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The third and final season of Netflix’s Dead To Me has a lot of work to do. Not only does it need to resolve the crimes of friends Jen and Judy who have, at this point, each killed a man and try to conceal it, but it also introduces new problems for the women to stare down. In the Season 3 premiere alone, Jen’s son catches on to the womens’ secrets, and Judy receives a scary health diagnosis that will surely change everything for her. With so many secrets being kept, and so much death casting a shadow over everyone, we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to see if Jen and Judy will survive to the end.

Opening Shot: The ocean laps the shoreline of a beautiful, sunny beach. Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini) sit beneath an umbrella sipping piña coladas as a hot jogger checks them out. It is, we’ll soon realize, all a dream in Jen’s mind, but we’ll get to that.

The Gist: Dead to Me Season 3 opens with Jen, still haunted by the fact that she killed Judy’s ex, Steve, dreaming that she and Judy managed to elude getting caught for their crimes and are now living out their lives in a remote, tropical location. Jen wonders, in her fantasy, how the two of them survived their wild year. “Maybe because we had each other,” Judy says. “Have. Have each other,” Jen corrects her.

Of course, this fantasy is too good to be true; Jen wakes up to find that she is actually in the hospital suffering from serious injuries after Steve’s twin brother Ben (James Marsden) hit her and Judy in their car at the end of last season, leaving us to wonder whether they’d survive and, more importantly, ever have to answer for everything they’ve done.

In the real, non-fantasy world, Jen has already confessed to Officer Perez (Diana-Maria Riva) about killing Steve and burying his body in a shallow grave in the woods, but she lives with the guilt, and the fear of getting caught. Dead To Me usually makes Jen the character with the big emotions (the main emotion being anger), while Judy has been more measured despite the fact that she’s plenty damaged herself. In this episode, we pick up immediately where last season’s finale left off. Jen, who is the more seriously wounded victim of the mysterious hit and run, is consumed by guilt, fear, rage, everything, as she spends the day in the hospital getting tests done to confirm she doesn’t have any internal injuries from the accident.

If you remember, it’s Jen’s son Charlie’s birthday, Jen and Judy had been on their way to give him a new car, the one they were driving when Ben hit them. So not only is Judy terrified at what her CT scan might find, she’s wracked with guilt that she’s missing her son’s birthday. Judy’s own mother died from cancer, so being in a hospital is not something she’s comfortable with. (Unlike Judy, who spent her childhood faking seizures in hospitals so that her mother could steal meds from the medical supply closets, a grift she pulls off perfectly one more time while Jen is getting her CT scan.)

When Jen returns to the room she’s sharing with Judy in the hospital, the doctor informs her that she’s free of any car-related injuries, but that the scans found dark shadows in her body, tumors, that will need to be tested further. The thought of dying just like her mother did destroys Jen, everything about Applegate’s performance is tragic and pitch-perfect when she’s given her diagnosis. Only it’s not her diagnosis. “I’m so sorry, Miss Hale,” the doctor says as he’s leaving. It’s not Jen but Judy who is sick. Jen is reeling from that news when Judy, back to check on Jen and deliver the pills she just stole, announces that Ben, who was at the hospital to get treatment for his own injuries, informed her that Steve’s body was found. “It’s gonna be okay,” Judy tells Jen. “I don’t know about that,” Jen responds. Their world is pure chaos, and Jen might be right. Nothing is okay right now.

James Marsden in 'Dead to Me'
Photo: SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The strong (if slightly dysfunctional and occasionally law-breaking) female friendships definitely run parallel to those in NBC’s now-cancelled Good Girls, and the gallows humor makes the show feel like the SoCal version of Bad Sisters.

Our Take: The worst thing about Dead To Me Season 3 is that we know the end is upon us. Ever since the show’s premiere in 2019, there’s been an uptick in shows that blend murder with equal blends of drama and black comedy, from Bad Sisters to Only Murders in the Building. Each of those three shows deliver as both satisfying mysteries and character-driven dramedies and as a result, the world has realized that this is the genre we all needed.

But now that Dead To Me’s arc is ending, we’re really going to miss it, especially the friendship between Judy and Jen, which is was complicated but supportive, and constantly evolving. Applegate and Cardellini, who both earned Emmy nominations for their roles, are incredible together, their chemistry is certainly the show’s greatest asset. From one season to the next, the dynamics change even if when players remained the same; one season, Judy is keeping secrets from Jen, the next, Jen is keeping secrets from Judy. It’s Jen and Judy’s world, everyone else is just living in it.

Even with Judy’s future and actual survival in question, these characters have a lot more to get through and thanks to Liz Feldman and her team of writers, no matter how it ends – Death? Prison? Escaping scot-free to a remote tropical island? – there will be an even mix of bitter and sweet. A little bit of Jo, a little bit of Tootie, if you will.

Sex and Skin: None.

Parting Shot: “We’ve had quite a year,” Judy tells Jen as they both sit on a hospital bed. In a callback to the opening scene, Judy says, “And we survived because we had each other.”

“Have each other,” Jen corrects her, saying, “That was weird. I just got deja vu.” The two women embrace, Judy looking blissful and optimistic, while Jen, saddled with the bad news about Judy, looks far more grim.

Sleeper Star: Everyone in the cast has the perfect blend of pathos and comedic timing, but James Marsden as Ben (formerly Steve) is always fun to watch when he’s onscreen.

Most Pilot-y Line: “Another hit and run? Is the universe really that uncreative?” Jen asks when she regains consciousness after the car accident she and Judy were in. “It does feel like it kinda phoned this one in,” Judy responds.

Our Call: STREAM IT! Dead To Me has a pace that never lets up, with plot and dialogue that are consistently, furiously both dramatic and hilarious. The first episode of season three seamlessly picks up where season two’s dramatic end left off, but it also introduces several new twists, including a precarious health situation for Judy, that you’re going to want ti see through to the very end.

Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.

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