Mabel, Charles, and Oliver are back with fireworks!
On Only Murders In The Building Season 2 Episode 1, we are finally treated to the continuation of Season 1's shocking cliffhanger, which saw Bunny's brutal murder, seemingly at Mabel's hands.
The truth, of course, proves to be much more complicated and will likely prove to be a puzzle of many pieces.
Charles Haden Savage: We’re getting the hang of this.
Oliver Putnam: Absolutely. You can tell it’s our second season.
The quirkiness and whimsy of the show are certainly still present, but sometimes it feels like it's getting a bit too meta for its own good.
Everyone seems just a little bit tired. It's still a joy to have these characters back on our screens -- maybe we're just feeling Mabel's exhaustion.
The trio literally just started celebrating their victory when someone else in the building was horribly murdered -- with someone intent on framing Mabel.
Mabel wasn't even allowed to enjoy her moment, and we feel her depletion and numbness. It's got to be frustrating (though it keeps things moving), especially when Oliver was ready to turn on her during the interrogation.
Sweet freedom for the innocent -- and justice for all crimefighters!Oliver Putnam
Along with our starring trio, we also have appearances from Season 1 perennials Howard (Michael C. Creighton), Uma (Jackie Hoffman), Detective Williams (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), Ursula (Vanessa Aspillaga), and Cinda Canning (Tina Fey).
Conspicuously absent from the proceedings is Oscar, whose exclusion is explained by a measly two lines from Mabel.
Isn't this happening mere days after Jan's arrest? Fair enough if Oscar wants to distance himself from Mabel after what happened.
Hopefully, Aaron Dominguez appears this season, whether or not he's playing the "jealous ex with trauma bonding."
It would be a sloppy way to write out someone who was such a central character in Season 1 in order to make room for a new love interest, especially since Oscar is still definitely alive (as far as we know).
Surely Oscar has to be back at some point! He needs to weigh in! We need real closure!
Let's look at the guest stars who showed up on these episodes.
Amy Schumer is a funny woman, but her tone doesn't quite match the Arconia vibe.
Perhaps it's on purpose, but it's hard to tell. She's playing herself, but somehow it still manages to feel forced. Some of her lines are hysterical, with spot-on delivery but often her and Oliver's interactions feel off.
Amy Schumer: Are you Oliver Putnam?
Oliver Putnam: Well, that depends. Are you suing me?
Amy Schumer: No, I only sue Judd Apatow.
She feels more like a plot point than a character, without much impetus of her own except to be funny and not too bright. Maybe she's just playing the fool and she's got something else going on.
Cara Delevingne is immediately magnetic as Alice. She's mysterious but charming and has the same self-deprecating dry humor as Mabel.
Sometimes I like to cry back here because I’m a fraud. It’s a multi-purpose space.Alice Banks
There's clearly a spark between them, as evidenced by that kiss at the end of Only Murders In The Building Season 2 Episode 2.
Alice is so intriguing, plus she will be a link to the art world that might provide more answers about Rose Cooper. There has to be more to Alice than meets the eye.
Icon Shirley MacLaine plays Bunny's dotty, high-class mother, Leonora. She's abrasive at first, but once she knows that the trio has a similar ambition (and can tell they are innocent by smelling them?), she helps them in their search.
She wants her sexy painting and to find out who killed Bunny -- the trio wants to find both. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. Will Leonora return? Could Bunny be Charles's half-sister? Does it matter?
It appears the original conceit of a new narrator every episode is staying in. With Leonora's narration bookending Episode 2, we got the history of the Arconia, which was in turn Bunny's history.
Bunny had a secret elevator? Where does it go, Hell?Oliver Putnam
It will be fun to see who of the lead and supporting characters will get their own episode and if there will be anything to match the brilliance of Only Murders In The Building Season 1 Episode 7.
A classic murder mystery trope is the secret passageways, so the hidden elevator in Bunny's closet, though surprising, didn't feel out of place, especially given the age of the building.
The idea of the Arconia as a character in and of itself is palpable here.
What once was a place of joy is now haunted. Or maybe it was always haunted -- you just can’t see the ghosts until you’re close to being on yourself.Leonora Folger
We got a good chunk of Charles's backstory and the most we've heard about his no-good father since Only Murders In The Building Season 1 Episode 1.
Back then, Charles confided in Mabel (which turned out to be a Brazzos speech that Charles claimed was based on truth).
It’s a very good show to have on in the background when you’re dying.Leonora Folger
Charles's father was by all accounts a drunk and occasional criminal who had a way with many ladies except his own wife -- whom he referred to as a "dream killer."
Young Charles lost faith in his father early on, as was evidenced in the flashback that ended with Charles Sr. being taken away in handcuffs (after, Charles now realizes, visiting Rose Cooper).
It's great to have an actual callback (not just Oliver's reference to Mabel's headphones) but building upon a relationship that was already established in Season 1 that will now potentially bear fruit in Season 2.
How will Cinda Canning play into all of this?
The initial shock of seeing her in bed with Charles was a jolt until we realized she was merely living rent-free inside each of the trio's heads, individually.
Another fun little touch was Howard's mention of his yodeling group, followed by the sound of yodeling in the distance in a later scene.
These are fun little storytelling devices and touches that verge on theatrical and make this show fun and quirky, or as Amy Schumer called it, "cozy."
How will Mabel's connection as an artist figure into the search for the original "Savage"?
It seems art is the underlying theme of this season, whether erotic, mural, abstract sculpture, or otherwise.
Clearly, Bunny's death had something to do with the painting, as the last thing she said before she died was "Savage."
What could she have been referring to with her other last word, "fourteen"? An age? An apartment number? Maybe a storage locker where the real painting is kept?
There are several suspicious things to note from Episode 2.
Howard's got a black eye. How did that happen? He claims he was playing with his new kitten -- this feels like a lie. He's got to be hiding something, but he seems too obvious a choice to be Bunny's killer.
Nina Lin is a new character who has taken over Bunny's position. Howard strongly dislikes her, but the trio isn't familiar with her. She'll likely be a piece of this puzzle -- how big remains to be seen.
Ursula threw something into the dumpster when Mabel and Oliver were sneaking around back. Was it just expired Gut Milk or something more sinister?
What did Charles's father do that day he was supposedly "auditioning" and then got led away in handcuffs? Could he have killed Rose Cooper, but when her body never turned up, they couldn't charge him?
What if Rose Cooper is alive?
Who sent Bunny the unsigned card saying "BUNNY FOLGER I WANT THAT PAINTING"? Did Bunny have a replica made to protect the original?
Even in death, Bunny figures out a way to give you the bird.Mabel Mora
Does Mrs. Gambolini actually know something? Would her testimony even be admissible? At least she could provide a theory that the trio would have to prove and back up with evidence.
Will we get a Mrs. Gambolini-centric episode? It seems farfetched, but this show has been known for subverting expectations and being wildly creative, I can see it happening.
Stuff it up your ass.Mrs. Gambolini
I’d rather be dead than boring.Oliver Putnam
There is so much to digest with these first two episodes.
It promises to be yet another zany whodunit -- whether it can live up to season 1 remains to be seen. Can lightning strike twice?
Over to you, Arconiacs! Give us your theories on what has transpired thus far! Who do you think stole Bunny's painting? Are the thief and the killer one and the same?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.