season four finale reaction + polyamory is an option
If you’ve seen the season four finale of Jane The Virgin – then you know. I paced my house for several minutes after watching it, because I didn’t know what to do with the information. I assume you’ve googled “Jane The Virgin theories” already, accidentally alternating caps as you fervently smash the keys. It’s cool, it’s cool. I see you.
To recap: Michael Cordero – Jane’s husband – is back from the dead. He died in season three of heart complications from a healing gunshot wound; It was devastating. After a time-jump and a lot of grieving, Jane eventually finds love again with Rafael, the guy she had a baby with after she was accidentally inseminated with his sperm at a pap smear appointment. Staying true to its telenovela roots, season four ends – not with Rafael proposing to Jane as planned – but Jane staring at Michael’s face.
A lot of thoughtful work went into Michael’s death and Jane’s grieving process, so I don’t believe this is a trick. The showrunner and creator, Jennie Snyder Urman, has almost said it’s really him. Of course, people are often deliberately misleading about shows they’re producing (see: Jon Snow, Game of Thrones) – but I’m inclined to follow along. I don’t think the writers would go to the trouble of bringing him back, without actually doing so. This is the same team that consulted grief counsellors about what a realistic depiction of spousal loss looks like; they knew Jane’s grief would change the story, and didn’t want it to feel false. I’m willing to trust that they’re taking Michael’s back-from-the-dead storyline, as seriously as they took his gonna-be-dead storyline. Speaking of which – if Michael is alive, it’s utterly heartbreaking. If Michael isn’t alive, it’s a hollow twist that pointlessly engages with one of the most traumatic things Jane’s ever experienced. Jane may be a fictional character, but the show is never careless with her feelings.
Jane The Virgin has already done the evil twin trope; Michael, a former police officer, has already gone undercover, and kept information from Jane that contributed to her leaving him in the past – and the face altering plot has run its course. Jane parodies, manipulates and celebrates telenovela storylines – it doesn’t blithely rehash them. As many others have noted, long-term amnesia is a popular twist they haven’t put their spin on yet. To add a note of realism to this otherwise fantastical turn of events – memory loss is a common medical consequence of heart failure, so their bases are covered there. The only ~tiny~ leak they have to patch is the dead part, which is presumably where Rose (the Big Bad of seasons one and two) comes in.
Full disclosure: I’m Team Michael forever – but honestly, I want to see this love triangle go a different way. I want to see Jane have both Rafael (her babydaddy, and current love), and Michael (the love of her life). Yes, I want prime time TV to genuinely embrace polyamory. Please, come join me in my wish fulfilment.
The show started with Jane as a virgin, holding fast to her Abuela’s conservative views. But it’s always depicted her desire in a sex-positive way. It’s shown a respect for where those conservative values come from (her relationship with her Abuela, her Abuela’s evolving relationship with Jane’s mother, and her own sexual past), whilst fully embracing Jane’s right to make her own choices and follow her feelings. In earlier seasons, we watched Jane’s glowing heart linger over both of them – at frequent, and often overlapping points. It feels cruel to ask her to choose again. To top it off, before his death, Michael and Rafael were becoming friendlier by the day as co-parents to Mateo; a welcome shift from their previous animosity.
Rafael’s last act in the season finale was the most selfless thing we’ve ever seen him do. After investigating Rose’s claim about Michael being alive, he brings him to Jane. He facilitates their meeting. Sounds like a dude that could shed his need to be possessive in romantic love, if you ask me. And yes – his heart is breaking because he assumes Jane’s choice is a foregone conclusion, and he knows it’s the only ethical thing he can do with the information – but come on. Don’t you want it to happen too?
The show’s core value has always been family, but families don’t all look the same. Even Alba told Jane that her love for Rafael deepened her love for Michael. I doubt polyamory was what she had in mind when she said it – but still. And before you worry about the children, Mateo already has a mother, a father, a not-dead step-father, a sort of step-mother. two half-sisters, and an adorable but fame obsessed Papa. And he’s already been kidnapped by a face altering crime lord, which is far more traumatic than having non-monogamous parents.
Michael’s death meant that Jane could go on feeling for him in her new relationships, without the judgement she would receive if she continued to harbour feelings for an ex. In real-life, complicated romantic feelings are often considered a betrayal. Through the vehicle of telenovela twists, the writers have ensured that Jane arrives at this choice without the baggage of mere mortals. As an audience, we have all the empathy in the world for Jane; we just want her to be happy.
Alas, it seems more likely the writers will choose to reverse the love triangle dynamic that kicked off the story to begin with, and have Jane choose Rafael instead. But a girl can dream.
The show is in a perfect position to push the boundaries of traditional romantic relationships, let Jane have everything she wants (if she still wants it) – and most importantly, not punish her for it.