Yours truly had a bit of fun in the wait between seasons 2 and 3 reporting that Only Murders had done the “unthinkable” in promising an investigation outside of the building. You can see how I ran that joke into the ground here and here. Thing is though: I never seriously cared about Only Murders in the Building broadening its crime scene and I never actually suspected the show cared either. TV shows evolve past their titles all the time. It certainly isn’t sacrilege for Only Murders in the Building to move the central murder a half-mile or so south.
The best part of the Only Murders in the Building season 3 premiere, however, is that it turns out the show does care very much about the sanctity of its title and it bends over backwards in a hilarious way to accommodate it.
Only Murders in the Building season 3’s first episode, titled “The Show Must…” picks up right where the season 2 finale left off. Ben lies unconscious onstage, blood pooling out the sides of his mouth. He is unambiguously dead. Charles, Oliver, Mabel, and the rest of the Broadway community accept that. Soon a press release will have to be drawn up to report the news to the world: a major movie star has died. When the podcasting trio returns to the Arconia, their neighbor Uma Heller (Jackie Hoffman) even commends them for having “the consideration to keep the body out of the building this time.”
But then, roughly 20 minutes into the episode, a still-bloodied but energetic Ben somehow arrives at the opening night party in Olivers’ suite much to the surprise of all! Though he was dead for some time, he made a miraculous rebound at the hospital and he’s ready to not only return to production on the play Death Rattle but also to be a better man to his co-workers, even the hated Charles.
For a moment, the viewer is allowed to consider the thought that Paul Rudd will actually be a major presence this season. After all, the show got Meryl Streep as a guest actor why couldn’t they get Rudd to stick around for nine more episodes as well? Perhaps someone else will be the murder victim this time around and Rudd’s Ben will be a prime suspect.
The real moment of genius for this premiere, and one of my personal favorite jokes in the show’s run thus far, is that it just goes ahead and kills Ben again anyway – albeit this time in the more title-appropriate setting. Just after Charles delivers the prophetic line “You know, Mabel. We couldn’t have done the podcast anyway because Ben didn’t die in the building,” the gang discovers that Ben did, in fact, die in the building. He was thrown into the empty elevator shaft and his mangled corpse drips blood onto the ground from atop the elevator. So gnarly and so damn funny.