DISCLAIMER: This recap of Only Murders in the Building Season 3 Episode 6, “Ghost Light,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Arconiacs! Only Murders in the Building blesses us with its strongest episode this season. “Ghost Light” brings our core trio together to investigate the Goosebury Theater, where Gideon the Ghost might lurk. It’s a fun, delightfully cheeky outing that propels the narrative, the investigation and provides ample conflict for Charles, Oliver and Mabel.
We’ve seen the cracks and tears in our sleuthing pals’ friendship and partnership since the beginning of Season 3, and “Ghost Light” sees the dam burst wide open as it culminates in a nasty fight. This development breathes life into their now-frayed dynamic, allowing room for experimentation. We’ve never seen them disband, so I’m curious to see where this takes us.
Ready to delve into “Ghost Light”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) providing narration. He talks about the ghost of Gideon Goosebury, who haunts the Goosebury Theater. Gideon perished in 1919 while delivering a star-turning performance onstage. A 300-pound sandbag fell on his head. A string of inexplicable murders took place in that theater over the next century, culminating in the recent demise of Ben Glenroy. Some say Gideon’s ghost haunts the stage to this day.
Meanwhile, Oliver (Martin Short) looks through Loretta’s Ben scrapbook. He studies one of her handwritten notes, noticing the “F” and the “P” looks identical to the “F*cking Pig” message on Ben’s dressing room mirror. Uh-oh. Charles (Steve Martin) sits in his apartment with President McKinley, the only fish Joy left in her wake — her two boys with “attitude problems.” Mabel (Selena Gomez) sits on her bed and smiles as we hear the shower running in her bathroom. Someone stayed the night. I wonder who it could be…
Suddenly, Howard knocks on Mabel’s door, confessing to Ben’s murder. Then, we see Mabel, Charles and Oliver sitting on her couch as Howard, clad in a yellow raincoat, fills the trio in on the legend of Gideon Goosebury. He reveals he was doing the requisite stage sweeps to ensure Gideon’s ghost was at bay. However, Howard didn’t sweep the stage enough on opening night, resulting in Ben’s untimely death. We hear cracks of thunder punctuate his words, along with Howard’s sobs. Of course, our sleuthing pals aren’t convinced a ghost killed Ben.
Howard describes seeing a man wearing a red coat and cap, the same attire as Gideon, standing toward the back of the theater. Howard asks the man if he’s Gideon, to which the man responds, “Sure.” The ghost light on the stage flickers off. Howard screams. During Howard recounting his interaction with Gideon, Tobert (Jesse Williams) emerges in a towel. Spoiler alert! No, that’s not it. Plot twist! Nope, still not it.
Charles and Oliver pull Mabel aside to discuss their next steps in the investigation. Mabel admires (not) Oliver’s replacement tooth. Oliver and Charles wonder why Tobert is involved in the investigation. Is he Mabel’s new BF? Tobert pops in to give his two cents. He believes Howard’s description of Gideon sounds an awful lot like Dr. C, the man Jonathan met at the restaurant. Perhaps he returned to the theater to cover his tracks. After politely asking Tobert to butt out of the convo, Charles reveals that Joy left him.
Our trio decides to accompany Howard to the Goosebury Theater for a classic OMITB investigation. The gang’s back together again. K.T. (Allison Guinn) greets them at the theater. While onstage, Charles explains the theater tradition of the ghost light, which unexpectedly turns off. That’s not good. Next, two sandbags almost take out Charles, crashing to the stage on either side of him. Gideon’s mad.
Then, Mabel, Charles and Oliver follow Howard to K.T.’s office. They inform her about the falling sandbags. She hops to it, enlisting Howard to ensure the rest are secure. Mabel notices the cast sign-in sheet on a clipboard on the wall. Perhaps they can use this to match the handwriting on Ben’s dressing room mirror. Oliver, who knows his girlfriend Loretta is a potential suspect, tries to torpedo Mabel’s idea, which she plucked from the Oliver Putnam Playbook. Oliver claims he’ll check it out himself, leaving Mabel and Charles alone.
Charles, who brought President McKinley, tries to find a suitable place to house the fish. Mabel insists she can investigate alone like she’s been doing this whole time. Her oldie pals have been of no help lately. Meanwhile, Oliver stands in Ben’s dressing room, holding Loretta’s note to the mirror’s message. It looks pretty damn similar. Suddenly, he hears a noise in the hallway. Oliver discovers a mysterious, winding staircase. He ascends it to a secret attic, noting it looks like the Phantom of the Opera’s dorm room. An unknown hand snakes out and clamps itself over Oliver’s mouth.
Later, Charles finds a bathroom and puts President McKinley in the toilet tank. He searches for a cup for his only fishy friend. Unfortunately, Charles is now locked inside said bathroom. Oliver bites his captor before realizing it’s someone he knows: Jerry Blau (Peter Bartlett), the former director of Death Rattle before Donna fired him. Ever since, he’s been living in the attic, having split with his boyfriend.
Mabel finds Tobert lurking in the stage shadows. He tailed Jonathan, who led him to the Goosebury Theater. However, they can combine their investigative powers since they’re in the same place. Howard and K.T. chat while adjusting the sandbags and ensuring they’re safe. Howard tells K.T. how his mother snuffed out his burgeoning love of theater. He hasn’t returned to the stage since. K.T. confesses her desire to be a director one day. Oh, and K.T. didn’t kill Ben. So, let’s get that out of the way.
Anyway, K.T. corrects Howard re: Gideon. You don’t sweep him off the stage; you invite him in. Meanwhile, Charles urinates while President McKinley swims in the toilet tank. Jerry kills a rat while Oliver visits with him in the attic. Oh, Olly came on a good day. It’s always a good day when a rat’s on the dinner menu. Oliver reveals he fell in love with Loretta, one of his actors. Jerry discloses what he saw on opening night involving Loretta and Ben. He unveils a stage with stick-figure actors he made to set the scene.
Unfortunately, Charles inadvertently flushes the toilet after peeing, sending President McKinley on a wild ride. Uh-oh. Mabel and Tobert catch Jonathan (Jason Veasey) exiting his dressing room with a bag. They swipe it, finding prescription pills inside. Jonathan admits he’s felt the pressure of being the leading man in Death Rattle Dazzle. So, Dr. C gave him the same medicinal cocktail he prescribed Ben. It’s even got a dash of meth. Despite being Ben’s understudy, Jonathan confesses he never wanted to be the lead. Well, it sounds like we can cross Jonathan off the suspect list.
Next, Charles laments flushing his fish down the toilet, only to find his buddy re-emerge in the toilet bowl. He lives! Charles puts President McKinley, who survived a second assassination attempt, into a cup. Then, he locates an intercom. He tries to get the message out that he’s locked in the bathroom. Suddenly, he accidentally turns on the fog machine. He yanks the intercom toward him, noticing the cord isn’t connected. Charles succumbs to the spreading fog. He’s the most dramatic drama queen, y’all.
Then, Jerry puts on a stick-figure show for Oliver, showing the latter what transpired on opening night. He reveals that Loretta called Ben a “f*cking pig.” Oh, and Charles swooped to the rescue after witnessing Ben assaulting Loretta. Charles punches Ben in the face. Oliver didn’t know that part. On the main stage, K.T. directs Howard to invite Gideon to join them with the late actor’s monologue. Howard recites the piece with a proper stage voice, accessing his diaphragm to deliver the invitation.
Meanwhile, Charles records a video on his phone as his last words. During the recording, he realizes he has packed his lock-picking kit. Huzzah! Jerry imparts sage wisdom to his friend, encouraging Oliver to make a choice. “Sh*t or get off the pot,” as they say. Reinvigorated, Oliver departs. He urges Jerry to mend fences with his partner so he can move out of the theater. And leave the attic, a bona fide smörgåsbord of rodents and other critters?
Mabel and Tobert reunite with Charles, who bursts through the bathroom door with President McKinley in hand. He wonders how long he’s been trapped in there. Mabel reveals it’s only been 20 minutes, and yes, SNL is still on the air. Howard’s monologue grows more intense with every syllable. We see the ghost light flicker and a gust of wind swoosh across the stage. Gideon’s responding to Howard’s words.
Then, Mabel and Charles find Oliver in Ben’s dressing room. He’s erasing the lipstick message on the mirror, one of their only clues in the investigation. Naturally, Mabel and Charles protest. Oliver seizes the reins, claiming the police caught Ben’s killer, so they must move on. He’s got a show to direct, and he doesn’t want an investigation to derail it.
Mabel learns about Charles punching Ben on opening night and questions why he withheld that info. She also discovers Loretta’s involvement in the matter. She suspects Oliver is hiding something. Mabel reveals that Cinda Canning approached her with a podcast deal, which she feels more inclined to accept now, given how unhelpful Charles and Oliver have been. Oliver hurls insults at Mabel and Charles, causing them to storm out. Oliver finishes erasing the mirror message. No, our besties are breaking up. I feel like my parents are getting divorced all over again.
Steve Martin is the king of physical comedy. “Ghost Light” is his episode. So much of his comedic antics feel like vintage Steve, and I love it. All in all, there’s a nice balance of levity and drama in this outing.
Do you think Mabel will partner with Cinda Canning? How long before our heroes mend fences and reunite? Is Loretta the killer? How long can Oliver hold onto what he knows about her? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
Only Murders in the Building streams new episodes every Tuesday on Hulu.
- CRIMINAL RECORD Season Finale Recap: (S01E08) Carla - February 21, 2024
- CONSTELLATION Recap: (S01E03) Somewhere in Space Hangs My Heart - February 21, 2024
- CONSTELLATION Recap: (S01E02) Live and Let Die - February 21, 2024