Okay, Only Murders In The Building, you kind of pulled it off. In an entertaining sophomore season, the writers mostly got away with the big twists in the showiest manner possible. Did you expect any different from a comedy in which Martin Short plays a diehard theater lover, Steve Martin plays an ex-procedural star, and several Arconia residents have Broadway-related skills? It’s not the most realistic way to let the mystery unfold, and the reveals demand you put aside some logical burning questions, but “I Know Who Did It” does justice to OMITB and its characters’ biting tone while setting up what is sure to be a campier third season. Will that alienate viewers who don’t want another big-name cameo? TBD, but more on the closing moments in a minute because we have “killer reveal party” shenanigans to unpack first.
The dialogue we’re left to ponder over as Poppy revealed her identity to Mabel in last week’s penultimate episode was: “You don’t know what she’s capable of. You don’t know what she’d do to get what she wants.” We’re led to believe she’s describing her ruthless boss. In reality, she’s speaking about herself because she’s the killer of this whodunit. Becky Butler has played a long con to be as famous as her idol, Cinda Canning, and she’s about to get much more than she bargained for. Once a shy Chickasha gal, Becky looked for an escape from her small town, verbally abusive dad, and crappy job in the mayor’s office.
As she molded herself into Poppy White, the world was her podcasting oyster. Or was it? Poppy spent years as Cinda’s devoted assistant, hoping to be noticed and promoted. That didn’t happen even after she took Mabel’s advice in episode six and directly asked her boss if she could produce a podcast. I guess this time, it wasn’t as simple as just walking into Cinda’s office and getting her dream job. (Side note: Why do TV shows and movies think it’s that easy to get a gig? How did Poppy magically enter Cinda’s office building and studio without anyone stopping her?) Despite all her contributions, including serving up catchy podcast titles like All Is Not OK In Oklahoma and Only Murderers In The Building, Poppy is left hanging.
I don’t think she intended to frame Cinda for Bunny’s murder when she told Mabel her identity, but she sure hoped to take her boss down. She perfectly positioned Cinda as corrupt and a liar, priming herself for the takeover she wants. Unfortunately for her, Mabel is an observant queen. In fact, let’s take a second here to give kudos to Mabel, who’s done most of the case-solving in season two. Oliver and Charles understandably dealt with personal, daddy, and parrot issues, but Mabel cracked the case to clear her name. Selena Gomez was quite a revelation against her two major co-stars in season one, but she steals the show in season two.
Mabel realizes early on that Poppy is the criminal mastermind. The giveaway? Her disgusting order of a liverwurst and marmalade sandwich, labeled on the Pickle Diner’s menu as “14 Sandwich,” a.k.a. what a dying and breathless Bunny whispered, but it sounded like “14 Savage.” Poppy is the mystery guest Bunny had dinner with. She wanted Cinda’s next investigation to be about Rose Cooper, the famed missing person of the art world before Cinda dismisses the idea. We don’t understand how Poppy landed on this case, but let’s assume she found out Bunny—who incidentally lived at the Arconia with their competing podcasters—had Rose’s expensive portrait. Was it just convenient and easy to then put it all on Bunny’s neighbor and Cinda’s (so her own) competitor, Mabel? Did she know the painting was fake? Is it too much of a coincidence? This information is left up in the air, and instead we get an over-the-top party.
Mabel, Oliver, and Charles rope in a few of our top suspects and red herrings from season two: Alice, Howard, Ursula, Uma, Jonathan, and Marv, for a showdown in which they plan to unmask the murderer. Everyone participates in what is best described as a heightened stage play of a party. Cinda arrives with Poppy to film whatever the trio is about to reveal. The finger is pointed at Cinda in a sham that involves Oliver, Charles, and the others moving in slow motion to scare her (upon learning it’s one of her fears). It’s a ridiculous yet inspired bit of physical comedy, which OMITB rarely does. Charles squeezing the tomatoes (another Cinda fear) was equally sick; it did gross me out.
The finger pointing continues with Mabel turning to ex-girlfriend Alice, proclaiming her as Bunny’s killer. Their act involves Alice “stabbing” Charles to death, Cinda being impressed by Mabel’s skills, and offering her the podcast Poppy so desires. It causes Poppy to inevitably confesses to her crimes. She didn’t just let the creepy Chickasha mayor be arrested for her death, but she killed Bunny, hoping to get answers, a painting, and a major podcast out of it. It’s no wonder Poppy and Cinda were present when Oliver, Charles, and Mabel were being arrested or that she already had a podcast name ready to go.
As for Detective Kreps, the woman he meets at the bar isn’t Cinda. It’s Poppy. And here’s where I want to infuse logic even though I’ve embraced the idea that OMITB goes for theatrics instead of establishing a stable ground in its finales (Remember Jan wanting to suddenly blow up the building in spectacular fashion when she could’ve simply run away?). HOW‚ yeah, a capital HOW, did no one even faintly recognize Poppy in the Chickasha bar with the chicken logo where they are investigating Becky’s disappearance? Cinda tells Poppy after the reveal, “I know the game you played with me in Oklahoma,” which suggests they spent sufficient time in her hometown. Despite the makeover, Becky and Poppy definitely have similar looks. And yet not one person recognizing her is hard to believe. Once again, OMITB doesn’t answer these burning questions yet.
I’m not sure how I feel overall about the show turning two women into unhinged killers in each season. And would Cinda have made a far more convincing, or even a more fun reveal? There are still many unanswered questions, like why Howard lied about Nina giving him a black eye, why Amy Schumer, or mainly why Poppy texted the trio using Det. Williams’ phone to get out of the building when she wanted to frame them. Wouldn’t leaving and not being in Arconia give them an alibi? I wish OMITB had also sorted out all these puzzle pieces. Even so, “I Know Who Did It” was a fun, quite funny, and even sweet at times half-hour.
We end with a one-year time jump to establish that solving yet another case has revived Oliver and Charles’ careers. Having come to terms with Will’s paternity test with his son, Oliver is on the verge of a big Broadway play debut as director. It stars his fellow podcast host Charles, who is dating his make-up artist Joy (Andrea Martin). And as for the big cameo? Say hello to Paul freakin’ Rudd, channeling his best Bobby Newport from Parks And Recreation in his OMITB appearance. He plays Charles’ co-star Ben. The two clearly don’t get along, and Charles warns him to “stay away from her.” This could be Mabel, Lucy, Joy, or someone new. Ben doesn’t live long enough because as soon as the curtains open, he collapses to his death in front of the audience. And it was just as Mabel celebrated a year without murders around her. Looks like the trio will have to dust off their microphones because there’s a new case to solve.
- Now that season two is over, what grade would you give it overall? I’m giving it a B+. And I’m cautiously optimistic about a third season, but I hope it’s the last one so they end on a high note.
- As I mentioned in the review, Selena Gomez was great in season two, and Martin and Short remained an utter and total delight. But shout out to Adina Verson for acing the killer supporting role she got.
- I quite enjoyed Tina Fey’s performance in this episode, so I hope Cinda’s podcast goodbye isn’t Fey bidding adieu to the show just yet.
- In that same vein, here are a couple of my favorite Cinda lines from this episode:
“I will not be the one-hit wonder of true-crime podcasts, I will not be podcasting’s Nickelback,” and, “Just record all the smart shit I say and the dumb shit they grunt.”
- Here are Cinda’s fears besides slow motion and tomatoes: Human error, interruption, and people who work for her but don’t look like her.
- My favorite Oliver quote: “Can we torture her? Charles, get your concertina and whatever you consider your 10 most interesting stories.”
- Lester’s truth bomb as a former Broadway star going up against Tracy Letts was fun, adding more credibility to why he agreed (along with Howard and Jonathan, among others) for the killer reveal party act.
- Paul Rudd is going to be a recurring player in season three. I’m optimistic because he’s an excellent performer and well-suited for the show unlike Schumer, Rapaport, and Delevingne, who even combined were barely contributing with their skills.
- Thanks for following along with the OMITB recaps and commenting with theories, questions, remarks, and everything else. (A special thanks to the commenter who dove into the opening theme song bits that I didn’t catch!) See you next time.