Only Murders In The Building Goes Deeper Into The Arconia In Its Latest Episode

Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) noted in the first-season finale of "Only Murders in the Building" that there were loose ends that she, Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) failed to tie up. One of the biggest loose ends the show had last year was the relationship between Charles and Lucy, the teenage daughter of his ex-girlfriend Emma. We met neither Lucy nor Emma last year, but heard of Charles' heartbreak and saw him begin to rekindle at least a texting connection with Lucy in the finale. But whatever happened to that dangling strand of story? The fourth episode of season 2, "Here's Looking at You...", aside from indulging in the use of an ellipsis that makes my grammatical mind grumble, answers that question directly.

The episode opens briefly in the past — presumably when Charles and Emma were still together, though she remains unseen — as we see Charles and a younger Lucy in his kitchen, singing to a bouncy song called "Angel in Flip Flops." (Put a pin in that.) In the present, we see a teenage version of Lucy (Zoe Colletti), though she's not officially introduced as such, filming herself in a darkened hallway of some kind talking about how weird it is to return to someplace you haven't been in a long time. With the foresight of ... well, having watched the episode before writing this recap, I can tell you we'll get full clarity on this vague opening soon enough. What we do see is how the texting relationship between Charles and Lucy grew after their initial re-greeting in the first-season finale, culminating with Charles finding out that Emma not only met a new man, but is marrying said new man (with Lucy as a bridesmaid).

Charles, meanwhile, has other thoughts on his mind aside from Lucy and her texts. As was teased in the premiere of the new season, Charles is getting to step into his old detecting shoes as Brazzos, though now he's Uncle Brazzos and finds out on his first day on set that he has to be in a wheelchair, Ironside-style. (You remember "Ironside", right? The '80s detective show with Raymond Burr? Ask your parents. Or your grandparents, I don't know.) His grandstanding speech to the crew is undercut by that wheelchair, a new addition along with "a touch of dementia," which is there so the studio can write him out if he's put in prison for Bunny's death. That would be shocking enough, until he goes to his trailer ... and is greeted by Lucy.

A big, heaping bowl

After the opening credits, we see Oliver on the phone with his son Will (Ryan Broussard) saying that podcasting stuff has gotten in the way of him seeing his son's school-play rehearsal. This is in spite of the fact that Will's clearly drowning in stagecraft and trying to wrangle the crazy elementary-school kids for his production of "The Wizard of Oz." Oliver might wish he didn't hang up on his son, though, when he enters the elevator and sees the deli king himself, Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane), out on parole while he awaits trial. Oliver is understandably unnerved at the presence of Teddy — wouldn't you be, if you encountered an old friend who turned out to be a grave-robbing criminal you'd sent to prison? But Teddy surprisingly says that prison was "transformative," as he's now getting a better sense of not acting on his thoughts, like, say, "wringing your neck." Oh boy.

Theo's also out and also awaiting trial, and Teddy teases that his son is coming over to visit later that day in spite of being angry. Teddy promises that Oliver is going to see him around because "I'm going to f**k you. I'm not sure when, or how, quite yet. But I'm going to f**k you. Hard." Listen, I'm a simple man. I have simple desires in this life. One of those desires is for one of you to make a GIF of Nathan Lane growling at Martin Short that the latter will be "choking on a big, heaping bowl of f**k." A very funny and ominous scene.

Lucy has joined Charles back at his apartment, to explain why she's there randomly to see "my super-cool TV-star ex-dad ... kind of person." But even a few seconds of listening to her talk is visual proof that Charles is somewhat lost when trying to engage with a modern teenager. Plus, Charles finds out that his ex-girlfriend's wedding happened two weeks ago. Lucy, for her own part, seems as unhappy about it as he is; when he asks if it was a nice ceremony, she pauses and says "Nice ... is a word." At that point, Oliver and Mabel enter, the former updating them all on his encounter with Teddy, and the latter saying that their neighbor Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) has "hot goss" about Nina Lim (Christine Ko), their new prime suspect. They are, of course, surprised and delighted to meet Lucy, but Charles is terrified of having to interact with a teen at all. "She's an older person now! I don't understand things she says!" After comparing listening to Lucy to "watching 'Squid Games' without the subtitles on," he begs Mabel to talk to her to figure out what's really going on.

Very quickly, though, Mabel becomes as lost as Charles is: though she's fairly young, she's pretty confused amid Lucy's fast-talking explanations of how our heroine has become very popular on "mental-health TikTok." Thankfully, Oliver re-enters with an old record of that song we saw Charles and young Lucy singing at the start, "Angel in Flip Flops." It turns out that song is one Charles originated back in the 1970s (based on the very old photo of a permed Steve Martin on the record cover), and while Oliver teases him by dubbing it "terrible music," Mabel recognizes one of the song's riffs as having been sampled by a long list of modern hip-hop artists, so much so that Charles makes a couple hundred grand a year on royalties alone. Nice work if you can get it.

At that moment, as she's helping Charles prepare an omelet like in the old days, Lucy is surprised that the knife she just grabbed is covered in blood. Because, as you may recall, our trio knew Bunny was stabbed but hadn't found the knife. Well ... good news? They found it! Oliver's equally horrified to realize that the knife is one of his own, though Charles is wise enough to warn him from touching it. Charles also wants Lucy out of the way so she's not involved, but Oliver isn't as quick-witted: when he hears a firm knock on the door, he flings the knife up in fear, and it sticks to the apartment roof, just as Howard enters.

Crawling through the walls

Howard's "hot goss," though, isn't really hot gossip at all, but a revelation that the black eye he received the night of Bunny's murder was courtesy of Nina Lim, who punched him. "She'll cut a b**ch," he says. (I will note that it is ... interesting we did not see Nina punch Howard in the pre-Bunny's death part of last week's episode. I have no idea if that means anything one way or the other, but I just think that's interesting.) As much as we might want to focus on this confession, though, the podcasting trio is mostly worried he'll notice the knife dangling above his head. Fortunately, they're able to usher him out quickly, after which they hear noises in the bathroom courtesy of Lucy, who just figured out how people keep sneaking around their apartments: there is a secret passage leading from Charles' bathroom, through which people can walk through the walls. (I will note here that if you're fairly eagle-eyed, you will have a good idea of the location of where Lucy recorded her opening-scene video.)

Lucy quickly explains how she knows these passages exist at all, thanks to some friendly hide-and-seek games with a nearby neighbor back when she visited Charles regularly. (She also quickly sneaks in that she skipped out of her mother's wedding, which feels like a pretty big deal.) Oliver uses the opportunity of "literally crawling through the walls like rats" to spy on Teddy so he can get a better idea of what the deli king is plotting. Charles and Mabel, meanwhile, decide to spy on Nina, who's looking over some strange blueprints with "her baby daddy" Jared (someone who our heroes are notably unfamiliar with), and noting that "Bunny had to go." The blueprints are important, too, because they clue Charles and Mabel into the "giant space pod" that Nina is planning to install above the Arconia, thus representing the kind of modernization and monetization she mentioned to Bunny. "That's why Bunny had to go!" Charles says, before being struck by his ethics and another nosebleed.

Oliver is struck by another scene of strife, as he locates Teddy's apartment and sees the man arguing with his son Theo (James Caverly), who reveals (via ASL, of course) that he's gotten his own attorney for the trial. No matter how hard Teddy tries to tell his son he's the only one who can protect Theo, that just angers the younger man, who literally pushes him away and tells him to back off, leaving Teddy a sobbing mess. And Oliver a bit, too, as he later realizes "I've never wanted to hug my son more."

I missed you

The more pressing problem is that while Charles and Mabel believe they know Nina's full plot, they didn't record anything. "So how do we nail her?" Lucy suggests they give Nina "a little push," leading the quartet to visit her with a random assortment of gifts for her new arrival. And it's good timing, too, because even though Oliver tries to zero in on a confession by urging Nina to "spill it," her water breaks in front of them. Charles immediately springs into action, taking Nina to a chair, and calming her anxiety about being a bad mother, by talking her through the initial pangs of labor. Though it does lower Nina's terror, she tearfully says, "I wish Bunny were here," before then switching to ferocity as she tells Charles to find Bunny's killer. Fortunately for everyone, the EMTs arrive before Charles has to deliver the baby himself. After the EMTs get Nina ready for the hospital, Mabel has a brief heart-to-heart with Lucy, noting that she can be honest with Charles. "Just tell him whatever it is," Mabel says about the reason — whatever that reason is — for why Lucy is really here, right now.

After Oliver and Mabel (the former taking the murder weapon with him to parts unknown), Lucy tells Charles she thought that his old ex Jan — aka last season's murderer — was right for him initially too, and he shouldn't feel too bad about it. Lucy also explains that her mom's new husband isn't a bad guy, but the unspoken part is that he clearly isn't Charles. "Eight years is like ... that's, like, a really long time," she says, fighting back tears as she notes how long it had been between the last time she'd seen Charles as a little kid and when he texted her at the end of last season. "You're allowed."

Oliver does right by his own promise, and heads to North Jersey to see his son Will in action with the school play. "This is what they used to do with Judy Garland, instead of a bag of candy, it was a bag of methamphetamines," Oliver says upon dangling a bag of Skittles for the kids to focus and listen to Will. Hey, whatever works.

Charles is about to send Lucy back to "dystopian Connecticut," but that's when she finally tries to explain what she's really doing there. See, it turns out that the night of her mom's wedding was the same night our trio got arrested, and thus, the same night Bunny was murdered. And yes, Lucy chose to see Charles that night instead of her mom. In fact, she was even in the building, on Charles' floor, only to text him (with him just a few feet away) and to have him politely call a rain check on meeting up with her. Lucy, who (as established in an earlier text message) had a working key to Charles' apartment, not only went inside, but went into the hidden passage behind his bathroom. Yes, that's where she filmed the video we saw at the opening, talking about how "things seem smaller, emptier." I can only imagine! 

Worse still? Well, Lucy not only hears, in muffled tones, Bunny's death, but desperately tries to hide when a mysterious figure clad in black walks through the passages, presumably just having killed Bunny. There's enough debris in the passage that Lucy remains hidden, and the masked figure sneezes through the dust (a detail we may want to revisit by the end of the season, who knows) and walks off. "You need to get tougher before they find you," Lucy says in the present, as Charles reflects on how she's the second woman, after Bunny's mom, who he's sent off from the building lately who seems to know more than him about Bunny's death.

In the final scene, we see that Charles has been getting lots of calls with an "Unknown" caller somewhere in upstate New York, but that he's not so confused about the identity of said caller. That's because he decides to visit that person at the county jail. It's none other than Jan (Amy Ryan), his ex-lover and last season's murderer. "I've missed you," she says slyly after he asks for her help. Oh dear, Charles.

MacBeats and the Deliverer

Overall, this is a very fun episode with more than a dash of farce in the middle thanks to the bloody knife. I do want to reveal my theory here (with the caveat that as I type these words, I've seen the next few episodes thanks to screeners, and this theory isn't going to be spoiling anything from those episodes): I feel like a) there are two people involved in this season's murder, and b) one of those people is Howard. We know from last season that Howard faints at the sight of blood, if we take him at his word, so it's doubtful that he would've been the one to stab Bunny himself. But Howard's also been trying to sow the seeds of doubt regarding Nina, doubt that this episode seems to largely dispel. Yes, Nina is ruthless, but the whole "crawling behind the walls" thing seems pretty much out of the question for a super-pregnant woman. Maybe we can just chalk this up to Michael Cyril Creighton being both sufficiently huffy and sneaky in his performance this season, but ... I feel like we should keep an eye out for Howard. Until next week!


– Some easy jokes are funny, by which I mean I laughed at Steve Martin struggling to get his iPhone to transcribe the words "Still works" into a text.

– Another easy joke I laughed at: the fact that Charles has to wear a very goofy white-haired wig over his ... white hair.

– "Honey, no one cares about the Tin Man." Ouch, Oliver.

– "$200 on the Upper West Side will just get me a bagel and a soy latte." I assume that is roughly accurate, New Yorkers?

– That Oliver worked on a modernized take on "Macbeth" is one thing. That it starred Vanilla Ice is another. That it was called "MacBeats" is...well, kudos, writers.

– I'd love to see a clip from that old show Charles guest-starred on, "The Deliverer."