Only Murders in the Building just wrapped its second season, but does it live up to the killer-acclaimed first season? SPOILERS FOR ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING…
Only Murders in the Building Season 2 has finally reached its conclusion on Hulu and Disney+. The series follows three unlikely friends Charles, Oliver, and Mabel – played by Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez respectively – who live in the prestigious Arconia building, as they attempt to solve the mystery of their neighbor’s death, with the second season having them framed for another murder.
The first season of Only Murders served many twists and turns, while simultaneously managing to come to a satisfying conclusion, and it has been unanimously loved by critics and viewers alike.
The second season picks up where the first left off plot-wise, with Bunny dead at Mabel’s feet. But does the sequel season compare in terms of quality?
Only Murders in the Building’s strength lies in its characters
Only Murders continues to boast a large cast, and this season is where the side characters get to really shine. We have hilarious call-backs, fun cameos – though Amy Schumer’s role in the story isn’t done quite as well as Sting’s – and a long list of suspects, designed to string you along the rollercoater of a mystery this season.
There’s a chance to really flesh out the more established supporting cast here. This includes Howard’s dating life, Lester’s role as the doorman, and it is as if the show is testing out how much you care about these side quests. And we do, at least enough that it’s great to see them all join in on catching the killer at the very end.
Praise must be given to the episode that covers Bunny’s last day of life, since it humanises her so well that you are tearfully dreading the episode’s inevitable deadly end.
So while there is some subpar acting from time to time – along with some cringy dialogue – the show clearly wouldn’t be the same without its cast.
Only Murders Season 2 ups the tension and the action
It can be hard to continue a mystery story as the seasons continue – just look at the mess of Pretty Little Liars – since mysteries require so much forethought and plan-laying in order to work. Ultimately, while there are a few bumps here and there, Only Murders manages to continue the journey.
This is due to a mix of the show’s charming aura, and also the fact that the stakes are higher in Season 2, which is a natural progression for most stories. This season’s murder affects our three main leads more directly, as someone is actively trying to frame them for the killing of Bunny. This makes the danger far more present, as it turns out the killer can sneak through the hidden passages of the Arconia itself.
There are moments where the tension and scares could be pushed even further; while the blackout episode is a great idea, it’s nowhere near as utilised as it could have been – just imagine them all scrambling away from the killer without the torches on their phones.
Some character dynamics are also lacking in satisfying build up or drama. Theo is redeemed far too easily (at least Teddy gets attacked by Oliver in a hilarious elevator scene), and Mabel’s stories on the whole feel rather messy this season, with far too many things going on; things which never feel resolved.
Is she still going to be called Bloody Mabel after stabbing someone on the subway? Is her social media infamy going to take a toll on her? The plot with her father and her amnesia also somewhat comes out of nowhere, and feels rushed.
The romance subplot between her and Cara Delvigne’s Alice also feels odd. After the slow build up and history between Mabel and Oscar last season, his sudden disappearance and a romance blooming pretty much as soon as she and Alice meet feels jarring. And while there are some great twists revealed in their relationship, there is a betrayal that has far less impact on their story than it should.
Only Murders, or Only Murderers in the Building?
In regards to the killer’s true identity, this season does both better and worse than last season. Season 1’s Jan was a formidable foe, in both her relationship to Charles and the actions she took after the truth came out, but she was also rather obvious. This killer reveal – at a killer party, may we add – works much more effectively in terms of a mystery twist, but the murderer packs a little less punch.
But the show does a great job at building up a list of suspects, while still managing to pick a killer that feels natural while simultaneously throwing you for a loop. Each reveal has the potential to give you chills, and the twists within the twists prove just how talented the writing of this show really is.
One thing we’re still waiting to see is how the show intends to explore its theme of the True Crime genre, especially considering how much it connects to the killer this season. The plot involves how far someone may be willing to go for fame in that niche, but considering the discourse surrounding True Crime, you’d think the show would have more to say.
Only Murders in the Building remains just as charming as ever
Despite some shortcomings, the show feels as charming and funny as it ever did. The colors are rich, the outfits cozy, and the Arconia is becoming a character all of its own. It’s absolutely a feel-good show, despite being a series about murder.
Overall, Only Murders in the Building Season 2 perhaps isn’t quite as iconic as the first season, but the reason for its success is far from a mystery. And that Paul Rudd ending certainly was iconic, so we’ll definitely be tuning in for Season 3.
Only Murders in the Building is available to stream on Hulu and Disney+.