One of the hardest things for a television show to do is balance comedy and emotional drama while moving the plot forward. Luckily for us, Only Murders In the Building (OMITB) has no issue doing this. We are now five episodes into OMITB Season 2, and the mystery of who killed Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) only gets more baffling and intertwined with the lives of our favorite amateur detectives, creating an enticing puzzle full of heart and intrigue. OMITB Season 2 Episodes 4-5, respectively entitled “Here’s to Looking at You” and “The Tell,” both work to shed some light on our characters’ backstory and make us reconsider what we thought we knew about them.
Episode 3 took a step away from Charles (Steve Martin), Mabel (Selena Gomez), and Oliver (Martin Short) and made a brief journey into the world of Bunny Folger. OMITB Season 2 Episode 4, though, pulls us back into the present day, with an appearance from Charles’ ex’s daughter, Lucy (Zoe Colletti). The end of OMITB Season 1 saw Charles attempt to reach out to Lucy, whom he hadn’t spoken to or seen since breaking up with her mom. “Here’s to Looking at You” opens with a flashback to Charles and Lucy, singing along to a (way-too-catchy) song from Charles’ brief foray into pop stardom, and we get to see the bond that they used to share. Charles is by no means as open or “out there” as Oliver is, but this flashback with Lucy reveals just how recent a development Charles’ guarded demeanor is.
The episode then cuts to an older Lucy hiding in some sort of tunnel, recording herself talking about how hard it is to return to a place you once called home. We see her and Charles texting almost constantly; aside from the generational gap, their communication is going OK. Charles ends up on set for Brazzos, but thanks to the ongoing murder investigation he’s a part of, the producers have made his character use a wheelchair and given him an added “touch of” dementia. Charles is pissed and storms off to his trailer, only to come face-to-face with Lucy, waiting for him.
They return to The Arconia, where they catch up for a bit before Oliver and Mabel greet them with a discussion about the murder case and their prime suspect, Nina Lin (Christine Ko). At Charles’ request, Mabel attempts to figure out why Lucy chose now to visit Charles, but quickly realizes that the aforementioned generation gap is hindering any chance of real communication. Charles and Lucy eventually rekindle their bond, and we find that she’s agonized over contacting Charles after her mom left him. Lucy also explains that she understands why Charles fell for Jan (Amy Ryan) – after listening to the podcast, Lucy also thought Jan was right for him. It’s a sweet moment and shows that Charles really does thrive as a father figure.
While in Charles’ apartment, Lucy stumbles upon a crucial piece of information: the murder weapon. Someone’s placed a bloody knife in the butcher block, another sign that Charles is being framed for Bunny’s murder. After a brief interruption by Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton), who barges in claiming to have some “hot gossip” about Nina, they find Lucy in the bathroom, opening a secret passageway where she used to play as a kid. Lucy’s location in the beginning of the episode is now clear, and our protagonists finally understand how people have been sneaking in and out of Charles’ and others’ apartments. They overhear Nina saying that Bunny “had to go,” but, after she shouts that she wants to find the person responsible for Bunny’s murder – and her water breaks – Nina comes off of the suspect list.
As Lucy and Charles talk after these findings and say goodbye, we find out that Lucy has been keeping important information from her father: she was at The Arconia the night of Bunny’s murder…and caught a glimpse of the killer. It’s unclear why Lucy is (still) keeping this crucial information to herself, especially since her relationship with Charles is hitting a new stride. Like father, like daughter, however, as we end OMITB Season 2 Episode 4 with Charles visiting Jan in prison, a decision that would most likely not meet with Oliver and Mabel’s approval.
If “Here’s to Looking at You” was all about Charles, OMITB Season 2 Episode 5 brings the whole crew back together a twist-filled chapter that emphasizes Oliver. This episode is less about uncovering new clues about the murder, and more about doubling down on everyone’s personal connection to the mystery. Charles, thrown off by Lucy’s visit and the reveal that his ex – her mother – is now remarried, is regularly visiting Jan in prison. Oliver attempts to spend more time with his son, but his attention is mostly drawn to solving the murder. Meanwhile, Mabel is falling for Alice (Cara Delevigne), and Charles and Oliver strongly disapprove. It’s not that they don’t want Mabel to branch out and have a relationship; they just think Alice may be the murderer and don’t trust her, is all.
It’s a rare misstep for OMITB, but “The Tell” is somewhat blunt. While the episode includes lots of new characterization, it doesn’t contribute much evidence to move the plot forward. Mabel finds a matchbook from The Pickle Diner in the secret tunnel, so we know that Bunny’s murderer went there at least once, but other than that, the only revelations are that Alice isn’t to be trusted and that Oliver’s son was actually fathered by Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane)? Thanks to a string of flashbacks to Oliver hosting the party game Son of Sam across several decades, we spend a lot of time hearing how Oliver is exceptionally good at knowing when someone is lying. However, a crucial element to Oliver’s strategy is that he only can tell when he knows a person has something to hide. Mabel is not happy that Oliver is suspicious about Alice, though we soon find out he was right to suspect her: under pressure, Alice reveals that she fabricated her entire past.
Nevertheless, OMITB Season 2 Episode 5 is not an outright failure. Mabel, Oliver, and Charles’ comedic chemistry is great, and we also get to see what happens when they aren’t all on the same page. But “The Tell” doesn’t succeed at much else. It isn’t some big revelation that Alice is suspicious, since she’s a new character and her motivations for befriending Mabel remain unclear. Charles visiting Jan is of course concerning, and it’s always a treat when Amy Ryan shows up, but so far her appearances don’t reveal much. And it’s always good to gain insight into Oliver’s past, but what we learn is undercut by first the constant foreshadowing that he might not be his son’s biological father and then the seemingly certain reveal that he isn’t. OMITB Season 2 Episode 5 should’ve taken its title’s advice and showed more than it told.