Only Murders in the Building S3E10 Recap: “Opening Night” — One Case Closed and Another Opened

Wide shot of Oliver, Charles, and Mabel in Only Murders in the Building S3E10
Screenshot / Hulu

The following recap contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building S3E10, “Opening Night” (written by John Hoffman & Ben Smith and directed by Jamie Babbit).

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

Another season has come and gone and I already miss my favorite sleuths. Ben’s killer was finally brought to justice, but it didn’t feel as satisfying as you would expect. We also lost a beloved character, which was just another punch to the gut—but enough of my woe. Let me get into the episode.

Who Really Did It

Mabel declared in the last episode that Donna was the one to poison Ben and kill him. The trio was able to convince Loretta to plead not guilty at her arraignment due to this new theory. Later, they decide they need to get a confession from Donna on tape so that they can turn her in, but more importantly, so that they have the audio for their podcast.

On opening night they get Donna to come to the dressing room where she confesses to poisoning Ben, but not with the intent to kill him, just to have him sick enough that he wouldn’t be able to be in the play. They then accuse her of pushing him down the elevator shaft. Confused, she denies this until they show her the bloody hanky. She then confesses to pushing him. Tobert catches all the audio as he is disguised as a coat rack behind the door (with a boom mic).

Donna also confesses that she has stage 4 cancer and that Cliff doesn’t know. She isn’t a flight risk and doesn’t want to turn herself in until after the show since it is her baby’s first production. The trio agrees.

Howard barges in and announces that Jonathan took too much of the leading man cocktail and now he is unable to perform. Howard steps up and hints that there is someone else who knows all the lines and lyrics. Oliver agrees and decides to take over the leading man role. Poor Howard.

The show begins and it’s a hot mess but in the best way. Matthew Broderick makes another cameo as he sulks in the audience. Meanwhile, off-stage, Loretta tells Dickie she is his real mother. He explains that he had a feeling deep down and it is a tearful moment. Mabel listens in and has a House, M.D. moment where she hears Loretta speak about a mother’s love while watching the interaction between Cliff and Donna in the audience. As a collective audience, I’m pretty sure it was clear at this point that Donna was protecting Cliff, but Mabel just put it together.

Donna and Cliff embrace.
Screenshot / Hulu

Mabel follows Cliff as he goes up to the attic space high above the stage. He relives the night he killed Ben while Mabel listens. It turns out that once Ben left the party that night, he found out he was poisoned. Surprisingly it only takes him a few minutes to piece together that it was Donna that posinoned him. He tells Cliff that he is calling the cops and his mother will go to jail. Cliff argues with him and gives him a shove. Ben tries to grab onto Cliff but grabs the hanky which is clutched in his hand as he falls.

Cliff tells Mabel it was an accident and opens the lookout door on the floor. He lowers himself in preparation to jump. She tries her best to stop him but he won’t listen. Oliver and Charles look up from the stage and see him dangling and run off to try and help. Cliff urges them to not let Donna see what’s under his bed and begins to let go, but Donna shows up and grabs him.

They are taken away by the police, but it feels like a sad moment. Yes, Donna was a bitch, but she loved her son. He loved her. Now she is dying and he will be jailed forever.

I’m just glad it wasn’t Howard.

The Next Mystery

Everyone is celebrating at the after party. Tobert has a job opportunity in L.A and asks Mabel to join him. She declines. Loretta and Oliver talk about some acting opportunities that have been offered to her. She says she doesn’t want to leave him, but he says he can wait for her. She and Dickie now have time to spend time together since he is her manager.

Sazz (Jane Lynch) shows up but she is not exactly her usual crazy self. She asks to speak to Charles about a personal matter but he puts it off. The party needs more wine and Charles offers up a vintage bottle in his apartment. It looks like he leaves to get it.

A few moments later up in Charles’s apartment, Sazz enters and heads to the kitchen. A bullet comes seemingly from the window and into her chest. While she’s on the floor bleeding, she tries to spell something out with the blood, but it doesn’t seem like she finishes before succumbing to her injury.

And so a new mystery begins.

Clearly whoever shot at her, thought it was Charles. Why would anyone want to kill Charles and what was so important that Sazz needed to speak to him about? A comment was made somewhat jokingly earlier in the season that maybe whoever killed Ben was trying to kill Charles. Perhaps this was intentional foreshadowing.

Jan is still in prison as far as we know.

Joy is a woman scorned, but would she really want to kill Charles? It’s an overly obvious choice, that should be grounds for immediate elimination.

What about Cinda Canning? She is still out there and she is probably pissed that Mabel chose the olds over her. Their podcast is a hit. Could she be behind it?

This is how Only Murders rolls though and so we will have to wait until next season to see what sort of shenanigans the Arconians will be getting themselves into.

Thinking of this season as a whole, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of cameos there were from some pretty big names. Yet, they didn’t overshadow any of the cast and it all just worked so well.

I’ve personally never seen Paul Rudd in a serious role, and Ben Glenroy by no means was a serious guy, BUT, I was in awe of last week’s episode when Ben realized he had no one and how he shamed himself for eating the cookie. Paul Rudd did an amazing job and truly almost made me cry. I’d love to see him in some dramatic roles in the future.

Meryl Streep brought back Death Becomes Her vibes, which was one of my favorite childhood movies (I’m old). She is amazing at doing comedy and I wish she did it more often. I hope we get to see more of Loretta in future seasons.

Now that Sazz is dead, I’m sure that means a lot of flashbacks which equates to more Jane Lynch and I’m here for it.

In the meantime, I’ll be lurking the the web in search of theories for next season. See you next year.

Written by Felicia Nickens

Lover of television, film, & the macabre.

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