[This story contains spoilers from the season four finale of Jane the Virgin.]
In hindsight, viewers should have seen Jane the Virgin‘s big season four finale twist coming: The CW’s quirky dramedy, about a twentysomething teacher (Gina Rodriguez) who is accidentally artificially inseminated with her hotelier boss’ baby, was based on the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen and has always acknowledged its soap opera roots not with winks and nods but with straight-up meta storylines.
In JTV‘s fourth season, telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camil) has focused on adapting his famous series for an American audience. Since the pilot, Jane has broken up with her hot cop boyfriend, Michael (Brett Dier), for her sexy boss/baby daddy, Rafael (Justin Baldoni). Then she got back together with Michael, got married, lost her virginity, and was widowed. Years later, she eventually got back together with Rafael and was about to move in with him. In the finale, while discussing the move and her impending engagement, Jane’s grandmother, Alba (Yvonne Coll) joked that she was now at the point where, if she were living in a telenovela, she’d discover Raf was actually her brother, or something.
No, the two lovebirds are not related — but the end of the episode revealed one heck of a telenovela-worthy twist: Michael, dead since the middle of season three, is still alive! (Insert dramatic music here.)
The twist is something creator Jennie Snyder Urman tells The Hollywood Reporter she had been considering since the beginning of her carefully plotted series, but the idea only solidified at the end of the third season.
“This was something that I left open as a possibility but I had to really think through where we were going, how to shape the show toward the ending and what we wanted to do,” she says. “I sat down with Brett about a year ago and told him just to wait, that it was going to happen. But this was something that, once it coalesced in my mind, really shifted things a little bit and felt like the right move and the right way to set things up and to return to themes and to give a big telenovela twist as we head into the fifth season.”
While star Rodriguez has said that season five will be Jane the Virgin‘s last, Urman would not say whether it was officially the end or not. Below, she discusses the big twist, the status of guest stars Brooke Shields and Rosario Dawson for the potential final season and the episode’s other big twist.
You foreshadowed Michael’s return when Alba and Jane are talking on the bus, but did you hint at Michael’s return earlier in the season?
There have been hints throughout the season. There was one in the middle of the season that talked about a return from the dead, and that’s a classic telenovela trope. There’s a few [twists] that we have as writers in our back pocket that we haven’t played yet and this is one of them. And there were small foreshadows. Small. We couldn’t do too much because the audience is really savvy and picks up on anything Michael related. But there were definitely a few moments that this was hinted at.
How much did Brett Dier know about his character’s return?
He definitely didn’t know at the end of season two when I told him what would happen in the middle of season three. But he and I sat down, it was probably around this time or May of last year. We went out for lunch and I told him the plan.
What did Gina know?
After the season wraps up [Gina and I] usually sit down and talk and I tell her some of the things I’m thinking of. I told her this about a year ago as well, so she’s known. I wanted to play it close to the vest and surprise everyone because everyone loves Brett so much. We’re such a family, so we wanted a surprise for our actors as well and our production and our crew. We knew that everybody would be so excited to see him, so we redacted the last pages of the script and he came to the table read secretly and stood outside the door. And then…
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