ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING Season 3 Episode 4: Stay Away From “The White Room”


Martin Short and Steve Martin | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Dan Meyer
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August 22, 2023 12:00 PM

No one knows what happens there. 

It’s hard to know where to begin with this episode of Only Murders in the Building, so I’m going to start with the end. We’re just shy of the halfway point this season and despite another cliffhanger, I fear we are no closer to solving the mystery than we were in episode 1. 

I’m officially ambivalent of the “OMG!” moment each episode has ended on. The show’s writers are pointing the finger at a possible suspect for Ben’s murder only for it to become immediately clear in the next episode that it was all just a red herring. First it was the stalker posing as Ben’s bodyguard, then Kimber, and now Joy. While the first two were promising, this latest development is a pointed finger in the wrong direction. It’s pretty clear someone stole Joy’s lipstick…why are we pretending she is a murderer?! Honestly, our favorite podcast trio is smarter than this and I hope the shocked look on their faces was one of “we must find who had access to Joy’s makeup case!” and not “Joy did it!”

I’d rather either we as the audience know who killed Ben and we watch the trio figure it out the next few episodes, or the show could leave us clues at the end of an episode without pointing a finger. Leave use hanging on the lipstick on the mirror—that’s a good enough cliffhanger on its own! 

At the start of the episode, Joy has moved into Charles’ apartment at the Arconia. It feels fast to me (I wrote in my notes “ALREADY?!”), and throughout the episode, it becomes clear that Charles feels this way too. In fact, the Brazos star has two sources of stress: a new roommate and a patter song for Death Rattle Dazzle that he just can’t seem to crack. 

Andrea Martin and Steve Martin | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

In a rehearsal, Charles completely breaks down and disassociates, traveling to what’s known in the industry as The White Room. You see, when actors struggle with certain aspects of the role and are forced to perform beyond their limits, their mind goes to a blank white room that is euphoric and carefree. In the real world, their id comes out. Charles seems to be both physically and verbally destructive in his White Room visits but we only see him in the blank space, so it’s hard to say what made Harold and the piano player (played by Joel Waggoner!) pack up and leave for the sanctuary of church.  (I had never heard of the White Room, and a quick Google search tells me that’s because this is a made up thing but I’m not convinced it’s not a thing, you know?)

Meanwhile, Mabel and Oliver are at odds again as the former wants to solve murder mysteries and the latter wants to obsess over Loretta. They are at loggerheads so often this season, it is a bit wearisome. However, the back half of the episode has them in a united front along with Charles to snoop backstage. They find Kimber using her dressing room as a place to film her beauty product ads for social media. It turns out the starlet sold Ben’s hankie because he was promised to do a spot for her anti-aging serum (vaseline mixed club soda), but backed out at the last minute. Putting something of the late actor’s on eBay was a petty moment of revenge and she regrets it now. Despite my gripes above, I did love how this twist played out and I bought it as a solid alibi. It might just be Ashley Park’s excellent performance—should I be more suspicious of Kimber?—but for now, she’s off my suspects list.  

Meanwhile, Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) is back! She wants Mabel to come work on a podcast with her instead. Oliver and Charles clearly dont have the time or interest in doing another podcast, so why not make some money and jump-start a career? Despite Mabel needing money and clearly struggling with finding a new appointment, she passes. Mabel choosing the guys over a bunch of zeros was really heartwarming! 

Treading the Boards 

-Mabel used Harold’s love for sweaters as a way to get the key to go backstage. As a fellow chunky knit lover, the assistant director’s existential panic at even the thought of losing a beautiful sweater to moths was so relatable. 

-I do wish I had seen Charles’ second meltdown…what would make two grown men need to leave and pray! I’m hoping it was an Exorcist-level head spinning 360 type of situation. 

-No Loretta tonight, let’s hope Meryl was too busy in a talks meeting for Mamma Mia 3 (I’m manifesting! This isn’t confirmed) 

-Favorite line of the night: “It’s amazing the amount of steaming horse shit you can feed the American public if you tell them it’s organic” - Cinda Canning, con artist/podcast producer

-A close second place finish to Oliver saying he once talked Idina Menzel away from a literal edge of a cliff…I hope we get that full story some day!

Only Murders in the Building Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu.

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Dan Meyer

After 4 years in the biz, Dan swapped out theatre for sports and is now a researcher at NBC Olympics. Spectacle remains a key passion and is dedicated to building bridges between different forms of entertainment. He has worked as a writer and editor at Theatrely and Playbill, covering Broadway and beyond. In addition, he has been published in Rolling Stone, Spy, and others.