Only Murders in the Building S3E4 Recap: Dead? On Drugs? Or Dead and on Drugs?

Charles sits half naked in a bassinet.
Screenshot / Hulu

The following recap contains spoilers for the Only Murders in the Building S3E4 “The White Room” (written by J.J. Philbin and directed by Adam Shankman).

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

If Only Murders isn’t a massive dose of serotonin, then I don’t know what is. Some shows fizzle out after a season or two, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Steve Martin and Martin Short deliver their jokes with such ease, making the dialogue that much funnier. Enough of my gushing, we have a new suspect!

But first…

The White Room

Rehearsals for Death Rattle continue at Oliver’s apartment, and it is Charles’s turn to come out and sing his ditty about the murderous infant triplets. As soon as he begins to sing, everything morphs into a white room where Charles is alone and in a euphoric state. After dancing around for a moment, the sound of monkeys can be heard and all of a sudden we are all back in Oliver’s living room with Charles lying half naked in a bassinet and the set destroyed behind him.

Charles has his arms spread wide open as he enjoys the white room.
Screenshot / Hulu

The rest of the cast sits quietly staring at him. He confesses he doesn’t remember what happened and asks if he is dead or on drugs or both.

They explain to him that he went to The White Room, which is an actor thing for actors who get anxious on stage.

Back at his apartment, Charles is hard on himself, but Joy, his girlfriend, calms him down. They agree that making omelets was always his crutch but that now she is his omelet. Before they run off to do the nasty, she tells Charles she will look out for him the way she did with Ben. If Ben touched a hair on his head, Ben would have to deal with her. (Gasp!)

Back at rehearsals, Charles comes out on the makeshift stage, ready to wow the cast. As he begins singing, his body performs the motions of making an omelet. Oliver is not having that sort of choreography and tells Charles to do it as originally planned. Unable to use his crutch, he ends up back in The White Room. This time there are large fish swimming outside of the window. You know what that means!

Once again, he returns back to reality and to a destroyed set, and the cast is appalled. Tom, the piano player, has to leave because as Howard puts it, “Tom is a Christian!” Oliver tells Tom to go pray on it. I’m dying to know what Charles did to upset these folks.

Cinda and Mabel talk
Screenshot / Hulu

Mabel and Cinda Canning

Mabel is apartment hunting and as you can imagine, NYC apartments are not for the broke. The realtor informs Mabel that if she is interested she will need the paperwork ASAP. Realizing that she has no income, or references, Mabel seems discouraged and doesn’t apply for the apartment. Good for you Mabel, that place was 10 sq. ft.

Mabel gets a call which she ignores, and a text to which she replies that she has nothing to say to them. This happens again later, but this time Mabel meets up with the unidentified individual which turns out to be Cinda Canning (Tina Fey). Cinda is anxious to get back in the murder podcast business and asks Mabel to be her partner. Mabel declines.

Cinda offers Mabel money with an extra zero at the end. Mabel looks intrigued. I mean she could use that money to find a place to live, or depending how many zeros get added, could buy her aunt’s apartment at the Arconia. Still, Mabel is loyal to her olds and declines Cinda’s offer.

The Investigation

After last week’s conclusion left Kimber under suspicion, Mabel, Charles, and Oliver gain access to the theater in an attempt to search Kimber’s dressing room. According to Kimber’s TikTok, she created a youth serum that Ben wore all the time. Mabel suspects this was the conduit through which the poison was delivered to Ben.

Once they arrive at the dressing room, they discover Kimber there “running her beauty empire.” Mabel keeps her talking while the men search Ben’s dressing room. Mabel discovers that Kimber and Ben didn’t have a relationship, sexual or otherwise. Kimber wanted an endorsement from Ben for her serum and he agreed but backed out last minute. Out of spite, Kimber sold the handkerchief he gave her on eBay. I guess Kimber didn’t do it (or did she?).

Mabel joins the men in Ben’s dressing room where they find a message written in lipstick on the mirror. It is a picture of a pig captioned “Fucking Pig.” Mabel grabs the lipstick and puts it in her pocket.

Charles and Joy look at Mabel and Oliver.
Screenshot / Hulu


Joy appeared last season as this sweet makeup artist from Charles’s past. After his romance with Jan ended with her trying to kill him, Charles was due for someone normal. Fast forward to this episode and we see Joy again, moving into Charles’s apartment (with her 62 fish). Whoa, that’s a huge step for Charles who admits to Oliver later that he is used to being alone and tends to hide in the bathroom a lot when he does “co-inhabit” with others.

Joy comes off as more…hyper? At least more so than I remember her from last season. I think she is a bit much for someone like Charles, who is as slow and boring as they get. The anxiety of her moving in is determined to be the reason Charles can’t get his shit together when he is performing in rehearsals.

Charles begins to have a conversation with Joy with the intention of asking her to move out. The stress of it throws Charles back into The White Room. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Charles comes back from The White Room and immediately apologizes for anything he may have said or done, but Joy is overcome with happiness as she agrees to marry him.

Simultaneously, Oliver and Mabel walk in to see Charles down on one knee with a ring in his hand. Mabel holds the lipstick in her hand and Joy notices. Joy then gets even more excited as she thanks Mabel for finding her lipstick. The trio drops their jaws and Charles has the “oh shit” look on his face as the credits roll.

What do we know?

Kimber mentioned in the dressing room that on the night of the opening, Ben was freaking out about a red mark on his face and that he called someone in to help him. When he walked out the mark was gone and whoever covered it was really good.

We can assume they want us to believe this is Joy since she is a make-up artist. Maybe it was Joy. However, it’s too early to know the identity of the killer so is she another red herring?

There’s the tape that Robert with a T has. Someone was in the dressing room with him. Was this the same time that he called for help with the red mark or was this later on that evening? There has been speculation from the web that he was arguing with a plate of cookies. In the season premiere, Ben made it clear that cookies are his weakness. Perhaps someone dropped a poisonous plate off in his dressing room purposely knowing that he couldn’t resist.

Loretta wasn’t in this episode but let’s not forget how bad she wanted to be in the spotlight before Oliver cast her. Was she jealous? Did she and Ben have a thing? It wouldn’t be a first on this show. Remember Jan and Tim Kono?

Ben decided not to endorse the youth serum for Kimber. Why was that? Was it because the product sucked, since Kimber admitted it was just club soda and Vaseline? Maybe he was upset with Kimber about something else. Either way, that still leaves Kimber. She could’ve been angry about that.

The episode didn’t focus much on the rest of the cast so we have to wait and see what sort of history they had with Ben and what secrets they may be hiding.

Written by Felicia Nickens

Lover of television, film, & the macabre.

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