DISCLAIMER: This recap of the series premiere episode of Only Murders in the Building is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome, true-crime lovers! Only Murders in the Building finally makes its long-awaited Hulu debut with “True Crime.” So far, so good! Initially, Steve Martin and Martin Short were a huge draw for me. They still are. But Only Murders in the Building manages to craft a stirring plot with intriguing characters complemented by an entrancing score.
Additionally, Selena Gomez fits right in with Martin and Short’s well-established on-screen dynamic. I’m impressed by how quickly the series lays the groundwork for these characters.
Ready to delve into “True Crime”? Let’s get to it.
We open with an ESU squad storming the corridor of an apartment building. Charles (Martin) and Oliver (Short) rapidly descend a staircase and burst into an apartment building. They find Mabel (Gomez) sitting over a dead body, her shirtfront covered with blood.
Rewind time! We see each lead roam the streets of NYC two months before the episode opening. Charles, Oliver and Mabel deliver monologues that encapsulate their respective New York experiences. Charles is a former Hollywood star, Oliver is an optimistic theater director and Mabel is an enigma.
Later, our trio winds up sharing an elevator in their apartment building, the Arconia. Oliver cheerfully attempts to spark a conversation with Charles and Mabel, but the latter pair is disinterested. Tim Kono (Julian Cihi) enters the elevator, engaged in a heated discussion.
After the encounter, the crew goes their separate ways. Charles, Oliver and Mabel settle in to listen to the latest episode of a true-crime podcast. We see a visual illustrating the action narrated in the said podcast. It’s Tina Fey, y’all!
Suddenly, the alarms go off in the complex. Everyone must vacate the premises. Charles seeks refuge in a nearby restaurant, armed with a map and notes. He’s deeply invested in this true-crime pod.
That’s when Oliver and Mabel also appear. All three profess their mutual love for the podcast, and they divulge their theories regarding where it’ll go next.
Then, the trio returns to their building to find a swarm of police outside. Apparently, there was a suicide. Our true-crime buffs sneak inside for a look-see. You’ve gotta satiate that appetite!
So, they travel to the ninth floor, wherein the suicide occurred. It’s none other than Tim Kono, who apparently shot himself in the head!
Naturally, they spiral over the gruesome sight. One of the presiding officers at the scene asks them if they knew him, reasserting that this is a textbook suicide. There was evidence of financial problems and a note. Case closed.
Later, the following day, our group reunites to search the trash bins. Tim Kono was carrying a garbage bag on the elevator, but there are trash chutes on every floor. What was he trying to discard?
While rummaging through the rubbish, Mabel procures a series of notes from Tim’s trash, clearly stating his loneliness. Unfortunately, this confirms his suicide.
Meanwhile, Mabel overhears Bunny, the woman who’s head of management. This spurs a eureka moment. She finds Charles in the elevator heading to an audition. He forgoes it in favor of the Tim Kono case. Mabel discloses that Tim was standing outside Bunny’s apartment one week ago to ask her about his package. She’s been constantly receiving his mail by mistake.
Thus, it’s safe to assume that Bunny has Tim’s latest package. Mabel believes they can crawl through the vents from her bathroom into Bunny’s place.
Charles is bewildered by Mabel’s apartment — it’s massive, and she’s currently residing in it while undergoing renovations. Ever the mystery, that Mabel!
However, Charles has a better idea for getting access. He knows how to pick locks.
Meanwhile, Oliver visits his son Will (Ryan Broussard). He brings gifts for his grandkids. But that’s not the sole reason for his visit. He needs more money. None of his career pursuits are panning out. Will is not a happy camper about his father asking for cash again.
Charles proceeds to pick the lock to Bunny’s apartment. While he picks away, he regales Mabel with the thought-provoking reason why he’s lived alone for 28 years.
We learn that Mabel is actually renovating her aunt’s residence. When she was little, she used to run with a group dubbed “The Hardy Boys,” and they’d solve mysteries in the building. This scene is quite touching.
After gaining ingress, our sleuthing pair find Tim’s package. They venture to the roof to open it. Charles uncovers a swanky engagement ring.
Meanwhile, Oliver is down in the dumps. His son refuses to lend him more money. As he’s departing, he receives a slew of texts from Charles. The mystery isn’t over. In fact, it’s only begun.
Suddenly, a stunning sequence plays out. Oliver falls off his son’s deck, but he instantly bounces up. Mabel drops the engagement ring. It also bounces back. Charles purposely drops a skillet, and it rebounds.
To me, this scene symbolizes the resiliency of NYC and its people. The city itself is a character on this show.
Oh, and amid their investigation, our trio decides to start a true-crime podcast of their own. “Only Murders in the Building.”
Anyway, he asks about Lucy. Charles claims he hasn’t seen her in a while. This begs the question — Who the hell is Lucy?
While Mabel is in the shower, we see her laptop is open on her bed. The wallpaper reveals Mabel’s “Hardy Boys,” which boasts none other than Tim Kono.
What the what??
Only Murders in the Building feels like a love letter to New York, especially with the bouncy sequence. “True Crime” gives us a heaping dose of humor and heart with enough intrigue to leave you wanting more.
Who would have thought this combo would work? Not I! Regardless, this trio has chemistry, and I’m ready to see how the mystery unravels.
What are Mabel’s true motivations? Was Tim Kono more than just her friend? Who’s Lucy? The streaming gods order us to keep watching, so keep watching, we will.
New episodes of Only Murders in the Building are available to stream every Tuesday on Hulu.
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