Wounds are laid bare on Only Murders In the Building Season 1 Episode 4.
With strong female characters, secrets revealed, and fun guest stars, this episode has a lot going for it.
It doesn’t feel like we’ve gotten any closer to discovering Tim Kono’s killer, but we do get some significant character development, along with the answer to one of the show’s burning questions — who is Lucy?
Despite the fact that we get a whole scene with Sting (more on him later), the women steal the show this episode.
At first, it was just a pleasant surprise to have Tina Fey narrating the episode, layering the action with vague aphorisms about second chances.
Sometimes a second chance is just another chance to get it wrong.
But to have her actually appear in the episode as Cinda Canning, interacting with the trio, is a joy. Her brand of comedic delivery meshes well with the rapport Gomez, Short, and Martin have going. Canning’s asides with her two clone-like assistants were pure Power Boss. No wonder the trio worships her!
The final scene, with Cinda recording her podcast, was definitely a jaw-dropper. What does this mean for the trio? Will they all make it out alive? Isn’t it a bit meta to make a podcast about a podcast? Will we be jumping back and forth through time for the rest of the series?
Every episode seems to bring up twice as many questions as it answers. But, to be fair, we’re not even halfway through the season.
Can bassoon playing be sexy? Just ask Amy Ryan.
Jan: I’m going to stop you before you accidentally say I’m not sexy.
Charles: Please stop me.
After some awkward flirting, Jan and Charles take it to the next level. Charles fares better with his concertina, doing a call and response across the courtyard as Jan practices her bassoon. It’s a sweet scene because it really shows her meeting him where he’s at. Charles isn’t great with words, but he reveals his heart through music.
Jan seems more thank okay to make the first move, playing “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” and sliding a handwritten note under Charles’s door, to his delight — and consternation.
You’ll hear me bassooner or later.
Their date doesn’t go well. Ryan’s Jan is genial and vulnerable but never comes off as inappropriate. She doesn’t believe she’s oversharing, but Charles is clearly uncomfortable, but Jan doesn’t seem to realize how much. It’s when she presses him, and he divulges nothing, that things turn sour.
You know, the sharing of stories is kind of transactional. When someone gives you a story, you owe them one of equal or greater value in return.
Only later, when Charles realizes that he must be truly vulnerable, he lays his soul bare to Jan and shares his “wounds,” manifested in the form of Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig (whom we later learn are cruise ship performers). Bugs and Porky haunt him with the failure of his previous relationship — and Lucy.
The Lucy reveal is lovely and frankly unexpected this early in the series. By making her not an ex-girlfriend or a lost love but a young child in need of stability, we see Charles trying to break the cycle of his past and his unkind father.
This means Charles was definitely lying to Mabel in Only Murders In the Building Season 1 Episode 1. Charles stated that he had lived alone at the Arconia for twenty-eight years. If Emma (his ex-girlfriend) and her daughter Lucy lived with him, that doesn’t count as being alone.
However, Charles has fudged the truth with Mabel before, so it’s not surprising he’d keep a secret from her.
Speaking of secrets, did Mabel really think that Charles and Oliver wouldn’t figure out her connection to Tim? It goes back to the main question of Only Murders in the Building Season 1 Episode 3 — how well do you know your neighbors?
This also begs the question — how did Charles and Oliver react to Zoe’s death all those years ago? They both lived at the Arconia when it happened, and an event like that would surely be memorable.
Mabel continues to be hard to read. On the one hand, she seems to enjoy the company of Charles and Oliver, even going so far as to encourage Charles’s love life.
Seventy’s the new forty.
Does Mabel actually think of Charles and Oliver as her friends, or are they merely a pale imitation of her previous “Hardy Boys” gang? She must know she can’t solve Tim’s murder alone — Charles and Oliver hive her access to parts of the Arconia that are beyond her reach.
Gomez walks this line gracefully, so it’s impossible to know where her loyalties lie at this point. Her line delivery continues to be on point, knocking the men down so deftly that they barely know what’s hit them.
Charles: Isn’t it insulting to flirt now?
Oliver: Who the hell knows? Suddenly it’s rude to tell a secretary she looks nice in a pair of slacks.
Mabel: No. To that whole sentence.
Unfortunately, by withholding the truth from Oliver and Charles, Mabel may have shot herself in the foot. It will not doubt take some exchange of secrets, not unlike Charles and Jan’s “transaction,” for the trio to move forward together with a clean slate.
I now deeply suspect that tie-dyed guy is Oscar, and I’m worried about Mabel as she goes off in her search for Guy Montrose. However, from Mabel’s opening voiceover in Episode 1, we know she’s ready to fight back if she has to.
Now, as for Sting. Sting! In his one scene, he cries, he screams, and he sings! Overall, he’s pleasant, sensitive, and serviceable in his role as … himself. However, it always seemed unlikely that he would be the murderer, no matter how badly Oliver wanted him to be.
Rock icon Sting is a dog-poisoning murderer. He’s like the next OJ. A hot, Buddhist OJ.
Even though Sting feels personally responsible for Tim’s death, he only believes this because he told Tim to kill himself, and that’s what appears to have happened. If anything, this is a send-up of celebrity ego and power — people would do anything if a celebrity told them to do it, wouldn’t they?
This doesn’t necessarily mean Tim’s investment job didn’t have anything to do with his death; it just means Sting wasn’t involved. But then who sent the threatening note to Oliver? Who poisoned Winnie?
This is exactly like Die Hard!
Now that we know who Lucy is, what are the odds she makes an appearance in a later episode? Or will she never be mentioned again, now that Jan and Charles are together? Will Jan join the trio and help with the investigation/podcast?
There are still plenty of unanswered questions, but we know a few things for certain now. We know that Lucy is not Charles’s ex, but the child of one. We know that Sting was not directly involved in Tim Kono’s death and that he did not poison Winnie. We know that Tina Fey is just awesome in general — but that was already a given, right?
Embrace the mess. That’s where the good stuff lives.
Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.