Tuesday, September 5, 2023

REVIEW: 'Only Murders in the Building' - Charles, Oliver and Mabel's Friendship Is Tested by Their Secrets in 'Ghost Light'

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building - Episode 3.06 "Ghost Light"

All roads lead the trio back to the Goosebury Theater during a nerve-rattling thunderstorm. With Howard as their jittery guide, they track a legendary ghost who's haunted the theater for generations. Boo.

"Ghost Light" was written by Madeleine George and directed by Chris Koch

True crime podcasts brought Charles, Oliver and Mabel together as friends. Without that interest, they were simply three people who lived in the same building. Their ambitions elsewhere are completely different from one another. They've prioritized their friendship when it comes to solving mysteries. Murders keep happening at the Arconia. Those tragedies are incredibly consequential. However, they aren't the most significant things happening in their lives. At times, the obsession with the mystery comes at the expense of so much. They are tired of sacrificing that part of themselves in order to play into this formula. It's what has become accepted. Charles, Oliver and Mabel know how to partner to solve these mysteries. Their lives have forever been changed because they sought to engage with the world more fully. They were no longer sitting on the sidelines of life letting it pass them by. They are active participants now. That means difficult choices have to be made. They each have boundaries that matter. They have to protect themselves. They are always trapped in dangerous situations. Charles notes how he is almost killed three times in the theater when the trio go searching for clues to appease Howard. It's reasonable not to what that constant threat of danger all the time. Meanwhile, Mabel carries herself with so much determination. She may not see the red flags in others because she needs to figure out who killed Ben. This actor mattered a lot to her. His performance in a television show brought her family together after her father died. She is forever grateful for that. She must honor him in death to get to the truth. Carrying that mindset leaves her quick to cast doubt onto others. She and Tobert quickly assume Jonathan is the killer simply because he was meeting with Ben's doctor. He had the most to gain from Ben's death because he was the leading man's understudy. In reality, Jonathan is terrified of stepping into the leading role. So much pressure now resides on his shoulders. That stress makes him turn to an unsavory resource to cope. He wants to keep Howard far from the ugly truth of what he's doing to be ready for the stage. Howard dreams of being an actor. He wants the responsibility of carrying a show. He has discouraged by his mother once and chose not to ever follow his dream. It's never too late though. In fact, he gains power in performing alongside the ghost that haunts the theater. The crew has the capacity to help each other grow when they let each other in. That vulnerability was never accessible when Ben was the star. It was all about meeting a deadline and fulfilling Oliver's dream of returning to Broadway. That pressure stripped every meaningful dimension from the show as well as from the people involved in making it happen. Consequential actions still happened during that time. They can't be glossed over or forgotten. It requires everyone to step in and own what they did. That ugly reality is coming to the forefront. When the characters avoid it now, they are actively choosing to do so.

Oliver was frightened upon discovering Loretta's book detailing her obsession research into Ben. She hated the man she was acting alongside. She referred to him as a "fucking pig." Charles was present during their fight and chose to keep that from his fellow podcasters. Trust has faded away. Oliver suspects his new girlfriend is capable of murder. Charles never had that luxury until the final reveal with Jan. Oliver leads from a different headspace. He aims to protect her regardless of the truth because he has fallen in love. This musical has become their grand debut onstage together. Nothing can disrupt that now. They have to make their triumphant debuts as only they could. That means he destroys evidence. Mabel believes she can figure out who wrote on Ben's dressing room mirror by comparing it to the sign-in sheet. Oliver doesn't believe Loretta's handwriting matches. He still wipes the message away. It's time to move on. He has a show to focus on. He can't get distracted. Meanwhile, Charles is hysterical because he's locked in a bathroom for twenty minutes. He doesn't know how much time goes by or how to care for the fish Joy left behind. He carries the animal around because he's terrified of being alone. He's literally working with his friends. And yet, he doesn't feel close to them anymore. It's so easy for them to get distracted and leave him behind. Being locked in the bathroom only solidifies that. He is risking everything to be with them. He has other opportunities. They should appreciate him. They don't because they are too caught up in their own worlds. That creates isolation amongst the main trio. They relied on each other so much in the past. Things are different now. What used to work doesn't anymore. They have to evolve. They must do so individually and as friends. They still support the work each other does. They actively choose to involve each other in everything they do. But their friendship is strained by the weight of expectations and aspirations. They don't necessarily line up anymore. That shouldn't be a bad thing. It still leads to Charles warning Mabel that she is making a mistake by inviting Tobert into the investigation. She trusts him completely. That's such a fast development. Mabel refuses to listen to Charles because of the mistakes he made in the past. It's easy to weaponize how he was blinded by Jan. No one has the luxury to be oblivious now. They can't repress their suspicions. They have to act on them and live honestly in the response. Jonathan isn't the killer. It's better to have that conversation. It's not healthy to be hiding out in the attic of the theater. New insights are offered because of that perspective. It's still an unhealthy way to live. Oliver makes his choice. He's choosing to believe in Loretta's good nature and intentions. He hasn't seen her temper. That's good enough for him to continue even if it means pushing Charles and Mabel away in the process. That's fine momentarily even though they all immediately have regrets over what was said and done.