DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Only Murders in the Building episode “Fan Fiction” is riddled with spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Arconiacs! There are only two episodes left this season, and I expect we’re in for a doozy. “Fan Fiction” feels like a love letter to avid true-crime listeners everywhere as it lovingly elevates the show’s podcast “superfans.” In a way, our core trio returns to their roots in a bid to solve Tim Kono’s case. As it turns out, Teddy and Theo Dimas are red herrings, sending this case “in a whole new direction” (thank you, Brazzos).
“Fan Fiction” catapults the plot forward with Only Murders in the Building‘s trademark charm and delightful humor. Martin Short steals the show, and we “Putnuts” are bracing ourselves for the Putnam-aissance.
Ready to delve into “Fan Fiction”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Sam (Jaboukie Young-White), delivering narration to kickstart the action. He sits with Grant (Orson Hong), Paulette (Ali Stroker) and Marv (Daniel Oreskes) outside the Arconia. The quartet calls themselves “The Arconiacs,” and they’re obsessed with our leading trio’s “Only Murders in the Building” podcast.
According to Sam, there are certain subsects within the overarching fandom, i.e., “Mabellines” for fans of Mabel, “Haden Maidens” for lovers of Charles and “Putnuts” for Oliver followers.
Now, the group boasts signage meant to encourage Charles, Mabel and Oliver to record new episodes for the podcast. While Grant, Paulette and Marv lose faith in the prospect of a satisfying resolution, Sam holds fast to hope. Folks, Sam is utterly endearing and beyond charming. Hats off to Young-White for a fun performance.
Meanwhile, Oliver (Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez) are bound in the back of Theo Dimas’ (James Caverly) van. Theo unceremoniously drags them out of the vehicle in a shady part of town. We see Teddy (Nathan Lane) waiting for them.
Then, Teddy, Mabel and Oliver have a friendly chat while Theo drives them back to the Arconia in a limo. Well, it’s warm at face value, but there’s an undercurrent of malice. He not-so-subtly threatens the duo to wrap up their podcast, or else.
Mabel accuses Teddy of murdering Tim Kono, but The Deli King refutes her accusation. Whatever she knows about his graverobbing business is wrong, of course.
After he drops them off, Oliver and Mabel run into The Arconiacs outside the building.
Later, Mabel and Oliver find Jan (Amy Ryan) in Charles’ apartment clad in a robe. Charles (Steve Martin) jovially enters the fray armed with bagels. He’s in good spirits because he and Jan had intercourse. They made the beast with two backs. Oh, and their safe word was “Brazzos.”
Next, Oliver and Mabel disclose Teddy’s death threats. They must release the final episode of “Only Murders in the Building” by 7 am, complete with an apology to Teddy and an admission of error.
Jan and Charles reveal they dug through Tim’s phone. According to Jan, he left meticulous records and carefully detailed documents, notably regarding his pursuit of Teddy’s seedy jewelry business.
Then, our trio meets with Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the one who gave Mabel Tim’s phone. Williams warns them to tread lightly, especially since they have a giant red target on their backs. Additionally, the case they’re curating must be air-tight if they’re to nail the Dimas men.
She urges them to record another podcast episode as a way to keep her abreast of new developments. Start with the basics: the who, the how, the why and the why now.
Later, Charles, Mabel and Oliver reconvene their brainstorm session in Oliver’s apartment. Jan brings pizza rolls, and Oscar (Aaron Dominguez) gets intel. He connected with Cutter, Tim’s initial contact. Tim never acquired the emerald ring, which means it must be in the clutches of his killer.
Now, Mabel and Oliver aren’t keen on Jan being present for their meeting, and in addition, Charles’ infatuation with her distracts him from the case. After Oliver departs, searching for dips for the “dry” pizza rolls, he invites The Arconiacs inside for “reinforcements.”
Mabel and Charles doth protest too much, citing “too many cooks in the kitchen,” so to speak. However, Oliver encourages them to embrace The Arconiacs — nobody obsesses over details like fans. They can help solve the murder!
So, during the brainstorming session, Jan mentions Howard, the grieving cat owner, as a potential suspect.
He was their first, after all.
But Mabel and Oliver brush away her suggestion, instead laser-focusing on Teddy Dimas. Next, Oliver immerses himself in a visual reenactment of the night of Tim’s murder featuring The Arconiacs. The running theory is that Theo Dimas shot Tim, and the latter wrote Tim’s suicide note. I love it when Oliver taps into his theatrical side.
Jan reasserts her theory of Howard killing Tim, but Oliver and Mabel won’t have it. Charles reticently sides with them, driving a wedge between him and Jan. She storms out.
Meanwhile, Jan finds a note stating “I’m watching you” that’s taped to her front door.
Later, our trio records their last “Only Murders in the Building” podcast episode. Detective Williams intently listens to it at her office, taken aback by the revelation that Teddy Dimas is a graverobber.
Teddy receives a notification regarding the new episode entitled “The Dimases Take a Dip.” Suddenly, the police arrive at his front door.
The Arconiacs also listen to the final hurrah. Grant wonders aloud why Teddy would sponsor a podcast that might out him. Sam believes hubris played a role, but Marv questions that.
After learning about Teddy and Theo’s arrests, the gang celebrates. Charles sends Jan a series of texts, but she doesn’t respond. Mabel and Oscar watch a video Tim recorded before his death, detailing his objective to take down Teddy Dimas and his remorse regarding Oscar’s wrongful imprisonment.
Then, Detective Williams calls Oliver, congratulating our trio on nailing Teddy. During their conversation, she discovers the toxicology report revealing Tim’s cause of death — poison. So, he was poisoned and then shot!
But that’s not all! Williams spots previously unseen camera footage from the night of Tim’s death that vindicates the Dimas men. They were outside of the Arconia during the murder! So, while they’re certainly guilty of Zoe’s death and graverobbing, they didn’t kill Tim.
Oliver breaks the news to the celebratory group: there’s still a murderer in the building. Charles, infuriated that Jan might have been right, storms out to find her.
Later, Charles enters Jan’s unlocked apartment with flowers and sees she’s on the floor, unconscious and bleeding. It looks like Jan has a stab wound, and he calls for help.
While it’s not entirely surprising that Teddy isn’t responsible for Tim’s death, “Fan Fiction” seamlessly executes that twist with panache. That places Howard back in the murderer’s seat and frees up the list for more suspects. Jan emits peculiar vibes. Whether or not she’s involved with the murder remains to be seen, but, in general, her ledger isn’t blemish-free.
The bond between our three leads strengthens with each outing, and I can’t wait to see how the outcome affects their friendship. There will be a second season, so we’ll find out if they stick together to solve another murder or if they temporarily part ways.
Short and Martin are comedy gods — they’ve still got it.
“Fan Fiction” changes the game, and I’m ready to find out the explosive outcome.
New episodes of Only Murders in the Building are available to stream every Tuesday on Hulu.
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