The following recap contains spoilers for the Only Murders in the Building S3E4, “Ah, Love!” (written by Steve Martin, Tess Morris & John Hoffman and directed by Chris Koch)
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.
We aren’t much closer to finding out who Ben’s killer is but we did learn some new information on the current suspects. This episode finds the trio caught up in their respective love stories, but it doesn’t mean the investigation has stalled.
Charles & Joy
It’s been a few days since Charles proposed and discovered that Joy’s lipstick was in Ben’s dressing room. Mabel and Oliver are pressuring Charles to ask her why, but he has been putting it off. He and Joy are set to go to their cake tasting when he decides to approach the subject. Joy avoids the question and decides it will be better if she goes and eats cake alone.
It works out though, since Sazz (Jane Lynch) shows up. She tries to get to the root of Charles’s problem. They come to the conclusion that Charles doesn’t have a problem with upper-case “J” Joy but with lower-case “j” joy. Basically, Charles won’t allow himself to be happy. Realizing this, Charles apologizes to Joy when she returns. She claims that she was called to Ben’s dressing room before the show to cover up a bruise from someone hitting him and her lipstick must’ve fallen from her bag. Charles uses this opportunity to admit that he was the one who punched Ben when he saw him yelling at Loretta.
Putting that all aside, Charles also admits the proposal was an accident but that Sazz made him realize that he truly wants upper and lower-case Joy. Heartbroken to learn it was an accidental proposal, Joy smashes cake in his chest and calls off the engagement.
I don’t know what this means in terms of Joy being a suspect. It’s possible she lied to Charles and more happened in the dressing room than she let on. Sazz poses the question to Charles… What if he was the intended victim and not Ben? People have been whispering and wishing he died instead of Ben (much to Charles’s dismay). Could Joy have wanted to kill Charles but somehow ended up killing Ben? The poison theory is still going around for the first attempt. Perhaps Ben ingested something meant for Charles. Then again, why?
Mabel & Robert with a T
Mabel is supposed to meet Tobert for a stake-out but it turns out Tobert just told her that to get her on a date. They meet at a fancy restaurant where Jonathan (Ben’s understudy) is the night’s entertainment. While he sings onstage, Tobert and Mabel flirt and get to know each other.
Later, Jonathan joins a shady-looking gentleman at a nearby table. Tobert and Mabel try to hide, but Mabel is spotted. Jonathan abruptly leaves. Tobert confirms the shady man is Ben’s private doctor. Why was he meeting with Jonathan?
Mabel brings Tobert back to her apartment and reveals the murder board to him. He laughs that he is a suspect on the board, but Mabel explains they have to cover every angle. He undresses her with his pretty eyeballs and they share a kiss.
Mabel has the worst of luck when it comes to her love interests and something tells me this is no different. While I don’t think Tobert killed Ben, I think he has other motives for wanting to be close to Mabel. Perhaps she has other motives as well. Mabel is a smart cookie and maybe she is learning how to manipulate situations to get what she wants. In this case, it would be to get answers.
Oliver & Loretta
Oh, Oli. Oliver is a joy to watch and so after three seasons, I love to see him in love. However, this is a car crash waiting to happen. Oliver shows up at Loretta’s apartment for their date. She’s burning pork chops in the oven because her microwave broke (who microwaves pork chops?). Dinner is a little awkward at first until Oliver breaks a tooth on one of the chops. Loretta thinks he looks adorable and this leads her to bring up how many times she has played a pig in past productions. “Fucking Pig,” she says.
If you recall, that is the exact phrase written on Ben’s mirror. Oliver recalls this as well and looks taken aback. Sensing how uninteresting this date is going, Loretta invites Oliver to leave with her and they end up on a ferry where she pulls out a flask and a joint that she’s had since 1978.
They get to talking and she tells him about a fight she and Ben had before the show. A flashback reveals them on the stairs of the lighthouse on stage. They are yelling at one another. Loretta tells Oli that Ben didn’t want to share the stage with a “no-name” and was mean to everyone. That same flashback eventually leads to Charles walking onstage and punching Ben for harassing Loretta. She also mentions he was even mean to his sweet younger brother. Why is she so concerned about him?
Oliver is beginning to look smitten with Loretta and they share a kiss. Later, back at her place, they are in bed in their silky flowered robes when Loretta decides to go draw a bath. While she is gone, Oliver walks over to her bookcase where he finds a scrapbook filled with nothing but articles about Ben and pictures of him. Oliver is shaken! End of episode.
The show has been setting Loretta up since the first episode as someone we can consider the prime suspect. I think Loretta is probably a psycho. Everyone on the show kinda is. She may have had an obsession or unhealthy rivalry with Ben, but I don’t know if she killed him. Again, I believe two different people tried to murder him that night. It is possible that Loretta was part of one of those attempts. I would hate for her to be the killer though, considering we already had the murderous girlfriend thing in Season 1 with Jan. It even crossed my mind that she could be Ben and Dickie’s mother. It could explain the scrapbook and why she wants to stay close to Dickie. She could have given them up for adoption when they were babies in order to pursue her dream of being in theater.
I also wonder if it is a group effort. Did the cast get together and decide they hated Ben so much that they would teach him a lesson? Perhaps they put something in his cookies that would hinder his performance that first night, but they put too much and he almost died. Someone then took it upon themselves to finish the job later. I like the idea of a large group trying to kill him. And what happened to Ben’s stalker, Gregg? I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.
I look forward to Oliver telling the rest of the group next week about what he found and here’s to hoping we can finally narrow done the suspect list.