ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING Season 3, Episode 10 “Opening Night”
Continuing the breakneck pace of last week’s episode (an all-time high in the series IMO), we find the trio, plus a newly bailed out Loretta, back at Charles’ apartment. They’re at the murder board doing what they do best, trying to piece together the rest of the puzzle that is Ben’s double-death.
While they have a pretty good idea that Donna is the one who poisoned Ben’s cookie, they’re still missing a bit of a motive for why she’d push Ben down the elevator shaft. “She’s sick,” chimes Loretta, remembering she saw the producer throwing up in the bathroom. If Donna is dying, she’d do anything to make sure her son Cliff’s future is secure. As Charles and Oliver argue over who should read a few extra lines in the podcast, it’s Loretta’s turn to drop a bombshell. While in jail, Dickie brought her a gift—the bloody hankie. *Cue gasps*
After the opening credits, we head to the Gooseberry Theatre, where Howard is asking the spirit of Gideon to protect the show. Mabel delivers flowers to Donna with a note that says “new review in K.T.’s office” and the producer looks concerned. With a kiss on the lips to Cliff, she’s off to see what is going on. The podcast trio is already in the stage manager’s office. Donna walks in and she barely lets them get through their script before she confesses. Donna finds Tobert hiding behind the door recording all of this and grabs the microphone.
She didn’t want to kill Ben, just knock him out while they could fix the show before Maxine’s pan is published. Not so fast, though. Charles pulls out the hanky that has Donna’s exact lipstick shade on it. “Well shit, you idiots actually got me,” Donna confesses. (Again, I ask the gods to give Linda Emond all of the awards for her hilarious deadpan performance this season.) She pushed him; she couldn’t risk Ben going back on stage. All she asks is that they hold off until after curtain. It’s her son’s first opening night, after all. It’s all a little too easy, though, and Mabel picks up on it. Something’s not quite right…what is Donna still hiding?
Just then, Howard rushes into K.T.’s office and the production has a much bigger issue at hand. Jonathan is completely out of it after taking Ben’s “leading man” drug cocktail. They need someone to take over the lead detective role. As Uma (Jackie Hoffman) and Matthew Broderick heckle like Statler and Waldorf, the curtain rises, and Oliver Putnam is our new leading man. He knows all the lines, and only the director could go on at such short notice. Why does Jonathan not have an understudy? Who cares! As “Creature of the Night” (an excellent opening number with truly fabulous costumes) is performed, Mabel goes backstage.
She runs into Tobert in the hallway, who gives her Donna’s recorded confession—and a proposal. He’s been offered a job to shoot an indie film in L.A., and he wants her to come with. She doesn’t need to decide now, but perhaps this is the big change that Mabel needs to shake things up.
Then we get to the second big confession of the night. After another excellent rendition of “Look to the Light,” Loretta tells Dickie that she’s his mom and would do anything for him. She doesn’t even need to say the words, Dickie felt her calling like a lighthouse from that first read-through. A huge theme this season has been motherhood; both Loretta and Donna have talked about going to great lengths to protect their children. When Mabel overhears this, her antennae goes up, and goes to find Cliff.
She finds him in the attic, where he used to watch Donna’s shows, using Twizzlers as a baton conducting the orchestra (same, Cliff, same). Anyway, Mabel tells Cliff she knows it was him because of the lipstick on the handkerchief–Donna kissed it before putting it in Cliff’s breast pocket. Cue the flashback!
Ben is on the phone with his doctor and bumps into Cliff, whom he only calls “boy.” Turns out his “leading man” cocktail of steroids, amphetamines, and Viagra saved his life after ingesting rat poison. Soon, Ben realizes Donna poisoned the cookie. Cliff insists his mother wouldn’t hurt a fly (*pauses to take a bow to anyone who gets this reference*), but you know who would? Cliff. He never wanted Ben in the first place. He tells him he’s “a superhero hack who had no business on Broadway.” They scuffle as Ben, again, refuses to call Cliff by his name. “Call me boy one more time!,” our young producer shouts—and we cut back to the attic.
Mabel tries to force a confession out of Cliff but he snaps. He threatens to kill himself by jumping through the attic trap door onto the stage. As he looks down, he sees Loretta performing “The Sake of a Child” but it’s Ben as her scene partner, not Oliver. Things escalate quickly: not only does Cliff prepare to jump, but we as the audience find out that the detective in Death Rattle Razzle is the Pickwick Triplets father—he killed their mother!
In a continuation of the flashback, we see Cliff push Ben down the elevator shaft. It wasn’t on purpose per se, but he doesn’t stick around to get caught. Cliff knows it’s all over and he’s panicking. Oliver and Charles race up the stairs and Cliff gets even closer to unaliving himself. Just as he’s about to lose his grip, Donna shows up to save her son. They’re both led away in handcuffs…but not before they give each other one last mother-son mouth smooch.
Back at the Arconia, Oliver is hosting the afterparty. Maxine’s review is a rave. Everyone gets their happy ending. Loretta and Tobert are going to L.A. but Oliver and Mabel won’t be joining them. It’s a bittersweet choice that makes sense for everyone involved. Sazz (Jane Lynch), Charles’ doppelganger/stuntperson, arrives and everyone’s excited. She has something she needs to talk to Charles about, but that will need to wait. The Brazos star goes to get a special bottle of Malbec that he’s been saving for a special occasion. Alas, someone else is waiting in the dark. There’s a flash, a bang, and a thud. Charles has been shot! At the party, Howard asks where Charles is…but then he appears, worried that it’s taking so long Sazz to get that bottle of wine. It looks like we’ll be seeing plenty of Jane Lynch next season and I can’t wait.
Treading the Boards
-Donna again has an excellent monologue (remember her diatribe about a showstopper?) to open the episode.
-Loretta fist bumps Mabel upon hearing she’s dating Tobert.
-Remember when Ashley Park and Jason Veasy were completely underused this season? I know we can’t give everyone a main role but it felt like a waste of their talents.
-The costumes in Death Rattle Razzle are impeccable. Charles’ glittery constable coat! Loretta’s little hat! Bobo’s draped seaweed! I love all of it.
-Release the the cast recording, you cowards!
-OMITB trolling article limits as Oliver tries to read Maxine’s article is pitch-perfect. “Really? I thought I had like 4 articles left.”
Only Murders in the Building Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu.