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The Ending Of Only Murders In The Building Season 1 Explained

The season finale of "Only Murders in the Building" finally puts that titular plural to use, as just when one murder case is wrapped up, our unlikely trio of TV detectives Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), theater director Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and young artist Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) find themselves embroiled in a new mystery. We're getting ahead of ourselves.

Two months earlier, things kick off when our trio shares an elevator with the murder victim, Tim Kono (Julian Cihi), shortly before his death. That, combined with their shared love for true crime podcasts and Mabel's secret connection to Tim, spurs them to investigate his so-called suicide. Along the way, they unravel the twisty story of Tim's life, including his employment with Sting, investigation of an illicit jewelry business, and his deadly relationship with his little known girlfriend, Jan (Amy Ryan).

In the finale, Mabel and Oliver search for proof of Jan's crime, while she and Charles share one last drink. To cover her tracks, Jan poisons him and attempts to gas the whole building, but the trio succeeds in foiling her plot. All seems well until another body is found in the Arconia. If things got a little confusing there, here's the ending of "Only Murders in the Building" Season 1 explained.

Jan kills Tim Kono due to jealousy

The proof was right there in Tim Kono's sex toy box: Jan, the sweet bassoonist who inserted herself into the trio, murdered Tim. Early on, Mabel, Charles, and Oliver find a strange item mixed in with his sex toys — when they revisit it in the penultimate episode, they discover it's actually a bassoon cleaner — Jan's bassoon cleaner.

Jan and Tim were dating, but then several things happened: Jan found the emerald ring, assumed Tim was cheating on her, Tim broke up with her, and Jan asked him to come get his things and poisoned his drink. She slipped the fake suicide notes and poisoned glasses into his bag, followed him to his apartment, pulled the fire alarm, and framed his death as a suicide. It should have been obvious when we first met her: Mabel and Charles meet Jan in the elevator, the same place the trio meets and sees Tim, a connection none of the other suspects had. Coincidence?

Why did she do it? Well, Jan is driven by the need to be the most important person in someone's life. It's why she was attracted to both Tim and Charles, loners with few other people to take their attention. It's unclear if Jan's thing about being second started before or after she was passed up for first chair bassoon, but it's clear that plays into it. However, in that moment before a victim's death, Jan relishes being the most important person to them. In an interview with the New York Times, Amy Ryan, who plays Jan, said she believes that Tim was not Jan's first kill.

As for why the writers picked Jan as the killer, co-creator John Hoffman said to A.V. Club that she fit their theme of loneliness and connection the best, but he also hinted that Jan isn't done yet (via Salon.)

The main trio all reconnect with loved ones...

While the show's plot centers on Tim Kono's murder, the heart comes from the three loners, Mabel, Charles, and Oliver, finding friendship and connection with one another. Over ten episodes, "Only Murders in the Building" slowly dips into each of their pasts to reveal pain and isolation, but their shared investigation of the murder brings them together.

"This is a show that started out and is very much all about three lonely people living in New York City and looking to break out of their boxes in some way – to get pulled out of their darkness, their isolated little worlds, and connect," co-creator John Hoffman said to Salon. The finale shows how far they've all come, as each of them reconnects with a loved one they were estranged from at the start: Mabel is dating her childhood friend Oscar (Aaron Dominguez), Oliver has repaired his relationship with his son, whom he's no longer asking for money, and Charles reaches out to Lucy, his stepdaughter from a previous relationship. Through each other, they find a way to heal from the pain of the past and open up to other people again, as well as build new bonds with one another.

Plus, while the trio is evicted in the penultimate episode, that decision is reversed after they save everyone from Jan. Allowed to keep their apartments and hot off the success of making a popular podcast, everything seems to be looking up for Mabel, Charles, and Oliver — until they're arrested.

...and then get arrested for Bunny's murder

"Only Murders in the Building" opens with a hectic scene, two months in the future, of Oliver and Charles running through the Arconia to get Mabel, whom they find with a dead body in a tie-dyed hoodie. The last scene is a longer version of it, showing more context and revealing that the dead person is Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell), the head of the Arconia's board, killed with Mabel's knitting needle. Mabel denies murdering her, but all three of them are arrested in front of all the building's residents.

The series is already picked up for a second season, so the mystery of who killed Bunny will likely be solved in coming episodes. There are already strange happenings surrounding it, and several unanswered questions — like, who texted Oliver and Charles to tell them to leave the Arconia? And, why was Bunny wearing a hoodie that looks like Oscar's? Fans will have to wait until Season 2 for these answers, leaving plenty of time for theories to run wild.

In an interview with Deadline, co-creator John Hoffman teased that all three of the main trio have reason to be suspected: "Mabel said some unkind things about [Bunny] outside of the Arconia. Oliver had a long history of conflict with Bunny. And Charles was deeply offended at the idea of being evicted by her after 30 years." He said we'll learn more about their histories in Season 2 and that "it gets more complicated and more fun in weird ways." As the main suspects this time, Mabel, Charles, and Oliver are even more motivated to solve the new case. The question is: Will they still make a podcast of it?

Only loneliness in the building

Ultimately, loneliness is what each of the major players in "Only Murders in the Building" have in common. It's a poignant theme in the time of the pandemic; the insulated little apartment windows seen throughout the series recall the isolation of quarantine. When dealing with loneliness, how do you form connections?

Co-creator John Hoffman said, "The show reflects, hopefully, the time that our world has been in and how the need for connection has never been more intense. Connections in ways that you may not expect" (via Deadline). The large age difference between Mabel and her two new friends is obvious, but they quickly overcome that obstacle with their shared love for true crime.

Loneliness, Hoffman said to Salon, can make someone make poor decisions — like sleeping with a murderer, or, flipside, murdering your (ex-) lover because they care about other people. It turns Jan sour. "She's just been alone for too long with herself and with this boundless energy, looking to connect, but she's just odd," actor Amy Ryan said to Vanity Fair. But it's also a widespread feeling, Ryan said: "I love how the show captures that part of New York. We're an eclectic group of interesting people. Every building has a thousand stories, and yet we're either all lonely or ever so close to being lonely—and therefore ever so close to making really poor choices and decisions."

If "Only Murders in the Building" can bring anyone together, make anyone feel a little less lonely, it's fulfilling its purpose.