Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Jane the Virgin Season 4 finale. We are so serious about this twist not being spoiled for you this warning is going up three days after the finale, which is an eternity in internet terms. If you don't know who Jane's mystery man is from the headline, do not read this article.
Okay, Jane the Virgin, fans. Michael (Brett Dier) is allegedly back from the dead, as revealed in the cliffhanger scene of the Season 4 finale. At least, "Michael is alive!" is the first thought after you see him turn around in that jaw-dropping scene, but now that there's been some time to recover and really think this through -- do we really know that's Michael? If it is, why was he gone for four years?
Executive producer Jennie Snyder-Urman promised us that it is not an evil Michael twin (the show already pulled off that telenovela trope with Petra and Anezka). But that's just one of many possible explanations for how Michael, or someone that looks identical to Michael, could be standing in Rafael's (Justin Baldoni) living room. Here are our theories.
1. It's a face-swap: The most important piece of information about Michael's return is that it happened because of Rose (Bridget Regan) -- the queen of Jane the Virgin face swaps. Her entire arc in Season 1 revolved around her creating a secret plastic surgery service that allowed the world's most illustrious criminals to completely change their appearance. When Rafael refused to tell Rose where Luisa (Yara Martinez) was hiding out, Rose suddenly came back with the only bait (this Michael person) that could get Rafael to sell out his sister. If Rose was desperate enough to get to Luisa, she could have convinced someone to slap on a peel of Michael's face in order to get what she wanted. Crazier things have happened.
2. He left to protect Jane: The only thing that could convince Michael to fake his death and leave Jane (Gina Rodriguez) would be if he thought it was for her own protection. If someone -- ahem, Rose, ahem -- threatened Jane or Mateo, Michael would have done anything to prevent that from happening. It's hard to imagine that anything could have kept him away for four years without any kind of attempt at contact, but if the threat was real enough that he felt Jane or Mateo would be harmed, Michael would stay away. Damn, that's some insane witness protection, though.
2.5 He was recruited by the CIA: Maybe Rose isn't directly responsible for Michael's disappearance, but is still the reason for it. Rose is an international crime boss, thus catching her is in the jurisdiction of the CIA, not the FBI or local Floridian police. Michael was the lead investigator on her case though, and could have been recruited to bring her down. "But Sin Rostro has been in prison forever!" you say! Well, actually, she hasn't. Rose wasn't arrested until 2020, three years after Michael's alleged death. He could have been working on the case the entire time, and it has taken months to get him out of his undercover position. Still, the only reason he would have agreed to that kind of work was if there was a guarantee it would keep Jane and Mateo out of harm.
3. It's Michael...with amnesia: Okay, I amend the previous statement. The only other reason Michael would stay away from Jane for four years is because he didn't remember she existed. You think that sounds far fetched? For the entire back-half of Season 4, Jane used Rogelio's (Jaime Camil) American telenovela adaptation to telegraph upcoming twists and illuminate parallels between Rogelio's show and Jane. Rogelio's storyline in the finale focused on trying to convince River (Brooke Shields) that amnesia was a time-honored telenovela trope and essential for the series to resonate with audiences. You know what telenovela trope Jane the Virgin hasn't done yet? Amnesia! If Michael has lost all of his memories of his family and the love of his life, it would set up an incredibly interesting journey in Season 5 for him as he rediscovers those memories and his way back to Jane (or if he kept them a secret to allow her to stay with Rafael).
What's your theory on who "Michael" is and why he's back in Jane's life?
Jane the Virgin returns later this year for Season 5 on The CW.
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