Note: This story contains spoilers from “Only Murders in the Building” Season 3, Episode 5.
Love was in the air in Tuesday’s episode of “Only Murders in the Building,” with the installment exploring Oliver (Martin Short), Mabel (Selena Gomez) and Charles’ (Steve Martin) romantic relationships. Each of those connections brought new developments around the third season’s central mystery, involving the murder of Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd).
“We’ve never really done that but it felt like a good crux halfway through the season to go, ‘let’s dive into that personal relationship story for each of them’ and watch this train of some feeling is happening simultaneous with a real complication around the case,” showrunner John Hoffman told TheWrap in an interview facilitated by his personal publicist in accordance with WGA guidelines.
In Oliver and Loretta’s (Meryl Streep) case, the pair go on a “lovely, wild, complicated” date that starts in the latter’s apartment and ends on a ferry overlooking New York City.
“They’re the most palpably like, ‘Oh, we’re on the cusp of something huge personally,’ ” Hoffman said. “And then we quickly hit Oliver with Loretta red flags about this case that keep getting buttressed with, ‘Oh, but she’s so fantastic and now she’s eased my mind…’ and we end that story on a heaping spoonful of suspicion.”
Hoffman noted that Streep thanked him for writing the romance between her and Short.
“It’s pretty unexpected to imagine a pairing of Meryl Streep with Martin Short and watch them find this incredible connection together and, as Meryl said, to not have it be twee or about the age or about any of that. It’s just a beautiful romance that you buy, I think because of who these two characters are. But then you see Marty step up in ways that are incredible and nobody works harder at it, comes in with more intelligence to the work and then to watch him have these scenes that break your heart and have to be played with such dramatic poignancy, riding the line of keeping it comedic, keeping it mysterious… I’m amazed,” Hoffman said.
He recalled lucking out with a 60-degree night in February to shoot the ferry scene with Short and Streep.
“At the end of shooting that night, it was about two in the morning. We were on our way back to the city. It was the most magical night of shooting and they were completely beyond wonderful together,” Hoffman added.
He added that Streep told him the ferry location was in her top two filming sites of her career. “I was like, ‘OK, so what was number one?’ And she said, ‘Well, when [Robert] Redford washed my hair in Africa.’ And I was like ‘Yeah that’ll do it, I’ll take number two.’ But that was an amazing moment of film history slapping you in the face on the ferry on the way back at two in the morning to New York City.’
When it came to writing Tobert (Jesse Williams) and Mabel’s relationship, Hoffman said it was an interesting pairing due to the mystery around the documentarian’s contentious relationship with Ben Glenroy, and the secrets about the case that his footage may reveal.
“I think there’s something sweet in the way that he’s wanting and is interested in getting into what she’s doing, but recognizes, ‘Oh, she’s got a way of looking at things that I don’t have and I’m on catch up’ and that’s exciting,” Hoffman said. “Mabel’s not thinking there’s anything romantic here until she gets there and realizes, ‘Holy crap, there is.’ And he’s not the best investigator but maybe there’s something here… and then we carry that through and watch them become a little more attuned to each other until, ‘OK, it’s time to invite him back’ and he’s too hard to resist.”
As for Charles and Joy’s (Andrea Martin) relationship, Hoffman notes that the former is “very suspicious of everything within this love story that’s happening.”
“He’s helped by Sazz (Jane Lynch) to come to terms and realize ‘I think you’re just scared of what Joy means in your life.’ And just when he’s ready to resolve and say, ‘I’m being such an idiot, I want Joy back,’ is the moment that everything tumbles out out of control at the end of his story to leave them completely separated again,” he explained. “All three of those arcs felt interesting to me and they all tie into the case and into their personal story. So it felt like a nice moment that we hadn’t had.”
“Only Murders in the Building” is co-created and written by Hoffman and Martin. The pair executive produces alongside Martin Short, Selena Gomez, “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and Jess Rosenthal.
The series is produced by 20th Television, a part of Disney Television Studios.
New episodes stream Tuesdays on Hulu.