DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Only Murders in the Building episode “The Sting” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, true crime fanatics! Only Murders in the Building‘s fourth episode catapults the narrative forward with smart writing, cheeky humor and solid performances. “The Sting” is, clearly, Steve Martin‘s chance to shine. Martin proves he’ll always be one of the most likable comedians in the industry. He’s the king, and he’s still got it, baby!
One aspect of the show I appreciate is the writers’ refrain from hand-holding. There’s way more “show” than “tell,” as there should be. We don’t need to be showered with a barrage of exposition.
Ready to delve into “The Sting”? Let’s get to it.
We open with a voiceover from famed podcast host Cinda Canning (Tina Fey). She’s currently recording a podcast episode, but it’s clear that her words align with our trio’s predicament. Charles (Martin) is staring at the suspect board. He opens a Valentine’s Day card from the enigmatic Lucy.
Suddenly, we see … Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig standing behind him. Maybe Charles is on something.
Oliver (Short) texts Charles and Mabel (Gomez) about his dog, Winnie, being poisoned. Meanwhile, Oliver’s son, Will (Ryan Broussard), barges in to check on poor Winnie. Mabel and Charles arrive posthaste, and the trio hash out potential culprits. Whoever poisoned Winnie also killed Tim Kono.
That’s when Oliver broaches the subject of Sting. He believes Sting is behind this. After Mabel does some digging, the puzzle pieces fall into place. Tim Kono was fired from his company, the one for which Sting was a client. In addition, Sting just lost an exorbitant amount of money. He also stayed inside during the fire alarm, a.k.a. when Tim was murdered.
Charles suggests they approach Cinda Canning during their brainstorming session and ask her how to bag a big celebrity like Sting. He may or may not have a connection.
Later, Charles knocks on Arnav’s (Maulik Pancholy) door, his neighbor. Arnav has a thread to Cinda, so Charles asks the former if he can meet with her. The answer is … yes! According to Arnav, Lucy’s doing well. Who the fork is Lucy?
Next, Charles, Mabel and Oliver share an elevator with Jan (Amy Ryan), the bassoonist Charles was flirting with earlier. More flirting ensues. Alas, no numbers are exchanged.
Then, our crew meets Cinda Canning. Naturally, they’re starstruck. Side note: We’ve got a 30 Rock reunion with Fey and Martin. Short is 30 Rock-adjacent with his guest spot on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Now, we need a scene with Fey, Martin and Pancholy to triple the 30 Rock reunion power!
Anyway, Oliver discloses that a celebrity has poisoned his dog, and the suspect is right under his nose. Oh, and the murdering and stuff. So, how do they lure him in? Cinda regales the group with how she brought that Oklahoma mayor to justice for his heinous crime — by showing up with a turkey.
You have to disarm celebrities.
Of course, Oliver mentions they have a podcast themselves. Cinda advises the trio to “embrace the mess.” This sage wisdom profoundly resonates with Charles.
Later, Charles overhears Jan playing her bassoon. He spots her going to town on it from his apartment window. So, he joins her music with his concertina. They play in tandem, filling the Arconia with sweet, sweet melodies. This scene is ridiculously adorable.
Next, Charles receives a note from Jan. She wants to meet him in the lobby for a date! Mabel and Oliver catch Charles right before he leaves. Charles incessantly sees Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig in his periphery.
While on their date, Jan divulges her life story. Charles keeps mum. Even when it’s his turn to share, the details he provides regarding his dating history and childhood are scant. This promptly turns Jan off, even though it’s obvious Charles is nervous.
After his disastrous date, Oliver barges into Charles’ apartment with a cooked turkey. They’re going to show up on Sting’s doorstep with a turkey, just like Cinda did.
The following day, Mabel, Charles and Oliver meet with Sting. Sting apologizes to Oliver for being a jerk to him and Winnie. He was having a bad day. Mabel subtly sprinkles Tim Kono into the conversation. Sting confesses that he screamed at Tim before firing him, telling him he should kill himself.
Then, he committed suicide the next day. Sting has been compressed by ceaseless remorse because of what he said to Tim. Well, that rules Sting out, then. Chances are, he didn’t poison Winnie, either.
Next, Charles pays Jan a visit. He tells her all about his ex-girlfriend, Emma, and her daughter, Lucy. They were together for six years. He’d grown considerably close to Lucy and thought of her as a daughter. He booked a family cruise for them.
Unfortunately, Emma and Lucy left him on the ship with singing Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig. He hasn’t seen Lucy since. He’s carried the weight of that guilt with him. Thankfully, upon this confession, he stops seeing visions of Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig.
Jan is happy. She accepts his invitation for a second date. Huzzah!
Meanwhile, Mabel is scrutinizing the note she found in one of Tim’s Hardy Boys books. Apparently, The Shore Road Mystery is the name of a Hardy Boys story. So, who’s GM? Gus Montrose is a character in that book. Not only that, but apparently, Montrose Gems is a real establishment, which explains why Tim was hoarding all of that jewelry. It’s all coming together!
Then, Charles tells Oliver all about his victory with Jan. Will informs Oliver that Winnie will be fine and is currently recovering from the poison. He also listened to Oliver’s new podcast. Will mentions that Mabel is bad news. He reveals Mabel’s past with Tim and how her friend Zoe died. Uh oh. Why would she hide all that from them?
Later, Mabel leaves the Arconia. We see the person with the tie-dyed hoodie is pursuing her.
Cinda closes out the episode with a voiceover. Oh, and she’s apparently covering the “Only Murders in the Building” podcast on her show.
So many revelations! Sting’s innocence! Tie-dye dude resurfacing! The mystery of Lucy! Will revealing Mabel’s dark secrets! The latter is sure to drive a wedge between our trio.
Only Murders in the Building deftly weaves an intricate true-crime tale with delightful energy and plenty of panache. “The Sting” is a game-changer for the season, and I can’t wait to see what transpires next, from Mabel’s meeting with “GM” on Shore Road to Charles and Olivers’ feelings about Mabel’s past coming to light.
I’m here for the ride. And the great comedy.
New episodes of Only Murders in the Building are available to stream every Tuesday on Hulu.