Only Murders in the Building episode 4 review | Agents of Fandom

Only Murders in the Building Episode 4 “The White Room”: Lend an Ear to Theatre Nuance

Tina Fey returns as Cinda Canning, but will she interfere in the trio’s friendship?

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Only Murders in the Building episode 4 tackles a new murder suspect as well as the struggle of setting personal boundaries. The trio’s playful camaraderie is on point, and Charles is in the hot seat thanks to some subconscious decisions.

He turns to Oliver in his time of need for some essential reinforcements. “The White Room” immediately entices with an all-too-familiar voice opening the next installment. That’s right, Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) is back, and she means business.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Only Murders in the Building season 3, episode 4*

Performance anxiety in Only Murders in the Building episode 4

After getting the go-ahead for Death Rattle last week, it’s full steam ahead! Unfortunately for Charles (Steve Martin), this means he must find a way to manage his anxieties about performing on stage. Charles is struggling to grasp the rhythm, which causes great concern for Oliver, who’s directing a musical.

Understanding that Charles isn’t the greatest singer in the cast, Oliver creates ‘The Patter Song’. It’s effectively a fast-paced speech for actors that can’t sing—Oliver’s words. It’s soon understood that each time Charles rehearses, his difficulty with singing transports him into what the rest of the cast label “the white room”. The theater term refers to a moment in performing that essentially sees you blank, and you can’t remember what you’ve said, or what you’ve done.

Joy (Andrea Martin), Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) in Only Murders in the Building episode 4. Image credit: Hulu | Agents of Fandom
Joy (Andrea Martin), Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu.

To stay out of this place, Charles must find his happy spot, or somewhere that gives him comfort. His new partner, Joy (Andrea Martin), has moved in with him and greatly deters this aid. Joy commits to being her partner’s safe haven which discredits Charles’ credence, but it does open more screen time for her throughout this installment.

Whoever was to take the mantle of Charles’ future partner irrefutably had a big task following Jan’s (Amy Ryan) momentum in season one. Andrea Martin is a fitting choice. Towards the end of season two, Joy appears to be an extremely sweet soul that fawns over the Brazzos star. This season allows her a larger scope for performance. Martin’s capacity to maintain that original persona but add a flair for dramatics is wonderful. It leaves a lasting sense of uncertainty towards her motivations—and this works in the show’s favor.

Returning to normalcy in Only Murders in the Building episode 4

One of the most enjoyable parts of this episode is the trio uniting once more in the interest of furthering their investigation. Whilst this season is yet to see any podcast action, there is still plenty of intrigue going on!

The entourage pays a visit to the theater, where the building remains locked since the tragic death of their star. They’re looking for a cosmetic serum gifted to Ben by Kimber (Ashley Park) on opening night. The idea is to run this gift for traces of poison, but their plan is thwarted when they encounter Kimber in her dressing room.

Kimber (Ashley Park) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu | Agents of Fandom
Kimber (Ashley Park) in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Image credit: Hulu.

This tumultuous escapade is the peak of this episode. This show is at its very best when it’s homing in on the witty comedic devices of all three protagonists. Seriously, there are some laugh-out-loud moments in this sequence that overall enhance the flow so well.

The hilarity of Charles and Oliver’s failure to connect with the youth is great, and Mabel (Selena Gomez) is the uniting piece. She’s an exception to the rule for the older men, as she has “old lady energy”. The group bounce off each other so well. They tease each other in jest in a way that absorbs the viewer into a familiar feeling of friendship, and is reminiscent of many companionships of day-to-day lives. There is no connecting link that is weaker than the other, and it’s blissful to watch these characters become family.

Kimber explains that she did want Ben—purely for endorsement. This rules her out in the suspect line-up, but was almost a given. Considering this is only episode four, there’s a sufficient span to deepen the search. However, whilst in the theater, Charles and Oliver uncover new evidence in Ben’s dressing room. A message is penned across his mirror in lipstick that simply states, “fucking pig”.

Lots of mistakes in Only Murders in the Building episode 4

Throughout the episode, an unknown caller is in pursuit of Mabel. When she’s wrapping up the investigation in the theater, she finally connects with the mysterious figure.

Let’s be honest, the opening narration to ‘The White Room’ is a dead giveaway for Only Murders in the Building fans… Cinda Canning is back! And she’s got a totally new look.

Despite appearing to have a new career, it’s not plausible that Cinda has retired from true crime content, and she proves this right by offering Mabel a partnership on a new podcast. It’s structure and a stable paycheck, which is theoretically everything Mabel needs right now.

Yet she declines the offer to continue working with Charles and Oliver, since “they’re my guys”. Inevitably, this offer will come back into play in later episodes—not that it’s a bad thing. Tina Fey is a delight. Her portrayal of Cinda Canning has a solemnity that her usual roles lack. It’s a far different persona to what audiences may be used to, and she does it rather successfully, if her renewal for season three is any indication.

Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) will return to Only Murders in the Building in season three with a new look. Image credit: Hulu | Agents of Fandom
Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) will return to Only Murders in the Building in season three with a new look. Image credit: Hulu.

Back at The Arconia, Charles and Oliver dig to the root of Charles’ performance issues. Oliver extends a rare moment of sympathetic advice leading Charles to the realization that he cannot live with Joy. Unsure how to approach the difficult conversation, Oliver sends an invitation to Loretta (Meryl Streep) for dinner after deliberating on the matter for too long, to demonstrate that Charles’ situation requires is a straightforward will.

All goes wrong, however, when Charles approaches the conversation with Joy, and he goes back into the white room. The anticipation of knowing what Charles has committed to when he comes back to consciousness from the white room is tremendous. Previous blocks set up Charles cussing and frantically throwing items around, so it’s a surprise when his awareness graces him on his knees, having proposed to Joy! The panic on his face is evident, and when Oliver and Mabel enter his flat, they’re also stumped by his offer.

Who’s suspicious in Only Murders in the Building episode 4?

Episode four ends on a major cliffhanger. Joy spots the lipstick in Mabel’s hands, and unbeknownst to it being evidence, takes it from her stating “the day couldn’t get much better.” A marriage proposal, and she’s found the lone missing lipstick from her set! It looks like Charles may have another murderous lover on his hands, after all.

The conflict is intensifying, and the murder suspects are beginning to stack up. This is where the enjoyment of the show lies. The tense situations will deliver some enormous obstacles for our favorite characters down the line.

Only Murders in the Building episode 4 is now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for the latest Only Murders in the Building content.

'Only Murders in the Building' Episode 4 Review

'Only Murders in the Building' Episode 4 Review
4.5 5 0 1
4.5 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • Some pure gold in 'OliMabel' trio moments
  • Starting to build the suspense
  • Tina Fey's back!

The Bad

  • No Meryl Streep
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