Who killed Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell)? Well, that is what the titular podcast Only Murders in the Building created by Charles-Hayden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez)are planning on solving. Once they clear their names as suspects in this new case of course. After the cliffhanger in season one, released last year, Mabel is the main suspect, covered in Bunny’s blood with her knitting needles protruding from the deceased. The three strangers/building acquaintances turned podcasters when last we saw them were celebrating surviving a life-threatening event so the question then becomes, why would Mabel kill Bunny immediately after helping to solve another murder case of one of her old friends?
For fans of the show Only Murders in the Building, season 2 picks up right where the first left off, never once slowing down or catching the dreaded sophomore slump. No, the isolated but full of life world of the Arconia is once again facing a crisis of a murderer on the loose. At first, Charles, Oliver and Mabel decide to take a break and leave the podcasting world behind to focus on clearing their names. If you happen to leave podcasting however, podcasting will never leave you. When one coincidence after the next starts popping up, all three decide to make their grand return for the podcast Only Murders in the Building season 2.
Writers of the show don’t hold back on the self-awareness and every time a “Season 2” is referenced about the titular podcast, the joke lands the same, never once getting old or feeling played out. To the series as a whole, it’s the icing on cake, a nice little touch to the comedy that stands on its own but is balanced well by the dramatic moments of unsolved traumas and the overall murder mystery shrouding the Arconia and its inhabitants like a black cloud.
Competing against the main podcast is ‘Only Murderers in the Building’ which is controlled by Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) and her assistant Poppy (Adina Verson) looking to pin Bunny’s murder on Mabel and expose her for the monster they think she is. So not only are Charles, Mabel, and Oliver racing against the clock to solve another murder they find themselves at the heart of, they are racing against fellow podcasters for the scoop. Just like with the previous season, not all is what it seems. Breadcrumbs are placed to follow the detached thread that will eventually lead to the guilty party at the conclusion of the season 2 narrative.
At the center of Only Murders once again is 3 outstanding lead performances from an unlikely trio. 2 of which, Steve Martin and Martin Short work well already but the addition of Selena Gomez is an unstoppable force of nature, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. Gomez’s dry sarcasm nearly outshines Short’s delicious slapstick. Add in Martin’s sweet innocence and the three together are a match made in comedy heaven. Gomez is mostly well known for her music however, her acting muscles, more importantly her comedic timing and delivery is on par with the two legends she works beside.
Not to be overlooked is the main story pushing the season forward, the murder mystery, setting the stage, creating an intricate web of corruption, lies, deception and different suspects who could pull off a murder of this caliber all while pinning it on innocent people. Branching off are different yet intriguing sub-plots that can stand on their own two feet and are given the proper amount of time to fully develop only to be wrapped up in a neat bow once episode 10 airs. Established characters that made their introductions in season 1 are given more while new characters are introduced to the game. All represent chess pieces on the board for Bunny’s killer.
The real question is who would take on Sting’s apartment? The answer may be welcoming to some, though I’m glad that subplot didn’t amount to anything major as the season progresses.
Full of a variety of characters, the Arconia houses a diverse group of people, perfectly depicting life on the Upper West Side. Making their brief return is Teddy and Theo Dimas (Nathan Lane & James Caverly), getting an expanded role is Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton), and the doorman Lester (Teddy Coluca). Joining the list of growing suspects is newcomer Alice (Cara Delevigne) a mysterious love interest for Mabel that turns out to play a bigger role in the grand finale. I found myself engrossed in the Oliver and his son Will’s (Ryan Broussard) sub-plot – it holds the most weight in the season followed closely by Charles and Lucy (Zoe Colletti).
Subtly, Only Murders casts a commentary on podcasts and the growing popularity of the true crime genre many put their effort toward. For the 10 episodes, the NYPD is obsolete, leaving a trio of untrained amateurs to muddy the waters in search for answers. Podcasters have the ability to be an impartial judge that may come across new clues or uncover a hidden secret but for most of the season, the detectives of New York’s finest are M. I. A. Being caught up in the hysteria that unfolds forgives this eye-opening detail but it’s there, lurking in the shadows. Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) comes and goes and is constantly struggling to keep up with the trio while newcomer detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport) is the foul mouthed ahead of the curve yet sloppy aggressor. When given screen time, both give their all toward the overall narrative, but more time should have been allotted for their talent.
Season 2 easily recaptures the magic season 1 created – staying grounded and intimately focused on the leading trio but expanding on already established characters and introducing new ones that will have longevity in the next season. We come for the intricate murder mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end but stay for the characters, their chemistry, and the flare for the theatricality. Quietly, Only Murders has become one of the best new series staying consistent in its model of storytelling. With Season 3 coming, you better jump on board before missing an invite to play “Son of Sam”.
Created By: Steve Martin & John Hoffman
Episodes Directed By: John Hoffman, Jude Weng, Cherien Dabis, Chris Teague & Jamie Babbit
Music By: Siddhartha Khosla
Cinematography: Chris Teague & Dagmar Weaver-Madsen
Starring: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne, Amy Ryan, Tina Fey, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ryan Broussard, Adina Verson, Michael Rapaport, Zoe Colletti, Shirley MacLaine
Where to Watch: Hulu
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%