Tuesday, September 12, 2023

REVIEW: 'Only Murders in the Building' - Mabel Builds on Her Brand Without Charles and Oliver as Her Podcast Partners in 'CoBro'

Hulu's Only Murders in the Building - Episode 3.07 "CoBro"

Charles finds an unexpected source for a major clue. A Broadway icon comes knocking at Oliver's door. And Mabel forms an alternate trio to pursue a lead that sheds light on Ben's bro and CoBro history.

"CoBro" was written by Ben Philippe & Jake Schnesel and directed by Cherien Dabis

Mabel knew Ben was holding a hankie when he died. He got one for everyone in the cast and crew. The one on his body wasn't his. Moreover, the police didn't know about this crucial piece of evidence. Even the photo Mabel has, the hankie is gone. Uma stole it. She has that constant impulse to take things. She professes how it's a way to hold onto memories. However, it's largely a tick she carries to exert control. She still blames Charles, Oliver and Mabel for Bunny's death. Her best friend was killed. She's all alone. Charles isn't a suitable replacement. Uma and Bunny had their disagreements. They were on good terms when Bunny died. Uma still suffers from this vast emptiness now in her life. She doesn't have some personal attachment to the hankie. In fact, she's willing to sell it once she learns Charles wants it. Sure, whomever bought it probably has a more damning reason than simply being a Ben Glenroy fan. That was the crowd drown to the silent auction in the penthouse. That afforded Mabel an opportunity to visit the apartment once more. She received yet another glimpse into the actor's world. She gains new insight into Ben's relationship with his brother. Dickie was adopted and always resented the attention and praise Ben always got. Dickie put in all the hard work only for Ben to get all the credit. Mabel sees that as a clear motive. She suspects Dickie as the killer through the sheer assumption that an "R" could be turned into a "B" on the autograph for the original sketch for CoBro. Theo points out that possibility. The podcasters have built their cases on less. They throw out these wild accusations. The podcast was essentially live. They recorded it on their phones and released it to the public immediately. They didn't have a firm idea of where the story was going. It was completely impulsive. Those were the tactics they employed. They saw a reason to produce another season. Mabel is completely committed to the mystery. She needs to solve who killed Ben. Oliver requires that passion and devotion from everyone in his musical. He demands that. He struggles with the reality and intensity of that prospect. Moreover, he can't always provide that in return. He doesn't know how to be vulnerable and admit when he's made a mistake. Oliver and Charles theorize that they can return to Mabel's good graces simply by providing her with a new lead. They have the perfect invitation to do just that. Loretta's book about Ben is damning but not immediately incriminating. It needs more context. The podcasters don't have that. Instead, they have a way to mend their friendship. Mabel has already moved on though. She yearns for these friendships. However, she's not going to let their disruption distract her from the case. She's too committed to stop now. An innocent man is in jail.

Dickie ultimately revealed a lot in his brief interaction with Mabel. He knows she's snooping around for a new mystery for her podcast. Nothing has been recorded yet. Nothing has been released for others to obsess over. It's all rampant speculation. Clues have been discovered. Suspects have been questioned and ruled out. It hasn't been an open-and-shut case. The police assume it is. Ben's stalker was easy to blame. Mabel never accepted that. She now knows it was wrong to base Ben's time of death on his watch. He always set it twenty minutes early so he would always be fashionably late. That's insane behavior. Plenty of people coddled him and made that acceptable. It isn't. A man's fate is doomed because of that action. That also provides a sense of legitimacy to Mabel's investigation. She now has proof of Gregg's innocence. He locked Charles and Mabel up in a basement but he isn't a killer. That's a fine distinction. He still absolutely needs help. But the story the police believe is false. That's a familiar pattern. Mabel grabs that attention. She was reluctant to play into the "Bloody Mabel" branding. She doesn't need Cinda Canning to market that either. She has plenty of other opportunities. Theo and Tobert present as friends eager to help her investigate. They may not fully understand her. She may defy any kind of simple explanation. They yearn for that. Meanwhile, she's focused on the mystery. Of course, she misses Charles and Oliver. They were her partners. Their paths have diverged. Their interests align from time to time. It's no longer as consistent as it once was. Sometimes it takes a radical disruption to prove just how much they mean to each other. Oliver receives that clarity by casting Matthew Broderick as Charles' replacement. Realistically, there is no way Charles would return to the role if the famed stage veteran was available. Donna and Cliff are thrilled by that development. They make it happen. They finally have a way to promote this revamped production. Oliver simply can't deal with Broderick's process. It's too intense and trivial. Charles may be the inferior actor. He's also a friend. Oliver misses him. He doesn't always express himself properly. However, he knows how to fight for this friendship. He shares Loretta's book. He reveals why he has been acting differently lately. Everything rests on Death Rattle Dazzle. It has to be perfect. He has placed that pressure on himself. Too much has already gone wrong for it to be completely written off as a failure. He still pursues his dream. And yet, friendship with Charles and Mabel is meaningful too. He can't disregard that now. It may be too late given what Mabel accomplishes in the short time away from her partners. They may earn her forgiveness. That hasn't happened quite yet. The story proves they are each capable on their own. The partnership is glorious. It's not everything either. The world expands. They each want more. However, the simple pleasure of the show itself is the chaotic energy of the three leads bouncing off each other. This season places doubts on that. That's challenging while also providing ample and funny material for all three as they are paired with new additions to the cast for absurdity and sincerity.