[This story contains spoilers from the two-episode season three premiere of Only Murders in the Building.]
In its second season finale, Only Murders in the Building loudly announced its intentions for season three: Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez’s intrepid true crime podcasters were going to have to solve another murder mystery, with Paul Rudd playing the corpse in question. Stunt casting aside, the new case was another significant leap forward for the comedy on at least two fronts: The murder took place a full year after the events of seasons one and two, and the murder took place in a building outside of the titular… well, building.
At least, that’s how it seemed.
The Only Murders season three premiere, called “The Show Must,” which has released on Hulu amid the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes (which is why you won’t see any actors doing press for the season), takes back the death of Ben Glenroy (Rudd), if only for a little while. A vapid actor whose celebrity highlight reel includes projects such as “Cobro” and “Girl Cop,” Rudd’s Glenroy manages to survive his apparent on-stage demise from the season two finale, in which he appeared to die in front of a packed theater house on opening night of the new play “Death Rattle.” Technically, Glenroy did die, but only for an hour. His resurrection turns out to be similarly short-lived, as his battered body is discovered on top of an elevator by the end of the premiere by none other than Charles-Haden Savage (Martin), Oliver Putnam (Short) and Mabel Mora (Gomez), whose whodunnit podcast series is officially back in action with a brand new mystery to solve.
Across its first two episodes, Only Murders season three introduces (and reintroduces) the viewer to a litany of folks with plenty of motive and opportunity to kill the cookie-loving monster known as Ben Glenroy. Who done it? Let’s survey the suspects as the 10-episode season begins:
Paul Rudd isn’t the only A-lister on board for Only Murders this season. The iconic Meryl Streep joins the cast this year as Loretta Durkin, one of the stars of “Death Rattle,” Oliver’s new Broadway show. In a major turn against type, Streep’s character is a struggling actress, long rejected by the industry and finally facing a chance at success.
The season begins by introducing Loretta and her backstory, setting her up as Oliver’s new love interest, and making tension between her and Ben clear. With Ben dead, the play is also likely dead, which means Oliver’s rule of no workplace romances may finally lift. Did Loretta kill Ben in order to open the door for a romance with Oliver? it feels a little light. And also, we’ve been here before, what with Charles-Haden’s ill-fated relationship with serial killer Jan (Amy Ryan). Still, she remains a top suspect, if not for motive then at least for a few key pieces of dialogue. (“Oliver tells me you’re one to look out for,” Ben says at one point, and later even Loretta exclaims: “Oh my God, it’s me! It’s me, isn’t it?”)
Played by Jeremy Shamos, a.k.a. the erstwhile Mr. Kettleman on Better Call Saul, Dickie is Ben’s brother and manager. He’s responsible for Ben’s diet, which must be strictly followed due to the actor’s commitment to playing superhero Cobro. With direct access to Ben’s food, Dickie could easily have poisoned Ben, a first murder attempt that ultimately went awry. Shortly before Ben’s final death, Dickie pulled his brother aside for a very important phone call. Was that an actual call, or something arranged to sneak Ben away somewhere a bit more private — like an elevator shaft, perhaps?
Tobert the Documentarian
Also known as “Robert with a T,” played by Jesse Williams. Tobert is Ben’s documentarian, on hand to film the hotshot actor’s Broadway debut. Williams is a significant name among the new Only Murders cast members, and he has one of the most significant “that’s the murderer” pieces of dialogue in the premiere: “Hey Broadway, I’m just an observer. This is literally the last time you’re going to hear my voice.” (Exactly what the killer would say.) Season two already took a meta route by having a podcaster as the murderer; casting a filmmaker in that role would be a natural next step for season three.
Donna and Clifford DiMeo
Then again, there’s always the producers of “Death Rattle,” mother-son duo Donna and Clifford, played by Linda Emond and Wesley Taylor. Right off the bat, these two give off major criminal vibes, what with an incredibly inappropriate kiss that no mother and son should share for any reason whatsoever. What’s more, Ben’s primadonna behavior has clearly rubbed the producers the wrong way; Ben can’t even remember Clifford’s name, only calling him “boy.” These two stand out as very likely suspects here in the early going of season three on a couple of fronts. One, “Clifford” is the same name as one of Martin Short’s most monstrous alter-egos, perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to the Only Murders Clifford’s murderous tendencies. For another, a pair of producers killing an actor and causing a show to stop down? Sounds eerily familiar…
Howard and the Arconia Residents
When considering who murdered in the building, always suspect the people who live in said building. This season, there’s no greater ambassador for the prime in-house suspect list than Howard, played by Michael Cyril Creighton, promoted to series regular for season three. The upgraded importance could be a tell, but he also has incentive to ruin the show, given that he auditioned for Oliver’s play and instead was cast as Oliver’s assistant. Enough of an excuse to commit a murder? Maybe not. It would also be a bitter pill to swallow for fans who have come to grow quite fond of the late, great Evelyn the cat’s cat dad. This early in the season — and this late into the series’ life cycle, however — anyone and everyone who lives at the Arconia should wind up on the whiteboard.
If it wasn’t Loretta, Dickie, Tobert, Donna, Clifford or Howard, who killed Ben Glenroy? Check back later in the season for another rundown of the suspects before the big reveal.
Only Murders in the Building season three releases new episodes Tuesdays on Hulu.