Only Murders In The Building continues – and here’s our spoiler-y sleuthing from the seventh episode of season two, Flipping the Pieces.
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.
An old truism about writing great screenplays – or, really, great drama of any kind – says that the separate scenes should be bridged by a ‘but’ or ‘therefore’ instead of ‘and’ or ‘then.’ The idea is that everything which happens should have an effect on what happens next, moving things along like toppling dominoes, one action causing another.
Only Murders in the Building is good drama so you’ll consistently see this thinking all throughout its structure but, more than this, cause and effect is very much a key theme of this second season. For these last seven episodes we’ve been specifically and closely exploring the fallout of the first season’s many dramatic outcomes.
This week’s episode was structured around Theo and Mabel, each reeling emotionally with the repercussions of what has been happening at the Arconia. As the story unfolds, they come to discover that they have a lot in common, not least feeling trapped beneath the rubble of their past – especially their recent past.
But does looking at the mystery puzzle as well as the character drama from this vantage point yield any insight into the whodunnit of it all? What might it mean if Bunny’s murder is seen specifically as a direct outcome of the events portrayed in season one? It seems that the show is very much interested in this idea thematically, so it’s where I’d expect the imminent reveals to all point.
Let’s take a look at some of the bigger results of Only Murders’ firs season worth of incident, and what part those events might have played in the murder of Bunny Folger, or even the painting-based shenanigans that have been going on in the margins.
The return of Lucy
The happy ending of season one, such as it was, saw Charles finally rebuild a bridge to Lucy. It strikes me as particularly satisfying, and deeply ironic too, that this ‘victory’ might have been the spark that created all of the terrible repercussions we’re now sorting out through season two.
We know Lucy came to the Arconia as a result of Charles’ text. Imagine her state of mind, perhaps exacerbated after listening to a whole podcast series about this being a building full of nasty and even deadly things, and it’s not hard to imagine scenarios in which she might have played a part in Bunny’s death. I sketched one such hypothesis out last week, in fact. It’s worth adding that Lucy’s fingerprints being on the bloody knife – as was underlined this week – will definitely complicate things as the pieces finally start to click together.
Success for the Arconia trio’s podcast
The obvious material result of the trio’s podcast proving to be a success is the presence of their fanbase, The Arconiacs. As well-established on screen, there is a core of keen fanatics keeping a close eye on the continued circumstances of Olimabel (the Charles is silent). We see Grant, Marv, Paulette and Sam just enough to remember that they exist, and they sometimes also get to be a funny Greek Chorus for a moment.
It’s not much of a jump to consider the Arconiacs as suspects, especially Marv, who seems to match the build of one or more of the show’s mystery, shadowy individuals, and who revealed that he’s worked on vents in the Arconia. This work could very likely mean he has awareness of the tunnels, and the rest of suspicion sprouts out of that.
The direct impact on Cinda Canning’s podcast empire isn’t clear, but there are several reasons she might react poorly to the trio’s success, even while she’s trying to exploit their story for another hit series of her own. Or might the existence of her ‘counter podcast’ in itself be a motive to plant evidence against the trio? Similarly, any impact on Cinda translates to secondary impact on Cindy and Poppy, as well as anybody else caught up in her True Crime milking machine.
Much like it isn’t a given that the person who stuck Bunny with a knife is the one who pushed a knitting needle into her, it also can’t be taken for granted that whoever stabbed Bunny is the person who put Oliver’s bloody knife in Charles’ kitchen, whether that knife is the one used in the stabbing or not. There are a lot of pieces in play here – somebody having a motivation to kill Bunny and somebody entirely different being motivated to frame the trio is entirely possible, and a good way of making the truth opaque while the mystery is still unravelling. In any case, the podcast might well have provided all sorts of people with their still-secret intentions to land the podcasters in the crap.
If we assume the podcast eventually hit a sizeable audience, and it seems that it probably did, then might its success have returned Charles to his father’s attention? Might it also have told Leonora about Bunny’s then circumstances?
I’m also suspicious of what Detective Kreps might have heard on the podcast and what it might be motivating him to do. In the simplest case it’s made him into quite a stiff antagonist for the trio, but it doesn’t have to end there.
The incarceration of Jan
Jan being in prison seems to be enough to fuel a fictional retelling of her story, an apparent TV project set to star Amy Schumer. This might be a motivation for Jan to complicate the story somewhat, or to reframe herself as either innocent, a victim or deeply misunderstood. It might also be a good reason for Amy Schumer to get up to some shadiness around the building, though I can’t see a plausible throughline from Schumer attaching herself to a role and then taking a sharp object to Bunny.
My hunch is that this plot thread isn’t about to get tied off and, instead, next year’s episodes will deal with the imminent dramatisation, adding another layer of metatextual commentary and comedic, dramatic potential.
The disruption of Teddy Dimas’ lifestyle
The only definite, on-screen reaction to Teddy’s situation I can recall is his angry speech to Oliver on leaving the elevator. We’re all expecting to find out that he screwed with Will’s DNA test, however. But will that be the end of it?
Has Teddy employed Theo in some other naughtiness? Might Teddy be behind the attempts to frame the trio? Was he somehow responsible for the moving of the painting? I’m not 100% clear on what the Dimases know about the tunnels in the Arconia – it seems like they made good use of tunnels and secret doors in their thievery, but Theo also steals keys and forces locks.
Bunny was given a hoodie
Bunny receiving the hoodie makes her look like anybody else who might be wearing one, or even just Oscar’s original tie-dye hoodie. I still think it’s likely this clothing played some part in mistaken identity somewhere along the way, and that this will prove crucial to understand what happened on the night she was killed.
The death of Evelyn, Howard’s cat
Who knows what this has driven Howard to do? He’s coming back soon, I’m sure and he’s going to somehow be near the epicentre of the drama.
The emotional stories of our trio
The story has recently been sliiiiiiightly biased towards emotional problems for Mabel and Oliver in the last few episodes, with Charles’ problems being present but slightly less cataclysmic. The revelation of the photo at the end of episode seven cues us up for what comes next, however: some real grief and aggravation for Charles.
My hunch is that we’ll get closure on the Mabel/Alice and Oliver/Will storylines in the last few episodes, but also some real development on Charles and his relationships: with Lucy, with his father, and – I’m increasingly convinced – with Bunny. To my mind, this also increases the likelihood of a final mystery solution (or set of nested solutions) that revolve around Charles, the painting of his father, what Bunny’s relationship to the Savage family is and, to keep beating the same drum, Lucy.
How has Charles’ story been most impacted by the events of the first season? It mainly seems to be in his relationships with Jan and Lucy – though his friendships with Oliver and Mabel certainly hit a milestone this week with an all-importan hug in the Pickle Diner. After building on last week’s semi-hug with Oliver, this feels like the next step in an arc that’s about to get twisted.
Regarding the photo Mabel found specifically, it might prove to be both the most informative and misleading clue in this entire episode. It’s a photo of Lucy and Charles, seemingly on the set of Brazzos, and it was positioned in the episode’s narrative in a way that puts the focus on Lucy – indeed, the photo itself favours her. But it’s also a photo of Charles, and why the glitter guy has a photo of Charles will probably be key to understanding everything that’s been going on.
Is it his dad? Somebody who is working for his dad? How does Charles’ possible relationship to Bunny and/or Leonora factor in?
Several questions there, but I think we’re finally about to get some solid answers. I’m prepared to be that we’re headed to a finale all about Charles and his dad and also Charles as a dad, and it’s time for some of the disparate clues to start fitting that frame more neatly.
Not too may extra notes from my sleuthing notepad this week –
- Gut Buzz Zero! I thought Gut Milk felt very much like a clue in season one but it worked as a kind of goofy world-building. Now that it feels like goofy world-building, the cynic in me says we must be on the verge of seeing it revealed as a crucial clue.
- Keith was nice! Also, it was good to hear Da’Vine Joy Randolph sing. This show could use just a little more music, I think. It certainly fits, anyway.
- The episode of The X-Files we see is The Host. It features The Flukeman, a New Jersey sewer-dweller. This was not an accident. Does it imply through thematic connection that somebody has been living in the Arcatacombs? I think Lucy has been spending a lot of time there – very possibly using Charles’ apartment whenever he leaves it.
- Great detail: the number on Mabel’s X-Files badges is correct!
- A blackout has hit the city. Remember the rules of Son of Sam? “Each round, after I quietly whisper BLACKOUT! we all put our hands into the center, close our eyes, and the Son of Sam will secretly pinch a victim…”
- Nina and her glass-bubble extension have been quiet for a while. I think this could be long-game season three set-up.
- What happened to Lucy’s ring in the end? It seems to have just vanished. Add it to the pile of loose-end clues like the black wig (Alice’s black wig?) apparently in Leonora’s things.
More next week, after season 2, episode 8, Hello, Darkness, has premiered.
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