Only Murders In The Building Goes Dark In A Blackout Episode

Last week's episode of "Only Murders in the Building," "Flipping the Pieces," kept our podcasting trio of Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin), and Oliver (Martin Short) separate while Mabel tried to reclaim her memory just a little bit. But right as they reunited at the conclusion, they were shocked to learn two things. First, Charles' would-be step-daughter Lucy (Zoe Colletti) may be the next target of the mystery person who killed Arconia board president Bunny Folger; and second, New York City just got struck by a blackout. A few episodes ago, we had Oliver reliving the post-Summer of Sam haze from the late-1970s, and so it's fitting that we're in blackout city for "Hello Darkness."

"New York does crime fast and furious," we hear from this week's narrator to start the episode. Who's the narrator? Well, this show likes to swerve around with our expectations, so you may be surprised to learn that it's Marv (Daniel Oreskes), one of the podcast super-fans who likes to hang around the Arconia to basically experience the podcast in real time. (Perhaps it's also because he's got a grown daughter who seemingly wants nothing to do with him.) Marv is as die-hard as a die-hard fan of this TV series — er, podcast — gets. But his fellow superfans, including Sam (Jaboukie Young-White) and Paulette (Ali Stroker), are less impressed with the second season. "They're overboard and treading water," Paulette says after explaining to Marv that she and Sam are essentially playing the field and considering "switching allegiances" to another crime-related podcast. "I am OMITB for life!" Marv all but shouts, after nursing the wound of having his own theory — something related to a past serial killer called the Sixth Avenue Slasher being Bunny's murderer — being dismissed.

It is here that I want to point out that "Only Murders in the Building" (the show, not the podcast-within-the-show, the latter of which we've basically seen no creation of this year) is doing something potentially risky. It's one thing to have characters break the fourth wall and point out possible storytelling flaws in the story itself. (And I will make clear here that the whole season — or at least the first eight episodes, including this last of those eight, which were made available to critics before the season premiered — was produced before fans or critics or anyone else watched them. So it's not like the show is responding to genuine criticism in episode 8 that was made in episodes 1 or 2.) But that doesn't automatically paper over any possible flaws. I'm still very much enjoying this season, but I do wonder how much of the fourth-wall-breaking is going to end up harming the show in the long run. Who knows.

Anyway, I digress. Marv and the others, it turns out, are also in the Pickle Diner right before the blackout hits, which means they all see Mabel reunite with Charles and Oliver from across the room. As Marv explains to us that the Sixth Avenue Slasher treated "the whole Big Apple" as his "hunting ground," he approaches the core trio right when the power is cut. After the trio learns that the entire tri-state area has no power for the moment – right when Oliver sees an email arrive in his inbox about the DNA results that will tell him if Will (Ryan Broussard) is actually his son — they dismiss Marv's Sixth Avenue Slasher theory, heading over to the Arconia.

Burst into flames

It doesn't help things that Marv's theory — which, knowing this show, could end up being correct (and I don't know if it will be, but it's possible!) — isn't terribly well thought out. As we cut back to the darkened Arconia, he notes that the slasher's M.O. was "older women ... but younger women could be targets, too!" Focus, Marv! He does think that the positive part of having a serial killer on the loose is that it "can unite a divided city," an interesting take we hear as we see Lucy in Charles' apartment, trying to find something to snack on that hasn't spoiled yet.

Downstairs, Lester the doorman (Teddy Coluca) and Ursula (Vanessa Aspillaga) try to quell the frustrated tenants, horrified at the thought of climbing the stairs to get back to their respective abodes. "You know how this works. It'll be over in five minutes ... or five days," Ursula snaps before telling everyone to try some of her gut milk, which is "slightly alcoholic." Just slightly? Lester's next call is from the pregnant Nina (Christine Ko), who asks him to bring her a package up to the 14th floor, threatening his job as she plans cutbacks. Yikes. When it comes to climbing stairs, Oliver, who returns with Charles and Mabel, isn't thrilled but accepts that he has to try so the trio can hopefully reunite with Lucy before anything bad happens.

Elsewhere on the first floor, Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) tries to casually point out to fellow tenant/therapist Grover (Russell G. Jones) a subletting tenant (Jason Veasey) he's got a crush on. Though Grover encourages Howard to ask the guy out — they live on the same floor — Howard points out that a ton of very bad things could happen: "I could weep. I could vomit. I could burst into flames." I should take my theory from previous weeks about Howard being involved in some way in Bunny's murder back, because ... my goodness, dude, relax.

On the stairs, Oliver is dragging, unwilling to climb further in part because he dreads opening up the DNA test — which has been a subplot I feel like we've been waiting to resolve for an episode or two too many. Mabel tries to get both Charles and Oliver to focus, after they talk about their respective knee surgeries. What gets to Oliver is the encouragement from his friends to leave behind a large bag of dips he got from the Pickle Diner behind. "Hips before dips, Oliver," Mabel chides him, leading to I think the funniest, biggest laugh of the season to date, as Oliver treats the dips like he's Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Last of the Mohicans": "Stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you!" Listen, I appreciate a good Michael Mann reference, and that is a good and unexpected Michael Mann reference.

Yodel shop

In Charles' apartment, Lucy tries and fails to send another text to Charles to see when he's coming back home (little does she know how close he is). Howard, in his apartment, tries to get his cat Sevelyn (because she is the seventh Evelyn, as you know) to eat with no success before he tries to enact Grover's suggestion, to ask his cutie-patootie subletter if he's got any batteries ... only to see that said subletter is at his front door, about to ask for batteries of his own. Howard stumbles through an invite inside his own apartment, succeeding in the end. At Nina's, Lester breathlessly delivers the packages and begs to have a seat for just a couple minutes. Though Nina's new baby is asleep, she reluctantly lets him in. Speaking of being let in, Lucy is still alone in Charles' apartment when she hears a noise at the door from someone who very badly wants in. But it's clearly not Charles. Uh-oh. As Lucy escapes to the bathroom, the mystery person — presumably the killer, but you never know, I guess — breaks in with a crowbar. (Mabel, Charles, and Oliver are still two flights down, the former two dragging the third up.)

The mystery person explores Charles' apartment, with a very sharp knife in hand, and very quickly discovers (or re-discovers?) the secret passage leading from the bathroom, a passage that is obviously ajar, as Lucy has entered to hide herself. Finally, our heroes arrive and quickly spot the signs of the break-in. "Glitter Guy — she's running from him!" Mabel says.

And now, we jump back to Howard and his subletter, as they learn more about each other, specifically their joint love of song. Howard, as you may know, loves "yodel shop" which is a weird hybrid of yodeling and barbershop music, which his subletter compliments him on before revealing that he's a chorus boy in the Broadway production of "The Lion King." The fates are even further aligned, as Howard — a librarian by day — learns that his subletter's dream job is a children's librarian. Lester, meanwhile, has just put together the baby bed that Nina had purchased (the package she made him lug up the stairs), chatting away ("it's the doorman in me") before he admits to feeling particularly guilty about Bunny's death, because he presumes he let in the killer without realizing their nefarious intentions.

Behind the walls, Lucy continues to try and hide herself from Glitter Guy, fortunately successful primarily because Glitter Guy hears the noises being made by our three podcasters. Those three podcasters are also behind the walls, but getting lost within the building. "Maybe Marv is right. Maybe we are stuck," Oliver says. (I doubt that, at least within the real show.) Before they can stew much longer, Howard and his subletter inadvertently create some harmony across the building, singing a duet of "The Sound of Silence," the classic Simon and Garfunkel song that gave this episode its title. That duet echoes across the grounds of the Arconia, inspiring the other blacked-out residents to sing, even Oliver and Mabel (because you can't do a show like this and not give Selena Gomez at least a bar or two to sing). Once the song is over, Howard's dream of kissing his subletter is about to come true ... until said subletter sneezes because he's deathly allergic to cats. Drat.

A good thing?

More fortunately, Lucy finds our heroes right at the same time, after which she reveals that she ... maybe, kinda, sorta was at the building the night of Bunny's murder, and that it was the day of her mom's wedding, and that she saw the killer behind the walls. She notes that the only weird thing about the killer, who we know was hiding their face, is that they sneezed. (I would say this means the subletter is up to something, but a) we just met him, and b) he was with Howard at the same time, roughly, as this conversation unfolds. So it can't be him.) Before they can talk too much, they see a flashlight behind them as someone approaches. This someone, who then chases them down the stairs, is heavily jumpsuited with a gas mask on, and as the lights to the building come back on, Mabel uses the retrieved bag of dips to trip this person ... only to take off their mask and reveal that it's Marv.

With the lights back on, Lester now sees the same mock-up of the giant space pod in Nina's apartment, realizing that the extent of her plans are a lot bigger than he realized. Nina, in turn, realizes she was too harsh to Lester before, and offers him a renovated job once the changes get enacted. Howard, meanwhile, is ready to make a change, walking over to his subletter's apartment, lint-roller in hand, offering to give his cat away, lint-roll his clothing, vacuum his house, etc., just to get a date. The subletter happily accepts, and kindly notes that Howard doesn't have to give his cat away.

Meanwhile, our heroes and Lucy are stunned that Marv appears to have killed Bunny, but ... well, we all know he didn't, right? The careful viewer will recall that Marv mentioned in a previous episode that he'd been familiar with the behind-the-walls setup at the Arconia due to his day job working in mold inspection. That, of course, explains the gas mask. But he has to explain why he appears to have been chasing Lucy through the walls. Lucy quickly notes that Marv, in his gas mask, is not who chased her. "I just wanted to be part of it," Marv says, pointing out that his Sixth Avenue Slasher theory is sound. "Marv ... you're not well," Charles says carefully, before Lucy says that Marv and his flashlight managed to scare the killer away. "I did a good thing?" he asks before beaming at the offer to be a part of an episode.

Turning the lights back on

As the episode wraps up, Mabel continues to be confused about how it is that they're no closer to identifying the mystery person who met with Bunny at the diner, and Glitter Guy, before Oliver notes that these may not be the same people. The plot thickens as the trio sees that Lucy is talking to none other than Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport), whom Lucy seems to have informed about the night's events. "I was just in the neighborhood, trying to make sure you guys weren't up to any of your shenanigans," he says in a not-at-all-suspicious way. Mabel notes how weird it is that the detective is just there at this time, and as Kreps tries to pass things off, he's accidentally bumped into by Howard. While nursing his left arm in pain, saying he just got a new tattoo, Mabel notices ... what appears to be a lot of glitter near Kreps' ear, before bidding the detective goodbye.

Okay, so. I write these words without having seen the last two episodes of the season, so please keep that in mind. I really, truly hope that Detective Kreps is not the killer. It's hard to see why he would've gone about things in such a long-winded way — a minute before this glittery reveal, he points out that he saw the viral video of Mabel stabbing the killer on the subway and asking aloud why he doesn't arrest her? If Detective Kreps wants to frame Mabel for Bunny's death, one that he had committed ... well, why didn't he do it already? Why didn't he arrest her? I also feel like there would need to be a whole lot of clarifying in the next two installments about who Kreps is in relation to Bunny Folger — recall that Bunny seemed to know who her killer was, and Kreps was notably absent from the episode flashing back to her final day.

With just two episodes left in the season, it's hard to imagine that we don't already know who the killer is, by which I mean I doubt the show has yet to introduce us to that person even if we don't yet realize they're a murderer. But "Hello Darkness" balances its propulsive A-plot in which Charles, Oliver, and Mabel find Lucy and ensure she doesn't get attacked by a mystery killer with a B-plot in which we're meant to get emotionally closer to Arconia tenants who don't usually get a spotlight. Is it possible that within the next two episodes, we'll find out that one of those tenants is secretly a killer? (Let's be honest, the only two who seem, or have ever seemed, remotely suspicious are Howard and Nina, and this episode goes out of its way to soften both of them in ways that would be undercut if there's a dark reveal in their near-future.)

Detective Kreps being the killer is both technically possible — we really don't know a whole lot about him, so there's plenty of room to fill in his past in ways that would clarify a potential connection to Bunny or Charles' dad, and so on — and yet seemingly impossible creatively, in that there are still two episodes left, and it would seem like one episode too many to give us this key detail. I would imagine there's more room to go with this story, but I am starting to wonder, as the podcast superfans are, when the wheels will stop spinning.


– "There may be more to life than cats." Sorry, doctor, that can't possibly be true, unless you're not referring to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

– "Shut up." "...That's our slogan." This exchange served as the second biggest laugh of the episode for me.

– Two bits of wheel-spinning that I want to call out. First, the DNA test with Will and Oliver and Teddy, and please, just open up the test. Please. Or resolve it somehow. I'm a big fan, speaking of mystery shows, of the way that "Veronica Mars" resolved its own DNA mystery between father and child, in that it didn't really matter what the results said. I don't mind if Will isn't biologically Oliver's son, because the two of them clearly love each other.

– Two straight weeks of the show ignoring the whole thing with Alice (Cara Delevingne) making an art installation that recreates Mabel's life, to the point where Alice is neither seen or mentioned again. Still weird!