I … don’t know where to start.
I can forgive the green screen mountain range—aside from the sunshine and the tropicolor aesthetic, it’s not like Jane the Virgin approaches Miami with any kind of serious geographical verisimilitude. I can forgive Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and Michael (Brett Dier) having a silly impromptu hay fight at the end of a long day of chores, despite how hot, itchy and utterly unpleasant that would be in reality—at least they wear work gloves during (most of) the actual stall mucking. I can even forgive the salty edge-of-Texan accents all those Montana cowboys (and gals) spend the episode jabbin’ and jawin’ in—ranch hands often come from out of state, who’s to say that’s not true about most of Michael’s coworkers?
But possums, in Montana? Any rural bus stops at all, let alone one on a (smooth!) dirt road? A wealth of gnarly, thick-trunked deciduous trees, not a conifer or aspen in sight? The apparently amicable but otherwise unceremonious end to the entire series’ central romantic drama? I mean, come on, Jane. I’m on your side—work with me here!
All (gentle but serious) joking about the unrecognizability of Jane’s take on the High Plains aside, it’s hard for me to picture the viewer who will walk away from “Chapter Eighty-Eight” feeling anything like satisfaction. If you’re #TeamMichael, the fizzling out of what the series spent four seasons setting up as history’s (or at least Miami’s) most epic romance has to feel at best anticlimactic, and at worst, like a slap in the face. If you’re #TeamRafael, the chaos that their near-idyllic life together was thrown into by Jane’s (totally reasonable!) decision to take the reality of Michael’s return seriously can’t possibly have seemed worth it. If you’re #TeamJane, well, okay, the fact that she is now certain in her knowledge that Rafael (Justin Baldoni) is her destiny and worth fighting to win back is great and all, but the fact that Raf has gone and staged a nuclear emotional shutout in response to Jane doing the only thing she could do in the face of Michael returning—a return that he himself orchestrated! knowing what kind of closure it would necessitate Jane seeking!—has to seem supremely unfair. And if you’re #TeamRogelio or #TeamPetra? I mean, barring Rogelio’s (Jaime Camil) brief fringe-toting cameo pre-title card, they’re not even in this episode. Truly, a travesty all around.
Look, I get what the show was going for, sealing Jane and Michael off somewhere new so that they might attempt to negotiate the new parameters of their old relationship without being distracted by the chaos a normal weekend in Jane the Virgin’s Miami might otherwise bring. And I get, too, that sealing the audience off from Jane’s equally interesting side stories for a whole episode was necessary to give the viewers a similar degree of quiet in which to appreciate Jane and Michael for who they are, regardless of our personal opinions about how The Love Triangle should pan out. I even get that, frustrating as it is for everyone involved, Michael and Jane stumbling into the disappointing truth that they’ve just grown too much, in directions too far away from each other, to make enough of a meaningful connection to even give a renewed romance a real go is a very Jane way of resolving a soapy telenovela plot twist in a deeply realistic way.
The thing is, though, we already got a deeply realistic, deeply harrowing, deeply satisfying end to The Love Triangle, in the form of all the hard work Jane put into piecing herself back together after Michael’s heart attack. Gina’s barn-burner of a nervous breakdown monologue following his shocking return in this season’s premiere notwithstanding (once again, give this woman all the Emmys), if this is how The Love Triangle’s second coming ultimately collapses, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming away thinking its resurrection was worth all the pain and frustration it’s caused—especially when we didn’t get A SINGLE #Brogelio #moment out of it.
That said, the season isn’t even halfway over, and Rose (Bridget Regan), Michael’s ultimate object of crime-solving obsession, is still scheming her way in and around Jane’s life. I mean, who’s to say the very fun Haley Lu’s Charlie, Michael’s prickly ranching nemesis (and Dier’s IRL partner), isn’t another of Rose’s minions in disguise? How delicious a telenovela twist that would be. Plus, for all that Jane and Michael’s sad final goodbye at that totally fake dirt road bus stop felt final, the fact that every single one of the futures Jane imagined in her time on the ranch included Rafael and Michael together, at peace with one another, is not insignificant. It’s genuinely impossible to imagine a Jane the Virgin series finale that doesn’t include Michael as a part of Jane’s future in some real way, romantic or not.
So, on the not impossible chance the show slingshots us back to Montana once more before the series ends (if we don’t get an on-screen Brogelio reunion, I will revolt), then please, Jane the Virgin team—I know you’ve wrapped filming, but I cannot stress this enough: There are no possums in Montana. You want Michael to run over any more imaginary small High Plains mammals, add a jackalope in post. At least they’ve seen a Rocky Mountain before.
In the meantime, here’s to hoping everything’s back on the rails in “Chapter Eighty-Nine.”
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.