Major spoilers ahead for the Jane the Virgin season finale.
Jane the Virgin has never been afraid of crazy plot twists or dramatic cliffhangers, and its season four finale just delivered the craziest, most dramatic moment of the series yet: Michael Cordero, Jane’s husband who died of heart complications in the middle of season three, is alive!
To quote Our Narrator: I KNOW, RIGHT?!
As shocking as Michael’s return is, Jane the Virgin is one of the most well-plotted shows on television. There are always clues about what’s to come, even when what’s to come seems impossible. As River Fields, newbie to the telenovela life, points out, “There’s so much crazy stuff happening, it’s hard to know what to pay attention to.” You and your flawless eyebrows are right, River. There was so much happening in season four, we didn’t spot the clues that Michael was still alive, but they were there. Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest signs that should have alerted us to this wonderful plot twist.
The entire finale, including the title card, was about surprises. It was priming for us for something major. In a clever move, we were distracted with an abundance of smaller twists throughout the episode — Alba’s wedding, the truth about the night Anezka died, the blackmailer returning — so we weren’t prepared for one final blow before the credits. Now I understand why Jane hates surprises.
The Rafael-Michael rivalry was reignited
As Jane and Rafael’s relationship progressed, we knew the Michael question would come up eventually. But instead of making it about Jane, the story line dealt with Rafael’s feelings about Michael. When Rafael realized Jane was writing about Michael again, he couldn’t help but be jealous. He worried that he’s simply the guy Jane was settling for. Jane reassured him that this wasn’t the case, and the whole thing was very lovely. (Even this die-hard member of Team Michael was happy to see Jane and Raf so content.) On the surface, this story line showed us the strength of Jane and Rafael’s relationship, but now we can see that it also served to remind us of Rafael’s insecurities about Michael. The love triangle that formed the show’s early foundation didn’t just go away because Michael was dead — and it certainly isn’t gone now that he is, well, undead.
When Jane finds her Snow Falling manuscript, we hear an awfully familiar music cue
The memory of Michael is alive and well, thanks to this music cue in the finale. In season four, we’ve gone multiple episodes without mention of Michael, so suddenly stoking our emotions over his death should’ve been a huge red flag. Of course, being reminded of that sadness also gave the reveal even more of an emotional gut-punch. It was manipulative, but in the best way.
When Xo asks Jane if she would say yes to Rafael’s proposal, she responds, “He is my future. Who else could it be?”
UM, IT COULD BE MICHAEL, JANE. It could always be Michael. As we’re reminded when Jane begins the inspired rewrite of her novel — with the words that kicked off the Jane the Virgin pilot, no less: “Our story begins 13-and-a-half years ago …” — Jane’s love story has always consisted of two men. When Jane says “who else could it be?” aloud, she is really asking for trouble.
“I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop, ‘cause it always does.”
Petra delivers this line to Rafael in the finale, regarding her relationship troubles with J.R. She’s right to worry, since the other shoe does, in fact, drop (#JRShotWho?!). But this is also a good reminder for both Rafael and the audience. No couple on Jane the Virgin skates by without hitting obstacles to overcome. Jane and Raf have been so happy, they were due for a big obstacle. And “big” doesn’t even begin to describe what they were just handed.
Speaking of shoes, remember those anonymous feet that Our Narrator showed us?
While the Villanueva women used vivaporu to wipe away their problems in “Chapter Seventy-Eight,” Our Narrator cut to some mysterious feet walking down the road, but declined to share much information — aside from telling us that vivaporu “can’t stop evil from coming.” Now, these feet may have nothing to do with Michael, but Our Narrator did say that he’d “save this” particular mystery for later. It should’ve clued us in to the idea that someone was coming, and evil or not, they would definitely shake things up.
Always listen to Alba: “Things have a way of coming around in this family.”
Of course, Alba means it in an optimistic “Jane and Rafael had a baby and then, five years later, fall in love for real” kind of way, not a “your dead husband is actually alive” way. Whatever Alba’s intention might have been, her words are not wrong.
The many, many, many telenovela tropes
Jane the Virgin is all about that meta narrative. The show has never shied away from letting the audience know it both explores and subverts its own genre. In recent episodes, thanks to River Fields and Rogelio’s efforts to make the American version of The Passions of Santos, the discussion of important and beloved telenovela tropes has been at an all-time high — so, we should’ve expected that Jane would deploying some of those very same tropes. As Jane worries about Rafael’s abrupt change in mood after meeting with Sin Rostro (ostensibly to get intel on his birth parents), even Alba jokes that “if this were a telenovela,” Rafael would’ve discovered that he and Jane were actually related. Alba isn’t totally off base because this is a telenovela. And you know what’s a huge telenovela trope? A character coming back from the dead.
Michael’s note to Jane
At the end of season three, Jane finds a lost letter that Michael wrote before their wedding. At the time, we were mostly distracted by the bearer of the letter: Jane’s first love, Adam. If you had been paying attention, though, you would’ve thought long and hard about the possible meanings behind this line from Michael’s letter: “Our destiny was just a series of detours bringing us back to each other again and again.” And again, apparently!
Our Narrator tried to warn Jane and Rafael
In last week’s episode, everything was coming up Jane and Rafael: They were finally happy, inspired, and so hopelessly in love that Jane asked, “Our dreams are kind of within reach, huh?” It all felt too good to be true, which is exactly what Our Narrator had our so worried. At the time, he suggested that they were “ jinxing things left and right.” Sure, it seemed like Our Narrator was talking about how Alba might catch them having sex, but it seems like a giant clue in retrospect. Getting caught in flagrante by your grandma is much, much easier to handle than your dead husband showing up just as you’ve rebuilt your life with his rival.