Jane the Virgin's strength is that its writers know how to balance outrageous, telenovela-level drama with down-to-earth, realistic plots. No storyline has better illustrated this point in recent seasons than Xiomara's (Andrea Navedo) battle with breast cancer. While Xo's single mastectomy and chemo treatment seemed to be working in Season 4, there hasn't been much of an update on her overall health yet. Now, all Xiomara fans and Xiogelio shippers are right to be worried if Xiomara will die in Jane the Virgin's final season.
TVLine caught up with Jane the Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman to talk about what's in store for the final season and get some of these answers. Urman gave plenty of teasers, one of the scariest being that not all of the characters would make it to the series finale. "[T]here are deaths," she revealed. "It’s a telenovela. People are going to have to die."
At the moment, Xiomara is at the top of the list of likely candidates for a funeral. She's still battling breast cancer, which is clearly taking its toll on her energy. Jane the Virgin costume designer Sage Kunin spoke with Bustle's Rachel Simon about how Xiomara's style altered in Season 4, when she started undergoing chemo.
"I didn’t want Xo to look like she’s feeling well, hence the drab colors, and she didn’t wear any jewels during this time," explains Kunin. "It should be a contrast to her regular self. Chemo zaps your energy, so she wouldn't even be interested in putting on all of the pieces she typically did."
In Season 5, Xiomara's style is still tending toward neutral colors and comfort over the sexy, glamorous looks of earlier seasons. That's not to say that the experience of living with breast cancer — as well as going from being a single mom to Rogelio's wife, as she mentioned back in Season 4 — hasn't simply changed her sense of style permanently. But it does seem like the show is going a little bit out of its way to emphasize to the audience that Xo is still not as healthy as she used to be.
One reporter from Entertainment Tonight directly asked Navedo if the writers of Jane the Virgin would be so harsh as to write in Xiomara's death. "I'll just say," Navedo responded carefully, "there's a conclusion to Xo's cancer storyline around Episode 9. So that's all I can say."
Earlier in the same interview, however, she mentioned that she and the rest of the cast were in tears during the table read for Episode 17, so maybe that means Xiomara will outlast the cancer after all? Or does it simply mean Xiomara will reappear in a flashback?
No matter what happens, Navedo told Vulture that she's still so happy to have had the chance to show Xo's level of strength and realness as she struggles through cancer. "It was a big departure from everything Xo has done on the show so I was excited about that," she said, "but I was also nervous because I really wanted to do a good job..."
Navedo went on to explain to Vulture that this particular plot actually has an extremely personal connection for her. "I have a cousin who, at age 36, passed away from cancer and she left three girls," she revealed. "It’s such a crazy battle for anybody to go through, and I really wanted to do it justice and be as honest as possible so that people could connect and feel like it wasn’t glossed over or taken lightly."
Urman and the other writers of Jane the Virgin have handled Xo's cancer storyline with all the love and importance it deserves, illustrating to audiences a painful but realistic version of a very human experience. While it would be utterly heartbreaking to say goodbye to this beloved character, if Xiomara does pass away in Season 5, her death won't be in vain.