This is Theo's world, and we're all just living in it -- all of us except for Tim and Zoe, that is.
Only Murders In the Building Season 1 Episode 7 is, by far and away, the best episode of an already very strong season. It might be one of my favorite episodes of any show I've ever watched, honestly.
There's more to the episode than just how clever it was -- we've got more answers than we know what to do with.
I KNEW Theo was up to something. I've been saying this since the beginning! He was too subtly conspicuous to be a red herring.
This show is way more intricate than it gets credit for. Everything has been meticulously plotted out. Every shot means something. It's so delicious to watch a show like this, with every morsel potentially a key to solving the mystery.
I sat upright the moment the episode began, and my jaw was on the floor for most of the half-hour, marveling at the sheer inventiveness and artistry of telling a virtually silent story from the perspective of a deaf man.
Not only that, but I was reeling from the many revelations and flashbacks that filled out so many gaps in the narrative. We finally have the whole picture of the night Zoe died.
Seriously, this episode is just genius from start to finish. It starts all Hitchcockian, with Theo reading lips from across the building. Even the music is sparsely done, a few simple piano clinks for a mere sprinkle of the show's theme song.
It's not that the whole episode is silent. It just shows that there are many different ways to tell a story than with spoken dialogue -- texts, ASL, subtitles, music, even a sexy Scrabble game.
Writers Stephen Markley and Ben Philippe deserve heaps of praise for their creativity, as well as director Cherien Dabis for putting it all together.
People talk way too fucking much in this city.Theo
The major key to this episode working so well is a brilliant, heartfelt performance from James Caverly as Theo. Caverly is deaf in real life, which is essential to casting roles like this -- representation matters.
The great thing about Theo is that his deafness isn't played as a disadvantage -- in fact, it gives him the upper hand in a lot of cases.
Theo is a complex character, cowed by his father's intense love. Their relationship is strong and co-dependent. It's not healthy. Teddy only wants what's best for Theo, but in doing so, he has stunted his development as a person and forced him into a life of crime.
Even the song Teddy plays to Theo in the opening sequence -- "Soliloquy" from the musical Carousel -- is about a dad projecting on his kid what he wants him to be, tough and strong and self-reliant. It's such a clear way to show Teddy's misplaced frustration.
Nathan Lane plays it so beautifully -- you can see how much Teddy loves his son and doesn't want to see him suffer. There's the anger that his son has been afflicted with deafness and knowing that even as his father, he can't "fix" his son, no matter how much he wants to.
What he doesn't seem to realize is that it's not Theo's deafness that causes his suffering; it's his father's inability to see his son as an independent, capable human being -- one who, unfortunately, makes some terrible mistakes.
It's so tragic that this accident ten years ago has shaped the rest of his life and forced him into his father's servitude for fear of being found out.
The trio -- Charles, Mabel, and Oliver -- still have plenty to do in this episode.
Mabel does a lot of sneaking around this episode. With Charles, she discovers the secret room in Teddy's apartment.
With Oliver, she scopes out a funeral home. The physical comedy throughout this scene is a hoot. It never crosses the line into "gimmicky" either. Of course, they have to be quiet; they're in a funeral home!
The graverobbing is a bit squicky, but then Teddy had to get his investment money from somewhere. There's just no justification for making his son steal it off of corpses. Yaya Evangalia would not be proud.
Oliver is so deep in my pocket it's tingling my balls.Teddy
Who knew Scrabble could be sexy? Seriously, this was the cutest way to progress Charles and Jan's relationship. It shows that they have a lovely connection and that sometimes there are no words to convey how two people feel about each other.
If Only Murders In The Building Season 1 Episode 5 was our chance to get to know Oscar, this episode gives us a ton of information on the kind of person Zoe was. The verdict? Troubled, and that's putting in mildly.
We've only gotten glimpses of her from Mabel's flashbacks as the fun-loving party girl, but through Theo's eyes, we see the pain she's in. Olivia Reis navigates Zoe's mood swings with mercurial grace. Tragic and self-loathing, she was nonetheless loved by Oscar, Mabel, and Theo, it seems.
Theo: He's not good for you.
Zoe: Oh, I wasn't aware boys were supposed to be good for you.
It's so sad -- quiet, shy Theo found somehow he thought he could really connect with, and she was just playing with him. Maybe she did have real feelings for him, but we'll never know because he's the last person to converse with her before they have a physical altercation that ends in her death.
Every murder mystery needs a femme fatale.
The theme of this episode is silence.
There is the silence that surrounds Theo every day of his life and the silence Teddy forced on Tim Kono. Tim is bullied into not talking about the incident involving Theo and Zoe -- Teddy threatens both Tim's life and Mabel's to protect Theo.
Tim held on to this silence until his death, all to protect Mabel -- and she didn't even know. So, Oscar takes the rap, and Theo goes back to his quiet existence, now without the one person with whom he thought he had a connection.
We see that grief when he rushes to his father's side, distraught at what he's just done, and instead of letting Theo take ownership of his actions, Teddy just wants to do is to fix it, like he's always done.
The fuck is this? The Neverland Ranch of theater bullshit?Zoe
There's still the question of the green ring -- the package Tim was hoping for in Only Murders In the Building Season 1 Episode 1.
Maybe he was hoping to incriminate Teddy and Theo with it, but instead, he got the faux engagement ring and lost his nerve. Perhaps Oscar will be the one to piece it together that Zoe pinched the ring from Teddy's apartment all those years ago.
We still have three episodes to go -- or only have three, depending on how you look at it. At this point, we know -- the audience that is, not the trio -- the secret behind Zoe's death, one of the Arconia murders. What will happen when Mabel finds out?
I don't see Theo being endgame in terms of Tim's death.
There's too much story left to tell for them to have shown us the murder in Episode 7. I'm not saying it wouldn't make sense if it were Teddy or Teddy and Theo, but it feels too early.
Theo did that "they know everything," though, so I could be wrong. We'll just have to wait and see.
Who will be the narrators be for the next few episodes?
It could be anyone. Jan's probably due for one -- what secrets is she hiding that will help solve the mystery?
Will we hear from Teddy? Tim? Lester, the doorman? Oliver's son Will? Mr. Torres, the superintendent? Lucy? (Yeah, I haven't forgotten about Lucy).
Share your thoughts, theories, and suggestions in the comments!
Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.