“Jane the Virgin” answered most of your burning questions as how the eff Michael (Brett Dier) is alive in its fifth and final season premiere on Wednesday. But that wasn’t the episode’s big moment. Nah, that honor goes to Gina Rodriguez, who as Jane delivered a seven-minute (!) monologue (watch above) so good we’re just trying not to be sad thinking about the Emmy she won’t win for it but very much deserves to.
Requisite spoiler alert warning if you don’t want to know what happened with Michael. Last chance. OK.
It turns out Rose (Bridget Regan) had faked Michael’s death and used electroshock therapy on his hippocampus and temporal lobe to erase all memory of who he was before. So for the past four years Michael has been living a quiet Montanan life as Jason (as in Bourne), a laconic ma’am-addressing fellow who is now a dog, not cat, person! (Don’t tell Faith N. Whiskers.) So yeah, the final telenovela trope “Jane” will tackle is amnesia. Classic.
All of this is super hard for Jane to process, naturally, since, you know, she was thisclose to getting engaged to Rafael (Justin Baldoni) and well, how do you even deal with your husband coming back from the dead? There’s no app for that. So Jane launches into a lengthy monologue before her mother Xo (Andrea Navedo) and grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll). Shot in one take (Rodriguez also directed the episode), the extended sequence is not only a fantastic showcase for Rodriguez’s gifts, as Jane works through her confusion, fears and identity crisis (is she a widow still? was she a widow ever?), but a microcosm of everything the series has always done so well: balancing lighter moments and fun telenovela twists with deeply felt, grounded emotion and heart.
It’s visually amusing to see Jane scurrying around making tea, eating arepas, answering the door and taking off her pants as she rambles, but you never lose sight of the true inner turmoil she’s facing, and what’s more, you feel for her. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, marrying physical comedy with hefty centerpiece speech, and Rodriguez handles it with aplomb. A lesser show would go for a big fully dramatic monologue with tears to boot to hammer home that this is a Very Important Moment, but not “Jane.”
Despite critical acclaim and various nominations and awards elsewhere, including a Peabody Award and a Golden Globe win for Rodriguez in 2015, “Jane” has been virtually overlooked by the Emmys because, well, it’s on The CW. (The CW has yet to produce an acting nominee at the Emmys.) “Jane” only has two Emmy bids, for narration, the last coming in 2016. In other words, it’s the biggest of uphill climbs for Rodriguez to make the Best Comedy Actress cut, but if voters actually did their homework, they’d recognize her for these brilliant seven minutes of acting heaven.
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