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OpeningNight.jpg

Curtains for Season Three of ‘Only Murders’

By Alison Lanier | TV | October 4, 2023 |

By Alison Lanier | TV | October 4, 2023 |


OpeningNight.jpg

The curtain falls on season three of the beloved murder mystery romp that is Only Murders in the Building, an unlikely hit premised around the comedic chemistry of an unlikely trio: Steve Martin, Martin Short, and … Selena Gomez. I’m still not over how damn well the intergenerational teams works, honestly. It’s just fantastic—especially as you begin to be able to pick out the moments that are truly improvised. (I have a feeling there was a line in the script this season that said something along the lines of “Oliver talks dirty to his dips.” And look where that one went. But I digress.)

Every season, the intrepid trio—drawn together by their love of true-crime podcasts and their deep roots at a luxury upper-west side apartment building—investigate the murder of someone in said building. And, of course, make a podcast about it.

With twists and turns, comedically larger-than-life characters, and Meryl Streep, season three took its final bow last night with the high-flying finale.

Needless to say, HERE BE SPOILERS.

Season three did an incredible job of keeping us guessing, time and time again, throughout the season. Some twists I could call; some I absolutely couldn’t. Honestly, I feel this is exactly the right balance—you feel like you’re keeping pace but still on edge. In the moment Mabel (Gomez) looks between two pairs of mother and son, wondering which matriarch was driven to murder for her child, I was wondering too.

There were gems: Matthew Broderick appeared as himself (which caused me to scream “Don’t you dare kill Matthew Broderick!” at the TV. Only Murders is a dangerous place for celebrity guests, as we know). Paul Rudd having the time of his life acting against a sugar cookie was something to behold. Oliver charging onto the stage to take command of his imperiled musical on opening night made me literally cheer. And Charles’ sparkly inspector outfit—I mean, how could you not smile?

Still, there was some spark missing in the finale. Donna’s (Linda Emond) confession did seem to come far too easily. Or at least, without enough fanfare and pizzazz. And Cliff (Wesley Taylor), despite having a pitch-perfect performance all season long as the incredibly strange and disconnected producer-son-of-a-producer, didn’t really carry the final moments of incrimination and desperation.

The finale brought all the threads together, but in this instance, it felt too neat. Too…clear. The bar set last season was extremely high, with the reveal of Becky—the subject of the podcast that brought the trio together to begin with—as not only being alive but being the mastermind of the entire season’s drama. Like, how perfect is that? The fake-out stabbing? Howard’s bad acting at the killer reveal party?

But according to the show’s co-creator John Hoffman, the more predictable ending of this season was something intentional; he told Variety that he wanted the viewer to have the “little victory” of being able to say, “I knew that!” It’s how it all unspooled that was meant to be the hook.

The finale gave me everything I wanted—the reveal, the new murder, the surprises—but it also left me wanting. I expected one last twist somewhere, some resolved side-character subplot. I mean, how are Howard and Jonathon doing? Does anyone know? The fascinating cast of side characters within the…cast…was one of the things I was most excited about this season, and I’m sorry to say only a few of them got the breathing room they needed to flourish into well-rounded, tangible personalities.

Season three’s theatrical theme gave the core team—and Meryl—a chance to stretch their musical chops. That triplets patter song is still in my head and refuses to leave. The exception to the musical performers was, ironically, Selena Gomez. But maybe she’s had enough of musicals. I wouldn’t blame her.

But Sazz!! That came out of nowhere! While the rich irony of your stunt double literally taking a bullet for you stands, both Sazz (Jane Lynch) and the bullet came out of nowhere. Will next season dive into Charles’ life and personal drama? If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that you don’t leave the we-caught-the-killer(s) party to go get another bottle of anything.

What agonized final message is Sazz writing in her own blood on the cutesy tiles of Charles’ apartment? Also, it looked like a gut shot to me—so will Sazz live? Will the fourth victim be someone else entirely? Season three ends on a dramatic murder that turned out to be, in fact, a failed murder attempt. More misdirection? Or do we actually have to say farewell to Jane Lynch’s delightful stunt double character? We’ll have to wait to the season premiere of season four in 2024.

The whole of season three is now streaming on Hulu.