At the risk of starting another recap with an Oliver Putnam quote (can you blame me?), here goes nothing: “What would your last day on Earth look like?” he asks his podcast listeners. It’s an intense question to be sure (sound off in the comments if you’ve pondered an answer for yourself), and Only Murders In The Building immediately seeks to answer it. As the episode title suggests, we get a glimpse into a day in the life of Bunny Folger, except it’s the last one she’ll ever live. Oh, and what an eventful one it is because it drops new hints and suspects about her murder. Using this storytelling device is a gamely approach to add much-needed nuance to her character as well. It really pays off.
So far, she’s been positioned as a curmudgeonly old lady trying to make the building residents’ lives hell. Now there’s a whole new and softer side to Bunny. You might even start to like her. I know I did, in part due to Jayne Houdyshell’s heartfelt performance. The actor grabs the opportunity to be center stage in the show and just runs with it, lending Bunny an unexpected level of vulnerability. It turns out that March 12 isn’t just when she died, it was also supposed to be her last day as Arconia’s board president. This job title has been her identity for a whopping 29 years since she inherited the seat from her mother. (Unfortunately, no Shirley MacLaine in this episode).
Bunny’s good at ruling with an iron fist, but in order to do it well, you have to know absolutely everything about your subjects. And she was one detail-oriented leader. She rattles off specific bylaws like Sheldon Cooper, knows when the flowers around the Arconia need to be changed, and what topics to avoid while talking to someone. Bunny actually held the Arconia together even if she wasn’t everyone’s favorite person. We know it makes her the perfect victim.
Yet this installment does a terrific job of lending empathy to her. She’s actually a pretty friendly gal when she wants to be, especially if she’s in a reminiscent mood. She’s buddies with her regular coffee cart guy as well as her diner waiter (whom she generously tips so he can pursue his passion to be a DJ, telling him never to “just love one thing,” assuming as she did with the Arconia). It’s these small details that finally cement Bunny as a fully-formed character and not just a semi-diabolical caricature. On her final morning, she wistfully looks outside her window when the radio announcer poetically says about New York City: “It’s not the same one I grew up in.” She’s browsing a Boca Raton housing pamphlet, so obviously she can relate. But who is Bunny without the town she grew up in or without the only place she’s ever called home, the goddamn Arconia? The question weighs over her the entire episode.
It explains why she refuses to ultimately quit the job as board president, angering Nina in the process. Her replacement is eager to bring the historic Upper West Side building into the 21st century and won’t let an old crone like Bunny stop her. To make matters worse, Bunny gifts Oliver, Charles, and Mabel a bottle of champagne to celebrate solving Tim Kono’s murder, but they don’t invite her to join the party. She just starts howling in the corridor. Damn, I did not see the outburst coming but after following her journey in this episode, the emotional upheaval makes a lot of sense. I also like the sneaky explanation of why the podcast trio was celebrating on the roof, and how if they’d simply asked her to join them, Bunny might still be alive.
Alas, Bunny goes home in her new tie-dye sweatshirt to watch a movie with Mrs. Gambolini by her side. The parrot’s big “I know who did it” claim is just dialogue from the film. Talk about a red herring. But wait, the bird does still witness Bunny’s killer ring the doorbell, enter the house, and hack her to death. So the question is, why did she walk over to Mabel’s apartment (possibly for help?) after being stabbed and say 14 and Savage before her last breath? Does it all come back to that painting after all?
Episode three shows us a glimpse of the killer (at least part of their legs) and expands the suspect list to primarily include Nina, Howard, and whoever is calling and sending letters to Bunny about the Rose Cooper painting. I’m sorry to say but Uma (Jackie Hoffman) is increasingly drawing suspicion too. She’s visibly sad about her friend’s potential move to Florida, but OMITB notes how Uma has Bunny’s house keys, and as seen in “Persons Of Interest,” was very aware of the painting’s value. She’s conspicuously missing from everyone’s surprise party for Bunny too. If she didn’t kill her, she may know more than she’s letting on. However, the podcast trio has their sight set on Nina for now, so let’s see where their sleuthing takes them next.
- Here’s how Charles describes his makeout session with potential half-sister Bunny after both of them were high on Eggnogs a few years ago: “We kind of got into it, and then we just stayed there and sloshed around a little bit. That’s not so bad right?” Actually, Charles, that kiss sounds like a nightmare.
- Who did a better impression of Jayne Houdyshell as Bunny in the episode: Martin Short or Steve Martin?
- Oliver couldn’t have found a worse day to tell Bunny that she’ll probably be buried in the Arconia, right?
- Bunny (listing off a policy about holding a gathering in the outside lobby): “Non-compliance will result in public flogging and a fee of $20. The rule was written in 1912.” Nina: “We should update that.”
You know, I’m with Nina on this one; can’t let a century-old rule and mindset dictate how everyone lives today, right?
- Who’s on top of your suspect list as of episode three? Is it Howard, Uma, Nina, or someone we haven’t even met yet?