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If you’re here, chances are pretty good that you’ve just finished Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building and want answers. That’s where TVLine comes in!
After screening Tuesday’s finale — you can read our full recap here — we hopped on Zoom with series co-creator John Hoffman for some early intel on Season 4, which was just ordered at Hulu. Luckily for you, the man’s an open book.
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What follows is an extended Q&A about the shocking death of Sazz Pataki, what it means for Jane Lynch’s role next year, and how it’ll impact Charles. We also run down a list of early suspects (including a ghost from Charles’ romantic past), before moving on to another game-changing development: the series’ potential move out West.
Keep scrolling to see what Hoffman chose to divulge — wait, is Meryl Streep coming back?!? — then let us know your hopes for Season 4 in Comments.
TVLINE | Just to confirm, since we’ve been fooled before: Sazz is definitely dead? She’s not going to be miraculously revived, then get killed a second time?
Listen, Ryan! You can do whatever you want with that theory. I enjoy keeping myself, and keeping ourselves, open to lots of possibilities. [Laughs]
TVLINE | And the bullet was meant for Charles, not Sazz… right?
I mean, it’s Charles’ apartment. The lights were off….
TVLINE | Talk to me a bit about making Sazz the murder victim. Obviously, this is someone with a much closer relationship to one of our characters than Bunny Folger or Ben Glenroy.
That’s one of the reasons why we did it. We hadn’t done a beloved [murder victim] before. It’s always hugely helpful to have a personal connection. It drives you, it creates a lot of feelings, and it ties the trio [into our mystery] in ways that feel completely different. But we also hadn’t done the thing where — I don’t want to say too much — but there were certain things we hadn’t done yet within this setup, and that excited me. It ticked the boxes of the personal, the sad, and of someone surprising, and the audience will feel something. Perhaps they’ll hate us!
I was a little assured when I proposed this idea to Jane Lynch and she lit up. She was like, “I love it,” because she knows the show, and she knows we spend a lot of time with our victims, and I can’t wait to do that [with Sazz]. The character that Jane created is so genius. I want to see and learn more about what her life was like, and what was going on in her life as our trio investigate, but I can’t say too much more than that.
TVLINE | So, to confirm, Jane Lynch is going to have an expanded role in Season 4?
I would hope so!
TVLINE | The gunshot comes from outside the window — and we can presume, based on the previously established layout of the Arconia, that whoever pulled the trigger was in an apartment on the opposite side of the courtyard.
This is exciting! You’re diving right in….
TVLINE | We also know from Season 1 that Tim Kono’s killer Jan (played by Amy Ryan) lived on the opposite side of the courtyard, and was romantically involved with Sazz. So, tell me… Do I have what Sazz previously referred to as Murderous Girlfriend Derangement Syndrome? Or is Jan, last seen in Season 2, a prime suspect here?
I mean, look, having Amy Ryan on the show was pure gold, and I love having a landscape to open up the possibilities of who comes back, and who’s fresh and new.
The thing that also excited me about the way this thing happens at the end of Season 3 is that we had just spent an entire season, delightedly, in both our building and at the Gooseberry — so, we’re bringing it back to the building and examining potential around the building in ways that we haven’t done yet. There’s a way in which I want to open up [Season 4] and give it new looks, but bringing it home and diving even deeper into the tenants of the Arconia felt really intriguing. Whether that means past tenants, or whether that’s tenants we haven’t met yet, or familial relations… [We have] beloved characters that are there, and we have [tenants] who know more about other people in the building that maybe our trio haven’t discovered. That’s the thing with a building of that scale: There are endless opportunities for rediscovery.
TVLINE | You mention “familial relations,” and this will be a case that is extremely personal to Charles. But we got away from perhaps his closet familial relationship this season, which was with his sorta-stepdaughter Lucy (played in Season 2 by Zoe Colletti). We’ve also never met Charles’ ex, Lucy’s mother. Does this case present an opportunity to dig further into Charles’ past and introduce (or, in the case of Lucy, reintroduce) some of these characters?
I hope so. In many ways, I love that character of Lucy. There is so much terrain there to explore further — and yet there was something within that season where it felt like a beautiful resolve, and that they will always be in each other’s lives… I love that idea of exploring that more, so that’s really interesting. But also, I think through Season 3, there’s been the development between Charles and Mabel — elements of a paternal quality that have always been there between them [and have been expanded]. But we’re always driven by what story we’re telling in a given season, and this season was very much a story of mothers and sons. I always worry about “owing things,” or “we have to see this person.” It has to be guided by the story that we’re telling, and whether that character fits that story. But the deepening of Charles, and expanding his world, is deep in our minds, for sure — especially with Sazz being in the unfortunate position she’s in at the end of the season.
TVLINE | It’s not lost on me that Sazz gets shot in Charles’ kitchen, which for three seasons now has been something of a safe space for him. How much thought went into that — stripping this room of its security for Charles?
This is twofold. The first part, which you brought up earlier, is that the kitchen is courtside. It also gives us the opportunity to do something we haven’t done with a season yet, and the stakes just get way bigger, right from the get-go here.
TVLINE | Beyond Jan, who else do you think viewers might suspect as we await Season 4? I mean, Matthew Broderick can’t be too happy about losing the part of the Constable to Charles. And you keep planting seeds for this longstanding feud between Charles and Scott Bakula…
I mean, how fun are all of those options? And more to come! There’s a big wealth of possibility for who might have beef with Charles that would lead to a situation like this. But I think there’s another expansive road we have yet to introduce where we’re learning more about Charles and the world around the event that happens at the end of Season 3.
TVLINE | In Season 3, Episode 5, Sazz made a passing remark about Charles having enemies. At the time, it read as a punchline, but now it seems like foreshadowing. Is that accurate?
Big fan of foreshadowing here. Certainly, we dropped the breadcrumbs of something else going on, and Sazz is on to it in some way. And she does it again when she arrives at the end of Episode 10 and says “let me grab you for a couple of minutes to discuss something a little sensitive.” There’s something on her mind — enough on her mind that she’s potentially sending a signal in the very last shot of the season to try and impart some information.
TVLINE | That tees up my next question. The finale alludes to idea of expanding beyond the Upper West Side and relocating multiple characters to Los Angeles. We can presume Joy is out there with Scott Bakula… Mabel’s received an invitation from Tobert… and Oliver encourages Loretta to head West with Dickie. Are we leaving New York City? Or, at least, setting part of the action in California next year?
I love New York — the characters, the richness, the depth is endless — and it’s a New York show. But I don’t want to be afraid of things that make you go, “What?” “Where are we?” “Where are they now?” I think you have to do that so it doesn’t feel too insular. There is our apartment building, and much like how we want to get out and be in New York as much as possible, I think you also have to remember this trio and the potential for whatever would be happening in their lives that might lead them to go away for some reason.
Let’s see! I’ve got big hopes in that way, to shake up the look, but it has to be driven by the story. You’re right in that there are a lot of tee-ups at the end of Season 3, and a lot of connections and relationships that have extended. And Scott Bakula, I mean… how many more seasons can we bring up Scott Bakula without somehow getting him in there?
TVLINE | So you’re not confirming anything, but it is a part of an ongoing discussion…
It is a part of a discussion. There are challenges to making television shows. Before we get going in the writers’ room — we start back up Monday [Oct. 9] — I have this big wishlist, and I wind up picking a couple of those [wishes] and seeing if we can make those happen. It’s a big show, and so we can hold ourselves to certain things, or touch on certain things.
It’s still early. These are early discussions about that, and it’s an exciting idea. Let’s leave it that way.
TVLINE | Regardless, the Arconia remains a character, right? We’re never going to completely leave the building behind?
Oh, it’s our building! I love it so, and we have devotion to it in every way.
TVLINE | I think a lot of people assumed that Meryl Streep and Jesse Williams would only appear this season. And yet, you don’t end Oliver’s relationship with Loretta or Mabel’s relationship with Tobert. Have there been discussions about bringing Meryl and Jesse back in some capacity for Season 4?
I have to share my Instagram post that I typically post to tee up the week’s episode. It became a thing I started doing, and there’s a photo that we have of Meryl at her wrap for Season 3. She’s saying the most lovely things to our beautiful crew about the time she had, and she has her arms up and says, “I can’t wait for Season 4!” It was this very delightful gesture, and we were like, “What?!” I mean, we would love it. Both Meryl and Jesse, and everyone we have on the show, have very fruitful work lives. Nothing would make me happier, so yes, that is a wish I have for them because of what they created.
You can’t predict that chemistry, and you feel a certain thing. With those characters, they were certainly suspects right from the get in many ways for people. In the case of Tobert, I liked the idea that there was a genuine, authentic expression from him, and it was toward Mabel. That felt new, to a certain degree. She had a history with Oscar in Season 1, and things were very complicated with Alice in Season 2, and now there’s some purity with Tobert in Season 3. I liked the twist of that. It’s a softer twist, but that was the choice there, and I loved watching people go, “It’s gotta be him! It’s gotta be him!”
TVLINE | I mean, you don’t name him Tobert and not expect everyone to think he’s guilty.
[Laughs] Right, exactly! So, this was a long-winded way of saying that if Jesse and Meryl can come back, it’d be a dream.
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