Arguably the biggest difficulty in writing for popular television shows with romantic plotlines is giving viewers what they want while still surprising them. That challenge is one that Jane the Virgin’s writing staff handily tackles each and every week. That’s partially due to the show’s unabashed embrace of the telenovela genre, which allows the audience to be swept away through insane plot lines, giving it an edge over typically American programs. But I’d credit it more to the talent of the writers, who constantly and successfully waffle the show between sweet and funny, realistic and insane—a balance that Season 2's finale handled perfectly.
You’d think on a show where every episode feels like a finale, an actual finale wouldn’t be able to top things. But because of that, a finale episode of Jane the Virgin is a lot more natural than on other TV shows: Jane did not lose her virginity, but was instead interrupted when Michael was shot by his work partner Susanna, who was revealed to actually be Sin Rostro aka Rose in disguise this whole time. (How is this possible? You know we’ll find out.)
Does this mean Michael’s dead? Though I’ve openly wished for it before, who knows—killing him off entirely would mean that there would be no one left in the police department to properly investigate and take Sin Rostro out. If Michael did die, Jane lost her ideal fantasy man, someone who went through a list of the stuff they should talk about the night before they married, with points like this.
Despite his anger issues, and general lack of oompf as a person, Michael has always been presented as a partner that satisfies the safe, dependable side of Jane. Though he’s lashed out and done a variety of stupid things, for most of this season’s second half, he’s been there for her no matter what. With his potential death, the part of her that yearns for perfect, happy endings dies.
Or does it? Right before Jane gets married, we see her have a moment with Rafael, who is about to admit to Jane that he still loves her, to see if there’s a chance that she will choose him. Then we learn, like many moments on Jane the Virgin, it was all a daydream: he loves her too much to ruin her perfect day. He’s learning—albeit slowly and with mistakes—to put others before himself.
A more traditional TV dramedy would have shown Jane’s wedding interrupted by Rafael’s admission. Instead, everything went according to plan—until it didn’t. Jane’s married, but potentially a widow, which means we could spend the bulk of a very interesting Season 3 watching her cope with those feelings.
The finale also touched on Jane’s complex relationship with her thesis advisor Professor Donaldson. Though it was heartbreaking to see a perfectly sexy/good character in Adam Rodriguez go, Donaldson has pushed Jane further than he did; for all her issues with Jane’s more traditional choices, she has certainly required Jane to accept that good writing does not come easily, and that it’s important for her to treat her work life as seriously as she does her home life. “You’re just going to have to decide if your thing is more important than your thesis,” she tells her when Jane decides last minute she wants to change her romance novel to a fictionalized version of the story of her grandmother’s marriage to her grandfather (would read). Professor Donaldson is not particularly likable, but she’s helped Jane come to several epiphanies about her thesis and the quality of her work. (She’s also good for some one-liners, like when she had to help Jane with the buttons on her wedding dress, saying, “I feel like I’m locking you into the patriarchy as I’m doing this.”)
Good television takes tropes and moves them further. It also uses its secondary characters to their fullest extent. Motherhood—and what it means to be a good mother—has been heavily explored this season through the contrasting experiences of Petra and Jane, and it looks like Season 3 will continue with that thread according to showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman, who hinted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Xo’s surprise pregnancy via Esteban might not result in a baby (aka she could have an abortion, a topic the show has confronted before). It’ll also be interesting to see how Petra—who thought she had finally found family via her lost twin sister Anezka—will get out of being trapped in a hospital bed by a woman she was just learning to trust, and how it will affect her long-term (to say nothing of how being duped into having sex with the wrong woman will affect Rafael).
While obviously fans of the show are fixated on Jane having sex (even Jane is, to some degree), Urman makes an excellent point that the original conceit of the show—about a virgin who is artificially inseminated without her knowledge—has hardly remained the most important point. “...I never wanted her to lose her virginity in the season premiere or season finale, because to me that makes it... that’s just not what the show’s about,” she said, adding that when it does happen (it’s still “imminent”), it will be “a more normal moment.” Given that the rest of the finale included identity switches, a surprise pregnancy and an appearance by Bruno Mars, that’ll be nice to see.
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