Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The 7 Best And 7 Worst Things About Only Murders In The Building Season 2

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "Only Murders in the Building" Season 2

Season 1 of "Only Murders in the Building" scored such excellent reviews, it seemed like Season 2 had nowhere to go but down. But this comedy series about crime podcasters Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), and Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) hasn't lost its touch: Season 2 is so good, it's made the series one of the best TV shows of 2022

In some ways, Season 2 of "Only Murders in the Building" even surpasses Season 1. It takes a much more empathetic approach to the characters, and offers even better cliffhangers. Oliver sums it up perfectly when he says, "You can tell it's our second season." But of course, no TV show is perfect — there are still plenty of flaws to be found in Season 2. How do the season's highest highs and lowest lows stack up? We're here to find out. From thrilling plot twists to dumb jokes, these are the 7 best and 7 worst things about "Only Murders in the Building" Season 2.

Worst: The heroes make stupid decisions

The three heroes of "Only Murders in the Building" make a lot of dumb mistakes in Season 2. In Season 1, they're careful to wear gloves at the crime scene and in Teddy's apartment. In Season 2, however, they place their mitts all over the stolen painting that the killer planted on Charles, with no consideration given to fingerprints. Only when the murder weapon turns up in Charles' apartment do they start to catch on.

Then there's the moment they text the killer about their evidence. This is a blunder almost as bad as sharing their investigation with Jan (Amy Ryan). Charles has no reason whatsoever to believe it's Detective Williams (Da'Vine Joy Randolph). When she tells him she didn't send him the mysterious text, she clearly means it — Williams doesn't mince words.

In the biggest duh moment of all, the trio manages to miss Glitter Guy when he's several feet away. Though they notice him when he flees, they seem to give up the chase rather quickly. They have a car, after all, which means splitting up is an option: Mabel could pursue the guy on foot while Charles and Oliver circle around to another Morningside Park entrance and cut him off. For that matter, why doesn't Mabel just ask any random passerby if they've spotted somebody covered in glitter?

Best: Season 1's villains are back

Unlike many crime shows, "Only Murders in the Building" knows that the story isn't over after the bad guys are put behind bars. Season 2 revisits Season 1's villains, and explores how being captured has changed them. When we left them, Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane) and his son Theo (James Caverly) had been arrested for jewelry smuggling and covering up their role in the death of Zoe (Olivia Reis). However, the pair returns to the Arconia in Season 2 while they await their trial. Naturally, Teddy wants Oliver's head on a pike. As in Season 1, Nathan Lane gives an amazing performance. In a single episode, he manages to swing from amusing to unsettling to surprisingly vulnerable. Refreshingly, both he and Theo are given a chance at redemption.

And then there's Jan, whom Charles visits in prison in the hopes that consulting one murderer will help him get inside Bunny's killer's mind. While Jan is compelling (albeit a bit transparent) as a villain masquerading as a love interest in Season 1, she's much more fascinating in Season 2, now that her motivations are plain to see. She's still playing the "love interest" card, even though her hand is clearly visible — and strangely enough, this strategy almost works. It's scary how persuasive she can be, even when we know she can't be trusted.

Worst: The Brazzos reboot isn't as entertaining as it should be

Episode 1 of Season 2, "Persons of Interest," teases that Charles will be participating in a modern reboot of his '90s crime show, "Brazzos." Here is a chance for a scathing satire of Hollywood's best friend, the reboot. Season 1's glimpses of the original "Brazzos" are incredibly entertaining, from the hero's generic catchphrase to his love of floss picks. Naturally, viewers expect more of the same. 

But while Season 1's portrayal of this show-within-a-show is deliberately and hilariously bad, Season 2's is just plain bad. Charles is asked to play a much older version of his character, who has dementia. His memory apparently turns on a dime: The script calls for him to interrupt a dramatic monologue by spontaneously shouting, "I want soup!" Viewers don't need to be doctors to know that this is not how dementia works. Obviously this line is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the joke isn't subtle or even all that funny. To make matters worse, Charles doesn't seem to be the least bit bothered by this portrayal of Brazzos, when by all rights he ought to be outraged.

Overall, the scene reeks of missed opportunities. If "Only Murders in the Building" is trying to say something about the way reboots tend to lose their spark through "updating" the story for modern audiences, this message gets lost along the way.

Best: The '70s episode is groovy

"Only Murders in the Building" Season 2 serves up a smart and amusing throwback to the 1970s. In Episode 5, "The Tell," Oliver decides to interrogate Mabel's new girlfriend Alice (Cara Delevingne) under the pretext of a party game. He's convinced that once again, the killer is a love interest who conveniently shows up to throw them off the scent. (Silly Oliver — don't you know that a good mystery show will never use the same plot twist twice?)

Thus, the characters play Son of Sam, a Mafia-inspired card game Oliver played in the '70s, in which players try to guess which person is secretly the "killer." What follows is an energetic scene in which everybody looks like they walked out of a disco club. Seeing the cast wear chic '70s fashion and ridiculous wigs is a riot. Much like the "Chorus Line" sequence from Season 1, this scene gives Oliver a chance to show off his dramatic flair. Best of all, the show's creators even tweak the opening credits to match the proceedings, giving the animated version of Oliver a psychedelic lava lamp.

Not only is the party stylish and hilarious, it also brings out the characters' conflicts. Son of Sam is a trust exercise of the highest order, and Charles, Mabel, and Oliver leave the episode with their faith in each other quite shaken.

Worst: Characters in denial

One of Season 2's recurring themes is denial. For some characters, this reaction is perfectly reasonable. It makes sense for Oliver to get a DNA test, even though his son's (Ryan Broussard) points to Teddy being his biological father — he might have Greek ancestry he doesn't know about. However, two characters in this season are in serious need of a wake-up call.

Poppy (Adina Verson) remains inexplicably loyal to Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) for several episodes, even though Cinda publicly humiliates her and throws staplers. Cinda's abuse is so over-the-top, in fact, that we wonder how Poppy can possibly sit there and take it. Humoring a terrible boss until you can get your big break is one thing, but defending her even when she's out of earshot is another, and Poppy seems too smart for that.

Equally eyebrow-raising is the way Charles lets Jan woo him. It's easy to see why Charles would have difficulty letting go, especially when Jan turns the charm up to 11. But it's hard to buy that he's forgotten she tried to kill him. It's certainly possible that Jan isn't lying: Maybe, in her own twisted way, she's still infatuated with him and feels he would make a perfect partner. Still, whether or not her feelings are genuine, Charles ought to know that attempted murder is a major red flag.

Best: Empathy for the Arconia's other residents

Few supporting players get quite the same excellent character development as the leads in Season 1. With the exception of Teddy and Theo, most of the Arconia's other residents are pretty straightforward, without much psychological depth. Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell) has a memorable personality, but is mostly a one-note character. Ditto for Howard Morris (Michael Cyril Creighton). Poppy, while not technically from the Arconia, is another minor character who gets the short end of the stick in Season 1. She's merely shown to be Cinda's assistant, without any exploration of her motivations or her strained relationship with her boss.

Luckily, Season 2 explores the perspectives of all these characters. Bunny is given incredible emotional range; we can truly feel her sadness on her last day at the Arconia. We get a real glimpse of Howard's vulnerability as he finds the courage to approach the man he loves. Finally, we start to understand why Poppy endures so much mistreatment at work. Of course, Teddy and Theo are awesome as always — especially when Oliver catches Teddy, his arch-enemy, crying. Moreover, it's a testament to the show's empathy that Mabel — and viewers — can forgive Theo for Zoe's death. This season does a brilliant job reminding viewers that these characters aren't just suspects, criminals, or murder victims — they're people.

Worst: Oliver can be a little too callous

Most of the time, Oliver is a lovable goofball. But in a few Season 2 scenes, he becomes borderline insufferable. Oliver has always had a tendency to become preoccupied with the podcast and forget he's talking about real people's lives. Generally, it's part of his charm. However, Oliver might overstep in Season 2's "Persons of Interest" when he delivers a seemingly sincere eulogy for Bunny before revealing he's just trying out a line for the podcast. Moreover, he suggests cutting Charles from the hypothetical TV adaptation of said podcast, and deliberately singles out Alice as a suspect at the party.

Oliver's self-absorption becomes decidedly un-funny in Episode 8, "Hello, Darkness," when our heroes rush to find Charles' daughter Lucy (Zoe Colletti) because they suspect she's being targeted by the killer. Worn out from lugging a bag of dips up four flights of stairs, Oliver announces he's calling it quits. A brief comment about the climb would be totally understandable, but instead, Oliver complains loudly and holds back his friends in a situation where every second counts. After much coaxing, he finally leaves his precious dips behind, but not before he assures them, "I will find you, no matter how long it takes!" That joke is just a little too far. Oliver is completely out-of-touch with the stakes, and seems to care more about his dips than Lucy.

Best: Season 2 questions everything we thought we knew

How well do you know your neighbors? That question, memorably posed by Season 1, Episode 3, looms over the entirety of Season 2. This is a perfect way for "Only Murders in the Building" to top itself. Rather than explore the world outside the Arconia, Season 2 turns its gaze inward. What the characters unearth in the Arconia forces them to reconsider everything they take for granted: Hidden passages lurk within the walls, and an entire secret history lies behind their home. This mirrors the season's themes of discovering skeletons in the closets of people and places you thought you knew.

The revelations don't stop there. Oliver's son isn't really his biological son, as it turns out. Meanwhile, jewel-smuggler Theo isn't so bad once you get to know him. Mabel's girlfriend is lying, and Lucy snuck over to the Arconia on the night of the murder without telling her father. And let's not forget that Charles' father (Ben Livingston) had an affair with Rose Cooper (Shirley MacLaine). Nothing is certain anymore; Mabel can't even trust her own memories. This makes for a thrilling Season 2.

Worst: There are a lot of subplots to juggle

Season 2 keeps a lot of plotlines in the air, ranging from Charles' reconnection with his daughter to Mabel's confrontation of repressed memories. For the most part, this is a successful juggling act. However, since there are so many subplots, "Only Murders in the Building" can go for multiple episodes without touching on certain storylines. This can be decidedly frustrating.

For one thing, Alice disappears for episodes at a time. This isn't a huge deal – Mabel can't always think about her love life when she's swept up in a case. However, Alice's absence is distracting in Episodes 7 ("Flipping the Pieces") and 8 ("Hello, Darkness"), since we leave her in the midst of re-staging the crime in Mabel's apartment. Viewers can probably figure out what's happening for themselves, but it's still tough to be left hanging until Episode 9, "Sparring Partners."

Another example of a stalled plotline arrives when Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport) instructs our heroes to stop podcasting. Somehow, he takes five episodes to finally realize they're disobeying his orders. And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the stolen painting and its scandalous history, which gets apparently forgotten through much of Season 2. Although the protagonists are worried about being caught with this incriminating evidence in the first few episodes, they seem content to leave it lying in the corner of Charles' apartment in later installments.

Best: Mabel is a suspect again

It's not easy to make a crime show's audiences seriously wonder if a main character is the killer. Season 1 of "Only Murders in the Building" pulls this off for a while, though it quickly becomes obvious that Mabel didn't kill her friend Tim Kono (Julian Cihi). Even more impressively, Season 2 manages to once again place Mabel on the list of suspects — not just the audience's, but her own. 

Season 2 doesn't accomplish this by revealing Mabel is secretly a serial killer, undoing an entire season's worth of development. Instead, "Only Murders in the Building" has Mabel question whether or not she really knows herself. Her backstory, which involves blocked-out memories (something hinted at in earlier episodes), perfectly casts suspicion on her character without retconning anything viewers already know about Mabel. As a result, Season 2's "Flipping the Pieces" is one of the most compelling episodes in the entire series. It doubles as a mystery in which Mabel tries to figure out if she's the killer, and a more personal story in which she confronts past trauma.

Worst: Amy Schumer hams it up

Amy Schumer can be very funny. But her indulgent cameo in Season 2 overlooks what makes Season 1's Sting cameo so perfect. Granted, Schumer's first scene with Oliver in the elevator is a hilarious callback, and builds on the previous season. However, she becomes a bit too hammy in the scenes set in her apartment. Schumer's hero-worship of Jan is initially amusing, but it quickly grows difficult to believe. Her attempts to play the bassoon are distracting. By the time she starts unabashedly flinging herself at Charles, viewers are starting to wonder whether Schumer is playing a caricature of herself, or just the most outrageous character possible.

While Schumer constantly tries to steal the scene, Sting leaves an impression in Season 1 through what he doesn't say. Viewers don't see very much of Sting at all — his presence is mostly felt through the characters around him, who bask in the aura of the Arconia's resident rock star. In most of his scenes (save his tearful "confession"), Sting is stoic and understated, playing things completely straight. He clearly wants to avoid attention as much as possible. That's what makes it so funny — it's a celebrity cameo by a celebrity who looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. Amy Schumer has none of this subtlety.

Best: No cliffhanger fake-outs

Many TV episodes end on cliffhangers, to keep viewers coming back for more. However, some of "Only Murders in the Building" Season 1's cliffhangers mislead viewers. For instance, Oliver's dog Winnie seems to die of poisoning at the end of Episode 3, "How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?," but the next episode reveals that Oliver manages to purge the poison from her system. Obviously, having Oliver's beloved dog die before his very eyes would be way too dark. But it does make you wonder if the show could have made the killer's threat palpable without retconning Winnie's apparent death. And then there's Jan's stabbing. Sure, there's a story reason for it, but when the next episode time-skips to after Jan has already recovered, it feels like cheating.

In contrast, Season 2 delivers on all of its cliffhangers. Charles actually does visit Jan in prison, and becomes more deeply embroiled than we could have ever imagined from the tease at the end of Episode 4, "Here's Looking at You." Moreover, Teddy really is Will's biological father, and Mabel actually attacks Glitter Guy on the subway, which lends even more weight to the theory that she also killed Bunny. The only exception might be Mrs. Gambolini (Jayne Houdyshell) announcing, "I know who did it." But then, who among us actually thinks the parrot will reveal the killer in "The Last Day of Bunny Folger"?

Worst: Some ill-timed improv

Steve Martin and Martin Short are brilliant improv artists. But in certain Season 2 moments, the duo riffs off each other a little too much, interrupting the show's pacing. Ordinarily, it'd be loads of fun to watch Charles and Oliver try to hide the murder weapon from Detective Williams in "Flipping the Pieces." But viewers are anxious to know what's happening with Mabel, who is pursuing the killer with Theo. Charles and Oliver just feel like a waste of time.

Likewise, the hilarious dialogue between Charles and Oliver in the stairwell is a victim of poor timing. While rushing to rescue Lucy, the two men get sidetracked swapping stories about knee surgery, grinding the story to a halt for roughly 90 seconds. Fans would enjoy every instant of this conversation in another context, but with Lucy in immediate danger, it's impossible to think about anything else. Thankfully, Mabel soon gets the story back on track with a pithy one-liner.

Best: Lots of meta jokes

When a show centers around a podcast that is itself about a murder, meta jokes are essential. Season 1 of "Only Murders in the Building" has a heaping helping of such humor, which Season 2 takes to the next level. Here, devoted podcast fans continue to follow our three heroes, making comments about previous podcast episodes which double as sly comments on the show itself. "Five entire episodes of vamping," declares Paulette (Ali Stroker), referring to the lack of progress the trio makes in solving the crime, and the structure of the entire TV series.

The most mind-blowing meta moment of Season 2 comes in "Persons of Interest," when Amy Schumer offers to make the podcast into a streaming series. She gets into such disarming detail — the prospective production will have roughly 10 episodes — viewers know she can only be referring to the show they're currently watching. 

This is hilarious, but the situation certainly raises some interesting questions. Does Hulu exist in the show's world? Would Amy Schumer get to play Jan, or would Amy Ryan get the part instead? For that matter, how come Amy Schumer is herself in this universe, but nobody seems to recognize Steve Martin or Selena Gomez? Perhaps it's best not to get sucked into this black hole and simply enjoy the meta humor for what it is.