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The following story contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Only Murders in the Building.
It should be a surprise to exactly no one, but Only Murders in the Building—the murder mystery comedy series starring comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short, along with superstar singer/actress Selena Gomez—has been without question one of the best new shows of 2021. Not only did it have the laughs and light vibe you'd expect from those names being involved, but it slowly unfurled its central mystery—the murder of a man named Tim Kono—bit by bit, leaving audiences wondering week in and week out who was innocent and who was guilty. And in the end, the show resolved that mystery in a totally satisfying way that was a joy to watch—while setting up another mystery that we're already wondering about.
Throughout the 10-episode first season of Only Murders, it's been wonderful to watch the chemistry develop between our three lead characters. Martin and Short have been friends and comedy partners for a really long time, so their comedic chemistry being so strong and perfect is expected; it was more of a surprise to see just how well Gomez, not primarily known for her acting, fit in with the two older comic actors.
But it was Gomez's character, Mabel Mora, who connected most to the mystery at the center of the show's first season. Remember that it was her background as a friend of Tim Kono (which she initially hid) that made for the show's first twist. And as we learned that Tim Kono wasn't the first murder in the building, and that Mabel had a more upsetting history in The Arconia than we first expected, the depth of the show continued to build over the course of its first season.
But when it came down to it, we got the answer to our central Only Murders in the Building mystery; we know, with certainty, who killed Tim Kono. What we don't know, now, is what the hell exactly happened after that resoluation that made such a big mess of, well, everything.
Let's talk about it all:
So, who killed Tim Kono?
Here's an answer we 100% know: Jan, as played by Amy Ryan, murdered Tim Kono. And if she had her way, she would've killed Charles, Oliver, Mabel, and, uh, seemingly just about everyone else in the building too. Not cool.
As it turns out, Jan had an affair with Tim Kono. The two met in an elevator, and immediately hit it off—not too different to how she initially connected with Charles, either. But when they broke up, she poisoned him with a drink (she kept poison in labeled packages in her drawer, Mabel and Oliver found), and then put a gun in his hand and made it look like a suicide; Jan, it turns out, has a problem with being anyone's second (or, at least not first choice).
Our first hint at this came in the last episode, when he lie of being the first chair in her orchestra is exposed. She looks peeved when the guy sitting next to Charles' girlfriend is introduced—"a prodigy," the guy says—and this returns in the finale.
Charles doesn't drink any of the drink that Jan prepares for him, already suspecting her guilt and deceptively recording her confession and admission of the murder on his phone. But she's a big time poison person, and got Charles through the handkerchief; he knows Jan is guilty, but falls into a state of paralysis. She restates the fact that when someone is poisoned to the point that they can't move, it leaves them no choice but to beg for their life. She has to be their first choice at that point. In a way, it's yet another depiction of Munchausen by proxy, which has so frequently been depicted in film and television in recent years.
Jan plans to blow the whole building up—or release enough toxic gas fumes to kill everyone. It's not totally clear. Probably the latter, but we can't quite say. Luckily, Charles is not poisoned enough to be completely paralyzed; he crawls and mumbles across the building lobby floor and into the elevator like Leonardo DiCaprio after he took qualuudes in The Wolf of Wall Street. Everyone in the building assumes he's just extremely drunk, though, and won't help him. Lester the doorman at least offers up a fun story about a drunk night for Sting, which he seems very eager to share.
Luckily, Oliver and Mabel find Charles, and the three of them make it downstairs to the building basement in time to stop the gas leak, and confront Jan, who once again tries to kill them. Charles thinks he's giving a nice speech about his friends but he's still very poisoned and paralyze, so it just sounds to everyone else like a bunch of mumbles. Anyway, Mabel punches Jan in the face with her friend's ring that Jan stole from Tim, and Jan gets arrested for murders and crimes.
Amy Ryan playing Jan was a brilliant move by Only Murders in the Building
We should just say that Amy Ryan was excellent in this role, and Only Murders in the Building really did a fantastic job of playing with our expectations here. I'd venture to say that about 99% of people watching Only Murders have also watched The Office. And if you've seen The Office, you know that Amy Ryan played Holly Flax, the perfect weirdo match for Michael Scott—the two eventually got married and went off into the sunset of Colorado.
So when Amy Ryan showed up as a love interest to another comedy icon—this time Steve Martin rather than Steve Carell—it felt right. We've seen her before be someone who's comforting and kind to someone we love. And we were rooting for them.
But in this case, Jan and Charles weren't meant to be, for obvious reasons. But at least the whole experience inspired Charles to reach out to Lucy—and at least now he knows that he doesn't have to sign his name at the end of his text messages.
But wait—who killed Bunny?
Well, that's a damn good question now isn't it? Apparently we could only have one brief moment of our heroes feeling good about themselves before things went all the way off the rails again.
With Charles, Oliver, and Mabel all celebrating on the roof of The Arconia, Mabel felt like something was still left open, and went downstairs to check. Then within a few moments, texts came in to exit the building, and the went down and found Mabel covered in blood, with building administration Bunny now stabbed to death.
We know this isn't true—Mabel just called Bunny a bitch a few moments earlier and that was her revenge. She wasn't gonna do anything more. But as the season concludes, we see Charles, Mabel, and Oliver all being taken into custody by Detective Williams, as all their neighbors, Oscar, and the Only Murders in the Building superfans look on.
We don't know who killed Bunny, but it's going to make for quite the Season 2 mystery. You know who else doesn't know who killed Bunny? Cinda Canning, the Sarah Koenig-esque podcaster played by Tina Fey, who with the help of her assistant (OK, really mostly her assistant) comes up with a name we may hear more when Season 2 comes around: Only Murderers In The Building.
Will Cinda help vindicate Oliver, Mabel, and Charles? We're just going to have to wait and see. And how long that wait will feel! What a delightful show this is.
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