What to Watch Verdict
Tension continues to build as truth and lies overlap in an episode that pushes the team further into dangerous territory.
Finding out more about Poppy
The return of Sazz (Jane Lynch)
The act of friendship from Charles
Increasing the danger levels
Still too many meta jokes
Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) has mostly existed on the periphery of Only Murders in the Building, but played an essential role in uniting Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short). Canning’s podcast initially brought the trio together and her new series, "Only Murderers in the Building," convinced Mabel to return to the podcasting fold. "Performance Review" gives further insight into Canning's methods via beleaguered assistant Poppy White (Adina Verson) in an episode that puts "Bloody Mabel" back in the spotlight.
Opening each episode with a different narrator is an effective way to get to know characters like Poppy as her ambition shifts into focus. We see her dream up a podcast with the snappy "White Noise" title and she refers to Cinda as a great mentor even though her boss treats her terribly ("You’re letting all the loud air in," Cinda complains). All of this will be worth it when Cinda sees what a good job her assistant is doing, or so Poppy hopes.
On that note, Poppy tracks down an unhappy blast from Mabel’s past, who claims she chopped off his finger in an act of rage, though Mabel’s memory of depicts it as an accident. Still, Cinda is more concerned with supporting her theory that Mabel is an "unhinged murderous beauty." Cinda’s says she has 52 minutes a week to scare and surprise her listeners, a little thing like the truth won't get in her way.
Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport) brings the two podcast teams together to tell them to knock off their investigations as his potentially career-making case is jeopardized by their meddling. He mentions a so-called "parrot theory" that is probably a nod to The Staircase’s bird speculation.
Unable to convince Cinda, Mabel approaches Poppy instead. The assistant tells Mabel she is waiting for her big break. Mabel suggests the best way to help herself is for Poppy to speak up for herself. Later, when Poppy asks for a performance review with the chance for a promotion, Cinda surprisingly agrees. However, she only did this because someone else was in the room, telling Poppy she won’t be getting the producer role. "Don’t be too good at a job you don’t want" is Cinda’s too-late advice and this spurs Poppy to share some information with the main trio.
Poppy calls Mabel to tell her that Cinda is "a monster and a goddess" and a liar. This is not entirely new information, but Poppy knowing where all the "bodies" are buried could be huge. However, Mabel has found herself in a dangerous situation on the subway that requires her immediate attention, so she can’t concentrate on this new ally.
Before we get to Mabel’s subway predicament, we need to go back a bit. Detective Kreps reveals that Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) is out of town on maternity leave. The trio thought they had been texting Detective Williams about the fingerprint they noticed on the Pickle Diner matchbook, but they were talking to someone else. The same person told them to get out of the Arconia on the night Bunny was murdered. So they now believe they have been chatting with the killer. Oops.
Instead of leaving the evidence at the arranged collection point, they rig up a glitter bomb to mark the suspect. Unfortunately, a truth bomb regarding Charles and Jan (Amy Ryan) distracts them when the huge sparkle explosion occurs.
"I think we’re just dating now,” Charles tells his horrified friends before explaining he has never broken up with anyone. Charles also describes Jan as "scary and sexy," suggesting he is way over his head. Between this and the missed opportunity to trap the killer, it's all too much for Mabel. Perhaps she is also fed up with Oliver's meta jokes — or that might just be me.
Mabel walks to Alice’s (Cara Delevingne) place, but is in for a rude awakening here too. Alice has created an installation based on the Arconia murders. Mabel walks in on people dressed like Tim Kono, Zoe Cassidy and Bunny Folger, with Alice wearing clothes to match Mabel on the night Bunny died. When Alice told Mabel, "you inspire me," she meant it.
"Trauma through a fine art lens" is how Alice tries to justify the scene Mabel has walked in on, but unsurprisingly she flees. On the subway, during her conversation with Poppy, Mabel sees a person covered in red glitter slowly approach her. The version we see is a video that just shows "Bloody Mabel" and her knitting needle have struck again. But there is definitely more to this story.
During Mabel’s horrifying trip across Manhattan, Charles deploys his secret weapon to deal with his Jan problem. At the start of the episode, when Charles is at work, Sazz (Jane Lynch) makes her triumphant return as his stunt double to do the things Charles can't. Apparently that also includes acting as an intermediary to break up with Jan. Lynch is brilliant in these scenes, as is Ryan. There is also a hint at a flirtation with Brazzos makeup artist Joy (Andrea Martin); perhaps this love interest won’t try to kill him.
Despite the Jan secret, a nervous Oliver doesn’t ice Charles out. Instead, he takes Charles up on his offer of distraction while he awaits the results of his DNA test. We still don’t know if Will (Ryan Broussard) is Oliver’s biological son, but this act of friendship won’t be forgotten.
Only Murders demonstrates again that there is a lot of heart beneath the jokes. Now the team needs to pull together to find out who the mystery texter is and get to Mabel before it is too late.
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.