Balancing keeping a show fresh and exciting while ensuring a beloved character is not forgotten after his death is no easy task. Yet, Jane the Virgin is handling Jane’s grief over Michael’s death appropriately by showing the realistic side of mourning. “Chapter 56” started with Jane in therapy following Michael’s death and even when the series jumped forward three years in the future for the main action, Jane was still suffering from the aftermath of such a tragic loss. While I knew Jane the Virgin would masterfully navigate Jane losing Michael, the complex emotions that Jane had during the Feb. 20 episode proved that The CW series knows what it’s doing. That’s because “Chapter 56” highlighted that Jane dealing with Michael’s death on Jane the Virgin will always be a part of her life — and thus, always a part of the series.
Although the time following Michael’s death hasn’t been the major focus of Jane the Virgin since he has died, flashbacks offer insight into what Jane was going through. After the sudden loss of Michael, Jane decided to see a therapist, which was an excellent choice for her. She soon discovered that she was having panic attacks and her therapist gave her techniques to deal with this frightening rush of anxiety. And after 89 more sessions, Jane healthily came to the conclusion that she was ready to stop seeing her mental health specialist. But just because her time with her therapist was done for now, didn’t mean that Jane would ever be 100 percent over her trauma.
By having Jane be triggered when she saw Dennis (Michael’s friend and police colleague), Jane the Virgin showed that relapses in grief can be a natural thing. While Jane was understandably disappointed in herself for having panic attacks again, seeing Dennis brought up old emotions for her. These complex feelings even led to Jane uncharacteristically lashing out and slapping Dennis not once, but twice.
After she got out some of her aggression by boxing with him, Jane was able to forgive Dennis for seemingly betraying her during her mourning period. Jane’s combination of panic attacks and anger showed that grief can take many forms and normalized this subject that can be hard to speak about and understand. Although not everyone would be together enough to handle these emotions in healthy ways like Jane did — by seeing a therapist, using her words (thanks, Mateo), and finding alternative ways to release her anger — the fact that complex grief was such a focus on Jane the Virgin proved, yet again, why this show is one of the most heartfelt and honest series on TV.