Reactions to 'Only Murders in the Building' Season 2 Episode 2 - Upsmag - Magazine News


Reactions to ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Season 2 Episode 2

I know we have to talk about The Kiss. I know you’re thinking about The Kiss. I’m thinking about The Kiss. But, please, I promise—there are other things that happen in this episode of Only Murders in the Building besides The Kiss! We’ll get there. First, let’s remember there’s a murder mystery at hand, and it seems its conclusion will have as much to do with where the killing took place as who did the stabbing.

Episode 2, “Framed,” opens not with Charles, Mabel, and Oliver peering at an erotic portrait of Charles’s father, as depicted in the premiere, but rather with a brief history of their apartment building. We meet Archibald Carter, the architect who assembled the Arconia in 1908 when he wasn’t, apparently, preoccupied womanizing. I can imagine this detail will prove important later: He designed numerous secret compartments and contraptions within the construction, including—as we witness—a peeping Tom hole from which he could watch female tenants undress. Off to a great start with our first impression of you, Archie!

Archibald raised his family within the Arconia, and his granddaughter—none other than Bunny Folger, the season 1 finale murder victim—“lived every day of her life within that same apartment.” A brief flash forward to the 1950s, and we get a glimpse of a young Charles and his wannabe-actor father, who dreams of living in the Arconia once his career takes off.

Finally, episode 2 wheels us back around to the present, and we watch Charles spiral as he questions why, exactly, his father is the subject of a titillating piece of paint pornography. “Is that a shadow,” Charles asks, leaning in for a closer look, “or a tiny little bit of his balls?” Oliver, speaking on behalf of the audience, replies, “Wonderful things for you to work out in therapy.”

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After taking down the painting—it would, after all, draw suspicion—Mabel discovers the work is titled “Savage,” one half of Charles’s surname. She also lets slip that, when Bunny died in her arms, the cranky old building manager said something more than “fourteen”; she also whispered “Savage.” Before anyone can deduce what that might mean, Howard stops by Charles’s apartment, prompting Mabel and Oliver to scurry into the bedroom with the painting in hand. He’s sporting an inconspicuous shiner around his left eye, which he blames on his cats before inviting the podcast trio over to a “gathering” in Bunny’s old unit.

They decide to use this meeting as cover for returning Bunny’s painting to her apartment, and at Bunny’s they meet the usual building tenants, along with a couple new faces: Nina Lin (Christine Ko), a heavily pregnant hedge-fund manager and the new board president, plus Bunny’s mother, the voguish octogenarian Leonora Folger (Shirley MacLaine). The latter is after the Rose Cooper painting—oh, and maybe also information about her daughter’s murder? But, for now, she’s preoccupied with the painting, and also with cutting a slice from a particularly pesky triangle of cheddar. (Watching an exasperated MacLaine give up and take a bite out of a whole hunk of cheese remains a highlight of my week.)

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Oliver and Mabel attempt (unsuccessfully) to return the painting to Bunny’s via one of Archibald’s secret elevators, and Oliver imparts a little relationship wisdom after Mabel reveals she and Oscar (Aaron Dominguez), her beau from last season, have reached the end of the road. A generous interpretation of this scene would argue the writers are acknowledging Mabel’s ability to grow, to shed her “mildly stand-offish millennial” archetype in favor of expanding her art and every relationship. A less beneficent take might interpret it as nothing more than set-up for a more titillating romance: that between Mabel and Alice. Yes, The Kiss. We’ve arrived!

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At Alice’s art gallery, a flamboyantly dressed Mabel asks after Rose Cooper, the “subversive” artist whom Alice reveals died “mysteriously.” But they don’t linger on the subject for long, because Alice has a bizarre therapy session planned for Mabel. Mabel does n’t pause to think it’s awful weird how this woman she’s only just met seems to know so much about her past traumas; Instead, she goes right into striking an ax into the heart of a sculpture Alice built, one meant to represent Mabel herself. Shedding those demons via ax-wielding leaves Mabel feeling emboldened enough to make a move on Alice, whom she kisses amongst the wreckage.

Now, fans had extraordinarily mixed reactions to this kiss, made between well-established BFFs Selena Gomez and Cara Delevingne. Some considered it stunted, even cringe-worthy. Others heralded it as a triumph of characterization, a moment for Mabel’s suppressed sexuality to wiggle—albeit uncomfortably—from its shell. Personally, I think The Kiss was fine. there’s no Bridgerton-level heat, to be sure, but Only Murders isn’t trying to argue that Mabel’s a good time in bed, just that she’s figuring out what a new phase of her life might look like. The problem with new phases, though, is that they’re ripe for mistake-making, and there’s no doubt Alice is more dangerous than that nipple-clamp necklace would suggest.

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Back at the Arconia, Oliver’s schmoozing with Amy Schumer, whom I’m worried is ironically miscast as a heightened, money-grubbing version of herself. There’s plenty of anti-Schumer sentiment out there these days, but even a Schumer fan might find her scenes incongruent with the rest. Her line deliveries lack the sharp timing that make Steve Martin and Martin Short, in particular, such a delight to watch, and even the discovery that she’s nabbed the Rose Cooper painting from the garbage feels … less than thrilling? I’ll try to reserve some optimism that the best of Schumer is yet to come.

In Bunny’s unit, Charles sits down over cocotinis with Leonora and learns Bunny’s mother knew Rose Cooper, whose escape from a seemingly abusive partner Leonora funded by purchasing her painting. Soon afterward, Rose went missing and, later, was declared dead. No one seems to know how she died, only that her work’s value spiked afterward. But that painting in Schumer’s apartment? It’s a fake, Leonora proclaims. Bunny had the original, but there’s a replica floating around now—perhaps one the killer commissioned.

Charles is contemplative after this turn of events, and a flashback reveals his father might have been the one to visit Rose Cooper before her death. When Charles relays his concerns to Leonora, she drops a bombshell: she had an affair with the older Savage, and Rose did, too! And the hits just keep on coming. When Uma drops Bunny’s parrot off to live with Oliver—apparently his guardianship of her pet was one of Bunny’s dying wishes—the parrot has some wisdom to impart: “I know who did it.” Oh, Mrs. Gambolini, pray tell!

Lauren Puckett-Pope
Associate Editor
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers news and culture.

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