Inside the Arconia: Exploring the Mysteries and Intrigues of ‘Only Murders in the Building’

2023-10-06 05:40:37

In at least one of the comments corresponding to the two previous seasons of “Only Murders in the Building” we mentioned a detail that is undeniable, but that at the same time we all let pass by that tacit agreement in favor of the verisimilitude of a story: Inside the Arconia, that luxurious condominium located in New York where our protagonists Mabel (Selena Gómez), Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) live, and where the crimes of the previous seasons occurred, there are no cameras. security. And if there are, they are damaged, in the wrong area, or no one is interested in using them to decipher what could be behind such mysterious disappearances.

Once this small great detail has been overcome, the series about three neighbors who, in the midst of their great differences in personality and interests, become a kind of detective friends (artisanal, although effective) to lead a Podcast about true crimes (surely so fashionable in the United States, but not yet in Peru), had a great premiere and a fun second season. The magic of those beginnings lay, mainly, in the clumsiness and innocence with which a girl in her twenties and two adults who could even be her grandparents, deciphered clues, suspected everyone and, of course, made mistakes by launching criminal theories.

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Witnessing that kind of intensive course that would transform our protagonists from simple curious people into specialists in solving crimes was very well adorned by a series of factors that made “Only Murders in the Building” one of the great television surprises that emerged in the last time. The list of additions that gave a little more weight to the story itself has to do with, for example, the personal drama that Mabel, Charles and Oliver faced in their daily lives. The first, a young woman who lives alone in the Big Apple. The second, a sitcom veteran who was never able to ‘reengage’ with the small screen. And the third, an almost retired theater director who, furthermore, along the way discovers that his only child – a veterinarian of few words – was not actually his.

To the mystery of solving crimes and the personal drama of the protagonists, “Only Murders in the Building” added a combination of undoubtedly solvent technical and artistic elements. The background music transported us with the same ease to tense moments as to happy ones. The scenography was convincing inside the Arconia in the first season, although it did not fail when – already in the second – it had to open to the outdoors. The cast of secondary characters always seemed like a set of pieces of a large puzzle: gossiping old women, unexpected fans, fearful doormen, and even grumpy police officers. Up to this point, everything seemed as close to harmony as possible.

These strengths, added to the undeniable talent of Steve Martin and Martin Short, and the drive that Selena Gómez gave them, unleashed positive reviews in the press, laudatory reviews in magazines, nominations and also awards. Although none of this took away from the fact that, at the end of the second season, a reasonable doubt began to be projected on the television screen: how far can this story go? How to continue something without making it repetitive?

Perhaps the great chance to answer these questions was the third season. Released last August 8, this new installment of “Only Murders in the Building” raised expectations because weeks before the premiere we already knew that two great actors would appear on screen: the Oscar winner, Meryl Streep, and the sought-after protagonist of “Ant Man”, Paul Rudd. Although we had already seen famous people in the previous seasons (Tina Fey as the Podcaster Cinda Canning or the singer Sting playing himself), it is the first time that the figures joined together to be characters of vital importance.

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The new season of the Star Plus series begins with the achievement of Oliver Putnam’s great dream: returning to direct in a big way, on Broadway. For this purpose, the character played by Martin Short had to select a cast after a long time. And beyond calling on well-known people like Charles Haden Savage himself, the director has as his two big bets, firstly, Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), a veteran actor in police series who, not even in the twilight of his career, he is no longer the usual cretin. And, secondly, Loretta Durkin (Meryl Streep), a talented, although complicated actress who will star not only in a strong rivalry with Ben, but also in a sinuous romance with Oliver himself.

Quickly in the first episode, Ben dies “twice.” A few seconds after the curtain rises on the play in which he stars, he falls collapsed and bleeding on the stage. And although – a couple of hours later – he appears at the premiere party saying “that in reality he was only dead for an hour”, only a few minutes passed before he collapsed on the roof of an elevator, under the watchful eyes of our protagonists, and the renegade neighbor Uma Heller (Jackie Hoffman). The key question, then, quickly becomes clear to viewers. If everyone hates Ben Glenroy, who could have killed him?

Martin Short, Selena Gómez and Steve Martin in a scene from the third season of Only Murders in the Building.

It is clear that neither Streep nor Rudd himself need an introduction. Its addition in the current season of “Only Murders in the Building” is understood from the attempt to “remove” the Arconia plot. Along these lines, although we will continue to see Oliver, Charles and Mabel crossing out possible perpetrators on the blackboard located inside their houses, a large part of the story will have another location: the theater, with everything that this entails (dressing rooms, seats, stairs , ticket offices, etc.). We are not, however, facing the only change in the series produced by John Hoffman. Several of the strengths we identified in seasons one and two have disappeared or been toned down as much as possible. For example, the clumsiness of our protagonists on their path to the truth has been transformed into a level of experience attributable to a conspicuous private detective. And although Mabel is the youngest and fastest of the three, today she is no longer a teenager who marvels at discovering clues, but rather something very similar to an expert in criminal Podcasts. She has mutated.

Even if the making of the Podcast itself – episode after episode – captured us in the initial stages, today we can barely see a pair of microphones throughout the 10 episodes of the third season. There are no more trials and errors. Also no allusions to the followers that are gained if things go well, or to the popularity lost if you stop uploading content. So, the Podcast seems to have remained an ‘accessory’ element that rather accompanies a mystery story: the crime of Ben Glenroy at the hands of one of his companions.

Meryl Streep and Martin Short in a scene from Only Murders in the Building season 3.

None of what has been said above has to do with the intention of disappearing the element that the Podcast means in this story. If they wanted to, Tina Fey wouldn’t have reappeared as Cinda Canning this season. But leaving this tool aside, the current season of “Only Murders in the Building” also has a series of scattered elements that, when viewed together, generate some confusion. Just think, for example, of Joy (Andrea Martin), the old makeup artist who fell in love with Charles during his “Brazzos” days. If at the end of last season it seemed that our protagonist managed to fit into a stable relationship, throughout these new episodes, the bond with Joy is as sinuous as it is inexplicable: they need each other, they can’t stand each other, they want to get married, they break up, do they come back? ? They separate, do they come back? Although perhaps all this can be attributed to the inability of our protagonists to establish lasting and stable relationships. She spent it with Mabel in seasons 1 and 2, and she spent this third season with Oliver alongside Loretta Durkin.

Finally, and although neither Streep nor Rudd require an introduction, it is time to develop what and how they do it within an already consolidated series like this. The first plays an experienced actress who, without major successes on the agenda, directs her energies to perhaps the greatest purpose of her mature stage: revealing to a man (Dickie Glenroy / Jeremy Shamos) that she is his real mother. In terms of interpretation, Streep denotes solvency by reflecting the pain of a mother who hides great sadness. The same capacity is abundantly clear when she must take the stage and perform moving melodies about motherhood and filial love.

Andrea Martin, Steve Martin and Martin Short in a scene from Only Murders in the Building season 3.

We could say that Rudd, who has a long artistic career, follows the same path, although many in recent times may link him more with the humor of his role in the Marvel Universe. The one born in New Jersey successfully embodies an artist with two dimensions: that of a cretin who, victim of his ego, mistreats anyone who stands in front of him, and that of a man who, drowned in his loneliness, is completely overcome. for depression. On both sides of the coin, Rudd is convincing, generating anger first and empathy later. Always with the same intensity.

Although the performances of Streep and Rudd leave no doubt, perhaps the feeling of debt comes from their insertion into a plot that, unlike those presented in the previous seasons, seems somewhat disordered and, at times, lacking freshness and naturalness. of the beginnings. Maybe it’s just a matter of waiting for the writers to do better in the already confirmed fourth season.


Elenco: Martin Short, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, Paul Rudd

Synopsis: Mabel, Oliver and Charles will try to discover who is responsible for the death of Ben (Paul Rudd), the protagonist of Oliver Putnam’s new play.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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