ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING Season 3 Premiere “The Show Must…” Go On, Naturally
Welcome back to the Arconia, fellow sleuthers!
The third season of Only Murders in the Building is here and we have a Broadway-themed mystery to solve! From the looks of things, it’s going to be another incredible season, filled with hilarious one-liners, poignant emotional human truths, and edge-of-your-seat plot twists.
As you’ll recall, last season ended with Poppy being arrested for the murder of Bunny, all in the name of making her own successful podcast. This season, the murder of loathed-by-all Ben Glenroy, the star of the Oliver Putnam-directed Death Rattle, will be our focus.
Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we? Ben is presumed dead, having dropped into the middle of a noir-ish detective monologue on stage. Everyone is panicked, but first we need to set the scene!
The episode opens with a flashback of a young girl. There’s an old adage that actors don’t choose the theatre, it chooses them. A spark is lit, say for example, by a young Diahnn Carroll in her historic Tony-winning performance as Barba Woodruff in Rodgers and Harts No Strings. Then, it’s years of vocal and dance training growing up, followed by a string of no’s, until someone finally asks “where have you been?” and hands you the role of a lifetime. Sometimes it’s early…and sometimes it’s too late, but it’s never not welcome.
That’s how we meet Loretta Durkin, played by Meryl Streep. She’s a determined but failed actress, but Oliver sees something in her. She’s hired to play the nanny in Death Rattle following an incredible audition. Off-stage, could a spark be blossoming between these two septuagenarians? It’s certainly not blossoming between Loretta and Ben at the table read with only four months to go until opening night, however.
Arriving late (of course) and trying to avoid sexy Schmackary’s cookies (also of course), Ben introduces himself to our cast of suspects, and they are played by a roster of top-tier Broadway talent. Ashley Park is the ingénue Kimber, Don Daryl Rivera is an actor named Bobo, Linda Emond is the show’s lead producer, Donna, and has no problem kissing her son Cliff, played by Wesley Taylor, with tongue—but it’s ok, he’s gay!, and Jesse Williams is Tobert, the documentarian filming behind-the-scenes for a Netflix special because this is 2023 and that’s how things are done now. Also back are everyone’s favorite gay couple, Jonathan and Harold, played by Jason Veasy and Michael Cyril Creighton, respectively. This time around, Jonathan is Ben’s understudy and Harold is, perhaps begrudgingly, the director’s assistant.
As the cast dives into the script, it becomes clear that Loretta’s process is a bit unconventional. Her accent work is well-intentioned but the gal was clearly not trained by the best. The flashback ends with Ben wanting Loretta fired but Oliver won’t give in.
Back to present day at the cast party, where the food is still wrapped in cellophane, and everyone is shook by Ben’s death. Mabel thinks he was poisoned, but Charles isn’t so sure. Everyone is else just trying to get a handle on everything; even Oliver’s own narcissism can’t save him from feeling bad. Maybe restarting the podcast could help?
BUT PLOT TWIST! Ben’s not dead. Oh sure he died—for a full hour (a lie) in what doctors are not calling a “miracle.” Whether it was something he ate or not, everyone’s least favorite actor to work with is back. And he is going to change…he has seen the light (“the dead person kind”). He’s not going to treat Kimber so badly anymore. And he’s going to share the number of his trainer with Gerald Ceasar, whose role as a character in the show and in the play is still confusing to me. There will be no more “no-no’s.” for. Bobo!
Yet a mystery remains. Did someone try to murder Ben and fail? Was it the well-intentioned but poorly dialectically trained Loretta? Perhaps it was a two-hander by Jonathan and Harold? Maybe it was even a ruse by Ben himself to make people feel bad, which totally sounds like something this jerk would do!
For a moment I thought maybe Mabel did it to get the podcast gang back together. It seems she hasn’t seen much of Charles and Oliver lately, who are too busy with the play, and her excitement at trying to solve another mystery was palpable. Could her “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me” at the close of last season be more of a “OMG I can’t believe this worked” rather than a “gosh damn it, ANOTHER murder?!” That seems like it might be too much of a stretch but remember how sketchy she was in the first season?! Only time will tell.
And tell it does because by the end of this first episode Ben is now dead for a second time. Dun dun dunnnn… someone has dumped his lifeless body on top of that cursed elevator and is now dripping blood onto Charles. Looks like our favorite sleuthing trio will have no choice but to solve another murder in the Arconia. We’re back, folks, and it’s only just getting started!
Treading the Boards
-I know everyone says this but is there any role that Meryl Streep cannot do? From her hilarious-but-atrocious Scottish brogue accent at the table read to her very concerning disdain at learning she’ll have to keep working with Ben again, she nails every beat.
-My hunch is that Death Rattle is a twist on Deathtrap, Ira Levin’s excellent thriller that opened on Broadway in the ‘70s. It’s moody, set in a house by the sea, and filled with homoeroticism. (There’s also a key element in that play that could set up for a VERY interesting reveal in the world of OMITB, but I’ll remain cryptic for now).
-As a fan of B-movies, I think I would love Cobro, the film franchise that made Ben into a bonafide superstar. In it, he plays a zoologist who morphs into a 20-foot cobra to team up with the police to fight crime. What an incredibly stupid but thrilling idea for a film!
-Mabel doesn’t like theatre, but she does allow it for murder mysteries, which is so hilariously true to her character.
-The line of the night has to go to Wes Taylor’s Cliff who upon seeing that #RIPBenGlenroy is trending, also spots #Housewives going viral and despondently spouts, “OMG WAS TONIGHT THE REUNION?!” If the NYC gays aren’t at the theatre, they’re at home watching Bravo.
-Just like in No Strings, “The Sweetest Sounds” bookends the episode, with Loretta and Oliver singing the tune in a tender-sweet moment at the piano during the morbid cast party.
Only Murders in the Building Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu.