Tuesday, October 5, 2021

REVIEW: 'Only Murders in the Building' - A Working Theory Gains Traction as the Podcast Prepares to End in 'Fan Fiction'

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building - Episode 1.08 "Fan Fiction"

Hitting a dead end, the group calls for reinforcements in the form of their podcast's Superfans.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Hulu's Only Murders in the Building.

"Fan Fiction" was written by Rob Turbovsky & Matteo Borghese and directed by Cherien Dabis

Fantastical stories can carry drastic and dangerous consequences. It's irresponsible for people to lay out damning accusations without any evidence. It's being released into a society willing and able to condemn instinctively. That's not how justice works though. Oliver can craft a story as to how Teddy and Theo killed Tim Kono. It can all be disproven with a few pieces of key evidence. Tim was very diligent with the evidence he collected against the Dimases. He knew that he had to be careful in building this case against them. It was him trying to atone for his past actions. He was silent and let Oscar go to jail for a crime he didn't commit. He was scared into silence by Teddy. And now, he has the resources to fight back. Him being killed seems like a direct correlation. The story is pointing firmly in that direction. Jan is the only person in the room who wants to be cautious with the accusations being made. Of course, she also wants to pivot the conversation back to Howard. He was the prime suspect at one point because his cat was in Tim's apartment. The group quickly moved on from him. However, Tim being poisoned and the cat also dying should have been a clue right away. People chose to ignore that link. That cannot be acceptable. People need to be responsible when they occupy this space with real-world consequences. Sure, the show always feels the pressure to amplify its stakes accordingly. Charles arrives in Jan's apartment to see that she is clinging to life. That comes after she received a menacing note on her door. Everyone should examine why this action needed to be taken now. That's the guidance Detective Williams gives the podcasters when they reach out for help. She was once skeptical of their involvement in this case. And yet, they provided a perspective that was necessary to see that this was more than a simple suicide. That wasn't the end of this story. She needed a reason to open the case once more. Targeting Teddy and Theo satisfied that need. However, the podcasters are operating on a dead end. They believe they have to make this accusation now because it's the only way to deal with the looming threat from Teddy. They've been ordered to drop a new episode the following morning declaring that they truly were mistaken about this case. Now, this is a result of the podcast airing in real time alongside the investigation. That's always been a mistake. As such, it allowed the reaction to the podcast dictate the actual direction of the story. It wasn't a fully structured project with a well-crafted arc before its initial release. Part of this can simply be chalked up to naivety. Oliver needed the publicity from the project to garner attention and save his finances. But now, it has created a beast that has only intensified every aspect of this project. It means the entire world is aware of what they are doing. They can no longer exist as anonymous investigators trying to get to the truth. They are targeted throughout this. They uncover crimes that should absolutely be prosecuted. They can unearth videos of Tim detailing his motivations and expressing his remorse to Oscar. All of that is rewarding and should be celebrated. It doesn't get them any closer to the truth. Oliver loves to put on a show. He is a visual being. It's all dramatic. He enjoys the flourishes of life. But this all plays to humanity's need to have a simple yet entertaining ending. The show likes to comment on how the depictions of various careers onscreen doesn't line up with the reality of those jobs. Charles isn't a good detective just because he played one on TV. A good story doesn't inherently make it true. It's what Charles, Oliver and Mabel have broadcast to the world. They say that's the conclusion of their story. As such, that's what everyone is expected to assume now. They rushed it out. They missed so many things along the way. They chose to ignore those clues or wait for any evidence to support their claims. That was reckless. It's purely chaotic energy. The show indulges in plenty of that. That means this episode is a come down from the preceding one. It's more conventional in how it treats Teddy and Theo as one more red herring. It also wishes to showcase the toxicity of this obsession and the damage it can cause to those who take it way too seriously. Violent and heinous crimes deserve to be investigated. The police can't always be trusted to be honest and thorough. The people who take up this mantle also have to be clear and resolute in their actions. Here, a lot of personal drama gets in the way of actually honoring Tim by finding who killed him. They brought meaning to his attempt to expose Teddy and Theo. That's something. It's not everything that he deserves nor should it bring clarity to those who've placed importance on his murder.