Steve, Ben… and Mark? James Marsden jokingly pitched a triplet for Dead to Me's final season
WARNING: This story contains spoilers for Dead to Me season 3.
In season 2 of the Netflix dramedy, a stunned Jen (Christina Applegate) is rendered speechless when she discovers the man she murdered is smiling at her from her doorstep. But wait! That's not Steve! It's Ben. Yep, Judy (Linda Cardellini) failed to mention that her abusive ex-husband has a twin, a sweet-natured man who is the polar opposite of his brother.
Creator Liz Feldman previously told EW the idea was born out of a joke from Marsden himself, who expressed a desire to return following his grisly fate. But Marsden reveals to EW that he would've loved to give that twist a third turn.
"I did make that joke," Marsden says. "We should have another brother for every season we do of this show. Mark Wood. Steve, Ben, and Mark."
A triplet is not introduced in the third season — but another Wood is! Jen and Ben rekindle their romance, and Jen later discovers she's pregnant with Ben's child; the finale ends with the addition of baby girl Joey. "I think Ben catches Jen by surprise," Marsden says of the unlikely couple. "His openness to show emotion is kind of a rare thing for men to do in general, to be vulnerable in that way. [Jen] starts to come around to the idea that that's what she might need more of in her life."
"It's the same thing for him," he says of his character. "He needs her to be that sort of ballast for him and that strength." The duo have a number of humorous standout moments that punctuate an otherwise solemn final season, including when Jen accidentally locks herself in a closet in the Wood family home — one filled with hundreds of pairs of twin dolls — during Steve's funeral. "The room did the work for us," Marsden says of filming the scene. "It was freaking us out. I got nightmares from that."
Notably, it's Jen and Ben who close out the season. In the final scene, the two enjoy a day by the pool with Henry (Luke Roessler), Charlie (Sam McCarthy), and their newborn. Jen turns to Ben and says, "I have to tell you something," presumably, about Steve, before the screen cuts to ending credits. The cliffhanger ending is "for sure by design," Marsden says.
"The audience has spent so much time with these characters and invested in them," he says. "They know them back and forth — all their faults and their regrets and personality traits — that by the time we're ready to wrap it up, we don't need to tell them really what happens ... if we've done our job correctly in our storytelling, then we don't have to hit the audience over the head."
"Each audience member has their own personal relationship with Jen and Judy and Ben," Marsden adds. "It kind of takes a little bit of the satisfaction out of it if we just say, 'Here's exactly what happens.' It leaves it up for interpretation."
Dead to Me season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.
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