The Octopus Murders Creators Explain That Frustratingly Ambiguous Ending: “We’re Still Debating. You’ve Stirred Up a Hornet’s Nest”

Christian Hanson: That’s a really interesting question because a lot of the cover-up stuff could very easily be sloppy investigative work on the part of the FBI. Suicide is an easy answer. If he was murdered, that’s a whole bag of worms.

Zachary Treitz: Christian and I both vacillated, on a daily if not hourly basis, on what really happened to Danny. Our average was that I was a 51 percent ‘Danny committed suicide’ guy and he was a ‘51 percent Danny was killed’ guy. But that line, we would cross it. I’ve been really certain on both fronts at certain points. Coming to understand the people that Danny was dealing with—the Robert Booth Nichols of the world—I edged a lot closer to ‘Danny could have been murdered’ because he was dealing with some dangerous people.

CH: A really weird story is that he died in the morning on Saturday. After he died, his phone rang and [his housekeeper] picked up and a voice on the other line said “you bastard, you’re dead” or something, and he already was dead…

ZT: But that doesn’t mean… if somebody assassinated him they wouldn’t be calling and being like “I’m going to kill you… oh dude I just forgot, I already did.”

CH: I’m just saying, like, people were after him from all angles, possibly.

ZT: Daisy, we’re still debating. You’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest.

I felt like that while watching it. My opinion kept oscillating.

ZT: I try to avoid reading reviews or whatever, but when people are like ‘these guys didn’t land on a [definitive] place, therefore this documentary is invalid’—I find that so annoying. Like, you want us to be Godlike, or go out on a crazy whim and say ‘this happened’? Does that invalidate all of the other stuff that we found, that nobody’s seen or heard before?

One of the freakiest parts of the doc came in episode 3 when Cheri Seymour speaks about being shown a video of the ‘alternate’ assassination of JFK, with claims that the one we’ve been shown had been doctored. What did you make of that?

ZT: That’s my favorite scene in the movie. It’s emblematic of so many things that are going on in this story. I was asking Cheri continually, “Were you afraid?” And eventually, hours into the interview, she was like “You keep on asking me if I was afraid… I don’t feel fear.” I was like, “Whoa…” I’d be freaking the hell out. Just because we don’t know everything, it bears telling that crazy story about the JFK tape and [Cheri] trying to be preemptively discredited. You do sound crazy if you tell somebody “I watched an alternative history of the JFK assassination where the driver shoots him.”

In the final episode, some doubt is cast upon certain things. Michael Riconosciuto appears, at times, to be an unreliable narrator. Did you ever find yourself unable to separate fact from fiction?

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