Only Murders in the Building: Thirty
September 26, 2023 12:47 PM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

It's Mabel's birthday and she wants to spend it solving a crime! Official rundown from IMDB: Having amassed a plethora of clues, suspects and theories but no concrete answers about Ben's murder, the trio devise a peculiar method of recreating the final moments of his life. AV Club review.

It's Mabel's 30th birthday and she wants to spend it solving a crime. "Me with my two besties, doing murder stuff. Not a bad life."

"I got wasted, put on Ben's CoBro suit, and went looking for drugs and whores."
"Well, who wouldn't?"
"A dog peed on me...I hope it was a dog."

"No one says no to a crying man." Alas, Charles looks like he's about to poop instead.
"Do you have any menthol?"
"Yeah, I have a bucket of menthol."
"Do you need a restroom?"

"He said sewing kept him off all those dangerous street drugs."
"Sorry for calling you all whores."
"That's all right, I used to be one."

Yes, Ben was filmed yelling at cookies. Confirmed that theory. And wrote his own "fucking pig" commentary on the window. This scene is...quite...something...

"We have the murder weapon: a cookie."


"We're the father of the bride." "Well, that's fun."

"Wow, you look great in orange!"

"Fuckity fuck!"
posted by jenfullmoon (32 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The "let us make you really like the murder victim before they die" episode! It worked on me. Poor Ben. If only he quit and spent the rest of his days cutting up with the girls in the garment district...

I remember seeing the bride pics before this season started -- not quite believing that Mabel would actually get hitched -- but I completely forgot about it after the first few episodes. What a fun execution, though!

Donna being responsible for the first murder attempt makes sense, but I still wonder if the final reveal is going to be a different killer was responsible for the second, successful one.
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:07 PM on September 26, 2023 [5 favorites]

We've been late at watching the eps but finally caught up, so this is the first week when I'm prepared to comment ASAP. And...I dunno, I don't think the producer mom is the ultimate villain. Too easy and tidy, I think.

I read this somewhere and agree: the continued focus on "which of the Pickwick triplets did it" might mean we have 3 separate villains this year. One who did the rat poison on the cookie; one who pushed Ben down the elevator shaft: one who did something else bad. I'm thinking #3 is Tobert, who prides himself on being a documentarian who only watches but doesn't interfere (like with the baby elephant). I think he saw the whole thing go down and just let it all unfold.

Also -- maybe that rat poison isn't poisonous at all. Maybe it's just a prop, sitting there in the stage manager's office. Maybe it's just sugar?
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:13 PM on September 26, 2023 [4 favorites]

Also -- maybe that rat poison isn't poisonous at all. Maybe it's just a prop, sitting there in the stage manager's office. Maybe it's just sugar?

I really love that idea. That makes Jerry, up in the eaves routinely grilling up rats for supper, a canary in a coal mine -- if the rats had actually been poisoned, Jerry would have been poisoned, too.

So a total of four attempts, then, if we're to go literal with the song lyrics?

- Penelope in pink = Donna, poisoned cookies, tends to bat her eyelashes a lot
- Preening Patrick = Maybe... Dickie? I don't see him as particularly preening but there's that very specific line about biting the hand that feeds him. And he looked weirdly guilty entering Oliver's party... But I can't think of any method other than something with the smoke machine? Which would match Dickie hiding the toxicology report.
- Paco = Tobert? "Could Paco's passion prove apocalyptic?" might refer to his passion for documentaries? Maybe Ben called off the documentary and Tobert retaliated? Or was Tobert maybe blackmailing Ben? Cliff was also passionate about his show. We have that loose end with understudy Jonathan meeting that suspicious character at the jazz club, still no idea what that's about...

Which would leave us back with Loretta? Who left Oliver's party in a murderous huff. Or maybe a bizarre accident involving that giant golden CoBro snake, because honestly, they have to do something with that.

I liked this episode a lot, the momentum is great, they are totally messing with us with an obvious reference to Father of the Bride, Howard was hilarious and great. And I LOVED the way they put our three besties in existing scenes as bystanders while the motives and timelines played out -- it showed them working so well together as a team, thinking through everything together. That was really clever.

And a huge shoutout to kyrademon and everyone who called the cookie twist immediately.
posted by mochapickle at 3:51 PM on September 26, 2023 [6 favorites]

We have that loose end with understudy Jonathan meeting that suspicious character at the jazz club, still no idea what that's about...

Wasn't that the doctor that hooked Ben up with the "leading man" drug cocktail? And Jonathan was looking for the same because the stress of now being the leading man was getting to him. That drug cocktail is also what I'd imagine Dickie was trying to conceal from Ben's blood toxicology report.

I still find Tobert super sus but I'm okay if he just ends up being Mabel's "red herring bad choice romance" of the season. I still want her to find her person and be happy, but I'm just happy she's back with her "podcast dads."
posted by paisley sheep at 7:07 PM on September 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

Yay, that was fun. Rarely do you get to watch your current theory panning out and not feel cheated by the mystery being "too easy," but this did the trick for me, and I still think they only have Donna on the hook for the poisoning, and that someone else did the elevator shaft. (Still leaning towards Tobert there.)

During the walk through the 30 minutes before curtain, I thought at first "Oh, that's a cute way to do that, with the three of them watching the events unfold" and then a little frustrated at the "incoming" bit, but then they leaned hard into lampshading that whole conceit with Charles talking about how pale he looked and the sound of his voice, and I came back around again.

I loved the wedding dress reveal, though we had to blow off how long it would take for the three of them to get dressed up like that when they only had 20 minutes to get downtown. Worth it, though, for Mabel in that dress bursting into the courtroom. That was awesome.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

Wasn't that the doctor that hooked Ben up with the "leading man" drug cocktail? And Jonathan was looking for the same because the stress of now being the leading man was getting to him. That drug cocktail is also what I'd imagine Dickie was trying to conceal from Ben's blood toxicology report.

paisley sheep, you’re totally right! I’d forgotten!
posted by mochapickle at 7:30 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

I have seriously wondered on the bride outfit since we all know Mabel has never had a relationship go long enough to go down an aisle. Now we know!
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:34 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

This was a fun episode—nice to have the gang back together at last.

I had been wondering if Howard might had poisoned the cookie—not to kill, but to make Ben ill enough to stay off the stage—to give Jonathan a breakout moment. But after this episode, I don't think that's the case. Still, I think this show loves its twists too much to give us a neat case where Donna is the killer. As BlahLaLa said, it's way too neat.
posted by synecdoche at 3:33 AM on September 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

This was a fantastic episode - even the stuff we already figured out (the cookie, Ben writing the message himself) was revealed in a satisfying fashion. Also, despite being known for his comedic chops, Paul Rudd really is a very good actor, and conveyed Ben's self-loathing in a really effective way. That shot straight to the mirror was hard to watch.

Count me among those who think the Donna thing is a fake-out. I think it's Cliff, who we saw with the cookies earlier. We're meant to believe that Donna would do anything to help her son, but the flip side could be that Cliff will do anything to avoid looking bad in front of his mother. Or maybe they both did it - Donna with the cookie and Cliff with the elevator shaft.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:38 AM on September 27, 2023 [8 favorites]

As long as we're focusing on the patter-song lyrics, pay attention to the final verse:
What if none of it is true?
Has my inspection been too cursory?
Should I look outside this nursery?
What if none of the Pickwick Triplets did it?
... I   Pick   You!
The ultimate twist, after three seasons and all the running around, is for there to have been no murder.

Assuming we actually saw what happened backstage, Donna poisoned the cookies (attempted murder).
But how certain are we that Ben was pushed, rather than simply fell?
posted by cheshyre at 6:48 AM on September 27, 2023 [10 favorites]

Ooh yes, I think cheshyre is correct. The cookie wasn't poisoned, Ben just got sick from gobbling it up so quickly and then fainted. Then Tobert went to Ben's apartment to get the camera back, and Ben was being an asshole and in some fashion stepped into the open elevator shaft, clutching his own hankie. Tobert saw it all, and I wouldn't be surprised if he filmed it all, without interfering (just like with the baby elephant). Then he's been sticking close to Mabel and the investigation to get more footage for his documentary, which will be more marketable now that he's got so much insider stuff on tape.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

It's certainly possible that there was no murder, and also that they'll go the Clue route with an "Everyone did it" ending where virtually everyone at least had a hand on the ball in either the poisoning or the elevator shaft. That could be fun, if done well, and the reason it's popping into my head now is...

... we really haven't seen much of Bobo this season, have we? Like, I don't think we've seen nearly enough of him to make him a satisfying Killer, but we also haven't seen quite enough of him to justify his place in the already-crowded cast this season. Are we holding out his big moment for the finale in some way? So in picturing how that could work, I'm picturing a scene of cascading tearful confessions leading up to a grand comic bit from him. But that's a wild-ass stab in the dark, of course.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:26 AM on September 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

I literally just thought, "who's Bobo?"
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

What I know is, Shakespeare says every comedy ends with a wedding. And this IS (allegedly) the final season, since Steve Martin says he plans to retire after this, so...

$100 says we're gonna see Loretta exonerated in court, then Oliver impulsively says "ah to heck with it, let's get married!" and the judge agrees to do the nuptials right there, on the spot.

I'm also giving it 50/50 odds that Ben either tripped into and/or threw himself down the elevator shaft (maybe with Tobert filming the whole thing and choosing not to report it). And thus, the final "murder" in the building will be no murder at all!

Long shot bet: The show closes with a musical number. Could be one of Oliver's songs from the musical, or something we'd all instantly recognize, like something from Mamma Mia.

1000-to-1 odds: Oliver and Loretta + Tobert and Mabel double-wedding in the courtroom, possibly followed by a spin-off podcast/TV series titled "Bloody Mabel Got Married."

I could be completely wrong, of course. Maybe they'll make a Season 4 after all!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

Viewers might be interested in some background on a particular location shot from this episode.

The sewing shop is indeed between 35th and 36th Streets on Broadway, and we see a green "35th Street" street sign in the background. But we clearly see the trio walking the 35th St-36th St block on Broadway IN QUEENS, not the bit of Broadway in Manhattan between 35th and 36th Streets (which is what people in Manhattan would, by default, assume you mean if you just say "Broadway and 35th Street" or something like that, and which is close enough to the heart of Manhattan's garment district that it's a somewhat plausible place for a concentration of fabric and notion shops). If I imagine the Manhattan block, I think about a pretty tiny high-traffic block near karaoke and Irish? bars, a block away from the big Macy's at Herald Square and a very busy subway stop. Instead, in Queens, they're in a more residential neighborhood, like 3 blocks from the Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image and the performing arts school and the new Sac's Pizza location (new since they moved from like Broadway and 28th Street - they moved into the old studio commissary). I'm sure it's way easier to film a location shot on that block in Queens than on the corresponding one in Manhattan!

We see them near a few shops that are really there - a Brooklyn Bagel location, a Duane Reade across the street, the Dave's Shoes in the background.

The fabric shop they enter IS A REAL FABRIC STORE AT THAT LOCATION that's been there for several decades, but the name on the sign's been changed from Broadway Silk Store. The first room they go into, where they're trying to persuade the cashier to let them into the back, is the real store, although the last time I passed by, they sold a lot of little tchotchkes as well (little purses, keychains, Astoria memorabilia, etc.). I'm guessing the back room is not part of the location shot but I don't know.

As we face the store, we see on the right another notions/garment supply shop. In real life that is a Thai restaurant called Pye Boat Noodle that claims to offer the kind of Thai food served via hawker boats, which serve a purpose kind of like food trucks in US cities? I remember liking the food there FYI. And on the left there's another notions/fabric shop. In real life that was a butcher shop that closed maybe 10-20 years ago and just SITS THERE EMPTY on a COMMERCIAL CORRIDOR and as I recall STILL SEEMS TO HAVE SAUSAGE LINKS HANGING IN THE WINDOW?!! I haven't been there in quite some time but it seemed like something that wasn't going to change anytime soon.

Also my spouse thinks that neither the bagel shop nor the poke bowl place next to it has ever done a THC latte and thus the signboard on the sidewalk is a subtle joke by the set dressers.
posted by brainwane at 2:36 PM on September 27, 2023 [17 favorites]

brainwane: Thank you! I definitely had the thought watching that that, wait a second, that's not, you know, around the corner from the Empire State Building.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2023 [3 favorites]

Before this episode someone speculated that Ben faked the poisoning. When the handkerchief was found, the stains were still bright red, making them wonder if it was stage blood.

But even if we discount the uncorroborated scenes on opening night (Donna in the office), I think the conversations with the sewing circle rule that out.
posted by cheshyre at 2:42 PM on September 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Navelgazer: Right! The building heights, the shapes and ratios of things, etc.

(People who live outside of NYC may be asking "isn't it confusing to have two different Broadways in the same city?" YES IT IS. There are at least three, actually: one each in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, if I recall correctly. And yes, at least once I have tried to arrange to meet someone at the intersection of Broadway and such-and-such street, and there was one in Manhattan and one in Queens, and we missed each other. If you come to NYC do not let this happen to you. But do visit Pye Boat Noodle, which has outdoor seating in the back.)
posted by brainwane at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2023 [7 favorites]

Browsing Tumblr tags for the show, and several people have pointed out that when Oliver asks if there are any dips, Charles says "there's some Norwegian red herring in the fridge."

Maybe we shouldn't put too much stock in those final clues on the murderboard.
posted by cheshyre at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2023 [18 favorites]

Loretta and Oliver flirting in the courtroom was so funny and weird and cute that I hope she didn't have anything to do with the murder or the attempted murder. (It would absolutely be a dramatically painful outcome, in a way that Donna or Cliff or Tobert wouldn't be, but I don't particularly care about that.)
posted by creepygirl at 2:58 PM on September 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Okay I just ctrl-f’d every episode of this show on FanFare, and the wikipedia article, and couldn’t figure it out.

Who’s Bobo?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:36 PM on September 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Bobo is one of the actors in the show, the short guy referred to as "comic relief" by other actors at times. He was introduced at the read-through and has been in a bunch of scenes throughout the season (We saw Det. Williams interviewing him last episode, for example, while he was treating it like a therapy session apparently) but he hasn't really done anything that could impact the plot in any way, so far at least.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:46 PM on September 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

In the interrogation sequence where the trio is inserted into the scenes being described, one of the subjects - I think it was Tobert - noticed Mabel as he passed her while walking down the corridor away from the dressing room door.

I'd normally chalk it up to production sloppiness, but not with this show.

I initially thought Donna did it to cash in on insurance, not to protect Cliff from a flop. Now I wonder if she poisoned Ben, but Cliff finished him off but for a different motive.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2023 [3 favorites]

...but Cliff finished him off but for a different motive.

Ben totally forgets Cliff's name at Oliver's party and keeps referring to him as "boy", even though Cliff is technically the producer. Which is just as good a reason to murder him as any other.

They've been leaning so hard into the easter eggs and wordplay this season that I'm honestly half wondering if they'll make Cliff the murderer just so they could set up the most ridiculous groaner of a punchline: In most murder mysteries, you might get pushed off a cliff, but at the Arconia, Cliff pushes YOU.
posted by mochapickle at 9:45 AM on September 29, 2023 [12 favorites]

Hey, thanks, Navelgazer! The idea he hadn't done much "this season" was making me think he had been a regular in previous seasons, and I had forgotten him.
Alternatively, I had also thought maybe "Bobo" was a nickname (outside of the show) for Matthew Broderick.

I am much less confused now.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:48 AM on September 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

A comment from Tumblr:
At this point, I don't really care who killed Ben Glenroy. I just want to know which of the Pickwick triplets did it? Who of the crew would commit this crime? Might a little brat make a mommy go splat? It's a story pretty gory for a nursery rhyme.
posted by cheshyre at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2023 [4 favorites]

That "story pretty gory" phrasing lands so oddly in my ears and I just can't let it go. It's like an earworm but different somehow.

On the positive side, it's got me thinking a lot about Edward Gorey. He definitely probably drew some murderous triplet children if anybody ever did!
posted by Acari at 8:27 PM on October 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ben Trismegistus: That shot straight to the mirror was hard to watch.

I thought so too. In fact, what I thought in the moment was: "That's the first time I've ever seen Paul Rudd look his age."
posted by Kattullus at 6:02 AM on October 2, 2023 [5 favorites]

I live a few blocks from Broadway Silk Store and I was so excited to see this episode. I remember when they changed the signage (before we realised it was for a shoot) and I was very concerned about the renaming, heh.
posted by gaspode at 12:27 PM on October 4, 2023 [6 favorites]

I really enjoyed this one. I have to admit I've stopped trying to solve the mystery (especially after mochapickle's great deductions and whichever of you solved the fat pig=cookie did such a good job of it way back at the beginning) (sorry I forgot who it was and don't remember which episode to scroll back through the posts to find out). But I'm loving all the performances and the jokes and the callbacks to every other piece of media that they can slide in there. Though I feel like they've determined that everyone watching is only there for the Martin / Short cinematic universe, giving us all the delightful SCTV and Broadway cameos -- but I can't be the only one who wants at least a little Witches of Waverly Place crossover already...

In fact, what I thought in the moment was: "That's the first time I've ever seen Paul Rudd look his age."

That was exactly what I thought too! Ngl, it hurt a little.
posted by Mchelly at 7:58 AM on October 5, 2023 [2 favorites]

Would you say I have a plethora of clues? (or pinatas maybe)

Every time I hear "plethora" I think of this scene. And we have 2 of the 3 amigos in a different, but still good, amigo relationship.
posted by mephisjo at 8:26 PM on April 23

The joke that comes to mind for me:
At a funeral, a man approaches the widow.
Him: Could I say a word?
Her: Please do.
Him: Plethora.
Her: Thank you, it means a lot.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:31 PM on April 23

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