The first season of Only Murders in the Building was great. The cast had excellent chemistry, each character was well-developed and the mystery built into the series was pretty compelling as well. Much like an Agatha Christie mystery, we get a bunch of red herrings before the revelation at the end. We knew immediately that there was going to be a second season since things ended on a cliffhanger in Season 1.
Mabel (Selena Gomez) is discovered holding a dead Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) in her apartment, and all eyes are on the trio as the possible suspects of her murder. Heading into season 2, the main question on my mind was if the show would be able to keep that chemistry and momentum.
Spoiler: it does.
What’s so great about the show is how it keeps its focus keenly on its characters. It’s not simply a formulaic rehash of Season 1, as our characters have grown and progressed. Mabel’s finally ready to put the past behind her, and is eager to embrace her possibilities as an artist, as well as falling into a new relationship with Alice (Cara Delevingne). Oliver’s (Martin Short) still into his dips – not the healthiest diet choice – but also spending more time with his son Will (Ryan Broussard), and Charles (Steve Martin) reconnects with step-daughter Lucy.
They’re all receiving their own individual opportunities: Charles is in a reboot of Brazzos, Oliver potentially adapting the podcast for a limited series – and keeping these opportunities depend on clearing their names. This means their podcast is back in production, and the trio begin their investigation into Bunny’s murder.
As with the first season, Season 2 is stacked with well-known guest stars. Tina Fey resumes her role as Cinda Canning, now becoming more of an antagonist as she pokes around in their lives for her own podcast. Amy Schumer plays herself, moving into the apartment Sting used to stay in. While there are some fun interactions, it’s not really as funny as the Sting moments were in the first season. She comes in really strong, and the humour doesn’t really work within the context of the show. We also get Shirley MacLaine as Bunny’s mother Leonora Folger, and she’s great. Delevingne is another familiar face, and while I like that they gave Mabel a new love interest, Delevingne’s acting was a bit of a miss for me.
As is normal with the show, we get an episode dedicated to Bunny’s last day. In a stark contrast to our first season impression of Bunny, who’s loud and abrasive, her last moments are sadder and carry within them a certain bleakness regarding old age and time. She’s aware that she has to retire yet also realises that retiring means her life becomes pretty empty. After all, running the Arconia is all she does. How is she going to spend her days now? There’s also this tussle between keeping the history and culture of the Arconia or moving it into the 21st century. The building is very much a character of its own – we discover more secret pathways, and discover how the murderer was able to get away so quickly after killing Bunny.
Despite Mabel’s desire to move on from the past, she’s still revisiting that moment of when she found Bunny in her apartment. Her memory’s fragmented, everything’s in bits and pieces, and she wonders if she could have played a part in her murder. Could she have accidentally stabbed her, after mistaking her for an intruder? She doesn’t know. As Cinda’s investigation into their lives deepen, Mabel is forced to reckon with painful memories she’s repressed. She has to do a lot of the legwork on her own, but Charles and Oliver are always there to support her. The best thing about the show is the relationship between these three characters, all broken in their own ways, becoming a family and support system for each other.
One of the key conceits in the previous season lied in the transitions between the fantasy and reality, like how Oliver envisions the suspects auditioning for the role of murderer in Season 1. This season we get an episode that slips between the party game ‘Murderer’ and a real party the trio attend. Oliver is revealed to possess a party trick we’ve never seen before, an ability to discern when someone’s holding a secret. The cuts between the 80s party looks and the modern day aesthetic is so well done, and it’s one of the more enjoyable episodes visually. As haphazard as Oliver appears to be sometimes, we are reminded here that he has his skills, that each member of the trio brings something to the table, which is what makes them such a great team.
While the celebrity guest stars in Season 1 were more effective and fit in more with the vibe of the show, Season 2 is still a pretty fun time due mainly to the efforts of Martin, Short and Gomez. As long as the show continues to focus on the central trio and their relationship, it will continue to be a good time.
Review screener provided.
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