With Knives Out, Rian Johnson introduced a gentleman detective who cracked cases with wild charisma — and food metaphors — that left us yearning for more. Now, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery takes us further down the donut hole with Benoit Blanc, setting up a whodunnit franchise with no signs of slowing down. So what could Knives Out 3 be about — and did Johnson drop a clue in his now-on-Netflix sequel?
In a mystery splashed with murder, cameos, celebrity commentary, and much more, it's easy to miss a strange sound here, an oddball there, or a could-be hint about what we might see next from Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig).
What do we know about Benoit Blanc?
Let's take a step back to 2019's Knives Out, where the grieving Thrombey family was perplexed by a private detective being in their midst. After all, their patriarch Harlan (Christopher Plummer) had died by apparent suicide. But before Blanc was fully in the whirlwind of the family's drama and a complicated frame job, his reputation was hinted at by a pair of comments from the interviewed next-of-kin.
"Mr. Blanc is a private investigator of great renown," Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) explains coolly to flighty self-care maven Joni (Toni Collette). In response, she exclaims, "Wait a minute — I read a tweet about a New Yorker article about you. The last of the gentlemen sleuths? You solved that case with the tennis champ — you're famous!"
Cut to hard-nosed businesswoman Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), who actually read the profile and describes it as "delightful" before demanding to know why Benoit is here. The pleasantries end there.
So, Benoit is a famous Gentleman Detective because of this New Yorker profile. Later, he mentions his father was a police detective who knew Harlan years ago. But little else is revealed about this man of mysteries. That is, until Glass Onion ushers us into his apartment. There, we not only see him sulking in the bathtub between cases, but also, we get a sense of his circle of famous friends, which includes fellow murder-mystery enthusiasts Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Natasha Lyonne, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Also, he's got a partner in Philip, a baking enthusiast played by a jaunty Hugh Grant.
However, it's as Benoit sets forth for a peculiar party on the private island of billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) that one of his fellow guests drops an intriguing detail about a famous past case.
Did Glass Onion set up a potential prequel?
When the "disruptors" convene on a dock in Greece, they're befuddled to see a stranger among them. But Governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn) recognized the spiffily dressed gentleman, or at least his name.
"Oh my god, Benoit Blanc the detective?" Clare asks. "Did you solve the murder of — oh — "
And here you might suspect she'll say "Harlan Thrombey" or "that murder mystery novelist" or maybe even "that tennis champ." All of these would be callbacks to Knives Out that would fit neatly into the puzzle picture of Benoit Blanc. Instead, Claire continues, "Did you solve the murder of — oh — whatshername — the ballet dancer thing, that's you?"
Such a vague phrase might mean nothing in some other movie. But among the many glass baubles that adorn Miles' den is a statue of three ballerinas. And with all the clues and allusions hidden within Glass Onion, that doesn't feel like a coincidence. It feels like Johnson — who loves laying Easter eggs in his movies — is teasing what could come next.
So let us consider the possibilities with some wild speculation.
Knives Out 3 is about a ballerina murder case.
Investigating Claire's comment, we might assume that a ballerina was murdered mysteriously, and none other than Benoit Blanc cracked the case. But looking again, Claire's remark is wishy-washy — in the way of politicians perhaps — in that she sets up murder, fails to remember the name of the female victim, and then rambles "ballet dancer thing."
Gender norms might urge us to assume the ballet dancer is the whatshername. But men and nonbinary people ballet dance, too. So perhaps this fractured thought is tumbling together the victim and the killer.
In either case, this could mean that Knives Out 3 might be a prequel, looking back at an intriguing investigation that occurred between the Thrombeys (and that New Yorker profile) and Benoit's strange Grecian getaway. Unless…
Knives Out 3 was teased in Knives Out.
Claire is a governor, working from home, and running for re-election. So, it's safe to say she's tapped into the news. This is why I trust that even her scrambled message is a clue worth parsing. But perhaps her fumbling of the details is a sign that this ballerina news is actually pretty old. Maybe it's even the story referenced in the years before New Yorker profile.
While I'd trust stern, detail-oriented Linda to recollect precisely the particulars of the case at the center of that profile, Joni is a far less reliable witness. She mentions a "tennis champ" but also notes she didn't actually read the article. She read a tweet about it. Did she get it wrong? Was it not a case about a tennis champ but actually one about a killer (or killed) ballerina?
Or is Johnson using both these lines to set up a prequel that will be the crazy case that puts Benoit on the map (and out of his father's shadow)? Perhaps it's a crime involving a tennis champ and a ballet dancer. Perhaps one killed the other, or vice versa, or one was accused and Benoit was their path to justice, just as he was for an overwhelmed nurse and a grieving schoolteacher.
Truly, the only one who knows for sure is Rian Johnson. Nonetheless, there's a thrill in playing Benoit ourselves as we wait for another chapter of these addictive adventures in detection.
Glass Onion is now streaming on Netflix.
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