Only Murders in the Building – Season 3 Episode 4 “The White Room” Recap & Review

The White Room

Episode 4 of Only Murders in the Building begins with a familiar voice. After initially seeing Mabel scope out new apartments in New York since her aunt will be selling the one in Arconia, we welcome back Cinda Canning to this season. And her presence is actually very cleverly placed as well. You’ll realize it is strategic and a lighthearted callback to Tina Fey’s annoyingly ingenious character.

Clad in a beautiful white overcoat and black boots, Mabel sweats over the monthly rental for a 480 sq ft one bedroom apartment – $4800. And it is in high demand too. With no income sources or savings, Mabel decides to “let this one go….”

Charles has big news. Joy, his erstwhile hairdresser, has moved in with him. It is indeed a huge change in his life but he seems surprisingly calm. His blase reaction, though, is just a ruse, as we see Charles’ underlying anxiety about these big changes when he performs a “patter song” for Oliver. Context: since Charles cannot sing, Oliver hands him a song where he disseminates information but does not sing. Technically, it qualifies as rap – the last thing you’d expect Charles-Haden Savage to do.

Charles finds a way around his inability to do the patter song – by making an omelette. So, when he gets on stage, Charles mimics making an omelette while “not singing.” Oliver asks him not to do so and Charles descends into what is called “the white room.” Jonathan, who is in the audience, explains it as “a limbo” of sorts where the actors go when they lose themselves and blackout. When Charles regains consciousness, he finds himself without pants and uncomfortably lodged in the children’s basket.

Meanwhile, Mabel wants the speed of their investigation to be expedited. Charles and Oliver have had their distractions lately and she is the only one who is focused. She wants to go to the theatre and confirm a theory of hers. She thinks that Kimber poisoned Ben over their spoiled affair using her anti-ageing serum.

Mabel and Oliver go together as Howard lets them in. They are surprised to find Kimber already in one of the dressing rooms. She explains that she runs her cosmetics business from this place – for now, at least.

While Charles and Oliver go rummaging in Ben’s room, Mabel occupies Kimber. During their chit-chat, Mabel struggles with how focused and hardworking Kimber is. Not only does she act, but she also has her cosmetic business and simultaneously strives to build her loyal online community. This rests in stark contrast to Mabel’s work ethic which is basically non-existent. More importantly, though, Kimber reveals that she did not have an affair with Ben. She wanted him to endorse her serum online. But he backed out at the last minute after promising to help.

That is why Kimber decided to “sell” Ben’s opening night gift – the hanky. Mabel wears a disappointed look on her face but immediately brightens up when Kimber tells her about Ben’s “red mark.” On opening night, Ben started panicking after seeing the mark. He called someone to help clear it out and it actually worked.

Charles and Oliver call Mabel to Ben’s room to show her the words “Fu*king pig” written on the mirror with red lipstick. Mabel quietly keeps the lipstick in her pocket. 

Mabel decides to pay Cinda a visit since she wouldn’t stop texting her. Cinda has embraced a new identity for her online fans. She pretends to have gone on a retreat and seemingly returned a changed person at peace with herself. The validation has brought her back on track. To Mabel’s sheer surprise, Cinda wants to pair up with her. Since Poppy is gone – well, arrested is a better characterization – she wants a new partner.

Mabel has proven her mettle with her “Bloody Mabel” podcast. Cinda also makes a valid point that Oliver and Charles, though capable people, have been vaguely distracted. Mabel recognizes that Cinda is actually right but does not commit, even though she offers her a lot of money, which Mabel desperately needs.

Charles has yet another “white room” moment, prompting Oliver to settle him down about Joy. He suggests that Charles ask Joy to move out since he isn’t ready to be with her yet. As an exchange, Oliver decides to ask Loretta for dinner. As Charles is trying to articulate himself to Joy, he has another blackout and ends up making his situation worse. He is on one knee and asks Joy to marry him. Mabel and Oliver walk in as Joy jumps in “joy.”

In another huge twist, Joy  gladly takes “her” lipstick from Mabel’s hands, indicating that she might have written the insult on Ben’s mirror. 

The Episode Review

As I was thinking about what to make of episode 4, something emerged to me. The reason why OMITB is consistently so good is because of its ability to repeat patterns. They have been present in almost all its episodes across each season. The creators of the show are efficient storytellers. They recognise the urgency of the evolving dynamics of the story and actively adjust. Take this episode as an example. The guys are distracted so boom, bring in a lovable character and fill a gap for Mabel’s problems both with her money situation and her investigating.

The suspicion has been taken off one character? Boom, introduce a new suspect right away. These seamless segues are done in such a balanced way that allow for plenty of insights into our protagonists.

Charles and Oliver’s aching loneliness has been an unexplored issue thus far. Episode 4 finally brings to the surface their relationship troubles. The creative expression of the white room is inspired. The subtle humour remains classy. Let’s hope we have the same to report about the next episode.

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You can read the Season 3 review of Only Murders in the Building here!

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