True crime fanatics rejoice because Only Murders in the Building season 2 is finally here, and it’s as sharp as ever. Something of a sleeper hit when it landed on Disney Plus last year. The first series saw three true-crime podcast fanatics, Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez), come together to solve a mysterious death in their apartment building, The Arconia.
Witty and smart, the first season was a bloody delight and boasted more twists and turns than a particularly tricky hedge maze. We were delighted then when a second series was announced. We were lucky enough to see the first six episodes of Only Murders in the Building season 2 early, and as far as we can tell, the show’s still killing it. Don’t worry. We’ll keep things spoiler-free from here.
Picking up exactly where the first series left off, Only Murders in the Building season 2 opens with our central trio, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel, arrested after they’re accused of killing the prickly board president of the Arconia, Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell). With no evidence to convict them, our podcasting protagonists are freed but warned not to investigate their own case.
As evidence starts to turn up that incriminates our heroes, and their rival, Cinda Canning (Tina Fey), starts her own podcast condemning the trio, things look dire for the Arconia’s resident sleuths. So with their lives on the line, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel are forced to pick up the boom mic and get podcasting again to clear their (relatively) good names. Will they survive a second deadly mystery? We’re not telling. We said no spoilers remember.
What we can say is that the second season is just as engaging, funny, and stylish as the first, managing to build on the first series’ delicious cliffhanger. The show’s secret weapon has always been its principal cast, Martin, Short, and Gomez. All three have such wonderful chemistry, and the characters have such a fun dynamic it makes for really engaging TV.
Fans of ’80s comedy movies will know that Martin and Short make for a wonderful double act, but Gomez stands out as the show’s MVP. Snappy, sarcastic, and sensible, Mabel grounds the childish and effete Oliver while pricking the overly serious Charles’ pomposity.
The most impressive thing about this is that Gomez manages to serve as the ‘straight man’ while still being tremendously funny and likeable. It helps that of the three main characters, she’s arguably the best developed, and the drama of this series does arguably centre on her, so you understand why she acts the way she does.
Not that Martin and Short don’t get their own share of dramatic storylines. Only Murders in the Building season 2 has always been an ensemble piece, and both Charles and Oliver have their own issues in this series, beyond their friends and neighbours constantly being bumped off.
This series has one thing over the last is that the trio’s dynamic is firmly established at this point, so the writers don’t have to waste any time getting to the laughs. Speaking of the writers, the one-liners and jokes are as withering and funny as ever. The best always seem to end up coming from Oliver, who’s become something of a mercurial avatar for the writer’s more barbed comments about his fellow podcasters.
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Of course, jokes are one thing, but this is meant to be a murder mystery, so how does the central investigation hold up? Well, it’s hard to say, having only seen half the episodes, but as things stand, it’s very engaging and a lot darker than the first. Season 1’s murder always felt and was ultimately revealed to be a crime of passion, but season 2 has much murkier murderous motivations.
As a result, the second season feels more perilous, and the Arconia takes on a more sinister atmosphere. You can’t help but worry that our trio of podcasters aren’t safe in their own homes, and it doesn’t help that they’ve annoyed almost everyone in the building. It’s slightly trite to say that the stakes have never been higher, but they really haven’t.
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Outside of the main three characters, the extended cast continues to delight. The weird and wonderful residents of The Arconia were a big part of the first season, and most of your favourites return (except for those who were arrested or died). It’s the guest stars who really shine, though, in particular Amy Schumer, who plays a delightfully unhinged version of herself.
Something I rarely see mentioned about Only Murders in the Building is its wonderful music. The whole thing is scored like an episode of Serial, it’s a minor detail, but I didn’t realise how much I’d missed the music of this show.
Basically, Only Murders in the Building season 2, with the help of its fantastic cast and talented writers, manages to keep the charm and spirit of the first season while taking the murder mystery element to new dark places.
New episodes of Only Murders in the Building hit Disney Plus weekly from June 28.
Only Murders In The Building season 2 review
As sharp and funny as the first series Only Murders In The Building season 2 is as funny as it is thrilling.