NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Season 2. Please be advised.
I like Only Murders in the Building. The notion of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez playing three occupants of an affluent Manhattan apartment building who find themselves embroiled in a murder investigation while making their own true-crime podcast could have failed. But all three have a wonderful chemistry together. Both Martin and Short have been working together for years but Gomez managed to be the biggest surprise in the first and still second season. She had a dead-pan delivery of her dialogue that fit in with comedy vets like Martin and Short.
And season two picked up where season one left off with Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), the president of the building, Arconia, being found stabbed in the apartment of Mabel Mora (Gomez), who is covered in her blood. And former TV cop-show actor Charles-Haden Savage (Martin) and theater director Oliver Putnam (Short) are also there when the police arrive. They are questioned by Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who was very critical of their podcast “Only Murders in the Building” in the first season and Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport) who is introduced in the second season. But with little evidence to hold them, they were all set free.
Williams had met all three in season one in which resident Tim Kono, (Julian Cihi), a former friend of Mabel’s, was found dead in his own apartment from what was believed a suicide but it was a murder committed by resident Jan Bellows, (Amy Ryan), a bassoonist who developed a relationship with Charles. With two murders in the building, the rest of the residents became skeptical as we looked into more of their lives.
It turns out that Bunny, who often ruled was an iron-fist, was actually lonely and misunderstood. On the night she was murdered, she had gone back on her word to retire and move . While it was guessed it was the pregnant Nina Lin (Christine Ko), who was set to succeed Bunny, she was later ruled out. A theory that Charles, Oliver and Mabel also came to was that Bunny was killed for having a rare painting belonging to reclusive artist Rose Cooper.
But in the end, it was determined it was none other that Poppy White (Adina Verson), who is the long suffering assistant of podcast superstar Cinda Calling (Tina Fey). It’s also revealed that Poppy is Becky Butler, the subject of Cinda’s popular podcast “All is not OK in Oklahoma” which pointed the disappearance and possible murder to the mayor of Chickasha, Okla., who Becky worked under. Becky was able to get Krebs to help her plant and hide evidence by having a sexual relationship with him and promising him money if they found Cooper’s lost art.
But this leads me to the number of questions I have for this show that I will focus on as follows:
- Why would Poppy/Becky fake her own death as a murder? We see Becky living in an abusive household with her father who appears to be a drunk. She’s also working for the mayor who’s sexually harrassing her. This makes her more sympathetic. But we only get a little bit of her abuse. It’s about 1,500 miles from Chickasha to New York City. I seriously doubt her father or the mayor would track her down?
- Wouldn’t Cinda not know Poppy is Becky? Cinda is not the smartest tool in the shed, but even she would double-check or have her legal team double-check some things? Surely, Cinda would’ve made sure that Becky was in fact mysteriously missing and didn’t just run off. Any picture of Becky would’ve obviously looked like Poppy. Also if Poppy/Becky went back to Chickasha to meet with Krebs, wouldn’t she run the risk of someone recognizing her?
- Why did Poppy/Becky put up with Cinda’s abusive, toxic workplace? You could argue that since Becky was used to the abuse, she jumped from one enviroment to the other, but I find it improbable she would’ve put up with Cinda for so long especially if she was the brains behind the operation.
- Doesn’t the arrest of Poppy/Becky and Krebs make Cinda’s business questionable? Let’s face it, people have been caught in lies before and it’s ruined their careers. Look at Brian Williams or Stephen Glass. I’m not believing Cinda was able to just wipe her hands of all of this. I’m pretty she would be facing a huge multi-million dollar lawsuit for framing the Chickasha mayor even if he is a pervert. But since we don’t hear much of the podcast, we really don’t know all of what they broadcast.
- Why does Shirley MacLaine pop up as Rose Cooper pretending to the Bunny’s mother, Lenora, then disappear for most of the season? This one really upset me because I felt the Cooper painting subplot was eventually dropped halfway through only to keep popping up like an “Oh, yeah, we still have this” subplot. I liked seeing MacLaine but she was hardly in the season that her reveal as the real Cooper seemed more like a deus ex machina than a well-thought plotpoint.
- Why was up with the Amy Schumer cameo? This was another one that basically went nowhere after being built up. Schumer moves into the apartment that was occupied by Sting in the first season. And while they used Sting in a great way, Schumer was almost forgotten after a while.
- Why did they just up and dump Oscar Torres? One of my biggest complaints of series is when they spend one season building up a character than just have them gone in the next season with little explanation. Oscar (Aaron Dominguez) was a friend of Mabel’s who was wrongly convicted for the murder of her friend, Zoe. Mabel and Oscar reconnected after he got out of prison and it seemed like they were going to start a relationship and then, in the first episode of season two, Mabel gives a passing line of dialogue that they’re on their way to splitsville.
- Are we going to see any answers to these questions in season three? It’s common for characters to be missing in one season than reappear in another. We might find out more about Poppy/Becky and Cinda and their podcast. It’s possible that Jan and Poppy/Becky will be cellmates. And Charles might continue to meet with Rose to find out more about his father, since she had a relationship with him.
I’m not saying that I didn’t like the second season. I did. What works is finding out more about these characters. I like that we finally got to see Lucy (Zoe Colletti), Charle’s estranged ex-stepdaughter. I liked how the character of Marv (Daniel Oreskas) knew about the hidden tunnels and crawlspaces in the Arconia. Marv was one of the big fans of the podcast “Only Murders in the Building.” I felt they should have done more with this character since he knew about this.
I didn’t like the addition of Alice Banks (Cara Delevingne) and it’s not because she was Mabel’s love interest. It’s because they really didn’t know what to do with the character. There were 10 half-hour episodes but it seems like they’re should have been more to flesh out some of the new characters. And while Mabel and Alice had their ups and downs, the 10th episode ends with some optimism. But Alice just seem to be an art gallery owner stereotype that’s been done before and better.
But like I said, why the show works so well is how Martin, Short and Gomez embrace their characters and handle the situations they’re thrust in. Martin, who co-created the series with John Hoffman, has hinted that he will most likely retire when the series ends. It’s been renewed for a third season which will probably deal with the death of actor Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), who dies on stage on opening night. Oliver was directing the play and Charles was co-starring. Martin has done some of his best work in years. I especially liked the chemistry he had with Andrea Martin, who plays Joy, Charle’s make-up artist who becomes his love interest.
Who knows if the series will wrap after three seasons or maybe one more. I seriously doubt this can turn into a Law and Order or ER style show that will run for more than a decade.
What do you think? Please comment.