Who would’ve thought Ben Glenroy’s blockbuster CoBro franchise had so much subtext? That’s a fun fact learned in the 7th episode of Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building, fittingly titled “CoBro.” This episode also features an extraordinary guest star. You’ll never believe who Matthew Broderick plays!
Episode 7: “CoBro” – Written by Ben Philippe and Jake Schnesel
“Believe it or not, I love people,” The Arconia’s resident grouch Uma Heller (Jackie Hoffman) shares in the introduction. “Some people,” she corrects. In a flashback, we see Uma with her best friend, Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), having lunch at The Pickle Diner. Uma splits her sandwich, sliding the other half over to her best friend. Uma’s narration explains that what she trusts more than people is things, a way to keep people with her forever. She’s a bit of a kleptomaniac, with an organized closet full of items she took from people. In that lunch memory, Bunny was playing with a pink fidget spinner. It’s now in Uma’s collection. And in another flashback memory, Uma is in the lobby when the elevator doors open. Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) rushed out moments before the dead body of Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd) crashed through the ceiling onto the floor. As Uma’s eyes take in the sight, they narrow on the bloody handkerchief in Ben’s hand.
Charles enters The Pickle Diner for breakfast and sits in the booth adjacent to Uma’s. “Don’t even think about it,” she warns him as they make eye contact. But as she says it, she puts half her sandwich on a small plate as she reminisces about splitting lunches with Bunny. He tells her about his fight with Oliver and how he lost a friend, too. Uma motions for Charles to join her and share her meal. “It’s tough to lose friends at our age,” she says. Her philosophy is that there are three types of people – “Alive, dead, or dead to me.” She tells Charles that she and Bunny would often have fights, which always resolved with time as both forgot what they were mad about. Charles seems to think that Oliver and Mabel will reach out to apologize soon. When the bill comes, Uma slides it to Charles and says, “Thanks for breakfast.” As she stuffs sugar packets in her purse, Charles recognizes Ben Glenroy’s blood-stained handkerchief and confronts her about it. “He wasn’t gonna use it,” she snaps as she rushes away.
Mabel has called her old friend Theo Dimas (James Caverly) to help her pack up her things in her aunt’s apartment. Through American Sign Language, they talk about her fight with Oliver and Charles. “I don’t need them,” she tells Theo, adding that she’s the only one who cares about the case. Theo suggests that she reach out to Ben’s brother, Dickie. He’s a fan of CoBro and saw that he is hosting a silent auction for some of Ben’s collection in the penthouse today.
Oliver is wasting no time in filling Charles’ role in Death Rattle Dazzle. He sits in his apartment with mother/son producing team Donna (Linda Emond) and Cliff (Wesley Taylor), watching multiple actors who look like Brazzos audition in misery. Donna votes that Oliver beg Charles to return, saying he was the closest they had to a celebrity in the cast. When Oliver refuses, Cliff announces he has an idea for a perfect replacement.
Charles enters an elevator full of men around his height and age, all with white hair. The other men wish him good luck. “That Putnam guy is a monster,” one of the men (Sprague Theobald) tells him. Charles is shocked that Oliver is already auditioning for his replacement. He goes directly to Oliver’s apartment and opens the door to see Matthew Broderick (played by Matthew Broderick) auditioning with the patter song, not stumbling over any lyrics. Oliver, Donna, and Cliff give Matthew Broderick a standing ovation. Cliff reveals that he met the famous actor while sheltering during Superstorm Sandy. The conversation is interrupted when Matthew Broderick recognizes the star of Brazzos watching them. Charles rushes to the door and rings the bell. When Oliver comes to him, Charles lies and says he was inspecting everyone’s doorbells to help Lester. It’s revealed that Matthew Broderick and Charles Haden Savage already knew each other, with Charles claiming that Matthew stole the role of Ferris Bueller from him (Broderick points out that Charles was 41 years old when Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was made).
Ben Glenroy’s apartment is a shrine to his entire career, with a giant CoBro statue in the entrance hall. Mabel is surprised by how enthralled Theo is with all the CoBro paraphernalia. He signs to her that through the premise, the franchise is actually about shedding labels. Theo tells her that Ben Glenroy came up with the idea as a kid, pointing out one of the auction items – Ben’s first drawing of CoBro from when he was a child. Theo takes a picture of it on his phone. Ben’s brother and manager, Dickie Glenroy (Jeremy Shamos), finishes a phone call that sounded heated and then approaches them. Mabel lies about being a big CoBro fan. Dickie asks which movie is her favorite, and she glances at Theo, who signs answers to her. Mabel asks about the phone call, and Dickie grows cold. “If you came looking for a juicy nugget for your podcast, you can try somewhere else,” he says. He rants about how people keep trying to make money off his brother now that he’s dead. Ironically, he then rushes to another person who entered the auction and announces a starting bid of $5,000 for the item they’re interested in.
Matthew Broderick brags about his theater credits to Oliver, claiming to be the sole reason that Mel Brooks adapted The Producers as a stage musical (Fun fact: Nathan Lane was Broderick’s famous costar in the show, who played Theo’s father, Teddy Dimas). Broderick tells Oliver that he fully commits to a role when he signs on and tells him he will need his help to fully become the constable.
Meanwhile, Charles had a hard time drowning out the sound of Matthew Broderick rehearsing. Even with his apartment windows closed, he can hear it. We see Charles go to his desk and open a drawer. He pulls out his opening night Ben Glenroy gift, the hankie with anchors on it. And then he pulls out a whole bag of them, seeming to have collected them from the rest of the cast and crew. He goes to Uma’s apartment to ask for the bloody hankie, saying it could help him make things right with Oliver and Mabel. She confesses to selling it for $7,000 moments before. Stunned, Charles asks who she sold it to. “One of those snake dweebs upstairs,” she says.
The auction has ended, and Ben Glenroy’s apartment is now empty, save for Dickie, Mabel, and Theo. Mabel goes to Dickie to apologize, saying she knows what it’s like to lose people. Dickie apologizes for snapping at her. “My brother has always been my business,” he explains, adding more backstory. Dickie was adopted because his parents didn’t think they could conceive. Ben was a happy accident, but Dickie shares that his brother was notorious for getting in trouble, and he was always there to clean up the messes for him. In spite of this, Ben had a reputation for being uniquely gifted, while Dickie never got any credit. “The fame, the CoBro franchise,” Dickie elaborates, citing both as things he played a hand in. He was even responsible for keeping Ben on time, setting his clocks and watches to be 20 minutes early. Mabel tells Dickie they owe it to Ben to find his killer. Dickie says they already have, sharing that Gregg had been stalking Ben for years. He blames himself for not taking action against Gregg sooner. And he points out that Gregg was seen leaving The Arconia just after the time of Ben’s death. “I’m sorry, Mabel, there’s no story here,” Dickie concludes.
Mabel and Theo finish taping up boxes in her aunt’s apartment. Mabel looks at the suspect board and realizes something. “Gregg wasn’t here!” She explains to Theo that Ben’s time of death was determined to be 12:06 a.m., but that time was based on the actor’s wristwatch, which had stopped from the fall. Dickie shared that he set Ben’s watches 20 minutes early. “Gregg was gone,” she tells Theo. “He couldn’t have pushed Ben!”
It’s late, and Matthew Broderick has rehearsed the patter song for the 38th time that day. Oliver is in his bathrobe and slippers and looks exhausted. He tries to wrap it up, but Matthew Broderick asks him where the constable is from, rambling about how that fact could change his entire approach to the character. Frustrated, Oliver steps away to his office and calls Mel Brooks (played by Mel Brooks) to ask if he had any problems with Matthew Broderick while making The Producers. “Oh my God,” the legendary comedic director and star gasps. “You didn’t tell him in any way you were open to his ideas, did you?” Oliver returns to Matthew Broderick, who is still rehearsing. “The constable is just the constable,” he snaps.
Tobert (Jesse Williams) arrives at Mabel’s aunt’s apartment with some fancy recording equipment for the podcast. She uses it to narrate her discovery, but as she works through the introduction, she questions if the podcast should be retitled. Tobert suggests “The Bloody Mabel Podcast” (the same name Cinda Canning wanted her to use), and he’s even created mockup artwork. Theo walks in, and Mabel introduces him to Tobert, who recognizes Theo from the podcast. Theo just discovered something about the first drawing of CoBro. It’s signed “B. Glenroy,” but the bottom of the “B” is flattened instead of rounded. He covers up the bottom and it looks like an “R.” Tobert points out that Dickie is a nickname for Richard. Mabel realizes that Dickie is the true creator of CoBro, which is part of what he meant by his claim that Ben always got credit for his work. “That’s motive,” Mabel says, putting Dickie up on the suspect board. She tells Tobert that she wants to record the podcast alone on her phone and then go and get Gregg out of jail. As Mabel unlocks her phone, we see that he wallpaper is a photo of her with Charles and Oliver.
Charles goes to Oliver’s door to make up. Oliver has fired Matthew Broderick and asks Charles to come back to the show. The two chat over a glass of gut milk and Charles tells Oliver about Uma having Ben’s bloody handkerchief. Oliver reveals that he’s been trying to figure out a way to apologize to Mabel. “I really messed up with her,” he says. Charles asks Oliver why he erased the lipstick message on Ben’s mirror. He gets up to grab Loretta’s book and shows her handwriting to Charles. “I don’t think she did it,” Charles says. “Oh God, that means she’s the killer,” Oliver jokes, referring to how many times Charles’ hunches have been wrong. Charles tells Oliver to just talk to Loretta, saying that’s what he should’ve done with Joy. He adds that they should give Loretta’s book to Mabel as a way to apologize.
In the morning, Charles and Oliver knock on Mabel’s door. When it opens, they are shocked to find a woman (Gina Naomi Baez) holding a baby. “Are you the movers,” she asks in frustration. She slams the door in their faces when they answer no. Just then, both of their phones alert them that there’s a new episode of the Only Murders in the Building podcast, the first of Season 3. They listen together as Mabel reveals how Gregg couldn’t have been the one to push Ben Glenroy down the elevator shaft. “Join me, flying solo this time,” Mabel’s narration concludes. She has embraced her new nickname, encouraging listeners to join the conversation by using #BloodyMabel.
We see one more person listening to the podcast. Detective Riswas (Gerrard Lobo) sits at his desk and as it finishes, he picks up the phone. “It’s time to reopen the Glenroy case.”
Back in Ben’s apartment, we see Dickie holding one of the handkerchiefs Ben Glenroy gave to the cast and crew of Death Rattle on opening night. It’s covered in blood stains.
The 8th episode of Only Murders in the Building premieres Tuesday, September 19th, only on Hulu. Here is a description of the next episode, titled “Sitzprobe,” written by Pete Swanson and Siena Streiber.
On the day of the show’s most critical rehearsal, the pressure mounts. A familiar official returns to upend the case, Loretta’s complex past threatens to upend all else and Charles must finally sing his number without losing his marbles.