DISCLAIMER: This recap of Only Murders in the Building Season 3 Episode 9, “Thirty,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Arconiacs! We’ve reached penultimate episode territory on Only Murders in the Building, and sh*t is effectively hitting the fan (insert Oliver snort). Our investigating team fires on all cylinders while uniting to track Ben’s killer before Loretta’s arraignment. The stakes are higher than ever this season. Admittedly, it’s another strong outing, maintaining the momentum established in last week’s brilliant episode.
If anything, these past two episodes prove how solid this series is when it relies on its strength — Charles, Oliver and Mabel piecing together a puzzle. When this trio’s in their element, that’s when the show truly sings (to paraphrase Maxine). The comedy, drama and narrative come to life.
Ready to delve into “Thirty”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Mabel (Selena Gomez) narrating this week’s episode. She winds up in the hospital, examining her life choices and wondering how she strayed from her expected life path. Suddenly, she gives birth to triplets — Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short) and a microphone. “Congratulations,” the doctor says, “It’s a podcast.” Admittedly, this line got a giggle out of me.
Then, we see Oliver wake Mabel, who fell asleep at his bedside. Charles is on the other side of his bed. His doctor tells the trio that Oliver’s fine to go home. Yes, he had a heart attack, but his heart has responded well to the stent, and they’ve closely monitored him for five days. Thus, our sleuths return to Charles’ apartment to solve Ben’s murder. Time is of the essence because Loretta’s arraignment is later that day. Our trio rattles off the general facts of the case before Oliver encourages Mabel to record the opening of their latest podcast episode. The besties are back, folks.
Later, Oliver receives some cookies from Donna, who encourages him to find a new leading lady for Death Rattle Dazzle. Charles gets a package with Joy’s wedding dress, which makes him sad. However, Mabel and Oliver are more distracted by the fact that Joy’s parents and childhood dog are still alive. Drop the secret to longevity already! Our crime-solving besties realize they must prove Dickie’s the killer to free Loretta. But they won’t disclose that Loretta’s his mother. That’s not their secret to tell.
Next, they meet with Dickie (Jeremy Shamos), where they divulge their belief that Loretta’s not the murderer. Dickie provides an alibi for Ben’s actual murder — when he was pushed down the elevator shaft at the Arconia. Dickie left the building to look for sex workers and drugs. He tells the trio that Ben used to frequent his favorite brothel on Thursday nights with his five “whores” (his words). He even set aside seats for them at Death Rattle‘s premiere. Whenever Dickie asked where Ben went, the latter would reply, “Snitches get stitches.”
So, Dickie dressed in Ben’s CoBro suit and sat in front of the brothel, begging to be allowed entry. He shows Mabel, Oliver and Charles a picture. However, the police didn’t count it as evidence of a solid alibi because you can’t see his face in said picture. Realizing the actual killer is still at large, Dickie departs Oliver’s apartment to call his lawyer. It’s here our investigators decide to look at other suspects. If Dickie’s telling the truth, this proves his innocence.
They decide to start with this brothel. But how does one enter a brothel? Oliver brings a trusty ladder, claiming nobody can refuse someone armed with a ladder. They discover the name of Ben’s favorite establishment is “Snitches Get Stitches.” It’s a fabric shop. Oliver believes it might be a front, though. Once they enter, Oliver tells the one employee behind the counter that he’s there to repair a light. He needs access to their back room. Charles tries to whip out the waterworks, claiming earlier that crying usually elicits sympathy. However, the employee assumes he’s constipated.
Eventually, our heroes access the back room, which contains five women on sewing machines. Ben’s five ladies! So, this place is a legitimate fabric shop. They reveal Ben used to visit them every Thursday for his sartorial needs. The women would also help him memorize his lines for the show. Ben informed them of how poorly he treated the cast and crew. He wanted to make it up to them by sewing the rattle hankies. He invited his sewing group to attend opening night before making a beeline for the theater with the cast/crew gifts in tow.
Then, the women played a disturbing voicemail from Ben (Paul Rudd) on opening night. He asked where they were, not realizing they were stuck in traffic. He bemoaned that he couldn’t trust anyone and was alone to fend for himself. Ben sounded distressed. Before leaving, Oliver gives the women his ladder. Upon returning to Charles’ apartment, our trio maps out a timeline of Ben’s final hours. Thankfully, they still have the footage they recorded from Detective Williams’ cast/crew interrogations.
Firstly, they start with KT (Allison Guinn), who reveals Ben was late on opening night. He barged backstage, armed with several bags of hankies for everyone. KT dampened his spirits by scolding him for his tardiness. Cliff (Wesley Taylor) told Williams he didn’t like how KT talked to Ben, so he gave him cookies from Donna. Then, Dickie’s on camera, telling the detective that Loretta persuaded him to leave Ben as the latter’s manager. We see Loretta (Meryl Streep) and Dickie sharing a moment onstage. She’s in full mother mode. She reminds him that he deserves better than Ben.
Later, Dickie hands Ben his letter of resignation. Naturally, Ben doesn’t handle this well. He yells at Dickie for leaving him. Next, he claims it should be called “NoBro” because he no longer has a brother. Ouch. (But also kind of funny.) Now, we’re at the moment in the timeline when Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) hears someone using the shredder in KT’s locked office. Meanwhile, Loretta and Ben have a heated argument onstage during the dress rehearsal. That’s when Charles steps in, punching Ben when he gets out of line. Ben rushes off stage, presumably to find Joy to apply makeup to his face.
Next, Ben asks Donna (Linda Emond) and Cliff where his guests are. They’re not in their seats. Donna encourages Ben to be nicer to himself and to do what he needs to ensure he’s ready for the show. Never mind his missing guests. At that moment, Tobert (Jesse Williams) knocks on his door. He asks Ben if they should record behind-the-scenes footage for the documentary. Ben gets snappy with Tobert before stealing the latter’s camera and slamming the door. Tobert storms off, rightfully irritated.
Unfortunately, our sleuthing trio still doesn’t know who Ben was talking to that night in his dressing room. Charles tries to prove he can cry on cue by delivering a monologue about Ben needing a hanky more than anyone. Hey, that got at least half a tear. The group takes a break to reassess their options. They might not be able to pinpoint the killer before Loretta’s arraignment.
Charles and Oliver learn it’s Mabel’s 30th birthday, and she’s spending it solving a murder. Mabel shows them the MASH game she played as a 10-year-old, where she predicted she’d marry Josh Hartnett, have two kids and drive a Honda. However, none of that came to fruition. Suddenly, Howard bursts into the apartment with the document that a mystery person shredded on opening night. Howard spent hours painstakingly piecing together said document. Oliver realizes it’s Maxine’s unpublished review for the first iteration of his show. So, someone got their hands on it and destroyed it.
Later, Oliver and Charles sing “Happy Birthday” to Mabel, presenting her with one of Oliver’s treasured dips with a single candle in the middle. It’s sweet. While Oliver sweet talks his precious dip, Mabel’s struck with a revelation — she knows who Ben was talking to in his dressing room.
Next, we see our trio sitting in Ben’s dressing room while he addresses one of Donna’s cookies. He’s fasting for the show, so he’s abstaining from sweets. Then, he shoves the cookie in his mouth. He follows that up by calling himself a “f*cking pig” and snorting in the mirror. He grabs Joy’s lipstick and writes “F*cking Pig” on the mirror about himself. How heartbreaking. Ben calls his five ladies and leaves that distressed voicemail. Nobody despised himself more than Ben.
So, who’s left on their suspect list? They realize Donna has a pretty significant motive — it’s her son Cliff’s first show as a producer. Maxine’s review trashes Ben’s performance. Donna doesn’t want Ben tanking the production, ensuring Cliff won’t work again. She even quotes Maxine’s review about the lighthouse in last week’s episode. Oliver mentions Donna’s connection to the paper, meaning she read a copy in KT’s office and shredded it. Then, she spotted the rat poison, sprinkled it on Ben’s cookie and presented it to him.
When the poison didn’t take, Donna pushed Ben down the elevator shaft. After all, she was in and out of the cast party all night. Well, it looks like we’ve got our killer. Now, to get to the courthouse in 20 minutes in New York traffic. Mabel spots Joy’s wedding dress, claiming nobody would impede a bride from celebrating her special day on time. Then, we see Mabel in the wedding dress, with Charles and Oliver boasting tuxedos. They all get in a cab and head to the courthouse.
An employee stops them upon their arrival, asking what they’re doing. Mabel states she’s getting married. Oliver and Charles confirm this, revealing they’re the “fathers of the bride.” Fun fact: this refers to Father of the Bride (1991), a film starring Martin as George Banks and Short as Franck Eggelhoffer. Absolute perfection, this reference. Anyway, they barge into the courtroom, where Oliver informs Loretta that they’ve identified Ben’s killer (and it’s not Dickie). Suddenly, Mabel notices Donna in the crowd. She stands up, gazing at them quizzically. Uh-oh. In the words of Oliver Putnam, “F*ckity-f*ck.”
Do you think Donna killed Ben? How will our trio get her to confess to the murder and save Loretta? Only time (and one more episode) will tell.
Only Murders in the Building streams new episodes every Tuesday on Hulu.
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