Only Murders in the Building Season 3 Premiere Recap: Who Killed Ben?

S3E1 “The Show Must…” & S3E2 “The Beat Goes On”

Mabel, Oliver, and Charles look up in the elevator in Only Murders in the Building Season 3
Screenshot / Hulu

The follow recap contains spoilers for the Only Murders in the Building Season 3 premiere, S3E1 “The Show Must…” & S3E2 “The Beat Goes On”

Editor’s Note: 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.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a new season of a show as I was for Only Murders in the Building Season 3. It is my happy place, and it never ceases to amaze me how many true belly laughs this show gets out of me. This latest season proves to be no exception.

The end of Season 2 left us with a cliffhanger. Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), the star of Oliver’s (Martin Short) latest play, collapses on stage moments after he arrives on stage, leaving us to wonder if he is dead. Season 3 picks up where we left off. Ben is on the ground, blood oozing out of his mouth. The man is dead. Everyone says so. However, during the after-party at Oliver’s apartment (the one he pretty much forced everyone to attend), Ben makes a miraculous appearance. Ben claims he was dead for almost an hour and that the hospital had never seen anything quite like it. His brother confirms they never said that. Turns out they pumped Ben’s stomach and he was fine. The blood? Well, that came from him biting his tongue when he fell.

Later, as Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin), and Oliver take the elevator, there is a thud above them. The glass ceiling begins cracking and they run off as soon as the doors open. Behind them, Ben falls through the glass and onto the elevator floor. He’s dead-dead this time. As the others run for help, Mabel stays behind and takes photos of the body.

This leaves us with the question of who killed Ben.

Quite a few flashbacks give insight into how the play came to be and who our new suspects are.

The Suspects

The table read and the after-party provide the most clues in terms of who had it out for Ben.

Let’s start with Loretta (Meryl Streep). In 1964 Loretta sees her first musical and is enamored by what she sees. A montage of events shows all the hard work she put in as a child all the way through adulthood honing her craft as an aspiring stage actor. After a never-ending string of rejections, Loretta’s skill is finally noticed as she auditions for Oliver. “Where have you been?” is all she ever wanted to hear, and Oliver delivers that gift without pause then immediately casts her as the Nanny.

During the table read, Loretta delivers her lines in such a way that you would never think it was the same person who wowed Oliver during her audition. Ben is irritated and urges Oliver to fire her before it’s too late. Loretta senses this I’m sure, as she seems worried when Oliver pulls her to the side. He assures her she isn’t going anywhere, but it is the start of tension between her and Ben.

Then there is Kimber. During the table read Ben throws some compliments her way and there is a mutual attraction. During the after-party, Ben apologizes to her for letting things get messy between them. This can probably mean a few things. Ben walks around with a cocky sense of self. He doesn’t seem the type to settle down or land himself into long-term relationships. Was he having what he thought was a temporary fling with Kimber? Perhaps he was and Kimber took it as something more serious than what it was. Maybe it was a one-night stand and she just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to be with her. Whatever the case, they have their drama.

There’s also Ty, who has reason to hate Ben because Ben wouldn’t share his personal trainer with him.

Jonathan, Ben’s understudy, was never going to have a chance to go onstage if Ben had any say in the matter.

Producers Donna and her son, Cliff, also hold a grudge as Ben likes to constantly complain about his dressing room.

There’s Bobo, who Ben admits he always says no to. Ben tries to make amends at the after-party—“No more no-no for Bobo.”

Lastly, there’s KT, who hates him because apparently Ben always steals her mangoes.

Those are the obvious suspects. The ones that will most likely be red herrings, but that’s what this show does and I don’t mind one bit. Being an amateur detective is the best part of watching.

Bena and Mabel talk on the couch.
Screenshot / Hulu


It’s obvious throughout the first episode that Mabel feels lonely and not part of the group anymore. While Oliver and Charles have been busy working on the play all these months, Mabel has been on her own and out of the loop. The men find out that Mabel’s aunt finally sold the apartment and Mabel has four weeks before she needs to move out.

Her behavior has been strange throughout. When she meets Ben at the table read, she gets giddy and flustered. After his death (the first time) she immediately tells Oliver she thinks he was poisoned and at the after party tries to introduce the idea of maybe doing the podcast again, and that they could all hang out together again.

After Ben dies (the second time) Mabel seems sadder than she should be, considering they didn’t know each other well if at all past the table read.

My thoughts were that there is more to this, a secret relationship of sorts. Maybe not even romantically, but an intimate friendship? That was my thought on it until Episode 2 when Mabel explains to Charles that after her dad died, Ben’s show, Girl Cop, got her through all the months her mom lay in her room depressed. She felt a connection to him because of this.

That may be true, but I still think there is more. Mabel even hallucinates Ben sitting with her on her couch as they have a serious conversation about her future. She confesses she hasn’t spoken to a dead person since Tim Kono (Season 1) who she also was very close to.

Her insistence to investigate and do the podcast again can come from her need to feel useful and to be around her “olds” more, but I also think she has personal reasons to find out what happened to Ben.

Ben sits upset as Oliver delivers a pep talk.
Screenshot / Hulu


Now, while most of the first episode showed us all the ways Ben could be a dick, the second episode shows us his more humanized side.

Ben has that conversation with Mabel, a pep talk of sorts. While she is worried about her future, he explains that she will find her path. He didn’t find his right away either.

Through a flashback with Oliver in his dressing room, it becomes apparent that Ben is more self-conscious than he appears. Reading his lines aloud causes him some upset as he explains to Oliver that he doesn’t know how to find his real voice. He doesn’t know how to just be himself. He seems sad about it, not the douchebag of the previous episode. Oliver builds him up and says the play is a chance for both of them to prove themselves.

Charles listens from the door and comes in once Oliver leaves. He compliments Ben, but Ben is mad at him. When Ben was eight years old, Charles had him fired from Brazzos. At the time Ben was supporting his mom and brother. This caused him a lot of distress over the years. What’s worse is that Charles hadn’t even remembered the incident.

Cleary, Ben loves his family and because of his disappointments over the years, he must have changed his persona to be what everyone expected from him. Deep down though, I think he was a good person. I think Mabel knew this.

Oliver grabs his chest while Mabel and Charles speak in the background.
Screenshot / Hulu


Once Ben dies, the financers want to pull the plug on the show. What’s the point of having it go on? Ben tries to have Maxine, a critic who previewed the show, convince them that it is worth saving. She breaks the news to him that she thought the show was terrible and was going to write an amazingly disappointing review. She says even the worst plays have singing. His show didn’t.

The stress of it all causes him to have a minor heart attack. The doctor advises him to reduce his stress or next time it won’t be so minor. It’s Oliver though, and who is Oliver without the overthinking? Through a musical dream, he realizes what he needs to do. He is going to revamp the play into a musical murder mystery.

At the same time, Mabel and Charles inform him that they are going to restart the podcast. Oliver grabs his chest as the episode ends. Oh, Olly.

Who Could It Be?

If I learned anything from seasons past, I would wager that we already met the killer, but it won’t be obvious. Loretta seems the most plausible suspect but also she doesn’t. It could be inferred that she was angry with Ben for trying to have her removed from the show. Especially since she spent her whole life waiting for her big break. She wasn’t removed though. Oliver seemed ready to ride or die with her, but then again it’s Oliver and Oliver would probably drop her in a second if it meant saving his play.

At the after-party, Loretta seemed glad the play wouldn’t happen. She brings up the rule Oliver had about personal relationships interfering with professional relationships. In short, I think she wants to be with Oliver. Is she in love with him? That would certainly be a reason to kill Ben. If Ben is alive, then so is the play which means she and Oliver could never be.

It’s all too obvious though and obvious usually means not the killer.

If the killer happens to be any of the suspects listed above, then I will be completely shocked. While I love the humor of the show, I don’t think Ben deserved to die for eating mangoes or being greedy with his personal trainer.

Who does that leave then? As I said, it will be someone we met already. It always is.

There is also the question of whether he was poisoned originally at the theater. If his stomach hadn’t been pumped, he certainly would have died. This could indicate one person failed and another succeeded. It would be kind of lame if both times it were the same person.

My guess is the team will figure out the first person early on in the season and will feel they have solved the case, only to find out it was someone totally different the second time around.

Let’s not forget Gregg, who was Ben’s stalker. While I don’t think he killed Ben, I believe his stalking will be the key to finding evidence. Mabel already found the first clue through the handkerchief Gregg had. He stole it from Ben, but Ben died with the same handkerchief in his hand. Whose was he holding if it wasn’t his own?

For now that that’s the only clue we and the team have. Hard to speculate further without finding more pieces to the puzzle.

So for now I will put my magnifying glass down and wait patiently for the next clue. See y’all next week.

Written by Felicia Nickens

Lover of television, film, & the macabre.

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