Last we saw Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini), things went a little haywire for the BFFs on Netflix's Dead to Me. But after more than two years since the season 2 finale, which ended on quite the explosive cliffhanger, it's only natural that we forget one or two key details about where exactly things left off for the duo. With the third and final season premiering in mere hours, what better time to refamiliarize yourself with all the shenanigans (and potential trouble) they were up to?
The third and final season, which drops Thursday, promises to up the ante for Jen and Judy in more ways than one. Not only are they recovering from the sheer shock of a scary car crash (at the hands of Ben, Steve's "semi-identical twin" played by James Marsden), they're also running from the law. Literally. After burying Steve's body in the woods and covering it up with the help of an easily swayable police detective (thanks Perez!), they find themselves being pushed into an inescapable corner as he haunts them from the grave.
So, before you dive into the final episodes of Dead to Me, refresh your memory on everything that happened up to this point and where Jen and Judy are headed as they face their final test.
Where things left off with Jen and Judy
Season 2 saw Jen and Judy go through a rollercoaster of small disasters, which culminated in an explosive season finale that threatened the discovery of their biggest secret -- their hand in Steve's death.
Admittedly, the pair are the masters of their whole demise for many reasons. Judy begins dating Michelle (Natalie Morales), the ex of Detective Ana Perez (Diana-Maria Riva) who has been investigating the death of Jen's husband, Ted. Ana is smart -- she was quickly able to trace Ted's hit-and-run back to Judy and Steve and link Steve's subsequent disappearance to Jen and Judy. Judy's relationship with Michelle brings unwanted tension, especially since she also used to date Nick Prager (Brandon Scott) who is also investigating Steve's death.
On the other hand, Jen finds herself briefly involved with Ben, Steve's "semi-identical twin" brother who came to town searching for answers behind his brother's disappearance.
Both women wisely agree to end their romantic relationships since it is causing more drama in their already overwhelming lives. Jen decides that she will confess to murdering Steve, writing letters to Judy as well as her two sons. None of the letters say exactly what happened, but they hint at Jen and Judy's roles in Steve's death and Jen's desire to tell the truth "before one more bad thing happens."
In the spirit of confession, Jen takes Det. Perez into the Angeles Forest to show her where Steve's body is hidden, still planning to leave Judy out of the story completely. It's during their trek that Judy is bringing Nick a bag of evidence revealing Steve's various crimes for the Greek mafia. Viewers will recall that Judy turned Steve in for laundering money and working with the mafia. Charlie later took Steve's car (which was most likely paid for by the Greeks) for a joyride, finding a thumb drive and cell phone with information on Steve's various crimes in the glove compartment.
Det. Perez ultimately decides to let Jen go, with the Laguna Beach investigator noting that Steve "had it coming to him" and vowing to pretend that they were never in the woods. Of course, that doesn't work out so much when a hiker's dog is seen digging something up -- right at the foot of the tree with the hand-carved heart, indicating where Steve's body was buried. Which is just the beginning of the dominoes waiting to tip over in season 3.
"Maybe," creator Liz Feldman coyly answered when ET asked her to confirm if the dog had hit pay dirt. Moments later, Ben received an important phone call. His worrisome expression and initial response -- "They found him?" -- naturally led us to believe it was regarding Steve's body. Feldman, again, cautioned not to jump to conclusions, saying that "perhaps" that was what the call was about. "We're not quite sure" what kind of call he received," the executive producer danced around the topic. "I mean, I'm sure but you're not."
The mysterious phone call leads Ben to drink and get behind the wheel. He gets in an accident, hitting the car that Jen and Judy are driving -- ironically at the stop sign Jen successfully campaigned the city to install -- but flees the scene before they see it's him. And back on the homestead, Jen's eldest son, Charlie (Sam McCarthy), discovered his mother's confession letter addressed to Judy.
"I don’t want to say too much just because in terms of what you are left to feel and think and wonder is a really individual experience and I certainly wouldn’t want to color that for anybody," Feldman said of the climactic finale ending, hinting that Ben may have skeletons in his closet. "But I think with any big finale, there should be an element of like, 'Wait, wait, wait... what?' So we were definitely going for a little bit of 'Wait, wait, wait... what?'"
"We’re dealing with a lot of things throughout the season and we wanted to find a powerful way to show not tell a completion or a full circle-ness to some of those things. And we felt like this was a good way to do it," she explained. "There’s obviously a motif running through the show with cars and with crashes, so that was what led us there. But all stories that we tell on this show, we’re always aiming to subvert your expectations and to surprise you and to delight you. Surprise and delight really color a lot of that. That's what we’re going for."
She added: "I felt, when this was pitched, it satisfied those things really well. It was really surprising, and there’s an element to it that is really exciting and a little scary and certainly shocking. You always want to leave threads dangling so that you have something to answer in season 3, and also hopefully you’re enticing your network or your streaming platform to keep the story going for another season."
What is season 3 about?
The third season will up the ante for Jen and Judy for the final time -- and in more ways than one. Not only is the duo recovering from the violent car crash, but they're also on the hook for a missing person's case that's about to be classified as a murder. Even Det. Perez isn't able to let things fall by the wayside after she and Nick discover Steve's buried body after getting tipped off.
In the trailer released earlier this month, Ben reveals the news to a shocked Judy, which Jen appropriately reacts to by exclaiming, "Oh, for f**k's sake!" Jen and Judy are on high alert as the police start poking around and start to realize that Steve's death and Ted's hit-and-run are "all connected."
As Det. Perez tries to pivot the evidence away from Jen and Judy -- which isn't totally altruistic considering she's complicit in letting Jen go -- it's clear the case isn't going away anytime soon. As the circle of people who know the truth gradually grows, things take a turn for the worst when a new FBI agent jumps on the investigation. Now the ladies have to figure out how to hide their involvement with Steve's death and Judy's involvement with Ted's death. There's also the nasty business of that hit-and-run with Ben and Charlie knowing the truth about it all.
And, of course, to top it all, Steve's ghost starts haunting Jen and Judy. Typical.
Who is hot on their tail?
Jen and Judy may have thought they were scot-free after burying Steve six feet under, but FBI Agent Glenn Morris (played by Garret Dillahunt) will be hot on their tale as he pieces together the puzzle they left behind amidst Det. Perez's warnings to the ladies that he's more than capable of sussing out the truth. Even with Perez (unofficially) on their side, the besties may be dealing with their biggest challenge as they try to outsmart and outrun the bind they put themselves in.
And don't worry, all your favorite supporting players will also be back -- from Jen's sons, Charlie (Sam Henry) and Henry (Luke Roessler), to Christopher Doyle (Max Jenkins), Jen's business partner, and Karen (Suzy Nakamura), Jen's neighbor.
How did Dead to Me accommodate Christina Applegate's multiple sclerosis?
Applegate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis midway through filming on the final season of Dead to Me, publicly revealing the news on social media in August 2021. Her diagnosis paused production for several months as she sought treatment and recovery. While there were conversations about whether or not to finish Dead to Me amid Applegate's MS diagnosis, the actress and executive produced insisted that they go on and finish what they started.
"I had an obligation to Liz and to Linda, to our story,” Applegate told the New York Times. “The powers that be were like, ‘Let’s just stop. We don’t need to finish it. Let’s put a few episodes together.’ I said, ‘No. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it on my terms.’”
The 50-year-old acknowledged that accommodations were made on the production side so she would be more comfortable on set. Applegate recalled being brought to set in a wheelchair when she had difficulty walking and there were moments when one of the crew members, a sound guy, would sometimes hold up her legs off-screen.
The Netflix series also reblocked many of her scenes to help facilitate Applegate's needs, which included her character opening doors more frequently so Applegate could use them as a support.
Applegate admitted that the unexpected hiatus from filming allowed her time to reflect. "There was the sense of, 'Well, let's get her some medicine so she can get better.' And there is no better," she said of those months away from the show. "But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time."
What can viewers expect from the final season?
Though there were some changes behind-the-scenes once production on Dead to Me resumed after Applegate's diagnosis was made public, Feldman told ET that the game plan remained the same.
"The truth is nothing changed in terms of the story. We had already shot about 50 percent of the season by the time Christina received her diagnosis so there wasn’t really any going back because we shoot Dead to Me completely out of order, so we had shot scenes from all 10 episodes," she explained. "But the time the news came in, there was really no way to rewrite or change anything."
"And also Christina felt very strongly about telling this story that we wanted to tell from the beginning and and that’s what we did," Feldman continued. "I’m really grateful that we got to stick with the story as intended. It was like a all-hands-on deck situation getting it all made. I’m just grateful that we got to we got to make it."
Applegate was content with whatever reaction viewers have of the final season after they digest the last 10 episodes.
"If people hate it, if people love it, if all they can concentrate on is, 'Ooh, look at the cripple,' that's not up to me. I'm sure that people are going to be, like, 'I can't get past it,'" she said to the New York Times. "Fine, don't get past it, then. But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to these two girls."
Dead to Me returns Thursday, Nov. 17 on Netflix.