Note: This story contains spoilers from the “Only Murders in the Building” Season 3 finale.
The Season 3 finale of “Only Murders in the Building” solved the mystery surrounding the murder of Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), and who among the ensemble cast and crew of “Death Rattle Dazzle” was responsible for the crime. Leave it to the trusted trio of “Only Murders in the Building” podcast fame, Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) to put all the puzzle pieces together and solve the case in the tenth episode.
Quick refresher from Episode 9 before diving into the finale, Ben was caught on Tobert’s (Jesse Williams) camera talking to someone in his dressing room before he dropped from poison onstage during the opening night of the musical. Turns out it was not someone, but something! Mabel figured out that Glenroy was battling his inner urge to consume a red cookie decorated with a baby rattle. Earlier in the season, it was established that he was supposed to stick to a strict diet and not consume sugary substances, but it looks like the killer tempted him with the cookie to try and poison him to death.
A shredded piece of paper from opening night, taped together by Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) revealed a review written about the musical calling Ben the weak link in an otherwise OK production. Mabel and Oliver assumed that Donna (Linda Emond) was the one who got the review and shredded it to keep it from her son Cliff (Wesley Taylor), who took his first producing credit on the production. The reveal left Donna as the main suspect in the investigation ahead of the season finale — which uncovered the identity of the real killer and claimed a new victim.
Earlier in the season, Loretta confessed to killing Ben to protect her biological son and manager Dickie (Jeremy Shamos) — who was Ben’s adopted brother and manager — from being taken by police. Mabel donned Joy’s (Andrea Martin) wedding dress to get the trio to Loretta’s (Meryl Streep) arraignment without interruption so that they could help her avoid pleading guilty, but Donna was in the audience, and that’s where the show left off.
The finale opened with Donna’s narration. She described how she built her career over a montage of her giving birth to Cliff. She broke the fourth wall to hint that producing can be rewarding and dangerous.
After bailing her out of prison, Loretta was invited into the podcast’s “inner sanctum” to theorize over the pinboard. Loretta provided the intel that Donna was sick because Loretta overheard Donna puking in the restroom. She also planned to tell Dickie that she is his mother after the musical’s opening night. Loretta also casually whipped out the missing handkerchief Ben was holding when he was pushed down the elevator shaft, a key piece of missing evidence. The handkerchief had a lipstick stain.
During opening night for the revamped musical, Mabel lured Donna to a room in the theater. The trio attempted to guilt her into admitting to poisoning Ben, but Donna didn’t hesitate to tell them the truth. She said she didn’t intend to kill him with the poison, but only to sideline him so he wouldn’t ruin her son’s producing debut with his subpar performance.
Donna then admitted to pushing Ben down the elevator shaft, but asked the trio to not call the police until after opening night so she could see the production play out. She also revealed she has stage four lunch cancer.
Just as they got the “I did it” for a second time from Donna’s lips, Howard ran downstairs to say that Jonathan took too many pills — the leading man cocktail — and was out of it. Howard offered to take over for Jonathan as the detective in the show.
But Oliver took the stage instead, and he slayed when he joined the cast last-minute for the show’s glittery debut. Loretta wore a great denim number, Oliver a shiny beige coat, Kimber a ruby red dress and Charles a bedazzled policeman’s uniform. Loretta performed her lilting lullaby. As she walked offstage, she began to tell Dickie that he was her son. Dickie heartwarmingly said he had known from the moment they first met.
Meanwhile, in the audience, Donna whispered something in Cliff’s ear that caused him to storm out of the theater. He ended up in the top of the theater, where Mabel realized his mother kissed him on the lips and put her handkerchief in his chest pocket on the first opening night. It’s revealed that Cliff pushed Ben down the elevator shaft once he got too close to realizing what Donna had done with the rat poison.
To delay admitting his crime, Cliff opened the trap door that sat above the stage and threatened to throw himself down into the production and make it a “real sh—t show.” He then started to see Ben filling Oliver’s role as Loretta dueted with the detective onstage. Charles caught sight of Cliff’s feet and rushed up to the top of the theater to help.
The episode then showed as Cliff pushed Ben down the elevator shaft in a great parallel to Loretta pushing Oliver off the balcony in the musical. Donna made it up the stairs, where Cliff told her killing Ben was an accident. The finale reached its climax as we saw Ben pull the handkerchief out of Cliff’s breast pocket before falling to his death.
After curtain call, Donna and Cliff were both arrested. Oliver read Maxine’s real review, which praised the off-stage antics as an important part of the production. “This dusty old chestnut has been Botoxed, bedazzled and brought back to life.” Dickie, who is still Loretta’s agent, told Loretta that multiple roles are waiting for her in Los Angeles after the show’s success. Mabel told Tobert (Jesse Williams) that she couldn’t go to LA with him, where he had been accepted to work on an indie film, but that she’d visit.
Charles’ stunt double Sazz Pataki (Jane Lynch) surprised the trio at the afterparty, hinting that she may or may not have made copies of all of their keys. She asked Charles to speak about something sensitive, but first he said he needed to go back to his apartment to retrieve a rare bottle of 1966 Argentinian Malbec — Malbecita del Cielo — that he had been saving for a grand occasion.
It looked like Charles went back to his apartment after receiving a text from Joy that said “Scott Bakula says hi,” before we see him take a bullet that came from outside the building. Only it was actually Sazz who got shot? She bled out on the floor as Howard wondered where Charles was, and then Charles joked that she better not be drinking the rare red wine. What a cliffhanger!
All episodes of “Only Murders in the Building” are now available to stream on Hulu.