SPOILERS for the Jane the Virgin season 4 finale ahead
The Jane the Virgin season 4 finale, "Chapter Eighty-One," ended on a major cliffhanger with Michael Cordero, Jr. (Brett Dier) seemingly returning from the dead, but is he really alive? When Jane the Virgin first kicked off, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) was dating Michael. While the show spent much of its early seasons chronicling their love story, especially as it intersected with Jane's relationship with her son's father Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni), Michael died partway through season 3. In "Chapter Fifty-Four," Michael succumbed to health complications from when he was shot on his and Jane's wedding night.
In that same episode, Jane the Virgin featured a three year time jump, allowing the show to quickly move beyond the bulk of Jane's time spent grieving. Still, Jane's journey since Michael's death has made up a great deal of her narrative arc over the remainder of season 3 and season 4. Jane has since moved on from Michael, and began seriously dating Rafael. In fact, for much of the season 4 finale, Jane is expecting Rafael to propose to her. However, that proposal never comes.
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Instead, in the final scene of the Jane the Virgin finale, Rafael shows Jane into his apartment - where Michael is waiting. In true telenovela fashion, it's a shocking cliffhanger on which Jane the Virgin ends it's season. But fans are left wondering whether this is truly Michael somehow back from dead, or if there's another explanation for Dier's return to the series.
How Michael Could Return on Jane the Virgin
Well, we know the man in Rafael's apartment isn't Michael's long lost twin, as confirmed by showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman in an interview with EW. That is, after all, a twist the show has employed before. Urman went on to say, "I can’t say whether it’s definitely Michael, that will be answered in the first episode of the fifth season."
Of course, another explanation may be plastic surgery, which is a storytelling tactic Jane the Virgin has employed in the past. It's possible the man in Rafael's apartment could be someone disguised as Michael. Since Rose, aka. Sin Rostro (Bridget Regan), lead Rafael to this person who looks like Michael, it could be a ploy by the infamous crime lord.
However, it may not be plastic surgery, or anything else Jane the Virgin has done in the past. In an interview with THR, Urman said, "There's a few [twists] that we have as writers in our back pocket that we haven't played yet and this is one of them." So what other explanation could there be for Michael's return?
Is Michael Really Alive?
If the man in Rafael's apartment isn't Michael's twin and it isn't someone else disguised as Michael, the most obvious explanation is that it is really Michael. But that begs the question of how he could be alive. Viewers saw Michael die. Plus, if he didn't die in "Chapter Fifty-Four," where has he been for the last four years? Well, in an interview with Variety, Urman responds to a question of whether Micahel faked his own death by saying, "The truth is not quite that." So, Michael did die, but perhaps it's what happened after he was revived that's important.
In all of Urman's post-mortem interviews, she said the main question the show will explore in season 5 is whether this is really Michael. What if, after Michael was revived, he had amnesia? If that's the case, he would have forgotten much of what made him Michael. Though it doesn't necessarily explain why everyone in his life thought he was dead, amnesia isn't out of the realm of possibility for a telenovela. So, it seems a likely explanation for Michael's "death" and his return now.
In fact, Jane the Virgin has dropped clues that this could be the storyline they explore with Michael's return. In a recent episode, Rogelio insisted the American adaptation of his telenovela needed to include his character's amnesia storyline because it was important for the show. Plus, way back when Michael was shot, he awoke after surgery and pretended not to know Jane, faking amnesia. These clues may be nothing. Or, they may point to exactly what fans can expect from how Jane the Virgin explains Michael's return in season 5. Until the show resumes, fans can come up with their own theories about this shocking twist, but our theory is that Michael had (or still has) amnesia.
Jane the Virgin will return for season 5 on The CW.