Only Murders in the Building co-creator John Hoffman explains the killer reveal in the season 3 finale, bringing closure to Paul Rudd’s character.
Warning: The article contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building season 3
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- Only Murders in the Building season 3 focused on the death of actor Ben Glenroy.
- However, the finale revealed that the killer was actually Cliff, aided by his mother Donna.
- Co-creator John Hoffman decided early on to provide clues that viewers could piece together, aiming for a surprising and compelling conclusion.
Only Murders in the Building co-creator John Hoffman explains the killer reveal that closed out season 3. For its third installment, arguably its most star-studded yet, the focus of the Hulu mystery-comedy was on the death of grouchy actor Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd). For a good portion of the ten-episode season 3, the evidence seemed to point to Loretta Durkin (Meryl Streep), but the finale revealed that Ben’s killer was Cliff (Wesley Taylor), who accidentally pushed him in the elevator in a scuffle after Ben learned Cliff’s mother Donna (Linda Emond) tried to poison him earlier at the play.
In an interview with Variety to break down the Only Murders season 3 ending, Hoffman discussed what went into the reveal of Ben’s killer. Hoffman, who created the hit comedy with lead star Steve Martin, was asked when he decided to make Cliff and Linda the culprits. The co-creator shared that it was an “early call,” detailing what went into the decision. Hoffman’s full response is included below:
The writers always wonder, when we leave the end of a season, “Tell us! Who did that!” It was an early call. Sometimes it comes quickly; sometimes it doesn’t go like that. At the end of Season 2, there was a huge unspooling of things that were underneath the whole thing you were watching in the last couple of episodes. But some of them were challenging for people to get, like, “How could we have figured that out?”
So in this case, I wanted to give a little more so that the clues felt like something people could put together. The approach this time was that you might have three choices, and you picked one of them, and you have a little victory “I knew that!” But hopefully the surprise is the manner with which something occurred. Ben Glenroy talking to a cookie — you may have wondered about that early on and guessed it, and might have felt good when that was the case. But hopefully, the scene that played out was deeper, more upsetting, but also funny and keeping you on your toes.
Only Murders Moves Forward After A Lackluster Finale
Although reviews of Only Murders in the Building season 3 were largely positive, assessments of the finale and the killer reveal have been lukewarm. Season 3 made a strong effort to foreground the theme of mother and son relationships and how far mothers would go to protect their sons. Despite an always engaging performance by Emond, there was little surprise in the reveal of Cliff and Donna. Most reviews, and comments from those who have seen the finale, pointed out that the twist was obvious before the central trio of Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) did.
The result was a finale that felt listless and lacking in excitement, but there was a spark provided in the very last scene. The recurring character Sazz (Jane Lynch) is killed by a sniper. Given that Sazz is the stunt double for Charles, the question seems to be whether Charles was the intended target of the sniper shot. That adds a potential element of danger to Only Murders season 4, which exceeds previous seasons and comes with a sense of urgency.
Related: Only Murders In The Building Season 4 – Renewal, Release Date Prediction & Everything We Know
The choice of Sazz as the show’s latest victim is interesting, given how well Only Murders in the Building can flesh out its victims after the fact. As good as the performances of Streep and Rudd were, perhaps an improvement for the upcoming episodes is to pull back on its celebrity guests and focus more on the core cast that first drew in audiences.