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‘Jane the Virgin’s’ Big Twist Proves the Show’s Narrator Is Reliable —But Is He Trustworthy?

The CW telenovela makes its riskiest move yet with a shocking event viewers should’ve seen coming.

Brett Dier and Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"

Brett Dier and Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”

Colleen Hayes/The CW

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from Monday’s episode of “Jane the Virgin.”]

In a move that viewers were repeatedly warned about, “Jane the Virgin” killed off one of its main characters on Monday’s episode. Michael Cordero (Brett Dier), the husband of Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), died from side effects from the gunshot wound that resulted in surgery in the season premiere.

Although Michael eventually recuperated, he never recovered completely. He didn’t pass the physical to go back into the field as a cop and was stuck behind the desk. His dissatisfaction with this work led him to his latest dream of pursuing law. Following a beautiful night in which he and Jane relived one of their memorable early dates at the fair, Michael took his LSAT the next day and then collapsed before he could turn in the test.

READ MORE: ‘Jane the Virgin’ Reveals Michael’s Fate in Premiere, But What About That Damned Narrator?

While the timing of Michael’s death, before the midway point in the third season, was a shocker, his fate shouldn’t have been for viewers. We’ve discussed that damned Narrator (Anthony Mendez) before. While he has interjected some hilarious and entertaining asides, he’s also foreshadowed Michael’s death repeatedly.

The first hint of Michael’s demise happened all the way back in Season 1 when Michael, after one of his off-again spats with Jane, told her mother, “I’m not just going to give up on us. We belong together, and I’ll never stop believing that.”

At that point, the Narrator chimed in ominously, “And for as long as Michael lived, until he drew his very last breath, he never did.”

It was easy to dismiss the Narrator’s words as nothing more than a flowery figure of speech or as a promise that perhaps Michael could die far in the future. But then we got another reminder at the end of Season 2 when Michael was shot in a cliffhanger finale. When Michael lived through the surgery at the beginning of this season, he once again thwarted the dark presentiments of his death. Hell, once Jane relented to adopt a cat, Faith N. Whiskers III, we thought for sure Michael was in the clear. Alas, no.

Brett Dier and Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"

Brett Dier and Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”

Michael Desmond/The CW

Throughout this entire episode, viewers had several hints that something bad was coming: the too-rosy date redux with Jane, the tenuous plans about having a child sooner than planned, and the Narrator pausing to relate how Jane would replay a certain interaction with Michael, which turned out to be the last time she saw him alive.

READ MORE: ‘Jane the Virgin’ Star Gina Rodriguez on Advocacy and Supporting Women in This New Age — IndieWire’s TURN IT ON Podcast

“The Narrator does not lie,” showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman had told reporters earlier this season. “It’s a reliable narrator. We’re going to be dealing with that.”

The phrase “reliable narrator” holds particular significance in this episode, not only because his foreshadowing of Michael’s death proved true but because the concept of the unreliable narrator was harped on several times throughout the episode. It’s as if the series wanted to call attention to the fact that our Narrator, the one talking to us, was not one of those unreliable ones.

The Narrator could indeed be trusted in this instance – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s trustworthy. Yes, he got the facts right, but his roundabout way of speaking means that storytelling is still paramount. Surprise and suspense on a TV show will of course trump spoilers.

Brett Dier, "Jane the Virgin"

Brett Dier, “Jane the Virgin”

Colleen Hayes/The CW

But if this is the case, why have such a unique narrator, one is is clearly biased, rather than a more impartial one? He had always seemed a bit too close to the action, as if he knew these characters personally and loved them. And Urman had said that he has a “relationship” to the characters, whatever that means. This could mean that he has other motivations for telling Jane’s story and the way he’s letting it unfold. The only thing we know about the Narrator for certain is that his identity will be revealed at the end of the series, as Urman had promised.

READ MORE: From ‘Jane the Virgin’ to ‘You’re the Worst,’ IndieWire Critics Debate the Normalizing of Abortion on TV

While pulling the Narrator into the spotlight yet again, this episode also made a couple other significant storytelling decisions. Michael’s death put the second nail into the coffin of “Jane the Virgin’s” central love triangle that began in Season 1 and ended when Jane and Michael married (and he lived after being shot on their wedding day). Jane the widow will be free for another new love triangle someday.

This is where the series made another bold choice. As soon as Jane heard the news of Michael’s death on the phone and broke down, the show made a three-year time jump. In the future, Jane’s son Mateo is now walking and talking, and she’s about to attend a wedding as a guest. It’s clear that life will go on without Michael, but scenes previewing future episodes reveal that we’ll see enough in flashback to witness just how Jane mourned the loss of her husband.

“Jane the Virgin” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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