“Only Murders” Season Two Falls Short

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Hulu’s “Only Murders” new season fails to capture the magic of the first. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Michael Sluck, Production Editor

After successfully solving the murder of Tim Kono in season one, the Hulu hit “Only Murders in the Building” returns with a new mystery in season two. After Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez) are framed for a crime they didn’t commit, the intrepid podcasters must attempt to prove their innocence, while also discovering the answers to the other mysteries that plague the Arconia. 

The first season of “Only Murders” was a huge hit in 2021, garnering a 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes as well as receiving several Emmy nominations. The second season, while still charming, fails to reach the heights of its predecessor, leaving viewers entertained but largely unsatisfied. 

Many of the positive elements seen in season one are also present here. The comedy does not disappoint. Short’s character in particular is hysterical; there’s hardly a line that comes out of his mouth that doesn’t get a chuckle. The chemistry between the three leads is great, with their familial bond continuing to solidify. In many shows that depict friendships with large age gaps, the comedy tends to focus on the clichéd idea that individuals of different generations are constantly at odds. While Charles, Oliver and Mabel may not always understand one another, they all like and respect one another, which makes their relationship one of the most charming parts of the show. The “different generations don’t understand one another” trope isn’t overused; and is usually highly entertaining. In fact, one of the best moments of the season is a scene where Charles and Oliver try to explain, in great detail, the Iran-Contra scandal to an exasperated Mabel. 

Certain episodes and aspects stood out. “Only Murders” has never been afraid to tell stories from a unique perspective, like the episode in season one told from the perspective of a deaf man, where there are almost no words heard throughout the entire episode. One of the most unique episodes in season two involves the gang trying to reconstruct the murder victim’s last day, while simulateously allowing the viewer to see that final day from the victim’s perspective. The show has a great setting, and it really takes advantage of this, adding to the atmosphere with secret passageways and a sudden citywide blackout. 

Despite the many positives retained from season one, season two had certain disappointing elements that weakened the show. 

The biggest issue with this season is its length. Despite the relative shortness of the episodes (usually around 30 minutes), and an only 10-episode season, one cannot shake the feeling that the writers were desperately trying to find enough material to fill up the show. There are a half-dozen subplots that go nowhere, several of which are only tangentially connected to the mystery at hand. “Only Murders” is, at heart, a murder mystery, and when it strays too far from that premise, it loses something. None of the subplots are bad, per se; most of them are at least mildly entertaining, and they’re usually pretty amusing. But when the show takes an abrupt detour to talk about paternal problems or relationship drama, the viewer is left wondering when we’re going to return to the murder mystery in this murder mystery show. 

When we finally do get an answer to “whodunit,” we’re left feeling unsatisfied. One holds out hope that some of the plot threads that were left dangling earlier in the season will be tied up at the end — but a lot of the story elements seem to have no relation whatsoever to the murder. The reveal of the murderer is a good one, but all the extra fluff throughout the season makes it feel like a bit of a letdown. 

If you enjoyed season one of “Only Murders in the Building,” then you’ll probably enjoy season two. While failing to live up to the original season’s drama, the mystery is still interesting and the comedy is still hilarious. The final scene of the season — which, much like the ending of the first season, sets up the mystery for next season — is a fantastic one. Despite my complaints about season two, I’m excited to return to the Arconia again next summer to see what new mysteries lie in store.