What to Watch Verdict
A solid start to the second season, which is at its best when the trio is together.
The end of episode reveal
Exploring the weight of all this death
More fantastic costumes from designer Dana Covarrubias
Maybe too many meta references
This review contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building season 2 episode 1, “Persons of Interest.” Read our previous Only Murders in the Building season 1 episode 10 right here.
In Only Murders in the Building season 1, our podcasters/detectives solved not one but two major crimes. However, another murder that occurred in the final moments immediately thrusts Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez) back into the mystery fire. The Arconia’s cranky board president Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) lays dead in Mabel’s apartment and "Persons of Interest" rejoins the series where it left off: with the trio in handcuffs.
Before dealing with the fallout of this crime, the premiere opens with Charles waxing lyrical about New York City in a voiceover that mirrors the pilot. Reality quickly snaps into place and the fantasy of fame is replaced by the interrogation room. Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport) question the three separately but are leaning toward Mabel as the prime suspect.
This isn't a leap as Mabel was covered in Bunny’s blood and talked about killing someone with a knitting needle in the first episode of their podcast (which is played back to her). Luckily for Mabel, they don’t have enough evidence to charge her and they let slip that the still missing murder weapon isn’t the knitting needle but a knife.
Detective Williams has been more friend than foe in the past, so she warns them against following up their podcast with a sequel. "Please tell the tiny one to stop recording me," she hilariously warns when she notices Oliver’s phone. They haven’t been charged but are persons of interest. Given this position, it's hardly surprising Oliver and Charles are keen to hop back on the podcast train. Mabel does not share their enthusiasm. "I need a life away from death," she tells them.
Whereas Oliver and Charles are giddy about the new mystery, Mabel must live with the image of Bunny’s last moments. Later she admits she heard Bunny’s final words that sounded like the number 14; however, a flashback to this moment reveals that she also said the word "Savage." As in Charles-Haden Savage? Is Mable’s reluctance to dive back into the murder podcast biz because she is wary of her friend? It also doesn’t help that she has to clean up the giant bloodstain on her hardwood floor and the hashtag "Bloody Mabel" is trending.
One positive message Mabel receives is from Alice (Cara Delevingne), who invites her to an art event and appears to have no ulterior motive beyond admiring the mural Mabel painted. Of course, it's hard to trust her. Yes, she momentarily distracts Mabel from the swirling whirlwind that is her life, but it all seems rather convenient when the potential motive for Bunny’s murder ties to Alice’s profession— not that Mabel is aware of the connection in this scene.
While Mabel is trying to live her life, Charles is getting his career back on track. He takes a meeting regarding a Brazzos TV reboot but is disappointed he will be playing Uncle Brazzos. Elsewhere, Amy Schumer (playing a version of herself) has moved into Sting’s former penthouse. Amy approaches Oliver regarding her plan to turn the podcast into a TV series and Oliver is keen to make this happen. All this has potential, but there are a lot of meta-references that could tip into annoying.
Another project brings the trio back together as Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) has taken their investigating in real-time format with her "Only Murderers in the Building" podcast. Mabel tries to avoid the stink of death that has enveloped her, but she is getting pulled back in thanks to Cinda and a sound from next door.
As we learned in season 1 Mabel’s apartment connects to Bunny’s via the air ducts. They return to this tight space when they hear what sounds like Bunny’s voice. To their surprise, they find a bird that sounds a whole lot like its owner. They use this time to look around the murder victims’ apartment.
Oliver is concerned about being implicated in Bunny’s murder because he sent her threatening notes during the whole eviction issue last season. He scoops up any cards and letters he spots on this little recon mission. The trio is interrupted by the sounds of keys in the door, which leads to not one but two significant discoveries when they hide in the closet.
Fellow Arconia residents Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) and Uma (Jackie Hoffman) are here to snatch an erotic painting from Bunny’s wall worth $1 million. That is a motive for murder! Unfortunately, they find out that someone has already beaten them to the punch as it's no longer hanging on Bunny’s bedroom wall.
Discovery number two occurs while the trio is hiding among Bunny’s impressive collection of cozy coats (costume designer Dana Covarrubias is already delivering). A secret elevator that leads to an exit around the back of the building is an exciting find — the coats come in handy for the cold trip down.
The threat of Cinda Canning making them look like the guilty ones is enough to get Mabel back on the team and Charles already comes up with the perfect line to end the first episode, "We find the painting, we find the killer."
All the pieces are starting to fall into place, including Oliver discovering a threatening note to Bunny saying, "I WANT THAT PAINTING." However, the biggest twist is saved for the final moments, where Charles shows Oliver and Mabel the latest addition to his wall — the missing painting in his apartment; on top of that, the subject is his father.
They have found the missing artwork, but there is no way Charles is the killer — although he is connected to the case. The mystery has already cranked up a gear, and this is a solid return.
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.