Only Murders in the Building: Sitzprobe
September 20, 2023 9:28 PM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Pressure mounts on the show's most critical rehearsal day. A familiar official upends the case, Loretta's complex past threatens to upend everything else, and Charles must perform his number without going crazy.
posted by kitten kaboodle (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Paging Mochapickle…
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:10 AM on September 21, 2023 [8 favorites]

For reasons I can't figure out, I came away from that episode suspicious that it was Cliff's mom. It's okay that I don't know why because the patter song suggests that if it were not a triplet, then that person would have a concealed motive.
posted by Acari at 5:42 AM on September 21, 2023 [6 favorites]

This article actually has the full lyrics of the Pickwick Triplets song, unlike the top search result from "Mashable" which (maddeningly) only pretends to.
posted by tomboko at 5:58 AM on September 21, 2023 [7 favorites]

My suspicion is that it’s Cliff, but entirely because he’s the most “babyish” character, and would therefore fit thematically, though I don’t know what the motive might be.

I’m really glad the show is retaining its high quality throughout. I’m really excited now for the last couple of episodes.
posted by Kattullus at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

My favorite bit was Mabel psyching Howard up to piece together the shredded documents:

Mabel: Howard, what are the words in "determined"?

Howard: "Tired". "Denied".

Mabel: Keep going.

Howard: "Remedied". "Redeem". "Me".

Mabel: Oh. That worked better than I expected.
posted by creepygirl at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2023 [14 favorites]

I read somewhere that there might be two killers -- the original one who failed and then the one who actually did it.

I do feel like I'll need to watch this entire season again once it's finished. I miss our core three spending time together but I also know that their growing as individuals (as much as they can) is what makes this show not stagnate. I lived with theater majors in college so this kind of feels like home.

Selena Gomez is already famous and rich and a producer on this show so she can pick what she wants to do next (if she wants to do anything next!). I'm a bit old for it but I like her new single. I adore her Mabel and I'm excited to see what she does next.
posted by edencosmic at 5:21 PM on September 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

This is going to sound dumb since I do musical theater, but I did not know what the hell a sitzprobe was and we generally don't seem to do it at my theater--they start the orchestra rehearsal on the same days as tech week and there's no special day where the cast stands around and sings and does nothing but sing while the orchestra plays near them. So this whole thing weirded me out a bit :P

Confirmed that Donnie is Loretta's bio-son.

Poor Oliver, but I assume he's not going to die?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:52 PM on September 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Hold up, is this the last season?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:21 PM on September 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

I was so glad to see Da’Vine Joy Randolph again—I was afraid we were not going to get much of her but she had a great presence in this one. I like that they built on the knowledge of musical theater she showed last season.

Charles’s song is truly bananas and it was really impressive. I don’t fully understand how he got through it, but I’m glad he did.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:01 AM on September 22, 2023 [7 favorites]

Who is supposed to have written the songs for the musical? Oliver?
posted by Clustercuss at 7:00 AM on September 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

Also the producer woman made some comment to Oliver about using wood to build a lighthouse? And there is this lyric in the triplet song: “ Will a lighthouse shed some light?” Has there been any other mention of a lighthouse?
posted by Clustercuss at 7:23 AM on September 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

I've also been assuming that producer mom was responsible for one of the murder attempts, but for me this is a purely vibes-based accusation with no reasoning behind it. Loretta claiming responsibility to save Donnie from the murder rap has convinced me that Donnie is probably not responsible, either. Maybe Cliff screwed up trying to kill Cobro and his mom finished the job to obscure his involvement? (In which case: three female murderers! Wow, what a bracket breaker.)

Or...uh, Tobert? Somehow? We don't know his deal, but that's no deterrent. An interesting thing they got away with in the first two seasons is that the murderers were not really on the trio's radar in any particular way. They didn't really know about Jan's (loose) connection to Tim Kono, and Poppy's reason for killing Bunny was similarly pretty abstract to her death. Arguably Jan and Poppy's crimes grew out of their injured pride/professional ambitions, and we didn't know about either until the very end of the series. So far, that feels pretty Tobert. (It's incredible that I like a "mystery" show that, historically, has given the viewer little opportunity to identify the killer. Mabel and the guys are good at teasing out secrets, but they usually find the secret murderer through dumb luck.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:42 AM on September 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

This is going to sound dumb since I do musical theater, but I did not know what the hell a sitzprobe was and we generally don't seem to do it at my theater--they start the orchestra rehearsal on the same days as tech week and there's no special day where the cast stands around and sings and does nothing but sing while the orchestra plays near them. So this whole thing weirded me out a bit :P

It's more common in the opera world, but I don't know how common it is in musical theater. I would think that the quick schedule of MT rehearsals would make it too difficult to dedicate an entire rehearsal to stand-and-sing, but who knows?

In any event, a sitzprobe is a real thing, and the concept was utilized well in this episode as a way to get everyone in the same place and season the dramatic moments with some music.

I am completely stumped about who could be the killer. I anticipated that Loretta would confess to save Dickie, but that just means that neither of them did it. Cliff and his mom seem like the next possible suspects, but killing their cash cow doesn't make any sense. Tobert is still a possibility, but I haven't seen anything that would suggest motive on his part.

I loved this episode -- loved the return of the cop, and I loved the fake-out where it looked like Charles and Oliver were screwing up but were actually accomplishing something important. Can't wait to see what happens next!
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:06 AM on September 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

I thought for sure that the "Charles and Oliver set up a recording device in the impromptu interrogation room" thing was going to be a double fakeout. It appeared that they were incompetent, then it appeared that they were competent but pretending to be incompetent, then it would emerge that they failed to properly operate the hidden cam. The show regularly does the "older folks are bad at tech" gag. But, I guess for plot reasons Charles and Oliver needed a hook to get Mabel back on side. I guess it's also possible that in the next episode it will be revealed that they did in fact bungle the recording, but the non recording will be enough of an icebreaker to get the crime solving trio back together.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 8:27 AM on September 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

Clustercuss: the main setting of the whole Death Rattle show (when it was just a play and now that it's a musical) is a lighthouse, which is where the murder that's being investigated (in the play/musical) took place.
posted by minsies at 11:50 AM on September 22, 2023 [4 favorites]

I believe we also saw the lighthouse set in the flashback to when Charles punched Ben
posted by jkosmicki at 12:37 PM on September 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

Waaaaaaaaait... Nathan Lane was in season 1, and we've had cameos from Matthew Broderick and Mel Brooks this season. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick starred in the Mel Brooks's Broadway musical version of The Producers. So did the creepy producer mother kill Paul Rudd to guarantee that Oliver's already-iffy show was a flop?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:34 PM on September 22, 2023 [7 favorites]

Finally got to watch this one tonight. Holy shit that was a good one.

I knew the term "sitzprobe" from the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society, where we always had one before each tech week, but that was the only place I'd encountered the term before this episode, so as far as I knew it could have been one of those specific-to-the-group things. Literally means "sitting rehearsal" in German, but "Probe" for rehearsal comes from the Greek πρόβα, so that's an interesting etymological trip, at least?

Anyway, I'm suspicious of Cliff's mom as well, but have no trouble putting my finger on it: she had a whole scene in the bathroom with Loretta the purpose of which was to make clear that she'd do anything to protect Cliff, placed right at the moment in the season where it could be relevant and also prod Loretta into making her false confession (not that Donna had any reason to know about the Loretta-Dickie connection - that we know of - but it's suspicious.)

So my current working theory is that Donna poisoned Ben to try to save Cliff from having his first production be a critically-reviled flop (I think Donna saw an advance of Maxine's review from previews) but that Tobert, who had equipment recording in Ben's dressing room, saw what was happening and did nothing. The poison was in the Schmackery's cookies (mentioned again tonight!) which is what's going to save Loretta, since she was specific about poisoning the protein shake. Then when Ben came back, Tobert finished the job at the elevator (whether that was because he wanted the ending he had for his documentary, or had a chance to move onto something more artistically fulfilling, or some other reason... I just really don't trust Tobert.)

The "Pickwick Triplets" sequence was outstanding, the needlessly convoluted way that Oliver & Charles bugged the dressing/interrogation room, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph is always welcome on this show. More Det. Williams, please! (BTW where the hell is Lucy? We need a Lucy appearance this season!)

Maybe Cliff screwed up trying to kill Cobro and his mom finished the job to obscure his involvement?

I think this is possible, but since it's (SPOILER) also the solution to Gosford Park, I'm just hoping they don't bite it so directly.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:59 PM on September 22, 2023 [4 favorites]

What if all of the Pickwick Triplets did it?
Each of the babes was a knave as well?
Was every tiny tyke prepared to strike?
Coochie coochie coo, time for you, you, AND you to admit it
It's a trick to pick when triply the Pickwicks did it!

(This is not a theory, I simply could not help myself.)
posted by eponym at 1:35 PM on September 23, 2023 [22 favorites]

I knew the term "sitzprobe" from the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society

Navelgazer, if you were involved with the GGSS, you and I probably know some of the same people. Sadly, I never had time to participate during my years at GULC (05-08) but knew plenty who did.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:01 AM on September 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

Ha! I was there '07-'10, so yeah. We probably know some of the same folks indeed.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:18 AM on September 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

Loretta's confession scene was marvelous, I actually teared up! And it being so early gives me some hope that Loretta and Dickie are both innocent because I really want them to have a happy ending now that they're finally reunited. But I'm still suspicious about Loretta.

It's not looking good for Cliff and Donna, though. I still think Donna was responsible for the first attempt -- having caught word that Maxine, the theater critic, has written a damning review, Donna poisoned Ben to shut down the show. Did she intend to kill him? I don't know.

I'm betting the document in the shredder was a copy of Maxine's draft of the terrible review, which a powerful and influential Donna could have gotten her hands on before it went to print. That scene in the powder room where Donna tells Loretta it's only natural to want to do absolutely anything to protect your child, that served two purposes: It triggered Loretta to throw herself to Dickie's defense, but it also feels like a confession on Donna's part. I do want Cliff to be involved somehow, mostly because I'd love to imagine Cliff and Donna in adjoining jail cells for eternity. (And Donna's stunning black-and-white striped coat from opening night suggests an old-timey jail uniform! Which would be wonderful foreshadowing!)

I went back and watched the Episode 1 scene from Oliver's party to see if I could see a clock to compare Ben's 12:26 murder with the time he left the party. No luck. I did notice, though, that Dickie puts his head down as he's entering the room, which looks really guilty, but I have no idea why.

During that scene, though, Ben left to take a sensitive phone call. Who was that call from? Everyone was at the party but Tobert, so maybe Tobert? Had Tobert collected some sort of dirt on Ben while filming and was now blackmailing him? Was there some sort of confrontation between them at Ben's apartment regarding the footage?

Two episodes left! My remaining questions:

- Why on earth is Mabel in a wedding dress in the Season 3 trailer? (Mabel was acting REALLY weird at the party in Episode 1, btw.)
- How did Tobert's footage from Ben's dressing room end up in Ben's apartment?
- Why were we denied the appearance of the glorious Detective Williams for so long? I demand a spinoff immediately.
- Were the triplets in the song supposed to represent actual characters somehow? They seemed weirdly specific.
- Mabel's not actually going to leave the Arconia, is she?
- Will Joy return?

Dark horse theories:
- Ben wanted out of the play and poisoned himself
- Ben called Loretta a snake at Oliver's party, so moments later, Loretta hid behind the giant gold cobra by the private elevator, waited for Ben to come out of his apartment, and pushed the giant cobra toward him, sending Ben to tumble down the elevator shaft
- Mabel did it #bloodymabelforever!
posted by mochapickle at 4:41 PM on September 25, 2023 [6 favorites]

My poisoning theory is that Dickie put some foul-tasting substance on the cookies, so that Ben wouldn’t eat them, but he did anyway.

Though I will say that the “snake brother” thing (CoBro) is some real effing foreshadowing if Dickie turns out to be the murderer.
posted by Kattullus at 12:17 AM on September 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

Oh! Wait, did anyone ever explain why exactly Ben couldn’t have cookies?

I love that this show has Chekhov’s cookies, because of course it does.
posted by mochapickle at 1:37 AM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

My recollection is that it was a diet thing (ie cookies are an irresistible binge food for him).
posted by jedicus at 5:51 AM on September 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

What if Ben just fell down the elevator shaft on his own? He was affected by the poison to the point of being presumed dead, only to miraculously pop back to life. He then runs from the hospital to the Arconia, against medical advice, and gives a sweaty delirious speech to everyone. Sure, the elevator was "fixed" but when our trio of podcasters are riding it to the lobby it still lets out a mysterious groaning sound. What if it was only mostly fixed and the doors opened for Ben sans elevator and Ben — either delirious, hallucinating, or simply disoriented — walked right into the void? The elevator would have been shut down again for repair after Ben crashed through the roof, at which point it becomes actually fixed.

That would bring us back to just one murderer.

Episode 2 opens with Ben falling, but no one pushing him. The monologue over him falling is revealed to be him just reading lines. What about grabbing the handkerchief on the way down? Later that is briefly shown, but it's under the audio of Mabel saying "what if..." so it may or may not have happened. He could have ended up with it another way.
posted by mikepop at 1:14 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

That CATCHY triplets song, people!

I tried to fast forward the last few seconds of the episode because I very recently have had a vascular health crisis - which is also why I'm just catching up on episodes.

La Streep broke my heart in the bathroom scene, when Loretta was trying to steel herself to confess and save Dickie. And then Oliver giving her that glimpse of a happy successful life with both him AND a hit show ... oh, my.

I have loved all the inside theatre references, such as the throwaway "Sing out, Louise." And the double inside bit of Loretta mentioning the RL actress who won the stage role in "Little Shop," and the fact that Steve M. was in a movie version.

Oh, and I just realized there was a Bernadette Peters reference in one of the episodes, and Steve Martin used to date her.

Along those lines, before I see any more episodes, are all "The Producers" references a hint about something in this plot? In that story, the producers are purposely trying to have a flop ...

As for sitzprobe, I think it's not always called that, but in amateur theatre, there often is a first runthrough of songs with cast and orchestra before a fully staged tech/dress rehearsal.
posted by NorthernLite at 5:31 PM on September 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

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