Content warning: This article contains spoilers for season two of “Only Murders in the Building.”
What can be said about the “Only Murders in the Building” finale? … At least Amy Schumer wasn’t in it? Early in the final episode, Oliver (Martin Short, “Mack and Rita”) grumbled, “This really isn’t feeling like a finale yet, is it?” By the time the credits rolled on the final episode, viewers were left with the same thought. Although the season as a whole included plenty of twists, turns and gasp-worthy moments, the finale fell flat.
When the season began, we knew a few things for certain: Cranky building manager Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell, “The Humans”) had been murdered, Mabel (Selena Gomez, “Selena + Chef”) was found soaked in blood kneeling over the body and the big three — Mabel, Oliver and Charles (Steve Martin, “Father of the Bride Part Three”) — were in for it. The season’s suspects included Amy Schumer as herself, new building manager Nina Lin (Christine Ko, “Tigertail”), irritating artist/Mabel’s newest fling Alice (Cara Delevingne, “Carnival Row”), crooked cop with an uncanny resemblance to Larry Bird Officer Kreps (Michael Rapaport, “Atypical”), competing podcast host Cinda Canning (Tina Fey, “Free Guy”) and Canning’s assistant, Poppy (Adina Verson, “Troy”).
Schumer had a painting that belonged to the deceased, but her possession of it was quickly resolved. Nina Lin took the deceased’s job and had a different vision for the building, which offered a motive. Alice, for her part, dated Mabel to get insider information on her life and made an extremely creepy art installation mimicking Mabel’s traumas in hopes of gaining … money? Fame? Then Officer Kreps came to the trio’s attention, first because he was always a dick to them and then because they found out he was catfishing them as Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Last City”). Finally, Cinda Canning was always hungry enough for fame to frame (or kill) Mabel, but was thrust under the spotlight in the penultimate episode by her whiny assistant Poppy, AKA Becky Butler. Meanwhile, Mabel uncovered just about every clue by her damn self, Oliver was devastated to find out he wasn’t his son’s biological father, and on the flip side, Charles’s ex-stepdaughter Lucy (Zoe Margaret Colletti, “Boo, Bitch”) reentered his life.
If you think that sounds incredibly convoluted for a ten-episode series to wrap up satisfyingly, you would be correct. Any whodunnit series needs its share of red herrings, but this felt excessive. The “another episode, another suspect” approach leads to little resolution. I held out hope that they would manage to tie it all together in a somewhat pleasing manner in the finale, and Oliver, Mabel and Charles suggested as much when they gathered (or rather lured, with the promise of cake) the building’s residents to participate in a live “killer reveal” party. Unfortunately, they made it out to be so much more exciting than it was. The episode bore some similarities to the season one finale but lacked all the excitement, urgency and satisfaction that made the first season’s conclusion so compelling. Particularly disappointing was the endpoint of the Mabel-Alice arc. Sapphic plotlines need to be better than “she made creepy art of my life for fame, but we’re still dating because it turns out she’s not a murderer.” The bar is so low it’s underground, people.
However, the season and its finale weren’t without highlights. Building on season one’s critically acclaimed silent episode surrounding deaf building resident/grave robber/Zoe’s accidental murderer Theo Dimas (played by deaf actor James Caverly, “A Bennett Song Holiday”), season two’s best episode (“Flipping the Pieces”) sees Mabel forgive Theo for Zoe’s death. Jaws drop and tears fall in the penultimate episode “Sparring Partners” when Charles discovers that the woman who introduced herself as Bunny’s mother, Leonora Folger, was in fact his father’s lover Rose Cooper (Shirley MacLaine, “Noelle”). Rose reveals that under Savage Senior’s nude painting is a father-son portrait depicting the kind of father Savage Senior wished he could have been to Charles. Lastly, and the moment Twitter is most excited about, the finale introduced the season three murder and cast reveal: In the final seconds of season two, Paul Rudd dies on a Broadway stage on the opening night of Oliver’s directorial debut (Why can’t he just have his moment!?).
Was the big reveal disappointing? Yes. Did I yearn for the release of every new episode? Also yes. Did I guess who dunnit before the reveal? Not really, no. Am I counting down the days until the next season’s release? Yep. By those murder mystery criteria, “Only Murders” hit three of four out of the park.
TV Beat Editor Emmy Snyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.