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Only Murders in the Building season 2 episode 7 review: Mabel confronts her painful past

An unexpected ally helps with the investigation.

Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building
(Image: © Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)

Our Verdict

A new team-up tackles the past and delivers an illuminating episode.

For

  • James Caverly as Theo continues to steal every moment
  • The exploration of Mabel's past trauma
  • Charles and Oliver as comic relief
  • Tense and creepy moments

Against

  • Some memories are recovered a tad too quickly

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building season 2 episode 7, “Flipping the Pieces.” Read our previous Only Murders in the Building season 2 episode 6 recap right here.

In the Only Murders in the Building season 2 premiere, Mabel (Selena Gomez) says she wants to experience a life free from death. Zoe and Tim left their mark, but this cuts deeper. "Flipping the Pieces" reveals the source of Mabel’s trauma and the coping mechanism she developed as a child. However, a surprising source helps Mabel confront the horrors of the present by looking to the pain of the past. What follows is an enlightening journey and one of the best episodes of season 2 so far.

The day after the subway attack, Mabel wakes up in a strange apartment and is immediately on edge when she finds out Theo (James Caverly) stepped in to save the day. "Is that me? Did I stab someone… again?" are her first questions when Theo shows the trending video. We now know Mabel’s patchy memory regarding Bunny’s (Jayne Houdyshell) death wasn't down to a lightly-buzzed champagne state because she can’t remember this sober moment either.

Theo was in the next subway carriage and came to her aid. Mabel is understandably angry at Theo because of what happened to Zoe (not to mention the time Oscar served in jail), but he tries to make his case. Mabel doesn’t know ASL and Theo produces a card that reveals he can only understand one-third of what someone says via lip reading. 

Mabel and Theo's comments on what movies suggest about deaf people reading lips is a reminder that representation matters. While "Flipping the Pieces" doesn’t quite hit the heights of the Theo-focused (and "silent") season 1 episode, it's still an effective showcase for Caverly while Gomez more than rises to the occasion.

When Glitter Guy attacked Mabel on the subway, he also stole her bag, which had the matchbook in it (and her phone, meaning she can't contact Charles and Oliver). However, Mabel and Theo found a few more clues regarding this person’s identity, including a security badge for Coney Island. Theo is happy to accompany her on this dangerous mission. Yes, he wants to seek absolution for what he did, but an unspoken bond goes beyond Zoe’s death.

Daddy issues are a big theme this season, from Oliver (Martin Short) still not knowing if he is Will’s biological father to Charles (Steve Martin) wrestling with the idea of his dad’s involvement in the painting mystery. Theo is not speaking to his father and ignores Teddy’s (Nathan Lane) attempts to reach out. He holds his father partly responsible for what happened, but other deep-rooted resentments range from the grave robbing and lack of regular childhood activities. This becomes apparent when Mabel discovers Theo never visited Coney Island as a kid. Mabel gives him that experience before the focus shifts back to Glitter Guy.

It goes from fairground fun to creepy when Mabel goes to the bathroom and finds glitter in the sink, bloody tissues in the trash and then hears someone coming. While her choice of hiding in a locker is not the best, Mabel uses quick thinking to hit the assailant with the door and grabs their backpack before fleeing. She finds Theo and they escape Coney Island. Mabel gets her bag back, but the matchbook is missing. 

James Caverly and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building

James Caverly and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building (Image credit: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)

This time with Theo has been fruitful, though, as she acknowledges she can no longer block out the trauma. Flashbacks throughout the episode reveal Mabel's relationship with her father (guest star Mark Consuelos). He showed her The X-Files (7-year-old Mabel as Scully is adorable) and they did jigsaw puzzles together, making it harder by flipping the pieces. This explains why Mabel is drawn to unsolved crimes. Tragically, her father died from cancer and she pushed away those memories to block out the pain. She did the same with Zoe and then with Bunny.

Earlier, Theo said he isn’t sure if he pushed Zoe or if she slipped. Of course, he desperately wants it to be the latter. Mabel is equally uncertain whether she stabbed Bunny or not, but has clarity by the end of the episode. Her memory returns quickly — maybe too quickly — but she sees the attacker running away and the needle already in Bunny. 

She thanks Theo and tells him, "I was wrong about you" before reuniting with Charles and Oliver in the diner.

Charles and Oliver have maintained Mabel’s innocence while she was off the grid. Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) has returned to the city (with her adorable baby) after seeing the subway video and she spends the afternoon trying to get Charles and Oliver to shed light on what they know. These scenes (including Oliver’s tried-and-tested A Chorus Line baby hack) add a sense of levity and farce to balance the emotional scenes. They ultimately give Detective Williams the murder weapon because Mabel’s prints aren’t on it and they trust her.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Only Murders in the Building

Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Only Murders in the Building (Image credit: Patrick Harbron/Hulu)

The same can't necessarily be said about her partner, Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport). He made a big deal about this being a career-making case last week and it isn’t uncommon for law enforcement officers to get a second job in security. Also, Glitter Guy appears to be a white man. The killer and Glitter Guy aren’t necessarily the same person, but he definitely is high on our suspect list

While the matchbook was gone, Mabel does find a worrying photograph in Glitter Guy’s bag. It's a surveillance-style shot of Charles and Lucy (Zoe Colletti). It turns out Lucy has also let herself into Charles’ apartment. To make matters worse, while they are on the phone, there is a city-wide blackout. This cliffhanger ending tops the previous episode, as the danger (and intrigue) level continues to rise.

Only Murders in the Building releases new episodes Tuesdays on Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in the UK.

Emma Fraser
Emma Fraser

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.