BY NIVEA SERRAO
Jane the Virgin has hit a couple of big milestones this season. Not only did Jane and Michael move into their first home as a newlywed couple, but they also finally had sex, allowing Jane to drop the titular moniker.
Unfortunately for Jane — and fans of the show — she’ll now be sporting a new title: widow.
Monday’s episode saw Jane stressing over a job interview she had with a new editor while Michael studied for the LSAT. In a bid to help her husband relax the day before his big test, Jane took Michael to the same fair they’d been to all those years ago, allowing them to relive some of their favorite date memories and discuss their timeline for a second child.
The following day Michael, armed with a lunchbox filled with antacids and snacks, went to take the career-defining standardized test. But he never made it home, having died of shooting-related health complications at the testing center. And as the omniscient narrator reminded viewers of Michael’s promise to love Jane till the day he died, the show quietly flashed forward three years, revealing a Jane with shorter hair and a 4-and-a-half-year-old Mateo, as they get ready for a mysterious wedding.
EW caught up with Jane the Virgin showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman to discuss the shocking midseason twist and those heartbreaking final moments.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Michael’s really dead this time. Right?
JENNIE SNYDER URMAN: He is dead. He is.
You teased Michael’s death at the end of last season, but he survived that. How did you decide that this time he really would die?
Well, I’d been hinting season 1 that it was going to happen. The question was, “When?” It’s a combination of wanting to put it off as long as possible because I loved Brett [Dier] so much as an actor and a person, and because we still had more story to tell and wanting Jane to go through all those firsts with him. That was a big part of it as well. And not wanting to do it as a season finale. I felt like I’d given enough hints that it was going to happen, so the only question would be when. I wanted to do it at a nondramatic moment in the season… It was a really difficult episode to write, and part of the reason that we put in those warnings early on, and especially in that first season, was because I felt like this was the story, and I felt like we were at the midpoint, and it was almost [like] holding myself accountable and making sure that it went into the show. Because, honestly, our love for Brett and Michael could have turned us. And I felt it was important for the overall story and the telenovela that we’re telling.
Both Jane and Michael were at a very happy point in their lives. What does it mean for Jane to have this happen to her right now?
The show began with this cataclysmic event of Jane getting accidentally artificially inseminated and her life was all on this path, and then it got spun out in this different direction as a result of that. To me, we’re around the midpoint, ideally, of our series, and this was another moment where I felt like she had everything worked out, and this event, again, changes everything and leaves people in different places and gives our character a lot of room to learn and grow and change. Also, it’s a telenovela; these big events are part of a fabric of that. So it gives us a lot of story and ammunition going forward and also a real emotional journey that she has to get through the same way she had to deal with finding out she was pregnant and her entire life shifting. This obviously has a different tenor, but it’s equally life-altering.
Was there any discussion about where and how Michael would die? Was there any chance he could have died closer to Jane rather than right after the test?
There were a lot of discussions in general just about what it would be and when and how it would happen. But I felt like we had seen Jane at his bedside in [the first episode of the season]. And there’s something about the last time you see someone, and you don’t know it’s the last time you’ve seen someone. And I really wanted to capture that moment, the mundaneness of saying goodbye to him, and then this medical event comes up.
The episode ends on a three-year time jump. Was there any reason you chose to do that rather than follow the aftermath more closely?
The aftermath would overwhelm our storytelling because we are a light and bright show, generally, and a comedy. If we were to live in that aftermath immediately after, it would just take over everything as it would have to, because you would have to see all that mourning. Whereas three years felt like she had accepted it, moved forward, and made choices. We still have the ability to flash back to the immediate aftermath, which we definitely do, and see the building blocks of how she put her life back together. But it allowed us to not live in that deep, deep sorrow for our show, which is not the tone of the show. But you get a lot of those real emotions, but you also then have somebody who’s three years later and has a job, whose life is then completely different than we left her, which I think makes for some exciting storytelling.
Considering Michael was a detective, and he did a lot of the solving with the Rose storylines, how will the show be dealing with it on that front?
Well, you’ll definitely be seeing more of a character that we introduce early on, his very close friend Dennis, who’s on the police force. So he comes in and takes up some of that space. We still do have Rose out there, although she’s sort of hidden in broad daylight these days, and there is definitely a brand new development in the next episode, and the police do get involved.
Everyone in this episode was on the precipice of something big in their lives. Is there anything you can tell us about where we’ll find everyone three years later?
I will say, the episode we come back to is one of my favorite episodes. It feels like a pilot again, with people you already know. You find everybody in different places. Rafael has gone to jail, Xo, Rogelio, and Jane are all in very different places. There’s a wedding that we’re alluding to. And parenting stories are different now because we’re not dealing with a 1-and-a-half-year-old. We have a 4-and-a-half-year-old, and the twins are 4. We have a lot of new places to go in terms of our parenting storylines. It’s pretty exciting. Everyone’s in really different places, and that opens up our storytelling in the second half of the season.
You mentioned Rogelio, and we know that he and Michael had this epic bromance. What can you tease about how he’s dealing with this loss?
We’re going to touch on what his grieving was like and how much he misses his best friend. Certainly, when Jane does start to date again, it’s going to be hard for her and hard for her dad.
Jane and Michael were talking about moving up their timeline in terms of a second child. In those three years, could Jane have been pregnant with Michael’s child?
No. She’s not pregnant. [Laughs.] She doesn’t have another baby.
You mentioned milestones you want to hit with Jane. How far ahead have you planned those?
Well, I’ve planned to the end of the story we want to tell. I can’t tell you where it ends, but we definitely are on a journey towards that.
Jane the Virgin airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.