‘Only Murders in the Building’ Creator Was Really Hoping You Wouldn’t Notice That Key Clue

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Episode 109 of “Only Murders in the Building.”)

One week out from the “Only Murders in the Building” Season 1 finale, we still don’t know who killed Tim Kono — but we do have a possible big break in the case based on a clue that was first seen in Episode 2, but only had its significance revealed in Tuesday’s Episode 9: that “sex toy” that Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) found in Tim’s apartment soon after his death isn’t a sex toy at all, but a device used to clean a bassoon — the musical instrument Charles’ girlfriend, Jan (Amy Ryan), plays.

Charles and Mabel do not make the discovery until the very end of the episode. He spends much of the time at Jan’s performance, where he gets a bloody nose after learning she lied about being first chair in the City Symphony. Just wait until you hear this next part, Brazos.

What he doesn’t know while there — but some eagle-eyed “Only Murders” viewers/woodwind instrument experts may have deduced — is that the “sex toy” that first popped up weeks ago among Tim Kono’s stuff is actually a bassoon cleaner. And that’s something that “Only Murders in the Building” co-creators John Hoffman and Steve Martin were really counting on not happening to keep their murder-mystery comedy’s murder-mystery going until they were ready to show you that clue.

“That is a very, very astute question and one that has been hanging over all of our heads — the writers, including me — for a long time now,” Hoffman told TheWrap, when we asked if his team had concerns about the bassoon cleaner’s true purpose being apparent upon its first appearance. “I think, I hope — we were very particular in choosing that piece, that bassoon cleaner, because it was one among many of what a bassoon cleaner looks like, and it looked like it could be other things as well. So that was a very key moment for us, looking at that and saying, ‘Alright, how do we hide that? We know that’s going to be one of the major clues in Episode 9. How do we hide that?’ And so we thought, ‘OK, what is it? It could be a cat toy, it could be a sex toy, potentially.'”

He continued: “And then it became sort of intriguing to us to imagine where it’s going from here. It just poses a very particular question at the end of Episode 9 that points in one direction and we have to find out, is that an accurate direction? And how far does that direction take us into who killed Tim?”

That particular direction is pointing at Jan right now, given that she is both a bassoon player and, apparently, a liar. But the choice to make Jan a bassoon player came before Hoffman, Martin and the “Only Murders in the Building” writers started looking through their options for cleaners that they could sneak past you.

“Jan playing the bassoon and her position as first chair in the City Symphony was the story pairing that came first in developing her character — as they were both tied to her deeper self-esteem issues: the bassoon, which I just enjoy, was Jan’s ‘second choice instrument’ and being ‘first’ in key aspects of her life is an obsession for her.”

The Season 1 finale of “Only Murders in the Building” launches Oct. 19 on Hulu.