ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING Season 3, Episode 8 Things Get Messy in “Sitzprobe”


Meryl Streep and Steve Martin | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Dan Meyer
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September 19, 2023 12:00 PM

Alright who had Loretta is Dickie’s mom on their bingo cards? Certainly not I, but it’s a good twist! Turns out Loretta gave up her son for adoption in hopes of the big Broadway dream but we all know how that turned out. Dickie grew up in the shadow of a superstar and mom watched from afar as she struggled to get her own name on the marquee. Friends, I don’t think this story has a happy ending. 

What does have a happy ending, though, is everyone’s favorite murder mystery podcast. That’s right, our trio is back, y’all! It takes a minute but even with Oliver and Mabel still slightly at odds, Charles begging for everything to go back to normal, you can see them putting in the work to make everything alright again. 

And so begins “Sitzprobe,” both the name of the episode and the rehearsal process that Death Rattle Razzle finds itself in at the Gooseberry Theatre. As Oliver says, “there’s gonna be fuck ups, it’s going to be messy”—and that’s an understatement of epic proportions.

There are constant interruptions. As Jonathan and the cast sing “Creature of the Night” (Jason Veasey is put to full use here vocally…also when this song get amazing?), everyone gets the alert on their phones: Gregg has been cleared of all charges related to Ben’s murder and released from prison. 

Then we get the best entrance all season. As the Nanny, played by Loretta, sings the CODA “who goes there?”, in storms Detective Donna Williams. “NYPD Motherf*ckers!”, that’s who goes there. I screamed. I gasped. I cackled. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is back! Slay, queen. 

Company of Only Murders in the Building | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Detective Williams is here to interrogate the cast and she is not here to play around, even if she did love Kimber’s Roxie in Chicago. (I would enjoy that - someone get Barry Weissler on the phone to give Ashley Park an offer opposite Taylor Louderman as Velma.)

Meanwhile in the office, Howard has figured out what that weird noise was — a paper shredder! And while it is not sexual deviancy like I had hoped (dramatic sigh), it is a clue nonetheless. Someone was shredding documents before Ben was poisoned. So, with the hopes of getting on the podcast with Mabel, Howard tells her they should put the strips of paper back together again and sends her to find tape. 

Unsurprisingly, the interrogation is not going well for Williams, who is posted up on a very ergonomic chair in Charles’ dressing room. The podcast hosts want to listen in but the detective is having none of it. First, the Brazos star barges in and gets cozy under a weighted blanket. Then, Oliver comes to try a new tactic but the detective has their number and she wants them to GTFO! This isn’t kids play—the podcast will have to wait. 

As she questions the logic of theatrical tape, Mabel continues thinking about Dickie as a suspect. When Oliver tells Loretta of Mabel’s suspicions when he returns her book of Dickie clippings with no questions asked (just silent ones), she panics. This is her son. She plays nice with Mabel but it’s all over her face: she will do whatever it takes to protect him.

Then, it’s time for Charles to do his pitter-patter song and hot damn, it’s good! Detective Williams is into it, producers Donna and Cliff are pleased as punch, and the rest of the cast is gobsmacked with delight, as am I. Even Maxine, the critic who caused Oliver’s heart attack, teases him with the threat of a positive review. Death Rattle Razzle is pure Putnam!

Martin Short | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Sadly, the same can’t be said for Dickie and Loretta. During Charles’ number, the police come and ask Ben’s bro-manager to come down to the station later to talk. As Dickie cancels dinner with Loretta, they both know: this isn’t good. Mabel and Howard are also struggling with puzzle pieces of the shredded paper. When Mabel finds the box of rat poison (is this the first time we’re seeing this? It’s out in the open…how did no one see this before?), she realizes whoever poisoned Ben was in the office that night. She gives Howard a pep talk so he can continue on her own and goes off to find her reunited co-hosts.

They’ve been busy! The buffoonery during Williams’ interrogation was all a ruse to plant a camera in Charles’ dressing room, where she’s been questioning the cast. All of the questioning is recorded on Tobert’s Go-Pro, which Mabel borrowed while he’s shooting a commercial. Mabel is impressed. Hands in, fam, it’s time to make a podcast again! 

In the bathroom, producer Donna is puking from nerves and talking to Loretta. As she puts on lipstick and looks in the mirror (did she write “fucking pig” in Ben’s dressing room?!), the theatre veteran tells the leading lady she’s barely hanging on. There’s so much money going down the drain and there’s no telling if this show will be a hit. If this wasn’t Cliff’s big dream, she would’ve bolted by now. The things mothers do for their children, right? Loretta can relate. 

As Loretta leaves the theatre, she sees Dickie, who is feeling all the feels upon returning to the scene of Ben’s (first) death. To the shock of no one, losing your conniving asshole of a brother is freeing. Seeing him come back alive, though, was horrifying. It's then that Dickie basically confesses to murdering Ben the second time around. “I was trapped again, I couldn’t take it anymore,” he says. Loretta understands; they’re in this together. 

Oliver wants to be in it together, too. “I love you,” he tells Loretta. Twice! She’s lost for words and it’s time for her big solo. Too stunned to respond, she walks away from Oliver and gets on stage. “For the Sake of a Child,” written by Michael R. Jackson in real life, is a powerful song…and the tension ratchets up to 11. Next thing we see, Detective Williams goes over to Dickie and begins to lead him away. “No!”, Loretta sing-screams! “I did it!” As she takes the fall for her son, her lover falls, too. Oliver has had another heart attack, the fallout of losing his leading lady—and love of his life—to a heinous crime. 

The curtain has fallen but who knows who will be standing there when it rises again. 

Treading the Boards

-Howard smells Schmackary’s at one point. Jealous! 

-How many rolls of colored tape does one theatre need? A lot, Mabel! What a noob. 

-if I’m understanding the timeline correctly, two initial interrogations that were not captured on the Go-Pro were Ty (Gerald Caesar) and Bobo (Don Darryl Rivera). I wonder if that will come back somehow. 

-The puzzle piece camera work during “Which of the Pickwick Triplets Did It?” was incredible. Music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman! 

-Charles and Mabel read Loretta’s letter she was going to give Dickie. I paused to read it and some of it is read aloud in the opening narration from Loretta! Essentially she writes about how theatre is a place where people can be anyone and anything can be something to someone. And then signs off as his birth mother.

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.