Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu
One of the biggest mysteries of this season is the details of Meryl Streep’s contract with the guest star. Was there a certain number of episodes you committed to? Were all of her scenes for the entire season filmed consecutively? Who came up with the idea for Willie Nelson’s braids? Since she obviously won’t be playing a background actress in group scenes that don’t involve her, Meryl has been going in and out of the show every couple of weeks for big Loretta moments, and fortunately for us, this is another one of her episodes.
In fact, it’s such a Loretta episode that she kicks things off with a voiceover that digs back into her past. Some of what we learned isn’t new, like how she fell in love with theater after watching it Without restrictions He moved to New York to pursue it. But we found out that she got pregnant in between those life events and put the baby up for adoption to fulfill her dream. As some suspected, this child was actually Dickey, and thanks to his relationship with his famous brother, Loretta was able to follow her son’s life from afar. This explains her book of newspaper clippings, all of which feature Dickie in the background of Ben’s success – which Loretta discovers was taken from her apartment.
She explains that when she saw Ben Glenroy was performing on Broadway, she knew it was her chance to finally meet Dickie. So she made her way to the audition and eventually booked the role. She writes all this down in an explanatory letter to Dickie, which she plans to give him after the show ends. The sitzprobe is the first rehearsal in which the actors perform with the orchestra, and, as Loretta’s voiceover says, it is the place where the actors have opportunities to change their choices for the better. These voiceovers love a good double meaning.
As the bench prepares to investigate, Mabel appears. Our estranged trio is finally reunited. She tells them that her gut is telling her that Dickie is the killer, and Oliver is thrilled to join any suspect who isn’t part of his team.
As the cast performs a booming rendition of “Creature of the Night” (a title I can’t hear without thinking of the end of “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” from the movie “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me.” Rocky Horror), they all receive news alerts on their phones that Greg’s name has been cleared of Ben’s murder – and he has been released. Now, this is great news because we know that he didn’t kill Ben, it was him an act He kidnapped Charles and Mabel and tried to kill them with a crème brûlée torch, right? So maybe they could have kept him in custody because of that? Anyway, just as Loretta says in her line: “Who goes there?” The doors opened and Detective Williams answered, “NYPD, you bastards.”
“The killer is someone in this room,” she announces as if she were an Agatha Christie heroine before being momentarily distracted when she recognizes Kemper, whom she saw playing Roxy in chicago. An essential part of any theatrical experience (even if you’re going there to investigate a murder) is trying to put into another actor what you saw.
Oliver is able to convince Detective Williams to conduct her interrogations in the theater, so as not to disable their seating probe (and to prevent the show from having to pay for a second filming location). But the police seated presence, while not ideal, isn’t nearly as bad as the other presence that producers Donna and Cliff discovered in the audience. They are horrified to learn that Oliver has invited Maxine, the theater critic who told him that the opening night show did not “sing”. Sitzprobes is no place for critics, but that’s how desperate Oliver is to get her approval.
While Charles awkwardly tries to spy on Williams’ investigation, Howard pulls Mabel away and says he’s had a big hit on the case. He takes her to KT’s office and explains that when the cops arrived he rushed there to tear up the “Papa Smurf Skeleton Story”, if I heard him right (I hope I didn’t). It was then that he discovered that the shredder was the mysterious noise he heard from the locked room on opening night. Someone was tearing something up, and Howard is convinced he can put the torn papers back together to solve the case.
Speaking of incriminating papers, Oliver confesses to Loretta that he stole her book full of newspaper clippings from her apartment. He says she doesn’t owe him an explanation… but he still wants one. He assures her that he doesn’t think she’s the killer, and that Mabel actually thinks she’s Dickie. This is not as comforting to Loretta as he thinks – now she is worried about her son being the target of the investigation.
While Mabel searches for duct tape to use on Howard’s crime-stopping work, Loretta approaches her and awkwardly tries to snoop to get details of the investigation. Mabel doesn’t budge, noting that a killer often tries to insert herself that way, but Loretta says her interest stems from her worry of missing her long-awaited big break. Being a late bloomer, Mabel throws Loretta a bone, admitting that Dickie is the prime suspect. Eager to get her son’s attention, Loretta brings up some other possibilities like Bob and KT, but Mabel doesn’t bite.
It’s finally time for Charles to perform his patter song — “all 2 minutes and 46 seconds,” Oliver says, as if it were Ariana Grande’s longest song. Despite being in serious danger of becoming a train wreck, Charles avoids the white room and knocks the song out of the park like a regular Matthew Broderick. As he walks away, Oliver sets off on an errand of his own, Loretta notices the cops talking to Dickie, and Mabel and Howard try (and fail) to put pieces of paper together. As they were about to give up, Mabel saw a box of rat poison near the shredder and reinvested in this theory. Howard got a little lead after putting together some clippings showing the date of opening night, so Mabel encouraged him to keep going.
Meanwhile, Mabel rejoins Oliver and Charles to see if they have better luck spying on Detective Williams (based on what we’ve seen, I’d say probably not). But all is not as it seems because it turns out that their failed eavesdropping attempts were actually part of a carefully orchestrated conspiracy. Knowing that she is a theater fan, Charles murmurs the patter song in front of her to pique her interest, and Oliver then tells her that Charles’ performance was definitely a train wreck, knowing that she wants to see for herself. Taking the bait, she left the interrogation room to watch Charles, giving Oliver the opportunity to penetrate the room using Tobert’s GoPro, which was able to capture the rest of her interrogations in full. “This seems so unnecessarily complicated,” says impressed Mabel before we have time to wonder why they couldn’t just leave the GoPro in there to begin with. Anyway, the gang is back together.
Meanwhile, Loretta finds Dickie, and the pair talk about opening night. “He said I was dead to him,” Dickey says of his fight with Ben, but he’s not upset about the way things turned out between them. Instead, he explains, in those few moments after the initial poisoning, when he thought his brother was dead, he finally felt free. When he came back to life, he was “trapped” again. “I couldn’t take it anymore… you understand,” he says, flirting with confession. Guilt-filled Loretta tells him he doesn’t deserve any of this, and feels responsible for putting him in this position.
It’s almost time to perform her number, but just before that, Oliver talks to Maxine, who likes what she sees. She calls it “pure Oliver Putnam.” He’ll have to wait for the official review before finding out if it “sings.” Taking advantage of that good news, he pulls Loretta aside to tell her that he trusts her, doesn’t care about the book, and tells her that he loves her. Then take the stage.
While Loretta sings her song, Mabel and Charles look through her purse, finding the scrapbook and the letter she intended to give to Dickie explaining everything. Then, just as she sings, “If you want these kids, you gotta pass me by,” the cops start taking Dickie away. Horrified, Loretta stopped the song and screamed, “I did it! I did it!” You killed Ben!
Loretta is supposed to take responsibility for her son, but that seems very neat and tidy considering we still have two episodes left. We don’t know for sure if Dickie was actually guilty and needed to fall on her sword like that. Based on their earlier conversation, it seems possible that someone else might have poisoned Ben, and Dickie liked him dead so much that he finished the job in the elevator. However, if Loretta’s confession was a lie, it would be easy to expose him. I think this may be the case because I still think Schmackary’s cookies had something to do with this.
After his co-star and love interest are put away in handcuffs, Oliver suffers another heart attack. Not since Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark It has been so cursed.