When I was a young and hammy child, my dad would raid the local Blockbuster for movie series that he felt were foundational in some way. Because of him, I’ve seen every Planet of the Apes movie and every Dirty Harry, but the one series out of my dad’s recurring at-home film festivals that really stuck with me were the adaptations of Hercule Poirot stories, the many (many!) adaptations of Agatha Christie’s famous series of novels. We mainly stuck to the Albert Finney/Peter Ustinov films and the David Suchet television portrayal and it nurtured a real love for chamber murder mysteries. They’re cozy and comforting. It only makes sense this love for a characterful murder mystery would lead me straight to Only Murders in the Building.
This third season, airing new episodes weekly on Hulu has been tremendous in this humble gadfly’s opinion. Given the hit-or-miss nature of OMITB’s celebrity guests of the past, I was somewhat concerned Meryl Streep’s presence would be awkwardly handled as it was in the second season of Big Little Lies, but her turn as Lorretta has been a hoot. Similarly, seeing Paul Rudd as Ben Glenroy, the star of the superhero franchise CoBro, has been a blast. The mystery itself is as intriguing as ever, taking us out of the Arconia and into the world of Broadway, which has been a breath of fresh air. Sure, the murder took place partially in the Arconia, but the real action has been in the ongoing travails of Death Rattle, Oliver’s theatrical comeback starring Charles. Mabel is crashing with Theo while she figures out a new place to live and has mainly investigated the murder on her own, with occasional help from Tobert, a documentarian played by Jesse Williams. Let’s speculate wildly about this mystery with all these elements stewing together and just two episodes left in the season.
Be warned: on the other side of this GIF are spoilers for season 3 of Only Murders in the Building.
So who did it? Who killed Ben Gilroy? I have some thoughts and theories to share!
Wild Theory #1: Ben was yelling at cookies in his dressing room. Ben’s prohibitive diet was established in the first episode, as was his abiding temptation to snack. He even snuck a cookie during a table read like it was tremendous contraband. The angle of Tobert’s video keeps us from seeing who or what Ben is yelling at, but his ranting is all about being tempted by something sweet that will absolutely ruin him. Perhaps this wasn’t Ben yelling at anyone but at a plate of cookies that would throw off his MCU-style superhero bod. On a similar note…
Wild Theory #2: Ben wrote “fucking pig” on his mirror. Ben seems to be a consistently dramatic person who goes big. If he can have a heated argument with a plate of cookies, he can definitely pick up Joy’s lipstick and write the world’s least encouraging diet reminder. Yeah, Loretta called Ben that very insult, but my guess is he just reproduced it. I can see a drama king like Ben thinking, “She’s right! I AM a fucking pig… for these cookies!”
Wild Theory #3: There are two killers. We know that Ben was murdered “twice,” once when he was poisoned and then a second time when he fell down an elevator shaft. This season has dabbled in meta-jokes, like when the possibility Joy was the killer arose, Oliver cracked that a lady Charles is dating turning out to be killer was a bit been there/done that for the show. I agree and I think this points to a different subversion: two people committed two separate murders. It seems unlikely Loretta is the culprit because her confession to the crime in the most recent episode appeared to be motivated by a desire to protect her son Dickie, Ben’s adopted brother and manager. Despite having ample motive, I don’t think Dickie did it either. Yes, he spent his whole life doing the work with Ben taking the credit (including dreaming up the CoBro character!), but he seemed genuinely sad to admit his relief at Ben’s death. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t strike me as a wise thing to admit if you really killed Ben. So who are the killers?
Wild Theory #4: Dr. C is to Blame. Ben’s red-ballcap-clad concierge doctor was giving the star the “Leading Man cocktail” of substances including beta blockers and meth. This seems a likely explanation for Ben’s first death. The poison could’ve come in his drug cocktail, or maybe he took too much and a drug interaction turned fatal. Within this, I’d like to posit that while Ben was obviously a huge asshole, his assault of Lorretta seemed unlike his usual bullshit. Could the drug melange from a pet doctor have made him more aggressive?
Wild Theory #5: Tobert is to Blame. His interest in the murder seems slightly under-explained beyond apparently sharing a penchant for sleuthing with Mabel. Tobert also seems cool, calm and collected about the whole thing for someone just looking for answers. My partner cottoned onto him before I did, saying he seemed suspiciously over-interested in Mabel’s investigation. What made this click for me was a line from the most recent episode, “Sitzprobe.” Loretta has learned that Mabel suspects Dickie and goes to Mabel to redirect her gaze elsewhere. Mabel is immediately suspicious of Loretta, mentioning that a guilty party would try to become involved in the investigation. This is when it lined up for me: Tobert could be involving himself in the investigation, not to mention involving himself romantically with Mabel, to control and direct the investigation away from himself.
What say you, fellow armchair detectives? Do you have any wild theories of your own? Can anyone tell me what the shredded document Howard found connects to?
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.