‘Only Murders in the Building’ Season 2 Review: Bigger World, More Mayhem

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Only murders in the building tears several times in season 2.

The quartet of superfans who were introduced in Hulu’s first season are back as a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on the events of the story so far. The version they know is, of course, derived from what they hear on the eponymous podcast in the show’s universe. But they might as well give an exaggerated wink at the camera after each line, because it really does feel like they’re also talking about the Hulu series itself.

Superfans are much more critical this time around. “Finally some story progress,” a member whispers softly to the group midway through the fifth episode. The comment instantly triggers a series of mutual grunts about the pacing and dangling plot threads. They may as well have read the words on my digital notepad, as I share their concerns.

OMITThe second season of is chaotic.

Season 2 is a messy time, but it’s a good messy time, thanks in large part to the shared chemistry of its three stars.
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

The first eight episodes slated for review, out of 10 in total, develop the central mystery of the season at a chilling pace. This mystery should need no introduction if you’ve watched Season 1 in its entirety: OMITB (vocalized as “omit-b” by true fans) hosts the podcast Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin) and Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) are framed for the murder of Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell), Arconia’s rude and bad-tempered chairman of the board.

The fallout from Bunny’s death looms over every moment of Season 2 to some degree, but a new, expanded view of the world expands our understanding of the characters who inhabit it. It’s not a totally unwelcome development, but it does speak to the struggles that me and the “chorus of superfans” both had with the season.

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For reasons that are still unclear in eight episodes, it feels like too much is going on. Plot threads that seem important at the moment are left hanging like unnecessary, time-consuming red herrings as subsequent episodes pivot and veer off in other directions. Themes that seem central to the story told in an instant have faded away into the background as the next chapter begins.

It’s utter chaos, even if the recurring detours in character exposition aren’t inherently bad.

It’s utter chaos, even if the recurring detours in character exposition aren’t inherently bad. Bunny herself is the focus of an entire first episode, and it’s one of the best of the season so far. We come to understand how the meanness she hurls at her less-than-favorite Arconia residents is just one piece of a complex personality. Bunny, it turns out, isn’t the one-dimensional villain we met in Season 1.

It’s fine, revealing the context of a key character, and one that directly addresses the ongoing mystery of Season 2. In a less crowded season, it would be a perfectly fitting temporary diversion from the current plot. But our dive into Bunny’s story is an exception, as every other episode jumps jarringly between subplots piled upon subplots, many of which focus on characters who still seem divorced from the central mystery after eight episodes.

Only murders basically feels messier in season 2. We learn more about OMITB hosts; we get to know their different neighbours; and we get to know a number of newcomers alongside others. It’s a great thing from the people’s point of view. But too often, this forward-thinking approach leaves the mystery, and by extension the whodunit puzzle we’re trying to solve at home, languishing.

More and more residents of Arconia are in the spotlight.

A photo from the Hulu series

Bunny met his untimely end in the Season 1 finale, and the mystery surrounding what happened is the focus of Season 2.
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

It’s not a problem with performance. The main trio of true crime-loving podcast hosts are just as delightful as they were in Season 1, as you’d expect. Martin and Short are… well, Martin and Shortsand Gomez continues to weave effortlessly through the spaces between his two comedy legend co-stars, yuk-worthy grandpa jokes as a young, sharp-tongued foil who playfully and lovingly tears them apart. to be corny and out of touch.

The other familiar faces from Season 1 are also welcome. I’ve talked about Houdyshell before, who has much juicier material to work with this time around, even though her character is dead. Howard Morris, Michael Cyril Creighton’s overzealous cat lover, is also a Season 2 MVP thanks to a late subplot involving a new neighbor and yodeling a 1960s pop music classic.

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These two aren’t the only examples of returning favorites getting more time in the spotlight, and they’re joined by newcomers like Alice (Cara Delevingne). A modern bohemian artist and a major player in the New York art scene, Alice is a big fan of the OMITB podcast who takes a keen interest in Mabel. At first it looks like she’s set to play a major role in the story; then it fades largely into the background.

It’s hard to talk about any of these in detail at this point, as I can’t tell the difference between innocuous character quirks and potential spoilers. Much of Season 2 is still shrouded in secrecy, to the point that I couldn’t find acting credit for at least one significant story actor, as their presence is apparently meant to be a surprise.

I would not say that the central mystery is a total no-show. Each episode is basically led by Mabel, Charles, and Oliver as they search for clues and evidence that could clear them of being “persons of interest” in Bunny’s murder and help them find the real killer. The focus on subplots and supporting characters tends to revolve around the main trio’s discoveries in one form or another at every stage, but there’s very little that connects cohesively.

Box Only murders order out of chaos?

A composite of stills from the Hulu series

Season 1 did NOT leave the beloved OMITB hosts in a promising place.
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu – Composite by Mashable

This is the main reason Season 2 feels so scattered. The first episode opens with a reminder of OMITB’s popularity as a podcast and the earth-shattering fame it brought to our three stars. Both Charles and Oliver are enjoying newfound success in careers that had skyrocketed when we first met them. And fame is what leads Mabel to Alice and the professional and personal fortunes Alice represents (no spoilers).

This starting point gives the impression that Only murders uses Season 2 to present its whodunit in the thematic context of fame as a double-edged sword. Especially with podcasting superstar Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) back and on a mission to prove that the OMITB hosts were behind Bunny’s murder, whether it was true or not. But the thematic and narrative intent becomes increasingly muddled as new episodes explore other ideas.

Is the narrative mess the point? That’s what “Only Murders in the Building” Season 2 seems to be alluding to.

I spent a lot of time wondering why the season is such a narrative mess, and it led to an unexpected realization: maybe that’s the point.

Reviews made by superfans are too in the nose. While it’s entirely possible that their dialogue was the product of a bored writer’s room and a creative team that didn’t necessarily see the need to continue the first season’s story beyond that. from another paycheck, that’s a reading that doesn’t quite match reality.

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Season 1 clearly prepare us for more. It’s not even a question. But throughout this second batch of episodes, the series repeatedly uses the device of the Greek chorus of superfans to point out the inherent challenges of following a popular and beloved big story. Yes, they are technically talking about the podcast. But the double meaning is indisputable.

Martin and co-creator John Hoffman will really have to plant the landing to make this all work in the end, but they’ve more than earned the benefit of the doubt. The stellar first season speaks for itself, and Season 2’s conscious and recurring acknowledgment of its own apparent shortcomings is obvious to the point of suspicion.

Only murders in the building is up to Something in its second season, that’s for sure. It’s messier and more scattered than before. I’m still struggling to understand where the central mystery is heading and what it’s trying to say. But I am, without a doubt, thoroughly amused and on the hook for more. So no matter what is actually going on here, it definitely works.

Only murders in the building Season 2 begins streaming June 28 on Hulu with two episodes. A new episode arrives every Tuesday after that.

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