ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING Season 3, Episode 9 “Thirty”


Wesley Taylor | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Dan Meyer
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September 26, 2023 3:15 PM

We open on Mabel and Charles by Oliver’s side as he recovers from his heart attack caused by Loretta’s confession to murdering Ben to protect her son, Dickie, Ben’s brother/manager. After only five days, Oliver is released from the hospital and the trio get back to work, more determined than ever to solve this case! 

The first stop is Dickie’s apartment. He tells the sleuths that after seeing his brother return from the dead, he put on Ben’s CoBro costume and went out looking for drugs and tried visiting Ben’s favorite prostitutes (they had opening night seats saved for them, which seems like a sweet yet uncharacteristic move from the leading man). Ben used to do the same thing every Thursday night, so why can’t Dickie have some fun, he reasons. Sadly he didn’t get very far as “the five whores” didn’t let him in. There’s even security camera footage of him crying and screaming in the doorway! 

So it’s off to Snitches Get Stitches, the excellently named fabric shop that’s a front for where Ben used to spend his Thursday evenings. It turns out that the Death Rattle star wasn’t hooking up with prostitutes after all. No, he was spending time in a sewing circle with a group of very sweet ladies. They even helped him make those hankies he gave out on opening night! Ben even called them, leaving distressed voicemail saying that everyone was out to get him. 

So, the trio decide to start watching those investigative tapes of what happened the night Ben died to create a timeline of his final hours. The show employs a fun trick to zhuzh up the proceedings by transporting the podcast trio to the Gooseberry Theatre as they watch the tapes from Charles’ apartment. It starts with stage manager KT yelling at Ben for being late; then, Cliff offers him a Schmackary’s cookie but Ben is fasting (sniffs are OK though); finally, Loretta is encouraging Dickie to leave Ben as a manager. Just then, the CoBro star storms in and is blindsided by his brother’s plot to walk away. “Messy, messy,” says Charles, and I couldn’t agree more. 

Paul Rudd | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Next up is Howard, the paper shredder whisperer. I feel like they filmed Michael Cyril Creighton saying “how odd” in a dozen different ways so it’s different each time they flashback to that one moment. It’s hilarious and i approve! In the present-day, Howard is still trying to fit the strips of paper back together but it’s not going well. 

Ben’s murder timeline continues with Loretta and Ben’s big fight and Charles punching the star. As Charles astutely points out, the dialogue the actors are rehearsing is really on the nose now that we know Loretta is Dickie’s mom. Next, we have Donna who is giving her son Cliff a pep talk (and a kiss, natch), who also spots Ben looking a little rough—by this point, he’s been through a lot for one night—and tries to encourage him as well. Then it’s Tobert, who pops by Ben’s dressing room to film some footage but the star isn’t having it; he takes the camera and slams the door in the filmmaker’s face. 

So, that’s how we get to the footage of Ben talking to someone in his dressing room. The trio say everyone is accounted for…but there’s no mention of the other cast members, so presumably that will come back later or they were never that important to begin with. 

As they stop to take a beat, Mabel laments that today is her 30th birthday and doesn’t have much to show for it. The MASH game from when she was 10 years old was way off. Still, there’s no place she’d rather be than with Charles and Oliver. Awww! There’s no time to reflect how far this trio have come, however, because Howard has solved the paper shredder puzzle. And whaddyaknow, it’s the critic Maxine’s pan! Oliver can tell from two words: “didn’t sing.” It also says Ben was the worst part of the show, so we have a new motive! Did someone murder Ben to keep the lights on for Death Rattle

Oliver is so excited about this turn, he goes looking for dips (this is also how I know Oliver is 100 percent healthy again). As he talks with a ravenous hunger to a whipped Norwegian Red Herring, Mabel realizes who Ben was talking to in the dressing room: a Schmackary’s cookie. Of course! How could it not be? Beloved for its flavors and textured, hated for its calories, the food icon of Broadway is public enemy #1 of waistlines. 

As Ben devours the cookie, we all know what’s going on. Someone poisoned the sweet treat! “What the fuck did you just do?,” Ben asks himself. “You’re digusting…a fucking pig.” The gasp that escaped from me when he said this. Ben wrote that on the mirror in a moment of self-flagellation. He even oinks at himself and it’s a dark moment. Ben was at a real low point before he died, adding a tinge of sadness to what originally seemed like a justified revenge plot. 

So, let’s put all the pieces together: someone read Maxine’s review, panicked when it said Ben was as “wooden as the lighthouse,” and then poisoned a cookie to save the show. According to Oliver, producer Donna said the same thing at sitzprobe. With her connections to the paper, she probably got an advance copy. But it’s not Donna’s play—it was Cliff’s, and if there was a pan, he could’ve been banished from Broadway forever. So here’s the trio’s latest theory: To save her son, Donna shreds the review, spots the rat poison, sprinkles it over a Schmackary’s cookie, and puts it in Ben’s dressing room. 

Martin Short | Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

It’s a solid hypothesis and I’m into it but there’s only 20 minutes left until Loretta’s arraignment! There’s no way they’ll get downstairs in time—but then they spot Joy’s unused wedding dress and the trio hop into action. Running out of the Arconia with her two buddies to solve a murder, Mabel realizes her birthday wish has come true: solving murders with her buddies is all she really wants in life. 

The trio make it just in time to tell Loretta they know she didn’t do it and neither did Dickie. As Loretta asks who they think did it, everyone freezes. Someone else is in the courtroom. It’s Donna! Dun dun dunnnnnn. 

There’s only one episode to go, my fellow sleuthers! Do we think our trio’s theory is solid? My hunch is there’s one more twist, which would make all signs pointing to Cliff being the murderer but this show is always two steps ahead of me. 

Treading the Boards

-When she was 10, Mabel thought she’d be married to Josh Hartnett. Same girl, same. 

-The flashback of Ben practicing his lines with the sewing circle was pure gold. 

-Dickie calls his stress hives “Benny Bites” lol 

-Selena Gomez looked absolutely stunning in that wedding dress, major props to the wardrobe department. 

- The “father of the bride” joke by Charles/Steve Martin is another example of how this show excels so much at throwbacks and puns. It will never get old for me, love it so much. 

-It’s time for me to put forth my full theory that I’ve been sitting on all season! I actually think we’re in a Murder on the Orient Express situation. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say anything more than that, but it would add up. 

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.