Tuesday, August 22, 2023

REVIEW: 'Only Murders in the Building' - Charles Loses Control While Mabel Receives an Offer in 'The White Room'

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building - Episode 3.04 "The White Room"

Charles' stage fright reaches unimaginable heights, involving a break from reality and multiple baby dolls. Mabel is confronted by a mysterious individual from her past with a pivotal proposal.

"The White Room" was written by JJ Philbin and directed by Adam Shankman

Charles has been a sad, lonely man for most of his life. Whenever he lets someone in, he's quickly betrayed. He allowed himself to be vulnerable in starting a relationship with Joy. And now, the narrative pivots to suggest all of her quirks are incredibly annoying once she moves into his apartment. Moreover, she becomes the new prime suspect in the investigation into Ben's death. She threatened him over his behavior towards Charles. Her lipstick was also used to write a message on the mirror in his dressing room that has gone untouched since that fateful night. However, Charles was nervous long before he started to suspect Joy of murder. That tension comes from him trying to open his space to her even though it's a disruption to what he has always known. Everything could very well work out within a few days of learning how to be together in this way. This issue is used as the grand explanation for the new existential crisis Charles faces. Oliver challenges him with a quick-paced musical number meant to convey exposition to the audience. Charles was worried about the play when it was being delivered straight. Now, more pressure is placed on him as someone who can't sing very well. He trips over the words and enters a completely altered state where he no longer has control over his body. He forms no memories over what he does. It's horrifying to the people watching him. He already has stage fright. This only amplifies that further. It's also quickly used as an excuse to remove accountability from him for his actions. Part of the twisted nature of the final reveal with Joy comes from Charles having proposed a moment before. He got down on one knee and presented her with a ring. He wanted the conversation to be about her moving out. Oliver convinced him that was the source of his problems. Perhaps Charles is better off being the sad, lonely man hidden away in his apartment. That has brought him comfort for so long. Oliver relates because he identifies with the loneliness. He has always expressed an extravagant charm to it though so that others don't pity him. Charles has never operated like that. He has always been living in the past. He thinks people only see him as Detective Brazzos. He's capable of so much more. The podcast provided him with that confidence. He has the opportunity to explore something new with the musical. The fear of change is still palpable. Mabel is the only person completely devoted to the new murder investigation. Charles and Oliver are distracted. Their lives are full. She obsesses over every detail even when they may not be beneficial to the investigation. And so, more accusations develop that leave everyone believing the worst even when rational explanations can still be found.

Charles and Oliver see Mabel as an old soul. Her connections to the Arconia are just as deep as theirs. And now, she faces a prominent deadline. She will no longer have her apartment in a few weeks. She has to find somewhere else to live. She's just now confronting the realities of living in New York City. The investigation matters so much to her. She follows leads. She doesn't know how to connect with people. Kimber wasn't having a secret romance with Ben. She was just trying to lure the famous actor into endorsing her line of skincare products. That's one of the many businesses she's running to make some money on the side. She engages fully with the hustle. That's the only way to survive in this city and the industry. The musical could provide a breakout role for her. She is eager to take the spotlight. That's just the possibility of future success. She needs some of that security right now. She has had to work hard to get to this point. Mabel has as well. She just hasn't felt that same urgency in awhile. She has high standards now. Charles and Oliver provide comfort and stability. It's time to move on. That doesn't mean she should partner with Cinda Canning. The famed podcaster is trying to revive her career. She too was betrayed by someone close. She offers up a reinvention story. She is still the same person. Mabel once idolized her. That admiration was destroyed by the rival podcast last season in which Cinda was driven by proving Mabel was the killer. Mabel was haunted by the "Bloody Mabel" moniker. It invaded every aspect of her life. She took ownership over her story eventually. That brand still holds some value. She's not using it. She's not taking advantage of anything that falls into her lap. Murders keep happening at the Arconia. That provides plenty of material for the podcast. It also gives Mabel a reason to stay and continue this relationship with Charles and Oliver. She needs that. She provides insights they otherwise wouldn't realize. However, they are also pursuing their dreams. Mabel doesn't have to attend any of the rehearsals. She knows when Charles is about to do something embarrassing. She's there to witness her friend do something terrible. It's easy to make fun of him. But again, plenty of consequential things are happening that can't be written off as these characters not knowing any better. They have developed over the years. Their friendship has nourished them into becoming better versions of themselves. They are still working to achieve those goals. This particular comfort has become a crutch. Charles likes that metaphor and is reassured by the stability it brings. Joy wants to toss it out as unnecessary because she's in his life now. That's a daunting prospect. The fear should be terrifying. It doesn't immediately have to forewarn danger. The narrative offers that simplicity instead of fully examining the extent of these actions. That's unfortunate even though the story overwhelmingly suggests these patterns need to be broken with the subsequent results being much more beneficial in the long run. Charles, Oliver and Mabel hindering that progress is understandable while also being somewhat annoying too.