Only Murders in the Building Season 3 has reached its showstopper moment. We have new leads in the murder of Ben (Paul Rudd). Oliver (Martin Short) has reached a breakthrough in his musical adaptation of Death Rattle. And—my personal favorite—there are a handful of fiery new romances in the mix.
In order to completely embody Bob Fosse, Oliver has ditched his podcast pals to invest all of his attention in the Death Rattle musical. It’s going to have so much heart, an impassioned Oliver shouts, that cardiologists in the audience will be shouting, “That’s too much heart!” And I, from the sidelines, will be whispering, “That’s too much foreshadowing,” since Oliver has already had one minor heart attack, and Only Murders is not-so-subtly hinting that a second is on the way.
The downside of this, of course, is that the core trio is split into two halves: Charles (Steve Martin) sees Oliver at rehearsal, and Charles still tries to crack the case with Mabel (Selena Gomez) in his downtime, but Oliver has banned sleuthess Mabel from his rehearsals. So, while Charles and Mabel continue the podcast alone, they have to fill the void Oliver has left. Mabel pretends to be cranky, loud-mouthed Oliver; Charles calls memes “mems,” as if it were a French word. The duo are still a riot—but I miss them all together!
Banished from rehearsal—where most of the drama goes down in this episode—Mabel makes a game plan to do some sniffing around Ben’s penthouse apartment at the Arconia. She struggles to find clues, but she digs her nose into something even bigger. She befriends Tobert (Jesse Williams, who explains, straight-faced, that his name is just “Robert with a T”), the cameraman shooting a documentary about Ben. While Tobert has larger ambitions for his filmmaking, he wants to make a doc about how Ben was killed by his biggest fan.
Mabel presses Tobert, convinced that his superfan (who is now in jail for capturing Mabel and Charles) isn’t the killer. It’s someone in the Death Rattle cast. She gives him the hankie rundown—that Ben’s superfan had stolen his show hankie, and since Ben died with it in his hand, that little tissue had to belong to someone in the cast—which convinces Tobert to reveal some big information. Because he was shooting Ben’s documentary before he died, he left a camera in Ben’s dressing room and recorded exclusive footage from the night he died. Mabel has a lead—and also, an exciting new love interest in the grumpy Tobert.
Meanwhile, Oliver’s new musical is suffering on multiple accounts. He’s struggling to find financing. Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) recommends Oliver throw a State Farm jingle into the mix so that he can get his marketing friend from the insurance company to sponsor the show. Instead, Howard opts to call in the cast and block the opening number for the play’s original producers.
But his cast is unmotivated after Ben’s death. They feel numb. It’s disrespectful to Ben’s memory to keep on with the show, they argue. “It’s hard to lose anyone,” Charles says, attempting to defend Oliver, before adding, “except a Hitler or a Stalin.”. Charles then makes a point that even Stalin’s wife was probably upset about losing her husband. It’ll be hard for any of the Only Murders stars to ever top Martin’s perfect performance as a lovable doofus.
If anyone can do it, though, it’s Meryl Streep, who returns as Loretta in this episode. Loretta guides Oliver to the light. He shouldn’t be spending all this time staging the show’s opening number, “Creatures of the Night.” (Rocky Horror much?) He should be fully focused on the Nanny’s (Loretta’s part) ballad in the second half of the show. Oliver and Loretta bond at the piano and almost kiss. (Later, they do actually lock lips.) It’s sweet. “I love how all of your stories end miles from where you start,” Loretta tells Oliver with a giggle. Swoon!
Loretta was meant to leave the show for a role in a Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, but her performance of the Nanny’s ballad solidifies her commitment to Death Rattle. Streep goes full Mamma Mia! for this sweeping dramatic moment: “My love is a lighthouse,” she croons,, “so darling, look for the light.” She’s only missing the overalls to fully become Donna Sheridan all over again, and my pleas to the ABBA gods for Mamma Mia 3 are louder than ever. This is the proof we needed for a third one.
All eyes are on Loretta. She’s outstanding. But by blowing everyone away, Charles and Oliver lose focus on the real business at hand: Leading lady Kimber (Ashley Park) is looking incredibly suspicious. She didn’t want to be in the musical until she had a leading role. Kimber narrates the final moments of the episode, hinting that she may have killed Ben to secure a bigger part for herself.
Kimber is looking awfully guilty. But Only Murders is never that easy, and, to quote Charles: “Another female killer? That’s so done.”
Clues From the Crime Scene
– While drafting the new version of Death Rattle, Oliver has the idea that everyone is a killer. Later on, Oliver whines about being the “common enemy” of his cast, who bond over the fact that they hate him now that the widely hated Ben has passed. Wait a minute: Could everyone in the cast be guilty for Ben’s death?
– Ben’s brother/assistant Dickie (Jeremy Shamos) just seems a little…weird, to me. Suspicious? Maybe. Off-putting? Definitely. Ben has been dead for just a few days when Dickie agrees to become Loretta’s manager. Something’s fishy.
– Tobert’s footage doesn’t give us a huge lead, but it does show Ben in the dressing room on opening night arguing with what appears to be a love interest. He doesn’t want to go public with them, he says, because it would ruin his career. There are a number of possibilities: Maybe Ben was gay and didn’t want to come out. Perhaps an age gap between him andLoretta was un-pursuable. But Kimber seems like the most obvious romantic option, especially seeing as Ben had alluded to some tense history back when he was alive.
-More evidence pointing to Kimber: She doesn’t have a hankie. Charles asks again and again for her to bring her hankie to set, and in the final moments of the episode, she confesses that she lost it somewhere during opening night. Dun dun dun!