'Only Murders in the Building' season 2: Getting cozy with the corpse

Complications get more confounding in the second season of 'Only Murders in the Building'. But there’s still a wonderful wholesomeness and fun to the crime and investigations

'Only Murders in the Building' season 2: Getting cozy with the corpse

Namrata Joshi

In the very first episode of the second season of the much-loved web series, Only Murders in the Building (available in India on Disney+Hotstar), American actor and standup comic Amy Schumer, playing herself (she is shown moving into the apartment that Sting owned last season), tells the Broadway director Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) what she found appealing about the true crime podcast that he had kicked off along with semi-retired actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) and young artiste Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), while investigating the mysterious death of Tim Kono in their apartment building Arconia in New York’s tony Upper West Side. Cozy is how she chooses to describe it, while proposing to buy the rights of the podcast for a TV series.

In keeping with this nice meta-ness of things, comforting and snug are the adjectives which I would use to describe both the seasons of the series as well. There’s something immensely reassuring to enter the Arconia yet again with the three unlikely detectives, this time to solve the murder of the building’s Board President Bunny Folger (Jane Houdyshell) in which they themselves are “people of interest”. The cops are waiting for the right evidence to charge them with the homicide.

This murder with knitting needles provided a cliffhanger of a finale to the first season and offered the promise of an exciting return. Thankfully our hopes are not belied. Neither does the dead body, nor the investigation disappoint, the second time round as well.

Only there’s a lot more happening here. Like the bete noire of the threesome, Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) the host of the true crime podcast All is not ok in Oklahoma deciding to start a new one (called Only Murderers in the Building) while attempting to solve the crime herself. Besides, her podcast aimed at framing the three, there’s a potty-mouth parrot, erotic painting and architectural secrets that further complicate all that is already quite confounding.

However, despite the confusion and chaos, there’s still a wholesomeness and fun to the crime and investigations. Without losing any time the second season swiftly and effortlessly draws you into its world. You don’t pause to question but enter it with a sense of belongingness. There’s a feeling of one-ness in being part of the investigation than being mere observers on the outside. Even the animated opening credits and the title music have a warmth and instant familiarity by now.

The twists and turns, secrets and lies, keep you guessing; make you think along while keeping you wholly engaged. In exercising your grey cells, you gain calm and centredness; it is almost like yoga of the mind. And some sharp writing, characteristic wit and humour and breezy narrative make you coast along from one episode to another, all at a go. I am still guffawing at the take on the chatter of the millennials, described as “watching Squid Game without subtitles”.

As in the previous outing, Martin, Short and Gomez make a wonderful team, perfectly in tune with each other while battling their own individual demons. “I need a life away from death,” says Gomez’s Mabel. “I’d rather be dead than boring,” counters Short’s Oliver. Marriage, betrayals, separations; but most so parents and progenies, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters provide the thematic frame and emotional spine to the second season. Not to miss the opportunity to see Shirley MacLaine again after long and some delicious references to Rosemary’s Baby and Knives Out tucked in ever so casually.

Only Murders... continues to be an extremely satisfying watch. The highpoint of last season was the wordless episode seven—The Boy from 6B—which was told from the perspective of the character Theo who is unable to hear. Having seen with the first six episodes provided for the preview so far, I thought the third—titled The Last Day of Bunny Folger—did aspire for an emotional leap in focusing on the melancholia, loneliness and a simultaneous hunger for power of Bunny, who “knew everything about everyone”. Could she have been saved by a simple act of kindness or was her death necessary to bring the focus back on some loose ends from the past? Though tantalizing, the episode left me asking for more. I am now awaiting the next four episodes, hoping for more such flights of imagination and ingenuity. And, of course, am still wondering who the killer could be.

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