As it usually does, Monday's Jane The Virgin aired a brilliant and soul-crushing piece of television that was as exquisite as it was devastating. "Chapter Fifty-Four" saw all of the characters embarking on game-changing journeys and one unexpectedly die.
Rafael (Justin Baldoni), who covered up his father's art theft, decided take a plea deal to wipe the slate clean and be a man his children can respect.
Rogelio (Jaime Camil) experienced his first taste of American fame after his "penis"-laced tirade went viral. After a bit of turbulence, he and Darci decide to embark on a partnership in her matchmaking reality show.
Xo (Andrea Navedo) conquered a huge, drunken hurdle in the form of Bruce's teenaged daughter. And Alba faced the reality of living alone for the first time in decades.
Finally, everything was falling into place for Jane after two years of life-altering, surprise babymama trauma. She managed to land a job as the assistant for a young publishing genius. The newlyweds also move up their timeline for having a second child.
After being physically unable to return to the force, Michael (Brett Dier) has decided to become a lawyer and has been tirelessly prepping for the LSATs. To take his mind off the test the next day, Jane decides to take him to the carnival to recreate their first date. In a lyrical aria of writing and performance, two versions of Jane and Michael attend the date: a debilitatingly nervous Michael and a bewildered Jane on an early date are a frame or two ahead of Jane and Michael, blissfully married couple. It was a breathtaking juxtaposition of a relationship in two vastly different stages that almost felt too good to be true.
Because it was.
In hindsight, the show had been leading up to this moment from as early as season 1. There are pointed references through the episode as well: that they had plenty of time, the narrator's mention of memories, and their general happiness. And even still, when Michael collapsed, dropping the special lunchbox Jane had lovingly packed for him, the light of his flickering heart slowly fading, it was totally blindsiding.
In the age of faked deaths (Hawaii Five-0), resurrections (Arrow) and the faceless, innumerable bodycounts (Scandal), Michael's death (attributed to complications from his earlier gunshot wound) rendered this Small Screen Girl in a state of shock for a full 10 minutes, the sounds of Jane's (the always sublime Gina Rodriguez) sobs echoing in my head as I numbly put away the leftovers. The last television core-rocking TV death I'd experienced was when Joyce Summers passed in Buffy The Vampire Slayers groundbreaking 2001 episode, "The Body."
As tempting as it may be to angrily claim that the writers are being manipulative to stoke ratings, it's important to remember that this is what death actually is--an incomprehensible loss that's so shocking, it devastates so much that the loved ones are never quite the same. So the fact that it feels so unfair and enraging means Jane The Virgin has done it right both by creating a principled, dorky, amazing character in Michael Cordero that we've grown to love and invest in him, and giving him a frill-less, painfully real demise that we ache at the very idea that he's gone. It's not for ratings or for sensationalism or gore, it's just a beautifully crafted story with a soul-crushing ending.
The scant silver lining is that Brett Dier will be back in flashbacks, according to TVLine.com, and that this episode was pivotal for every character. When Jane returns, it will be three years later, Mateo will 4 years old, Rafael will be out of prison; and someone is getting married!
How are you coping with Michael's death? Who do you think is getting married? Share your thoughts below!
If you're on the verge of an ugly cry, take a walk down memory lane back to Jane and Michael's swooningly romantic wedding.
Photo Credit: ew.com
Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.