The third season of Only Murders in the Building has raised an important question: Would anyone actually pay to see a Broadway musical in which three infants are accused of murder? That is a question we cannot answer — personally, I say “yes,” especially if Meryl Streep and Ashley Park are starring in it — but we can try to answer the other major question of the season: Who killed Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), the beloved, obnoxious star of the play formerly known as Death Rattle? Here’s the latest, based on the events depicted during episode six, “Ghost Light,” in our ongoing investigation of the key suspects.
Probably Didn’t Do It
Howard Morris (Michael Cyril Creighton)
In the opening scene of this week’s episode, Howard comes to Mabel’s apartment and confesses that he is responsible for Ben’s death. This is how you know he definitely did not do it. A confession in episode six out of ten? Preposterous!
The reasoning behind Howard’s confession is pretty preposterous as well. He’s convinced that because he didn’t follow proper sweeping protocol on opening night of the show, he summoned the ghost of Gideon Goosebury, who died on his own opening night a century ago when a 300-pound sandbag fell on his head. Ben is merely the latest victim of the curse of Goosebury Theater, Howard alleges, but K.T. the stage manager disabuses him of this idea, explaining that it’s not broom activity that keeps the ghost of Gideon at bay but an overwrought performance similar to the monologue Gideon was delivering when he died. Because of course that is how present and future theater kids would get rid of the ghost of a theater kid: Monologue so hard he just disappears. Anyhoo, given Howard’s raging case of misplaced guilt, I do not think he killed Ben, though I remain suspicious of his relationship with State Farm Insurance.
Jonathan Bridgecroft (Jason Veasey)
After slipping some cash to Ben’s personal drug pusher, Dr. C., in the previous episode, a tiny, potential cloud of guilt formed over Jonathan’s head. But “Ghost Light” eradicated that threat pretty effectively with Jonathan’s explanation: He was taking a prescription cocktail similar to the one Ben was taking because, as Ben’s understudy, he was anxious about having to become the leading man at a moment’s notice. That dispels the notion that Jonathan might have wanted Ben dead so he could become the star. This man is innocent!
Kimber (Ashley Park)
As stated in the previous rundown, episode four pretty much ruled out Kimber as a suspect and there is nothing in this week’s episode to contradict that assessment. I do want to note that last week I wrote that Ben was probably just running lines when he said, “I want you so fucking bad. But you’re going to ruin my career. And I’m going to like it,” in his dressing room on opening night. Some commenters on last week’s recap are convinced Ben was actually talking to a plate of cookies like the ones he tried to resist at the table read. I am now convinced they are correct.
Joy (Andrea Martin)
Similarly, there is nothing in this week’s episode to imply Joy did it. The fact that she bothered to leave Charles a fish in their split, despite the fact that he would have no idea how to take care of it, also suggests she has a heart. She’s no murderer.
Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez)
Mabel is so single-mindedly focused on solving this crime that it would make absolutely no sense if she somehow turned out to be the killer. In fact, she is so absorbed with her role as podcaster/investigator that she appears to be on the verge of accepting Cinda’s offer to work with her and potentially make Tobert her partner. All of this fits in nicely with one of my running theories: that Cinda and Tobert somehow orchestrated Ben’s death for the sake of enlivening their respective true crime/documentary endeavors and luring Mabel away from Charles and Oliver.
Gregg Rivera (Adrian Martinez)
Ben’s fake security guy/actual stalker remains in jail, and that is how you know he definitely did not do it.
Donna DeMeo (Linda Emond) and/or Cliff DeMeo (Wesley Taylor)
No change in status here since last week — there is still no obvious reason to suspect them. Though of course that could change, especially if Donna gets, um, Amagansett sober and starts spilling some tea.
Jerry Blau (Peter Bartlett)
It is indeed suspicious that Jerry, the original director of Death Rattle who got fired from the show by Donna, is squatting in the eaves of the Goosebury Theatre. Sure, he has a legitimate reason to want the show to fail, but Jerry denies killing Ben — “I’m not a monster!” he shouts while killing a rat with a shoe, as all innocent men do. But really, Jerry doesn’t seem like the grudge-holding, brutal killer type. His role is to share intel with Oliver, specifically the deets on that opening night confrontation between Ben, Loretta, and Charles that Oliver knew nothing about. And what better way to inform than with a puppet show??
Oliver Putnam (Martin Short)
I definitely don’t think Oliver is guilty of murdering Ben, but he’s definitely guilty of tampering with evidence. Oliver goes out of his way to downplay any suggestion that Loretta may have killed Ben, including erasing the “You fucking pig” lipstick message from Ben’s mirror. He also convinces himself that it’s more important to pursue a relationship with her than it is to consider any violent streaks that may have flared up during her preshow altercation with Ben. This all seems not great for Oliver, tbh! Another important Oliver-related note: Mabel makes a point of acknowledging the shininess of Oliver’s replacement tooth, the sub for the one Loretta knocked out with her boulder of a pork chop. This feels like a detail that may be relevant in the future, although I’m not sure how just yet.
Again: He attended Ben’s funeral but we haven’t heard anything about him since. Has he gone off the Only Murders grid because he’s hiding from the cops? Don’t try using logic and saying there’s no way Harry Styles is the murderer on this show and therefore definitely won’t show up in the finale to confess and sing a rousing version of “Treat People With Kindness.” Let me maintain my hope!
Too Soon to Count Out
Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin)
So I don’t really think Charles did it. This man can barely take care of a single goldfish, so he probably didn’t murder Ben. But there are still some loose ends surrounding his fractious relationship with Ben, including his decision to straight up punch Ben in the face. Therefore I am placing him in this section of the suspect round-up, an upgrade — or downgrade, depending on your perspective — from his categorization as a most suspicious suspect last week.
K.T., the stage manager (Allison Guinn)
I am leaning away from the notion that K.T. killed Ben given the compassion she showed Howard in this episode. That said, it remains suspicious that her office was locked — not by her, she claims — on opening night.
Bobo Malone (Don Darryl Rivera)
This show has yet to tell us much about Bobo. What’s his deal? Does he have any Ben-shoving tendencies? Until we learn more, he stays in the maybe column.
Ty Wessex (Gerald Caesar)
We also don’t know what Ty’s deal is, other than he’s a member of the cast of Death Rattle Dazzle. Does he have any Ben-shoving (or poisoning) tendencies? Does he even have an established personality? More to come on that front, hopefully.
Sure, laugh all you want. But remember that Agatha Christie novel where it turned out the goldfish did it? I can’t think of the name of it, but it was the one where everyone was a suspect. Also, that fish is named after a president who was assassinated. Perhaps that’s a hint that he might be an assassin himself. If he can survive a near-drowning by toilet, we probably shouldn’t count him out.
The Most Suspicious Suspects
Tobert (Jesse Williams)
I’m sorry, this dude is sketchy as hell. First he springs a surprise first date on Mabel. Then he starts butting into her investigation. Then he shows up at the theater to do further poking around when Mabel specifically told him not to come. He’s not giving Mabel space or respecting her boundaries, and that’s because he’s either (a) trying to put out a documentary ahead of whatever she might reveal in her podcast or (b) trying to cover up something, perhaps his own role in Ben’s death.
Loretta Durkin (Meryl Streep)
Even though Loretta does not appear in this episode, she still comes out looking highly sus. We know about her interaction with Ben on opening night, and her love of the phrase “fucking pig” — which, to be fair, is a pretty common phrase — and that psycho Ben Gilroy Scrapbook she’s keeping in her apartment. The lipstick-scrawled “fucking pig” on Ben’s dressing room mirror even seems to match her handwriting, although, as Oliver pointed out, how many different ways can a person write the letter F, especially using makeup?
There’s still enough incriminating evidence to keep her high on the “maybe did it” list, although considering how hard the show is leaning into Loretta being the murderer, it seems just as likely that a twist will prove she did not do it at all. Some Vulture readers have posited that the reason she has followed Ben’s career so closely is because she’s actually his mother, a detail that would tie in nicely with her role in Death Rattle/Death Rattle Dazzle as a nanny mourning for children who have lost their mother. But until Only Murders moves in that direction, we have no choice but to believe that the Devil Wears Prada star has a devilish side.
Dickie Glenroy (Jeremy Shamos)
For the reasons addressed in last week’s murder-suspects ranking, Dickie has motive for killing Ben and seems to feel personally guilty about what happened to his brother. But he still does not strike me as someone who would just up and kill Ben — or anyone — on his own. If he played a role in his brother’s death, he probably had at least one accomplice.
Cinda Canning (Tina Fey)
Last but possibly not least is Cinda, who is definitely not to be trusted. She’s also not someone who would ever do the dirty work of offing someone on her own. Might she have been working with Dickie to make sure Ben died? Or, as previously suggested, Tobert? Or maybe Dickie, Tobert, and Loretta? It’s possible. The argument against this admittedly vague theory is that Cinda was at the center of season two’s murder and it would be a bit repetitive for her to be there again. But maybe that’s exactly what Only Murders in the Building wants us to think. [Arches eyebrow in a provocative way. Finishes column. Hits publish.]