Spoilers for the most recent episode of Jane The Virgin ("Chapter Fifty-Four") beyond this point. Consider yourself warned.
Michael Cordero (Brett Dier) was always going to die. It's been showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman's plan since the beginning. In Season 1's "Chapter 10," after Michael nixes Alba's impending deportation, Xiomara asks the young detective, "You still love [Jane], don't you?" He replies, "I’m not just going to give up on us. We belong together, and I'll never stop believing that." And then our reliable Narrator adds, "And for as long as Michael lived, until he drew his very last breath, he never did."
On any other show, there would have been a way around that, a way to emphasize how Michael would never stop loving Jane (Gina Rodriguez), his first true love, even in his old age. But not on Jane the Virgin, a show that's never been afraid of taking risks. In that moment, Michael's fate was cruelly sealed. And on the most recent episode of Jane, Snyder Urman made good on her promise and killed off Jane Gloriana Villanueva's beloved husband — and with him went Jane's safe space.
There's something to be said for the way the writers masterfully crafted Michael's goodbye in what otherwise would have been a perfectly innocuous episode. He had survived his near-fatal gunshot wound from the Season 2 finale only to succumb to an unforeseen side effect 10 episodes later. Though Michael's death wasn't entirely unexpected, for a show seeped in such surrealism and whimsy like Jane to deliver a twist so painfully final felt especially brutal. Michael was the Good Guy who miraculously got the girl of his dreams. The optimist. The goofy, lovable one. He's been loyal, patient, kind, and hopelessly committed to Jane in every way since day one. Their chemistry, simple and sweet, was palpable. (Though maybe not quite as palpable as his chemistry with Jane's father, Rogelio.) His loss will be felt by everyone, not just Jane.
Still, it was important that Jane share all of her firsts with Michael — her first time having sex, her first home, and her first real job. We watched as Jane, Michael, and Mateo became a family. As Jane balanced motherhood with her own career aspirations. As they supported each other's dreams. As Michael unearthed every possible celebrity impression in his surprisingly large repertoire. No one can take these memories away from Jane.
But Michael's tragic death also signals a new chapter for the series. It bravely pushes the narrative forward into the great unknown, both literally and figuratively. The end of the shocking episode flashed forward to three years after Michael's death, a strategic move by the writers to avoid the darkness in the immediate aftermath. But flashbacks to Jane as a young widow during that time will be crucial as the writers fill in the gaps of the past three years. It also gives Rodriguez ample opportunity to do what she does best: break our hearts.
Jane the Virgin has lost its innocence. And that's OK. But Jane hasn't lost herself. Her unbreakable, romantic spirit is still at the center of Jane the Virgin. She will always persevere. Despite the show's inherent melodrama, its heart is grounded in something real. Motherhood. Immigration. Faith. Family. Intimacy. Loss. Grief. It's these raw, human moments that Jane the Virgin does so well. So as hard as it is to say goodbye to someone as lovable as Michael, this was a necessary step for the show — and for Jane's journey as a whole.