dier.
His death had been foreshadowed by show’s narrator, who noted in Episode 10 of Season 1 that the young detective would want to be with Jane “for as long as Michael lived, until he drew his very last breath.” Still, his sudden death from a heart problem stemming from his near-fatal shooting came as a surprise as Michael appeared to have recovered from the accident and building a future with Jane. His death at the end of his LSAT test came after a pregnancy scare for Jane, which made the duo realize that they were ready to have more kids, and just as Jane landed a dream job while Rafael was staring at potential jail time and Rose, aka Sin Rostro, the woman who shot Michael, resurfaced at the Marbella with a new face and new identity.
Michael’s death at the end of tonight’s episode was followed by a brief final scene set three years into the future, in which Jane and Mateo are dressing up for a wedding. In an interview with Deadline, Jane the Virgin creator and showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman discusses the decision to kill off Michael, as well as its timing and aftermath. Other burning questions she addresses: Is the time-jump permanent, is Rafael going to prison, would he and Jane rekindle their romance, and who is getting married?
DEADLINE: It was 44 episodes ago when the show’s narrator uttered the ominous “for as long as Michael lived, until he drew his very last breath” line. Was his death already in the cards back then?
URMAN: His death was definitely in the cards back then. And I put that line in Episode 10 for two reasons: first, to prepare everyone, because I knew it would be devastating. And second, to make sure we followed through with it in the writers room (because I knew it would be hard to do, and we’d be looking for ways/reasons to circumvent it). So yes, it was always part of the larger story we were telling; it was an integral step of Jane’s arc and her relationship to romance and to the idea of “happily ever after.”
DEADLINE: Did your plans about when and how to kill off Michael evolved over time? There were red herrings, including the Season 2 finale when he got shot. Was there any discussion about him dying then?
URMAN: There were many discussions in the writers room about when, and how, this would happen. Certainly we discussed the finale, but there was story that we wanted to tell first, experiences we wanted her to have with Michael (having sex, moving into their first home). And also, because we had “warned” the audience this would happen — the surprise was less “if” than “when.” And we felt that would be most surprising in the middle of this season, rather than at the end.
DEADLINE: Why now? Jane and Michael were settling into married life, planning the expansion of their family, embarking on new careers. Why was this time chosen to shake up the happy couple?
URMAN: We came into the show, in the pilot, with Jane at a place where her life seemed (somewhat) mapped out. And a cataclysmic event — [accidental pregnancy] — happened , spinning her into a very different place, forcing change and growth. And in many ways, we’ve been dealing with the fallout of that event for two and a half seasons. Now, at the midpoint, she finally felt settled again. This felt like the moment to shake things up in a bigger way. This is a telenovela, after all.
DEADLINE: What will be the impact on Jane?
URMAN: Her life has changed in every way. And yet, she has had to carry on. She’s a little older now, she’s certainly less idealistic and a little more pragmatic. But she still has dreams, and hopes and fears, and beyond that — you’ll see!
DEADLINE: Will the show examine the immediate fallout from Michael’s death, or it will jump ahead three years as the final scene suggested?
URMAN: We jump three years into the future. It’s pretty exciting for the show — every single character is in a new and unexpected place. The next episode almost feels like another pilot — albeit with characters you already know and already feel attached to. But we do flashback to the period right after his death as well. Our show always begins with flashbacks, and the next three episodes flashback to what happened immediately after.
DEADLINE: Is Rafael going to jail?
URMAN: He sure is!
DEADLINE: Will Jane and Rafael reconnect romantically following Michael’s death? Will there be a new man in her life?
URMAN: You’ll have to wait and see!
DEADLINE: What is Rose up to?
URMAN: Rose is living in plain sight — as Eileen. She has vowed to give up her life of crime in order to be with Luisa, the woman she loves.
DEADLINE: Whose wedding are Jane and Mateo heading to? Xio, or is that too obvious?
URMAN: You’ll have to wait and see on that too! But you’ll know in the first minutes of the next episode.