Tuesday, August 29, 2023

REVIEW: 'Only Murders in the Building' - Three Dates Challenge Charles, Oliver and Mabel's Priorities in 'Ah, Love!'

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building - Episode 3.05 "Ah, Love!"

Date night! New York proves itself both a jewel box and a fish tank of romance as Charles, Mabel and Oliver take their relationships to the next stage. And dating can reveal many hidden secrets, too...

"Ah, Love!" was written by Tess Morris & Noah Levine and directed by Chris Koch

Joy first felt a spark with Charles decades ago. She has carried that possibility ever since. And now, it has seemingly been achieved. Joy has moved into Charles' apartment. He has proposed to her. And yet, Charles isn't happy with either of those decisions. He went through the motions of life instead of actively participating in it. Of course, that inaction still hurt Joy. She has always been a happy person skilled at her craft. She now views Charles as someone incapable of change. She's furious he would ever believe she was capable of murder. It's easier for Mabel and Oliver to jump to that conclusion. They aren't that close with Joy. She expects better of the man she loves. She is tough sometimes but is always full of love. She is willing to share a life with Charles. He is incapable of doing so. Sazz helps him realize how he fears accepting joy. He doesn't believe anyone could possibly love him. He has too many flaws that have gone unchecked for decades. Joy has seen all of them. He can't hide from her. She knows his truth. That isn't freeing. It takes a game for Charles to see the blessing he has. Afterwards, he still frequently puts his foot in his mouth. He confesses that the proposal was a mistake. He wasn't in control of his actions. He was terrified because of the clues they found in Ben's dressing room. The words left on the mirror echo through the minds of the podcasters. It proves someone had a personal vendetta against Ben. They were scorned by him in some way. Plenty of people had motivation to kill. One actually did so. Charles starred in this production alongside Ben. He occupied the same space as the leading man. He chose to hide the fact that he punched him on opening night. That's why Ben needed Joy to come in at the last second. Charles saw it as a reason to finally let out his aggression towards the guy. He proclaims he was trying to protect Loretta's honor. She said she was attacked by their co-star. She pushed him away. Charles listened and took action. The deviations in that particular story are apparent though. Loretta shares with Oliver that she called Ben a "fucking pig." Meanwhile, Charles recalls the allegation of an attack. It all happened so quickly. Charles feels confident in Joy not being the killer. The podcasters have ruled out a couple people as suspects. Many faces remain on the murder board. Mabel shares the investigation with Tobert. That's a great sign of intimacy for her. She's opening up her world. But all of these characters are vulnerable to the potential of being betrayed just like Charles was with Jan.

Death Rattle carried so much meaning for the cast and crew. It marked Oliver's return to Broadway. Ben was set for his Broadway debut. His casting gave the promotional materials something to advertise. Meanwhile, Loretta was discovered and could make her biggest dream a reality. She has had so many close calls. She has frequently shared those stories as well. It's endearing. It connects her with Oliver. He too is often referencing some incredible encounter he had in the past. Their paths crossed previously. And yet, they never found each other. Oliver was famous. Loretta always knew who he was. She wanted to audition for him. The universe made that impossible. Something always happened that stopped her from getting to the theatre on time. They weren't destined to meet until she auditioned for Death Rattle. After that, Oliver's world was completely reimagined. He saw someone not only perfect for the role but perfect for him. His life has had plenty of stress since then. He suffered a heart attack after being told his play was terrible. He is staging it as a musical now. Moreover, he's willing to take a chance on love. Oliver and Loretta have their first date. It's perfectly charming. They act on their attraction after keeping it professional for several months. The murder investigation is never too far from Oliver's mind. It's not his only priority like it is for Mabel. She only agrees to a date with Tobert because he lures her to the club with a lie. Clues are still found. They see Jonathan consulting with a sketchy doctor who used to treat Ben. That could provide access to the poison used in the initial attempt to kill Ben. That mystery hasn't been fully revealed yet. Everyone is focused on who did it. The way in which they did it is also needed. That opportunity presents clues of its own. Mabel understands that. She lets Tobert into her world. He plays into the conventions too. They are awkward and romantic. He may want to ground himself in one place moving forward. Meanwhile, Mabel needs that right now as she's losing her apartment. The investigation is serious. A kiss still occurs. Two relationships blossom. That is only true for a moment. Oliver joins Charles in having a reason to fear the person he's dating. Charles was completely wrong for suspecting Joy. Loretta can't be ruled out as a suspect. It may be a little on-the-nose to cast Meryl Streep and then have her be the killer. It's the classic Law & Order flaw where the most notable name in the guest credits at the top of the episode will be revealed as guilty by the end. This show is aware of those tropes. It tries to subvert them while playing into the expectations and fears everyone has. Loretta probably hasn't revealed all that she is capable of doing. Oliver is intrigued by that on a personal level. And yet, it leaves plenty of concern over the true extent of her dynamic with Ben. Anything is possible. Charles may not repeat the pain of the past. Oliver might. He allowed himself to feel these emotions for the first time in years. He closed himself off. And now, the thrill of love rushing back in could be destroyed if Loretta is the killer. But hey, Jan is still dating Sazz. So the show still aspires for romance for every character no matter where they happen to be.