Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season 2 finale of The Afterparty, "Vivian and Zoë."
After a wild finale that somehow encompassed both campy horror and 1980s soap opera, season 2 of The Afterparty has officially closed the case on Edgar's murder.
That's right: After many more mind movies of misdirection, it was revealed that Funcle Ulysses (John Cho) was the murderer all along, albeit unintentionally. Turns out, he wanted to kill Feng (Ken Jeong) in a last ditch attempt to get Vivian (Vivian Wu) to himself, but his glass of poison got switched at the last moment with Edgar's (Zach Woods), killing him instead.
And if all that wasn't enough, the finale also managed to squeeze in some wild cameos — Keke Palmer as a fictional Danner, Gemma Chan as Zoë, Jaleel White as Aniq, and Elijah Wood as Yasper — by ending with Aniq (Sam Richardson) and Zoë (Zoë Chao) visiting the set of Danner's (Tiffany Haddish) feature film debut, which will follow the events of season 1's mystery.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: At what point in the process did you know Ulysses was the killer and how did that conversation go with John?
CHRIS MILLER: We figured out the murderer first. That was the first thing we figured out when we were trying to put the season together, and then we figured out how we were going to cover it up. And so Ulysses being the killer was in there from the very beginning, and the whole season was built around that idea so that the reveal will hopefully feel intentional and not just like a random suspect plucked out of a hat. And as far as telling John, I believe the first time we just said, "Hey, you want to do a fun murder mystery? It shoots in Los Angeles, you can be with your family, and a bunch of really cool people will be in it, and it'll be fun." And he was like, "That sounds pretty good." And then the second time because it's so juicy, it was like, "And also you're the killer."
PHIL LORD: And he was like, "What?!" And you were like, "Huh? I didn't say anything."
MILLER: But in general, what we tried to do was not tell people much other than who their character was and what their deal was. And then once they were on board officially, we just handed them a stack of you know, 10 episodes, and said, "Here you go. This is the whole season." And then they could read it and wonder if they were the killer and then go through it and then at the end realize they're not the killer. But that way everyone knew what they were trying to play the whole season. It was a very complicated, complicated show. You're trying to play this character through different lenses and everyone's got secrets, and so you need people to be able to play those secrets. In all the episodes they need to know the whole thing and see the whole picture to be able to craft a performance season-long.
This episode has some amazing cameos. How did those come about?
ANTHONY KING: Yeah, that was something that came later because Aniq says in that scene, "Why are you writing a book when your thing is mind movies?" We had the same realization of, why is she writing a book when she does mind movies all the time? Like, wait a minute, maybe she does make a movie! And then it became about, oh, who would be fun to see in these roles? And then we started to play with trying to put it together and it was very fun to have it all come together with those people.
Is it wrong of me that while I was watching I was just waiting for someone to get murdered on that movie set?
MILLER: Wherever Zoë and Aniq go, people seem to die, so they may be cursed.
LORD: You never know. Sets can be dangerous places.
Apple TV+ Tiffany Haddish in 'The Afterparty' season 2 finale
Did you guys follow along with internet sleuths to track their progress and see how wrong or right their theories were?
MILLER: I checked in on the Reddit board every week or so just to see if they're catching the hidden puzzles and clues and putting it together. The goal always has been to do a fair play mystery, which means that, to the casual viewer that's not an obsessive, that they should be surprised by the answer but feel like, "Oh, of course I should have figured it out." But to the obsessive person who can freeze frame it and rewatch things and could find every detail and the wisdom of crowds, that they should be able to put it together. And so the hope was that Reddit would figure it out but not too early. They would have it solved by episode 7 or 8 rather than by episode 3 or 4. And they basically did. This year there's a lot of competing theories, but the prevailing theory there seems to be the right one, and it sort of coalesced after the eighth episode as we expected. So it worked. But the big question is going to be how many of the non-Redditors are surprised by the reveal and how many are like, "Yep, I knew it!" The hope is that people are surprised.
KING: My favorite theory out there is that Sebastian was trying to kill Roxana.
MILLER: And accidentally killed Edgar? That's great.
LORD: I like that a lot.
KING: It's all there.
MILLER: He does say, "She never liked me." That's right.
LORD: Roxana was never the killer though, she would need her own episode.
MILLER: Dead lizards tell no tales as they say. But yeah, I think that there are a lot of very out-there theories that I really enjoy, and I love that aspect of the show, that people can have conversations with each other and it fosters theories and conversations.
KING: There's a moment that the Reddit people picked up on where Edgar picks up the wrong glass, and they picked up on that, but I loved reading that some people were like, "But they showed us that, which means that cannot be the answer." And that way of thinking of, "Well if they're showing us something that means it's the opposite of that," is like such a fun part of a murder mystery and something that we deal with a lot when we're trying to write it or trying to guess what will people really think when we show this clue. And it's incredibly satisfying to watch people actually follow all those clues, and try to second guess and double back. I have a lot of friends who are just like, "I know what you're doing. I know what you're doing." And they don't know the answer yet, so…
Was there anything that you didn't see anyone pick up on, or just generally a favorite Easter egg or red herring that you dropped in this season?
MILLER: There was one thing that the Redditors didn't pick up on that I'm a little surprised of, because they've found anagrams all over the place, some of which were intentional and some of which were not intentional at all. But one that they missed was that Edgar Minnows' name itself was created as an anagram of "wrong man dies." And we were so nervous that it was too obvious that we put in some red herring clues for anagrams of his name that did get solved on Reddit. One was a sign at the swimming pool that says "danger no swim," which is also an anagram of Edgar Minnows, and the name of the gin that Isabel drinks is "Manors Dew Gin," which is also an anagram of Edgar Minnows. We tried to put chum in the water and make people not sure what it was, but they never caught on to the core concept of his name.
Do you guys have plans for a season 3? You've done a party, a wedding — is a funeral next?
MILLER: One wedding and a funeral, it's called. We do have a lot of ideas for season 3, but as you know, we are in the middle of a strike. And I would hope that we can get a fair deal for the writers and actors soon, and then maybe those thoughts can become a reality.
Do you have any idea what genres you'd want to do that you haven't already done?
MILLER: I mean, there's a surprising amount of genres and secrets and twists and reversals and high emotion situations that we haven't explored yet. I don't want to spoil anything in case it does happen. But I will say that before the strike, we talked a lot about it and there's a lot to explore.
What were some of the challenges you maybe had creating this season that you didn't have in season 1?
KING: I think the big thing was kind of topping ourselves, especially with the clues and the puzzles. When you've already done a murder mystery, the question is how do you do it in a different way that's still satisfying and still feels like the same show, but with this show, is mostly a new cast and a completely new situation. So I feel like a lot of it was we push the genres a lot further in season 2. I think the kind of double backs of clues and red herrings, I felt like there were a lot more of those this season. Also the depth of the themes we were exploring with the complicated family relationships and love and all that stuff. All of it was kind of just more complicated in a hopefully satisfying way.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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