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Embracing Camp With Both Brazzos: OMITB Season 2 Episodes 1-2 (RECAP)

In Season 1, Episode 2 of Only Murders In the Building (OMITB), after sneakily recording herself deliver a dramatic and podcast-worthy line, Mabel (Selena Gomez) exclaims to Oliver (Martin Short): “Oh God, please don’t tell me I’m turning into you!” It’s a funny line, and a great example of Selena’s dry but pitch-perfect comedic delivery. Her performance is why this show works. The first season of Only Murders in the Building may have thrown a group of extremely different true crime lovers together to solve a murder, but, as seen in the first two episodes of OMITB Season 2, it is clear that Only Murders in the Building is willing to grow. Because in Season 2, Mabel, Charles (Steve Martin), and Oliver are also forced to reckon with their similarities.

The new season opens immediately where the Season 1 left off, with the gang being questioned for the murder of Arconia resident Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell). Michael Rapaport, our first guest star of the season, plays the cop interrogating them and dropping an unnecessarily large number of F-bombs (something that Mabel, accurately and satisfyingly, calls out). Our beloved team fears indictment for a crime that they didn’t commit. However, after being told to stay out of the murder-mystery podcasting business, their worries evolve into something new. Because while Season 1 of Only Murders in the Building showed us Charles, Mabel, and Oliver enjoying newfound fame from their successful podcast, OMITB Season 2 presents our trio celebrating their success – despite Mabel’s initial insistence that they give up the act and go back to their ordinary lives – while also trying to clear their names.

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Amy Schumer as herself and Martin Short as Oliver in Only Murders in the Building. (COURTESY: Hulu)

OMITB Season 2, Episode 1 wastes no time in setting up the mystery that will define the rest of the season. This episode is heavy on exposition – necessarily so – but thrives when it lets our three protagonists charm us with their banter and charisma. The show already has a plethora of supporting characters, all unique and (to put it nicely) intense, but Season 2 introduces more characters to an already full docket. Mabel, attempting to settle back into a non-murder-obsessed lifestyle, receives an Instagram DM from fellow artist Alice (Cara Delevingne), who’s interested in meeting up and working with her. Charles gets an offer to reboot Brazzos. And Oliver runs into The Arconia’s newest resident, Amy Schumer (Amy Schumer). This show sure does love its meta-humor! Amy is a big fan of the podcast and wants to turn it into a streaming series. In her proposed series, Oliver would be played by Timothée Chalamet; Schumer would play the murderous Jan (Amy Ryan). Obviously. Schumer’s role in Season 2 is nothing more than a heightened cameo, but it does set up Oliver’s motivation to clear his name: He’s dying to capitalize on Amy’s interest in buying the podcast rights, but she can’t do a deal with him until Oliver gets those pesky charges dropped.

So the team is back together for one more mystery: figuring out who the real murderer is. And since Bunny’s murder is related directly to the rich history of The Arconia, the show delivers a great opportunity to explore how Oliver, Mabel, and Charles relate to the building itself. We discover that Charles, like Mabel, has a complicated relationship with The Arconia, as his somewhat deadbeat father spent a lot of time there. At Bunny’s memorial we meet her mother, Leonora (Shirley MacLaine), in attendance to collect a painting by the acclaimed artist Rose Cooper that Bunny once owned.

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Shirley MacLaine as Barbara in Only Murders in the Building. (COURTESY: Hulu)

In a moment that feels similar to Mabel being surprised by Bunny in the OMITB Season 1 finale, Charles walks into his apartment to find Cooper’s painting hanging on his wall. The crew has no idea how the painting got there, but they soon realize their possession of it makes them appear even more guilty. Oh, and one half of the subject of the painting is Charles’ father. The plot thickens! Bunny also left behind an appropriately annoying pet bird, one that ends up giving our trusty trio (Talented trio? Tremendous trio? It’s a work in progress!) their biggest hint yet, when it chirps out that it knows who killed its poor owner.

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Selena Gomez as Mabel in Only Murders in the Building. (COURTESY: Hulu)

Last season, Mabel’s backstory was necessary to solving the mystery of who murdered Tim Kono. OMITB Season 2, however, it feels like Mabel is taking a backseat to Charles, whose story appears to be entwined with Bunny’s murder. Mabel spends a majority of Episode 2 with Alice; while OMITB is not the subtlest show in the world, it reaches some new dramatic heights with their scenes. On Alice’s instructions, Mabel destroys a sculpture of herself, in an obtuse reference to destroying her past self. Then, after telling Alice that destroying the sculpture did in fact make her feel better, Mabel kisses her. The moment is sweet, and, while the pair’s chemistry isn’t astounding, it’s refreshing to see Mabel explore her romantic side, especially since she’s guarded in every aspect of her life. However, it does feel like Only Murders in the Building is struggling for a meaningful balance of Mabel’s characterization, since she’s sidelined so far this season.

The hilarious meta-commentary on the true crime genre, the main cast’s electric chemistry, the costumes – don’t get me started on this show’s endless supply of amazing coats – and, most importantly, its confident embrace of the murder mystery’s inherently campy elements were just some of the many things Only Murders in the Building got right in Season 1. So far, OMITB Season 2 is sticking with what works. If the first two episodes of Season 2 are any indication, we’re in for one hell of a twist-filled time.

Rating: 8.5/10

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