Tuesday, August 8, 2023

REVIEW: 'Only Murders in the Building' - Oliver's Return to Broadway Ends With Yet Another Murder in 'The Show Must...'

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building - Episode 3.01 "The Show Must..."

Curtain up on Season 3! And Leading Man down! After Ben Glenroy's collapse on stage, Charles, Oliver and Mabel piece together the show's first days with a suspicious cast and crew to determine if foul play was involved. Spoiler alert...

"The Show Must..." was written by John Hoffman & Sas Goldberg and directed by John Hoffman

Charles, Oliver and Mabel established a particular brand with their podcast. They would investigate murders that happened in their building. That was their response to the tragedy that befell Tim Kono. The need to solve that mystery brought them together. And then, murders kept happening in their building. Bunny Folger was next. It was all in pursuit of the sensational drive of content. People wanted fame and attention. This seemed like the only way they could obtain it in today's society. The podcast absolutely brought renewed success to Charles, Oliver and Mabel. However, it was never their biggest aspirations in life. Mabel now visits the comment section from the podcast and sees the messages of the fans missing them. When a murder happens in proximity to them, they once again kick into those investigative instincts to get to the bottom of what happened. The second season closed with an expansion of their world. Oliver returned to Broadway as a director with Charles performing a role that wasn't linked to his television show that ran for over 200 episodes. The play's leading man, Ben Glenroy, just happened to die on opening night. It's a new scandal that threatened to spin the protagonists' lives into turmoil once more. They could never move beyond investigating murders for their podcast. That compulsive impulse still drives their actions. This premiere twists itself to offer the reassurance that the basic premise of the podcast remains intact. Ben didn't die onstage even though he was pronounced deceased by the first responders. He was revived at the hospital. He made his surprising return during Oliver's afterparty. Everyone was mourning this massive loss and the destruction it brought to their Broadway careers. And then, everything was promised to return to normal. Ben returns with the promise of being a better person. He recognizes that he was cruel and selfish during the rehearsals in preparation for his Broadway debut. He will do better now that he has had this near-death experience. The premiere still concludes with Ben actually being murdered. Uma grimly thanked Charles, Oliver and Mabel for keeping the murder outside of the Arconia for once. She's absolutely outraged when the final discovery is made. Ben's body comes crashing through the elevator after the shaft had undergone maintenance for several hours. Sure, it was always dangerous for him to leave the hospital so soon after everyone believed he had died. He was careless with the potential complications his body still faced. It would have been reasonable for those to go unnoticed when he just wanted the comfort of his home. Instead, the show amplifies the drama by proving someone truly wanted Ben dead. They failed during the opening night performance. They succeeded following the afterparty.

Charles, Oliver and Mabel essentially get their wish to spend more time together again. Mabel has renovated and sold her apartment. She only has four weeks left at the Arconia. After that, the three won't be leaving in the same place anymore. Frankly, it's insane for anyone to move into a building where three murders have now happened. That's why Uma is so frustrated. The building's reputation is depreciating. It's only growing more infamous for one thing. That's not good. The building has revitalized careers for some who live within it. However, Mabel recognizes that it's time to move on. The apartment renovation removes her personality and style from the space. It presents as elegant but isolating. Mabel misses her old friends. She too has a ton of history in the Arconia. A move to somewhere new holds the promise of achieving her untapped potential. She has remained stuck in place because it's been comfortable. The same is essentially true of Loretta Durkin. She instantly fell in love with Broadway during the first show she saw - Diahann Carroll's Tony Award-winning performance in the musical No Strings in 1962. She put all the training in to hone her craft. Her dreams have gone unrealized until now. One audition is all it takes to change her life. She never gave up on her dream. It simply took Oliver seeing something special in her. She was right for this part. He refuses to let anyone deny her greatness. It's easy for the audience to also fall in love with her talent because it's Meryl Streep. She brings so much charisma to every role she embodies. So much history is given to inform Loretta's actions. Moreover, the show immediately plays into the narrative that the biggest guest star may be the prime suspect in the latest murder. When Ben does his rounds of apologies, he has nothing good or reformed to say about Loretta. He still views her as a devious snake. Every actor has to possess narcissistic qualities to a certain extent. It quickly becomes toxic though. The room is willing to indulge in Ben's eccentricities during the table read because he's a massive star. His presence helps make this production valuable. Meanwhile, everyone is annoyed by Loretta's choices. They don't see her the same way Oliver does. He stands firm in his convictions. Even those are blinded by his obvious attraction to her. They couldn't be together while working on this project. Afterwards, it's the silver lining of this whole tragedy. That could serve as motive despite all that was previously said about Loretta's love and affection for Broadway. She finally gets her opportunity. It's all taken away. It's not in one fell swoop though. It's an elongated process where Ben is killed, brought back to life and killed again. It's a rollercoaster. One that requires patience and awareness that the basic premise of the show has to be kept intact. That goes against any reassurance that the show is capable of delivering something new. It simply continues to convince top-tier talent to join the ensemble. That's rewarding to an extent. The mystery has to work too especially for how it reverberates throughout what the protagonists continue to want in their lives moving forward.