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Dead To Me: How James Marsden Returns In Season 2 (Was It Set Up?)


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James Marsden's character was killed off at the end of Dead to Me season 1, but the Netflix series found a way to bring the actor back. Marsden initially played the role of Steve Wood in the drama-comedy series created by Liz Feldman. He served as the male lead alongside the two headliners, Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. Following the critical acclaim surrounding the debut season, Netflix didn't waste time ordering another installment, and of course, season 2 hit the ground running.

Steve found himself stuck in the middle of a lot of drama in Dead to Me season 1. The ex-fiancé of Judy Hale (Cardellini) seemed like a normal man until it was revealed that he was responsible for the hit-and-run death of Jen Harding's (Applegate) husband. Rather than be full of remorse, Steve carried on with his life and continued his emotionally abusive behavior toward Judy. When he later confronted Jen in the Dead to Me season 1 finale, she ended up killing him in what she claimed was self-defense. That wasn't the case and it surely wasn't the end of Marsden in the series.

The first big twist of Dead to Me season 2 came in the premiere. After the doorbell rang, Jen and Judy were met by a man that looked exactly like Steve, who Jen killed just hours before. The following episode immediately explained that Marsden wasn't reprising his role as Steve; he was playing Ben Wood, the "semi-identical" twin brother. Ben was in town due to his brother's disappearance and sought out Judy for any insight. The character stuck around for the duration of the season, proving to be much more good-natured than his brother. He even became a love interest of Jen's before some of his own dark secrets started to emerge. Interestingly enough, however, the plan to bring back Marsden didn't come to fruition until after season 1 dropped.

Marsden's Return To Dead To Me Wasn't The Original Plan

There were no clues or any type of setup in Dead to Me season 1 indicating that Marsden could make a return in the form of a twin brother. If anything, viewers assumed that the actor could only cameo in flashbacks. Since Dead to Me season 2 released, Feldman and the cast have been outspoken that the idea to bring back Marsden didn't get rolling until the positive reception of the series started to pour in. Marsden was elated with his time on Dead to Me and mentioned his interest in coming back. Feldman instantly came up with the twin idea but struggled with the cliché. Those involved in the series were on board with it, and the rest was history.

By including Ben, there was an extra threat looming while Jen and Judy tried to avoid any connection to Steve. Even after they seemingly get in the clear, they coincidentally get thrust back into the drama when Ben drove drunk, T-boning their car in the closing scene. Though the series hasn't been renewed just yet, Marsden will undoubtedly be involved in season 3. So not only did Dead to Me find a way to bring back Marsden once, they have a reason to keep him around for the long haul.


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