Only Murders In The Building is deep into its latest mystery and we’ve been working our way through the clues in episodes 5 and 6. Spoilers!
I’ve been pretty sick this last week or so. Sick enough that I took some time off from blogging about Only Murders in the Building. But was I also sick enough to see things that weren’t actually there? Have I been hallucinating?
Or… is the latest episode of this show haunted by an actual ghost?
One of the most often told stories about haunted movies and TV is the tale of a boy ghost lurking in the background of Three Men and a Baby. Look closely and you’ll find him about an hour in, half-obscured by a curtain as Ted and his mother walk by. SpooOOOoooOOOOooky.
Of course, it was explained away as soon as 1990. The spectre revealed to be an errant prop, a cardboard cut-out of Ted Danson from a deleted storyline. But in the VHS era anything in the background was typically blurry enough to seem just as creepy as you wanted it top obe, and so the stories lingered on.
Only Murders In The Building comes to us in crystal clear HD. Take a look, then, at the latest episode and tell me if you see the same thing I do. At almost 30 minutes into episode 6, right when Charles is saying “Today alone I almost died three times”, the door over his shoulder inexplicably closes. It’s almost closed… and then it’s fully closed.
A draught? An errant crew member? Just a bit of fun for a ghost-themed episode? Or an incredibly subtle clue?
Apologies for going freeform on you while I recover, but this week’s update is going to come as a series of bits and pieces from my notepad.
- The character they keep calling Dr C, well, what if it’s Dr Sí, like the Spanish word for Yes? A pun on Dr No, it would also riff on his agreeable nature. Ask the doctor for a cocktail of drugs and what does he say? Sí!
- Yes, I know they give his name and it’s Hiram Carameri, but next week’s episode is called Cobro and that, among other things, is a Spanish word to do with claiming on a debt, so maybe it’s all about to pay off. Pun intended.
- Talking of Cobro, there could be many meanings and allusions at work in that single stupid word. Co-Bro, perhaps, as in collaborating brothers, or two people who collaboratively brother. Or a brother who is himself a bit of a snake, as my friend Jim pointed out. It’s pretty clear now that there are at least two Ben Glenroys – or people who look like Ben Glenroy – and Dickie is no angel, so those various Cobro ideas do seem to resonate nicely.
- The stuff about Ben getting drugs and then not having them in his body after the tox screening just makes it fairly clear that it’s the Good Ben they recovered from the elevator. As for the whereabouts of Bad Ben… was that him closing the door behind Charles?
- The business about KT’s office being locked on opening night might suggest this was the location for one Ben to hide out or be imprisoned while another took the stage, though the stuff about noises in the room and a very clear closeup of the shredder implies a strong chance somebody was actually in there shredding documents.
- Perhaps there’s some re-combining of shredded documents in the show’s future. That shredder seems like it’s going to come back somehow. Maybe not as definitely as Mabel’s crime scene photos – they’re a lock for the big twin reveal, surely? – but I’d still bet actual Pogs on it.
- The Shakespeare references continue. They create a warm and cosy context for the almost inevitable twins but are they also suggesting a Hamlet-style resolution for the mystery? The Murder of Gonzago is a play Hamlet staged to reveal whether or not Claudius, his uncle, is guilty of the murder of Old Hamlet, Nu Hamlet’s father. I would not be at all surprised to see our winning trio try exactly the same gambit: a special presentation of Death Rattle Dazzle that will root out the culprit. I’m not sure precisely how that will work at all but I’m betting on three main suspects and a reprise of Charles’ patter song about the Pickwick Triplets. This might also be where the surviving Ben Glenroy-or-twin-or-maybe-triplet makes his grand, showstopping entrance. That’d be fun!
- If Tobert is just called Tobert because they’re building to a “Tobert or not Tobert” joke I’ll actually stand up and applaud in my living room when they get there. Outrageous.
- I continue to be very suspicious of Dickie though he may yet be guilty of other things than murder. His main tangible involvement in these last two episodes is an interesting one, however: when Oliver finds the scrapbook that Loretta is keeping, not only does every picture feature Ben/his twin/go on then his triplet, they all feature Dickie too. It wasn’t as smooth as it might have been due to standard issue dodgy TV photoshop (why is it always so very bad?) and it’s certainly not an original clue but it is a good one.
- So why is Loretta keeping a Dickie-centric scrapbook? Presumably because she’s his mother. See also her motivation for becoming his client, and probably her decision to stay in New York and not take up the TV gig. In fact, all of Loretta’s backstory fits quite snugly around this. Did she give up a child in pursuit of theatre? Was it theatre that ironically bought him back into her life?
- Also, the scrapbook showed up in an episode called Ah, Love! and I’m going to pretend it’s not brain meltingly insane to imagine that written as R Love instead. R Love as in “Dickie is probably short for Richard and it’s about Love of him.” Because why not. We’re all friends here. We can say crazy things and then move onto something more grounded.
- I think that, when all is said and done, this season of Only Murders will have been about the price of trying to be a creator or an artist, of following your dreams in theatre, documentary filmmaking, true crime podcasting or wherever your rainbow might lead. Perhaps it will touch a little on the boons and satisfaction of these life choices too, but mostly the cost. In some way, either off-hand of heartfelt, the showmakers have had things to say about this theme in every single episode. It’s a kind of consistency and holisitc point of view that, along with the best clue-ing they’ve ever managed, puts this season out far ahead of the others. Well, for me at least. So far.
- Talking of which, Jerry Blau came out of nowhere but was just wonderful. Kudos to Peter Bartlett.
- We’re definitely headed back to opening night in one of the upcoming episodes. There’s a lot to tidy up, not least the timeline of Ben and Loretta’s argument, and how Charles hit Ben on the opposite side of his face to where he took a red mark (the same mirror-flipped thinking that saw a tattooist put G and C on Ben’s wrong fingers, as discussed in a previous week?)
- Charles’ story probably clues us in on the fog machine not being toxic. I’m sticking with the ‘One Ben or another faked something being up on stage, had a blood capsule in his mouth’ version of events. He most likely wanted to get himself/themselves out of the play. And this possibly resulted in the two Bens fighting at the elevator shaft. Or maybe Dickie stepping in to stop one Ben or another from revealing the existence of the other by pushing them to their death. Or from disrupting his relationship with Loretta by ending their relationship with the play.
- I do like the idea of Ben falling to his death with Ben’s handkerchief in his hand because it was his other one. Other handkerchief and other hand, that is. And “Ben Glenroy killed Ben Glenroy” does feel like a nice twist, so I think they’ll at least pull that as the ‘second to last’ reveal, the fakeout before they put the cuffs on Dickie.
- In any case, I find it increasingly difficult to see a trail leading us to anybody other than Dickie, actual Ben or double Ben as the murderer. And because of the way Dickie was treated in the big Ben-based sequence at the after party, I’m still feeling Ben’s neglect of him counts for a lot.
- I guess I should make my mind up about which Ben is Ben and which is… Glen? Roy? Dave?
That’ll do for now. I’ll be back here very soon for Only Murders in the Building's next episode, CoBro.
Read Brendon’s thoughts on Only Murders In The Building's previous instalment, season 3, episode 4
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