Only murders in the building episode 3 review | Agents of Fandom

Only Murders in the Building Episode 3 “Grab Your Hankies”: The Importance of Staying True to Yourself

It’s still early days, but episode three will be an instant favorite for the last act’s performance.

Only Murders in the Building episode 3 is a superb entry into the show’s portfolio. The third installment is a measured start, in terms of its reasonably slow-pace in comparison to its counterparts. There’s more special guest stars to admire, but between its performances and music, it establishes itself as one of the most profound episodes in the series to date. The show-stopping final act contains some of the series’ most attentive writing.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Only Murders in the Building episode 3*

Oliver leads in Only Murders in the Building episode 3

Episode three retreats from its previous episode’s inclination towards Mabel (Selena Gomez) and entertains Oliver Putnam (Martin Short). Loretta (Meryl Streep) receives career-changing news, Oliver is pushed to his limits, and one new character bites off a little more than he can chew.

Oliver is busy writing music to accompany his musical to secure funds from his backers at the eleventh hour. Only two people are on board the frantic change, Loretta and Charles (Steve Martin).

Linda Emond (Donna Demeo) and Wesley Taylor (Clifford Demeo) as the backers in Only Murders in the Building episode 3. Image credit: Hulu | Agents of Fandom
Linda Emond (Donna Demeo) and Wesley Taylor (Clifford Demeo) as the backers in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu.

Still too preoccupied with their own objectives, accommodating Oliver’s success isn’t their priority. This leads to Charles confiding in Mabel that he misses Oliver’s company in their investigation.

Yet the noticeable difference in this season’s dynamic doesn’t affect the series’ acclaim, which is certainly a testament to the strength of this season’s writing. Many series struggle to adapt their narrative as the show progresses and naturally their main characters become interdependent. Writers John Hoffman and Steve Martin accomplish the contrary markedly well.

As Oliver fights to write his showstopper, the cast turns against him. Sensing Oliver’s wavering resolve to find a solution after Ben’s (Paul Rudd) untimely death, the cast discloses to Charles that a musical is not the right direction for Death Rattle, but Loretta is the anomaly.

Beginning to think he may be screwed, Oliver confides in Loretta, resulting in an incredibly tender moment between the pair that acts as a respite from the earlier intense distress. Loretta’s suggestion that Oliver matches the expectations everyone has of him, means that he is not digging deeper to stray away from these presumptions.

Yet underneath the loud and brashness of his character, is a vulnerability she recommends he use. Martin Short’s performance in this episode is nothing short of a masterpiece. He skillfully depicts both the intense yearning for success and the vulnerability of romantic interest, creating a narrative that magnifies the profound desire to see him triumph.

What leads are there on Ben Glenroy’s death in Only Murders in the Building episode 3?

Enter the newest character in Ben Glenroy’s murder, Tobert (Jesse Williams). Before his death, Tobert was present filming a documentary on Ben’s acting career. He even has a throwaway line in episode one about that instance being the only time he’ll speak, which now seems incredibly ironic.

Mabel’s ploy to break into Ben’s penthouse is hindered when Tobert meets her on the elevator and the pair exchange alibis. Later, Tobert discovers his camera was left on in Ben’s dressing room, and filmed a provocative conversation between the star and an unknown figure on the evening of his death. Wanting to further her investigation, Mabel assists Tobert in retrieving the hard drive and joins him to watch the scene unfold.

Jesse Williams (Tobert) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu | Agents of Fandom
Jesse Williams (Tobert) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu.

Tobert unmistakably emerges as this season’s love interest for Mabel. Whilst it’s still early in the third chapter, their connection doesn’t feel sincere just yet. There seems to be something lacking that her previous interests, Oscar (Aaron Dominguez) and Alice (Cara Delevingne), encompass perfectly. It will be interesting to see where this romantic relationship leads in future episodes.

Mabel enlists Charles to help determine who amongst the cast still has their opening night gift from Ben, a handkerchief. This is significant in advancing the investigation as Mabel’s images of Ben after his death show him to be in possession of two handkerchiefs, meaning that he likely tried to grab his killer as he was pushed into the elevator shaft.

Only Murders in the Building episode 3’s triumph

Wow, is this final act a thing of beauty. Meryl Streep dazzles and steals every scene. Amid the tension, Loretta’s new agent informs her that she’s secured a role in a network drama which requires her to leave for L.A. the following week. Conflict arises with Oliver who demands she stay in New York under contract.

Despite their argument, Oliver asks Loretta to perform ‘The Lullaby’ rather than continue with his initial showstopper. Namely, because Loretta is the only one who can see his vision, and he believes that she is the heart of the show.

What follows is a runner for one of the most enrapturing scenes in the series to date. As Loretta performs, the narrative moves through singular character discoveries. A beautifully recited line states, “When a spark finally catches fire and everyone can see it, then the only place you want to be is at the center of that fire.”

Meryl Streep (Loretta) and Martin Short (Oliver) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu | Agents of Fandom
Meryl Streep (Loretta) and Martin Short (Oliver) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu.

This performance evokes an enthralling feeling, which is perfectly encapsulated in this scene. Oliver, who is also mesmerized, informs her he won’t uphold her contract, but he will miss her when she leaves. In what is one of the most adorable moments on TV, Loretta tells him that he found her, and she likes being found.

As predicted, they kiss! It’s a fist-punch moment, but there’s still time to be apprehensive. Will anything (a murder, perhaps) come between them?

The first suspect is outlined as the camera pans to one of the fellow cast members, Kimber (Ashley Park). Standing to sing alongside Loretta, Kimber’s narrative voice then informs us “but if one person is shining a little brighter than the others… it’s a competitive business. You may have to snuff them out.” With jealousy as a motive for Ben’s death, Charles learns that Kimber is no longer possesses her handkerchief.

The music throughout this last act is strikingly beautiful. It’s no surprise that this season’s original music is from the composers of La La Land, Waitress and Hairspray. Pasek and Paul, Sara Bareilles and Marc Shaiman have truly outdone themselves. It is tailored to the theme of the episode flawlessly, and as a die-hard musical theater lover, this felt magical to witness.

The magic of musicals

It’s ironic that Oliver is searching for his showstopper, because the last act’s performances are certainly that. With any luck, there’ll be more music to dote on further in the season as ‘The Lullaby’ is a triumph. Only Murders in the Building season 3 is starting to feel much more personal and unveiling new depth to the characters (both returning and new). This installment’s casting merits tremendous praise, and episode three is a well-paced benchmark for the season.

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'Only Murders in the Building' Episode 3 Review

'Only Murders in the Building' Episode 3 Review
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The Good

  • Final act is easily one of the best scenes in the show
  • Martin Short and Meryl Streep are perfection
  • My musical theatre heart wants to burst with adoration for this last act

The Bad

  • Not fully on board with Mabel's latest love interest
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