A gem of pandemic-era TV, Only Murders in the Building had a lot to live up to when it came to its second season. As far as second seasons go, we all got pretty lucky with this one. Most TV is subject to a sophomore slump (or worse, the terrible twos) and while Only Murders had its flaws this season, the finale made sure we’ll all be tuned in for Mabel, Charles, and Oliver’s next adventure.
For all of the messier pacing that we’ve dealt with this season, “I Know Who Did It” still manages to wrap everything to do with Bunny’s murder with time to spare. The quick conclusion is a bit of a pacing issue itself, but Oliver’s declaration that “This is really not feeling like a finale yet,” at least tells us that the writers aren’t completely ignorant of the flaws this go around. If anything, that’s mildly reassuring. With a third season already ordered and a killer cliffhanger closing out this one, there is plenty of time to make sure that the weaker elements of Season 2 don’t make a comeback.
Though we finally find out that it was Poppy (Adina Verson)—Cinda Canning’s high-strung assistant—who orchestrated Bunny’s murder, there were a few too many red herrings that we ran into on the way there. Even in this episode, the trio is focused on Cinda being the killer, and even reintroduce Alice to the mix before finally pointing the finger at Poppy. Sick of her lackluster life, Poppy faked her death as Becky Butler and took the story to Cinda thinking that it would lead to the start of a new, exciting chapter. Instead, Poppy was stuck in the same role we’ve seen her in for the duration of the series. After Cinda rejected her pitch for a podcast about Rose Cooper, Poppy decided to take things into her own hands for a second time. Instead of Cinda being Kreps’ girlfriend, it’s Poppy, and the two of them are arrested while the OMITB crew livestreams the reveal to the world.
The reveal may have felt a little rushed, but the charm and comedy that comes with this show remained as strong as ever. All of the residents of the Arconia were given room to grow this season, and having a large chunk of them in on getting Poppy to confess made for some great TV. It had somehow flown over my head how many of these characters are involved in the entertainment industry in some way, but all of that talent—based in fiction or reality—creates a wonderful, soap-opera-like sequence where Charles goes as far to fake his own death to get the truth.
When comparing the two culprits that Mabel, Charles, and Oliver have faced, Jan is certainly the more compelling of the two, but Poppy is not without her merits. While she lacks the complete unhinged-ness that made Jan so fun, she’s a more sympathetic character. She’s not a good person, but Cinda isn’t either. That doesn’t excuse her behavior by any means, but Poppy’s situation is one that’s pretty relatable. At some point or another, everyone wants to have their moment in the spotlight, and everyone has worked for someone who doesn’t appreciate the work they do. As Becky Butler, Poppy’s life was a dead end, but reinventing herself put her in a position that was so close to what she left behind that she snapped. We’re dealing with another woman who is deeply unwell here, but this time we get to find out why she is the way she is, and that’s definitely a step up from last season.
After everything is said and done, the secondary plotlines wrapped up as well. Charles’s role on the Brazzos reboot is expanded, Mabel finally starts renovating her apartment and resolves her situation with Alice (they’re staying friends but painting over Mabel’s mural, so a win-lose situation), and Oliver reaffirms that he is Will’s father regardless of what their DNA tests say. Oliver is also offered a Broadway directing job, and that shoots us a year into the future where we land on the show’s opening night. The play’s star Ben Glenroy—played by the ever funny Paul Rudd—falls over and dies a line and a half into the seemingly sold-out performance, setting up the next season of mystery for our trio. At the moment, Mabel and Oliver don’t seem to be majorly involved, but Charles—who is apparently Ben’s co-star—purposefully tells him “Good luck,” before the curtains open, and to “stay away from her” because “I know what you did,” which could mean any number of things about anyone.
Wherever Only Murders in the Building goes, we are sure to follow. A time jump throws the entire show up in the air, and the decision to take this murder outside of the Arconia is a smart one. That’s not to say that I think we won’t end up spending a sizable amount of time in the iconic building next season, but another person biting the dust in there would make the show repetitive; Only Murders hasn’t written themselves into a corner yet and it doesn’t seem like they will anytime soon. The show might be growing again, but there’s no doubt that the expansion will work in its favor.
In the end, the thing that will keep the series going strong until it’s finally over is the dynamic among our core trio. Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin have managed to create one of the greatest TV friend groups of all time, and while Ben Glenroy’s death already has me hooked for next season, there’s a whole year we missed out on with their characters. As Mabel says before the play, “Any year without a murder is a good one in my book,” but nothing boring leads to a man dying live for a Broadway audience, and we can’t wait to see what Only Murders in the Building has in store for us next.
Kathryn Porter is a freelance writer who will talk endlessly about anything entertainment given the chance. You can find her @kaechops on Twitter.
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