Only Murders In The Building continues – and here’s our spoiler-y sleuthing from the sixth episode of season two, Performance Review.
Note: This post assumes you have seen Only Murders in the Building up to and including season two, episode six, or that you’re at least willing to play along as though you have.
More than ever, the latest episode of Only Murders in the Building wants us to consider that Things Are Not Always As They Seem and, to great emotional effect, the adjunct notion that People Are Not Always Who You Think They Are.
Only Murders’ writers this week are especially keen to remind us of the emotional costs that come with our assumptions about one another, trapping multiple characters on the wrong side of the mirror, imprisoned behind the almost-invisible barriers of expectation and image.
But detective stories have always been about shattering the world as it appears to be in order to reveal the world as it truly is, and thanks to the efforts of the Arconia Three, catharsis and closure could just be a few episodes away. There have been lots of seemingly disparate elements bought into play during these last six episodes, but there’s no reason to believe they can’t all coalesce into a satisfying whole – even if last year’s big reveal proved to be somewhat below the show’s typical stellar standards.
One key to some fulfilling final episodes will be sorting out the ever-expanding mountain of doubles, lookalikes and duplicates. There are loads to sift through, but also plenty of clues that might help with that.
This week, for the first time this season, I’m going to posit a theory. It won’t explain everything, but it’s an idea that might just explain who stabbed Bunny Folger. But there are plenty of other questions, so let’s do some groundwork by addressing some of those first.
Who went to collect the glitter bomb?
From the creeper in the secret corridors to Bunny’s meeting in the diner, this year’s Arconia style seems to be black boots and something to hide your hair under. As well as obscuring the identities of various characters in crucial scenes, this uniform has allowed several of them to become confused with one another. Does the same person meet Bunny in the diner then attack her at her door? Is the person in the Arcatacombs the person we see collecting the glitter bomb?
There could be any number of characters getting tangled up here, though the show’s current interest in doubles might suggest there’s likely to be only two. That’s certainly tidy, so we’re very possibly only looking for two similarly disguised ne’er do-wells in total.
Having said this, the glitter bomb explosion marks one character out very clearly and I think we can expect the figure making the pick-up to be the same one we see on the train. But who?
There are a few suspects. Let’s look specifically at Amy Schumer, Marv the Arconiac, and Detective Kreps.
Amy Schumer: We can expect that Schumer is researching the role of Jan for her potential portrayal. If she found Williams’ phone, she might have been interested in its contents and subsequently the matchbook. It’s a long shot, but I like the idea of Amy Schumer being used to traveling around New York in all-over disguise just so that she doesn’t get bothered. That’s also a notion that’s very much on-theme.
Marv the Arconic: Marv might be motivated to try and get ahead of his fellow podcast fans with scoops, or just want to be part of the experience and getting hands-on with the matchbook would certainly fulfill these goals. There might even be another level of podcasting going on, with a fancast we haven’t yet been introduced to and made by the Arconiacs.
Beyond motive, Marv has certainly got the build of the glitter bomb victim, and the only opportunity he would need is to somehow come into possession of Williams’ phone, so perhaps it’s time to go back and look at her phone closely, and see if it matches anybody else’s, indicating the potential for an accidental switcheroo.
It’s also entirely plausible that Marv, or the Arconiacs collectively, sent the original message to the podcasters, and that Williams has never had anything at all to do with it.
Detective Kreps: A very big chap, Kreps looks the part and probably deserves our suspicion for multiple reasons. He seems to be a bit of a dick, and his culpability could even be suggested by the unresolved season one plot point wherein Detective Williams discovered that Tim Kono’s toxicology report had not been completed and his phone not forwarded to the appropriate police IT team.
If we assume Williams actually did send the original messages, it’s easy to imagine how her colleague might get his hands on her phone, as well as see any PIN she’d use to lock it. Perhaps Kreps is going so far as to lie about Williams’ whereabouts in this week’s episode, and there’s even a possibility that he engineered the meeting with Cinda and the Arconiacs with an ulterior motive in mind, whether that’s getting inside the apartment or perhaps even colluding with Cinda or one of her crew.
We might yet learn that the events of season one bought the Rose Cooper painting to the attention of Detective Kreps, which is a good piece of potential connective tissue between all of the spiralling plot points…
Who met Bunny in the diner?
We don’t have much to go on except what looks like a beanie hat and a general build. If you ignore their dressing tendencies the character in the CCTV footage looks as much like Will as it does Theo, Marv, Howard, Lester, Kreps, Ursula or even Tommy the food cart guy. But why would any of these be meeting Bunny here?
That seems to me to be the salient question, and I honestly don’t think we can know the answer right now. There’s an assumption that their conversation had something to do with the painting, and it very possibly did, but it’s not definite. Maybe she was looking for a new owner for Mrs Gambolini. Maybe it was something else entirely. Maybe she knew who killed Tim Kono, that it wasn’t actually Jan, and was wanting to pass that information on discreetly.
I’m going to take Tommy off the list of potentials here because of his interaction with Bunny in episode three when Tommy suggests they spend some time together as if they’ve only ever interacted at his cart. I think we’re supposed to also cross Will off the list for the same reason, remembering the “He broke a window when he was ten” moment, but I’m pretty sure scene would still unfold like this if Will and Bunny had met the day before and now wanted to keep their meeting secret from Oliver.
Here’s one wild, leftfield theory I was chewing on: Bunny was meeting a doctor, and she was given the latest instalment of bad news about her health. Bunny having, for example, a terrible cancer prognosis could very well impact on everything, all the way from her deciding to leave the Arconia through to deciding to stay after all, and from giving Ivan an envelope of cash to breaking down outside Mabel’s door. It’s also a revelation that would bring us back to an intimate, personal place with Bunny, with all the dramatic and emotional satisfaction that would bring.
Forced to choose one candidate from the list of possible ‘Bunny meeters’ I’m going to go with Theo, with him possibly retained by Bunny to fence the Rose Cooper painting and/or its fake. I’m not wed to that idea however, it just seems a way to bring all of the plot threads together.
Is Teddy Dimas really Will’s biological father?
Oliver is in complete denial about the possibility, running instead with my earlier spitball theory that he might be Greek himself. I remain sceptical that the results, at least as cited by Will, make any sort of sense but I think that’s just as likely to be a slip-up or oversight by the writers. Where we’re going next in the story, the question is likely to be less about Will’s biology and more his emotional relationship with Oliver, Oliver’s relationship with Teddy, and as we saw sparked powerfully this week, Oliver’s relationship with his own self image.
Is Alice off the hook now?
We’ve now seen enough to explain Alice’s behaviour so far and, yes, if the writers decided she was in no other way involved, there wouldn’t be any conspicuous loose ends. But surely her abilities with forgery – at a glance the mural seems very accurate indeed – mean that she might yet be properly entwined in the painting storyline.
What’s the deal with the ‘Rose Cooper painting’?
The best reason we have to believe the Rose Cooper painting is a fake isn’t that Leonora said so, because who knows why she’d do that, but because a forgey gives us another double for this series’ huge pile of clones and simulacra.
This week episode didn’t overtly mention the painting in any way but it still reframed it (awful pun intended but certainly not apologised for) very powerfully. Because just like Alice’s Bloody Mabel project – whether that’s just photos or an installation or whatever online something – the painting seems to portray real people, and more than this, to tell a story about those people which might not be true, and – at the very least – can’t have been authored by both of them equally. It’s the theme of the week! Of course, this theme is not irrelevant to the very centre of the show, and we’re going on a very welcome incursion into questions about True Crime Podcasting and the packaging of real life events, tragedies and people, whether that’s by well-meaning artists, enthusiastic amateurs or even professional investigators, be they police or journalists.
Expect the veracity of the Rose Cooper painting to be called into question, and the matter of whether or not it is ‘accurate’ to have great emotional impact on Charles.
You may recall I was trying to anagramise Leonora Folger way back at the beginning of the series and was sure that Forger was going to be part of it. I was caught on a snag because I hadn’t considered the word Lo, but as soon as I did it all clicked into place: Leonora Folger is an anagram of Lo, A Lone Forger. Seems like a good metatextual confirmation of her story the painting is fake.
Now to crack Detective Kreps. The words Seeker and Evict jump out at me, but I’m stumped. A first name would certainly help. Something with an A in it, please?
What actually happened on the subway train?
Did Mabel stab the glittery man or was the footage misleading? It’s certainly the latter, but quite what happened isn’t entirely clear. Obviously, we see Mabel pull a red-tipped knitting needle from the person’s arm, but there’s no image of the needle going in.
Earlier, in the scene with Mabel getting onto the train, we see her reaching into her bag, the implication being that there’s a knitting needle in there. Honestly, though, the needle isn’t necessarily hers at all – the chances of somebody else knitting in that subway car aren’t ridiculous, and Mabel’s bag does not appear to have a wool-like bulge in it. Besides, the needle we saw stuck into Bunny was very differently coloured, with a red shaft, and the ones in Mabel’s dream from the very first episode seem to match that mostly-dark one better than the one we see on the train video.
My hunch is that somebody pushed somebody else on their scramble to get off the train and that’s what resulted in the stabbing, though somebody else on the train may have leapt into the fray with their own needle, it’s possible.
Perhaps the most telling detail in the footage is the label saying it comes from a ‘Verified’ account, such as one held by a figure of public interest. Might this be a huge clue that Cinda Canning or one of her staff is responsible for posting it? Amy Schumer would be a ‘Blue Tick’ user too, of course.
Who stabbed Bunny Folger?
We’re over half way through the run now so it’s about time for me to do some more concrete theorising. Who do I think stabbed Bunny Folger? Well, if I’m going out on a limb today, I’m going to say Lucy. Or rather: I can make a case that one of the people who stabbed Bunny was Lucy.
We know that Lucy was in the Arcatacombs, and that she was scared of the person she saw down there. Perhaps the scene that unfolded went something like this…
Lucy hid from the masked person in the tunnels. She called out to them and told them she wasn’t going to hurt them but they kept coming – possibly because they were Theo on a thieving mission, and he couldn’t hear her.
As somebody came closer, Lucy believed herself to be in real danger and stabbed them with the knitting needle that she had already, as a light-fingered, clothes-stealing Only Murders podcast fan, helped herself from Mabel’s apartment. This all makes sense of why she was concerned for Charles but also making a secret of what happened to her on the night of Bunny’s murder.
There’s a chance that the tie-dye hoodie played some part in this, with it stopping Lucy from identifying Bunny, and even Lucy now believing there were at least two people in the corridors to be scared of.
Lucy may even have fled before knowing what she did, just leaving a knitting needle stuck in Bunny and getting as far away as she can.
Wounded but by no means dead, Bunny now made her way to Mabel’s apartment, believing the podcastsers were still there, as she last saw them. She may have touched the matchbook on the way, if that is indeed blood on it (which it probably isn’t?), because for all we know, that matchbook could have been dropped through the grill in Mabel’s closet months or years ago.
On arriving in Mabel’s apartment, Bunny disturbed somebody – Theo, Alice, Kreps somebody else who was stealing or up to no good around the painting – and they stabbed her multiple times. Possibly they wouldn’t have done this if she hadn’t been stuck with the knitting needle, thereby leaving a little of her blood on them.
The stabber may have used Oliver’s knife to do the stabbing, though I have no idea why they’d have it; maybe one of the podcasters had taken it there at some point to cut and serve cake or something like that and forgotten about it. Or maybe they used another knife that we don’t know about, and Oliver’s knife is a planted red-herring.
This doesn’t explain everything, but it’s on-theme and it makes use of characters who are still looking for an arc to follow all the way to the season finale. It might not be a bad starting theory.
Mind you, I’m sceptical of this theory myself, despite it coming from my own brain, and the number one reason why is Mrs Gambolini. She’s coming back into play, I’m sure of it, and I think the show is going to flip our understanding of the role she plays, and with that send the investigation in an a whole new direction.
Not many extra notes from my sleuthing notepad this week –
- When we see Poppy late in the episode she seems to have taken out her frustration on a box of pencils and a mic. Is this a turning point in her relationship with Cinda? Is she about to blow the whistle?
- No new clues about the deal Nina was trying to make for the Arconia extension but that’s not going to be a loose end, is it?
- I didn’t hear any yodelling in this episode. And where was Howard? He’s not the glittery guy, is he?
- If this story is next about rehabilitating Mabel’s reputation, can it end with Charles rehabilitating his family’s reputation? And Bunny’s reputation too?
- Mabel sure knows how to dress in a way that makes a blood stain really pop.
- I went back and paused on Cinda’s diary. Outrageous!
- New Brazzos is especially bad. I’m sure we’ll see more of Andrea Martin.
- With Williams on maternity leave I guess the baby has now been born. What name did they go for in the end? Keith or Kareem?
- How accurate was Alice’s mural recreation? Errors might be interesting… but I didn’t spot any. Yet.
- Poppy was wearing very Bunny-like tortoiseshell frames! Adina Verson was great – she nailed the NPR delivery but also gave Poppy a lot of life.
More next week, after season 2, episode 7, Flipping the Pieces, has premiered.
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