When Jane the Virgin’s Michael Cordero died halfway through Season 3 due to undetected health effects from a gunshot wound, viewers weren’t alone in thinking they were really saying goodbye to the love of Jane’s life.
Showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman told BuzzFeed News that she and the rest of the writers room wrote the character off the show without the intention of bringing him back, even though it was always a possibility, because, according to Urman, “we’re living in a world where fantastic and outrageous things could happen.”
But at the end of Season 3, the creator behind the CW series started to think about Jane’s journey for the duration of the show and made the decision that at the end of Season 4, right as Jane was about to get engaged to Rafael (Justin Baldoni), Michael (Brett Dier) would return in dramatic fashion after getting amnesia at the hands of Sin Rostro, Jane the Virgin’s notorious villain.
“You want what’s going to give you the most dramatic storyline, and looking at somebody who doesn’t remember you but still looks the same and smells the same felt like an emotionally rich area to dive into,” Urman said. “Michael has literally changed. Jane has changed too, and Rafael has changed, and of course you’re always living with that sense of ‘Could his memories come back and could that change everything, or would it?’”
Straight out of a telenovela, right?
Now that the iconic Michael, Jane, and Rafael love triangle has reared itself again in the fifth and final season — and in a more intense way than ever — the show’s heroine (Gina Rodriguez) is left questioning where she stands in her relationship with Rafael, what this means for her family dynamic with Rafael and her son, Mateo, and whether she still has feelings, or an obligation, to her former husband, Michael.
“When Jane sees her ex-husband, she’s going to be thinking about how she feels and she’s going to be thinking about Rafael, who loves her so much and who she loves so much,” Urman said of Michael’s return. “You can never have those pure ‘Oh my god, my wildest dream came true’ [moments], because life has moved on and families have been formed and people have changed.”
Urman said she kept most of the cast in the dark about what Michael’s return meant for Jane, except for Dier and Rodriguez, who she wanted to have time to prepare for their roles before beginning filming in August 2018. Dier apparently even went to Montana — where Michael mysteriously woke up with amnesia, not knowing who he was or anything about his past — in order to get into the right mindset to play the new and improved character, who goes by Jason in the wake of his amnesia.
And as fans see in recent episodes, Michael may or may not be coming around to the idea of Jane as his wife.
“It’s very hard for him, because he constantly feels like he’s disappointing Jane by not remembering who he was, but when she stops saying ‘Michael did this, Michael did that’ and experiences who Jason is now to try and make him feel comfortable enough to get his memory back, he begins to enjoy her,” Urman said. “And then he thinks, ‘This person is a good person and she’s my wife, why shouldn’t I see if that’ll lead me back to something? Why do I have to walk away from that?’”
As the show gets deeper into its final season and, in turn, closer to the last chapter of Jane’s story, Michael will continue to disrupt their lives. Before his complicated homecoming, Rafael and Jane were moments away from getting engaged and moving forward with their plans for the future, but Urman pointed out that Michael’s return “comes with so much possibility for hurt in other areas of Jane’s life, so there’s just no way to be only happy or only sad.”
“Rafael is of course caught up in an equally devastating situation, and he has his own feelings about Michael which allowed him to be there for Jane and to grieve him, but then suddenly he’s back [from the dead],” she said. “It feels like it’s threatening everything that Rafael has wanted for so long. It’s just a devastating situation for all three of them and it’s devastating because it’s so emotional.”