In Only Murders in the Building, amateur sleuths Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) use their knowledge of true crime podcasts to catch a killer. However, the trio only had a short window to celebrate because they would quickly become involved in another murder. This time, they are the prime suspects.
The first two episodes effectively establishes the new mystery. The stakes are significantly raised not only because the police see them as persons of interest, but because each has something to lose due to their newly found fame. Charles is cast in the Brazos reboot, Oliver has a potential business venture, and Mabel wants to begin a career as an artist.
In order for them to take advantage of these opportunities, they must clear their names. They decide to get the band back together again for a second season of their Only Murders in the Building podcast where they will be the subjects. It’s interesting that this puts them into conflict with their one-time mentor, Cinda Canning, since they have competing podcasts. Who will be able to control the narrative and sway public opinion? At least our group have insider access.
Bunny’s murder is tied to a missing painting the former board president owned. The artwork expands the overall mystery by raising questions about Charles. As the first season tied into Mabel’s backstory, season two looks to interweave with his past. There are teases that we will explore his complicated relationship with his father, and we learn why he was attracted to the Arconia. This case might be more personal to him than his colleagues.
Speaking of the Arconia, the building begins to become another character on Only Murders in the Building. Its history creates an unsettling and creepy feeling that complements the whodunit. The apartment complex has its own secrets, and the more that is revealed, the more it adds to the greater mythology.
Plotwise, it’s curious that despite the amount of growth and closeness the main trio has experienced together, Mabel is still holding things back about the night Bunny died. Since she was there in person, she has a more informed perspective. Maybe she doesn’t completely trust her friends yet and is unwilling to open up, or is still processing the trauma of watching someone die. Either way, it could help with their investigation if she told the whole story of what happened rather than selectively choosing what she shares.
Much of the charm from the first season is still there relating to the humor and group dynamic. Charles, Oliver, and Mabel get into fun antics. They don’t always have the smartest plans that play out in an amusing way, but that makes their moments of brilliance and clever deductions more impactful and surprising.
One aspect that isn’t as big of a homerun as before is the stunt casting. Amy Schumer moves into the building taking over Sting’s old apartment. She is very herself but I think it loses some of the magic when she isn’t directly involved in the murder. Whereas the frontman for The Police was a potential suspect, the comedian is your typical opportunistic Hollywood type looking to cash in on the Only Murders in the Building story. Though her scenes are silly, they don’t quite reach the level of Sting’s in the previous season.
The first two episodes of the second season keep mostly what fans enjoyed of the series while introducing an exciting new mystery with bigger stakes.
New episodes of Only Murders in the Building are released Tuesdays on Hulu.
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