What to Watch Verdict
More clues are dished out in an episode that strikes a balance between humor and heart.
Giving more depth to Bunny's character
Hits poignant and funny notes
No more meta-references regarding second seasons
All the suspects are rather obvious so far
NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building season 2, episode 3, “The Last Day of Bunny Folger.” Read our previous Only Murders in the Building season 2 episode 2 right here.
It would be a short season of Only Murders in the Building if the third episode cracked the case, so it should come as no surprise that Mrs. Gambolini is not a star witness. Mrs. Gambolini, the yellow-headed Amazon parrot that the recently deceased Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) left to Oliver (Martin Short) in her will, does not know who murdered her owner, picking up the "I know who did it" line from an old movie Bunny was watching.
"The Last Day of Bunny Folger" opens with Oliver trying to get an exclusive interview with the bird, to which Mrs. Gambolini responds, "F*** off, Oliver!" While Oliver tries to get the parrot to talk, Charles (Steve Martin) panics that Bunny might be his half-sister after Leonora’s (Shirley MacLaine) bombshell that she was having an affair with Charles’s father. This concern isn’t due to brotherly love but because he kissed Bunny on the lips at a Christmas party. This opener is pure comedy bliss as Short and Martin bounce back and forth and Gomez referees. It gets even funnier when Charles and Oliver try to coax an answer out of the bird by doing their best (and by best, I mean worst) impressions of Bunny.
As enjoyable as that is, it's helpful that Mabel gets them to focus on the task as they try to retrace Bunny's final steps from receipts they got in her apartment. The scene cuts from the present to Bunny waking up on the morning that would be her last. There is an air of melancholy as, after 29 years, this is her final day as Arconia board president.
Flipping through a Florida pamphlet suggests Bunny is finally ready for a change of scenery and the grumbling on the radio about the current state of New York seems to support her mood. She rehearses her retirement speech and it's impossible not to feel for the cranky woman when the words catch in her throat — Houdyshell is excellent throughout.
The brilliance of this episode is that by following Bunny for a day, we get a glimpse of her interior life, which is something the murder victim in a crime mystery isn’t always afforded. Of course, Bunny's grumpy demeanor takes shape in public and private, but there is a loneliness that matches how the three leads were last year.
Bunny’s routine reveals she has a rapport with people inside and outside the Arconia. Her friendship with Uma (Jackie Hoffman) is well documented and her relationship with Nina (Christine Ko) is cordial at first. Nina will be the new Arconia president and she already has a handle on everything that needs to be checked and fixed. When Bunny disperses Oliver, Mabel, Charles and their fans (who are selling merch), Nina backs her up.
At the Pickle Diner, she gives a waiter called Ivan an envelope of cash as a very generous tip — and it isn’t the first time. "Don’t let yourself only love one thing," is her other parting gift; the words of wisdom are backed up by experience. The Arconia has dominated Bunny’s life and she struggles to give it up.
We get some interesting clues from her conversations with Ivan as he mentions a friend from the previous day and Bunny is quick to refute that this person is a friend. Who did Bunny meet? And does it have anything to do with the phone call she receives earlier about the painting?
Bunny runs into Charles and Mabel in the elevator. When it stalls, she fixes it without needing help. "Bunny, you’re a badass," Mabel marvels at the actions of someone who truly knows this building inside out. Bunny also has a revelation and realizes that she hates the heat, so the move to Florida is off.
The board meeting doubling as a retirement party turns into a war of words when Bunny announces she is keeping her job. Howard’s valiant attempts to keep up with the note-taking are futile as Bunny and Nina launch insults at each other. Bunny cites preserving the Arconia (rather than modernizing) as her reason for staying and in return, Nina calls her a "relic." Nina leaps to the top of the suspect list, but this seems unlikely, considering she is only days away from giving birth.
Only Murders is a cozy crime comedy and yet it also knows how to land a sucker punch when you least expect it. There is something deeply upsetting about hearing Bunny wailing in the corridor after she gives the main trio a bottle of champagne and they don’t invite her to join them. They did give her a tie-dye hoodie (which explains why she is wearing their merch), but there is a sense of regret regarding this missed opportunity. Not that they would typically hang out with Bunny — she did try to evict them — but this act of kindness is a missed moment. When they open the door, Bunny is gone, and the trio heads to the roof to drink the bubbly.
Old and new footage is intercut that shows what was occurring while the gang was shooting the breeze about the "couple of loose ends" (what loose ends?!) before Mabel went to grab more booze.
Bunny gets a knock at her door from a mystery person dressed in black worker boots. "What the f*** do you want?" she gripes before she is taken by surprise. Bunny is attacked in her apartment, but we still don’t know how she ends up in Mabel’s home and the final shot of this episode shows her stumbling into the frame.
Showing Bunny’s last day hasn’t solved this mystery, but it does reveal her depths beyond the grievances she had with several residents. The clues are trickling in and the ties to the previous season are welcome. The meta-references have been dropped (for now) as Only Murders strikes a balance between humor and heart.
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.