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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

Television

‘Only Murders in the Building’ season 2 episode 5 review: Tensions flare over a party game

Oliver shows he’s pretty good at sniffing out killers.

Only Murders in the Building has three leads, but so far, it seems only two have them been heavily featured. Mabel looks like the prime suspect of the trio to have killed Bunny, and when she’s not trying to clear her name, she is pursuing her art career and beginning a relationship with fellow artist, Alice Banks. Charles’ backstory is heavily tied into the Arconia and the former board president, and we’ve seen his reunion of sorts with Lucy. That leaves only Oliver, and in “The Tell,” he receives much more screen time and demonstrates he has skills that could be helpful to the team.

The title of the episode refers to Oliver’s ability to identify when someone is lying. He has fine-tuned this gift through playing his favorite game, Son of Sam. It’s a party game where players draw cards to receive an identity of blonde or titular person and must correctly guess the killer before everyone else becomes a victim. It’s a very fitting pastime for the Broadway director since he is so sociable, and it also displays a surprising side to the character. Oliver always seems to be the bumbling buffoon of the bunch but spotting a liar is a useful talent to have. The fact that he’s good at it, combined with the theatrics, is so impressive.

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All the drama occurs at a little soiree held by Alice in Mabel’s apartment. The game plays with Only Murders in the Building’s whimsical nature transporting everyone to the 70s complete with hair styles and fashion. It creates a fun atmosphere with the overly dramatic ways the participants die and Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” is a nice soundtrack with a playful touch.

The mood changes with a tension in the air as there are only three left standing. Oliver uses the opportunity to air out his suspicions about Mabel’s girlfriend. What began as astute perceptions become hostile accusations. Though much of what he says turns out to be true, the manner of the delivery is filled with arrogance and puts a damper on the evening.

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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

It’s an intriguing turn on Only Murders in the Building because it builds mistrust and conflict between the main characters. Just as interesting is the aura of mystery surrounding Alice. She is definitely hiding something and has her own agenda but the show loves to place red herrings in front of us. She could be a shady person similar to Teddy Dimas and also not be the culprit. At least she’s a bigger person of interest moving forward.

Speaking of Teddy, his vendetta against Oliver heats up and turns even more personal without the deli owner doing anything in the present. The reveal is so delicately built via Will’s phone calls and narration and you couldn’t predict the story was going there until it happens. The flashback and his experience with Alice exhibit the limitations to Oliver’s skill because he is adept at figuring out someone’s tell, but it doesn’t reveal what the lie is or why they are doing it.

The comedy of this episode of Only Murders in the Building doesn’t reach the usual high quality for the series. There is a bit between Charles and Oliver regarding the Iran-Contra affair that doesn’t land and goes on for too long. It has the feeling of being improvised but isn’t nearly as funny as the people involved think it is.

In addition, the return of Jan is off to a rocky start. Amy Ryan is a talented actress and the character is interesting, especially now that she doesn’t have to hide her evilness. However, it hinders Charles progress we’ve seen so far. He is at a better place personally then when we first met him, but he devolves into the lonely and sad sack he used to be when interacting with his ex-girlfriend. It seems off considering it’s so soon after reconnecting with Alice.

“The Tell” finally spotlights the third main character this season and reveals his surprising competent side. The use of a familiar party game is fun and whimsical but also creates friction between our trio and more soapy drama between one-time friends, Teddy and Oliver.

New episodes of Only Murders in the Building are released Tuesdays on Hulu.

only murders in the building 2.5.1
Only Murders in the Building S 2 E 5 review: 'The Tell'
"The Tell" finally spotlights the third main character this season and reveals his surprising competent side. The use of a familiar party game is fun and whimsical but also creates friction between our trio and more soapy drama between one-time friends, Teddy and Oliver.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Gives Martin Short and Oliver a chance to shine this season.
The resulting juicy drama following the games of Son of Sam.
The Iran-Contra affair bit goes on for too long and isn't funny as the people involved think it is.
Jan is an interesting character played by a talented actress, but her presence negates much of the progress Charles has experienced so far.
7
Good

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