DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Only Murders in the Building episode “Framed” has spoilers. Prepare to send the investigation into a whole new direction and proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Arconiacs! Only Murders in the Building‘s second episode, “Framed,” is surprisingly not about picture frames. Somebody’s framing our sleuthing trio, starting with Mabel and Charles (even though Oliver is the most compelling — his words). In addition, the arrival of Leonora Folger and the information she has to impart “sends the investigation into a whole new direction.”
“Framed” is brilliantly witty, sharp as a tack and laugh-out-loud funny. God, I missed this show.
Ready to delve into “Framed”? Let’s get to it.
A Piece of History
We open with Leonora Folger (Shirley MacLaine), providing a voiceover for the episode. She explains how the Arconia came to be and that her father constructed it in 1908. Leonora also reveals her daughter, Bunny, spent her entire life at the Arconia.
Meanwhile, we see young Charles (Matthew Lamb) walking with his father (Ben Livingston). Charles runs lines with his dad, an aspiring actor. Charles’s father points out the Arconia, dreaming of moving in there one day with his son.
Now, we’re in the present, wherein Charles (Steve Martin), Mabel (Selena Gomez) and Oliver (Martin Short) stare in disbelief at Bunny’s painting. How did it get into Charles’s home? First, someone tries to frame Mabel by planting Bunny in her apartment with a knitting needle. Then, this same person attempts to frame Charles by placing the expensive painting in his home. There’s a lot of framing happening here, and not of the picture persuasion.
They remove it, noting the name “Savage” scrawled on the back. Mabel confesses that Bunny uttered “Savage” along with “14” before she died. It’s looking bleak for ole Charlie boy. However, she could’ve said “Savage” about her painting, not Charles.
Howard (Michael Cyril Creighton) knocks on Charles’s door to invite the trio to Bunny’s memorial at her apartment. He thanks our crime solvers for all they’ve done and admits he’s a fan of Only Murders in the Building. He also mentions a quote from the latest episode about finding the killer via the painting, which makes things awkward for them since, you know, the painting is right behind them.
Later, our sleuthing trio arrives at Bunny’s apartment armed with copious dip. Well, Oliver brought the dip because he’s Oliver. Uma (Jackie Hoffman) blatantly objects to our heroes attending the memorial. She seems to believe they’re guilty.
Ursula (Vanessa Aspillaga) tells Oliver that a “nosy podcast girl” purchased 10 cases of Gut Milk. Methinks Cinda Canning is snooping around the Arconia for the latest scoop.
Nina Lin (Christine Ko) introduces herself as the new Board President. She reassures the group that Bunny’s death won’t adversely affect daily operations at the Arconia. Howard claims to our trio that Nina’s on the same level as Bunny regarding public perception (she’s not well-liked).
Suddenly, Leonora, Bunny’s mother, makes her grand entrance. We learn the artist of the painting is Rose Cooper, and it belongs to Leonora, not Bunny. Leonora is just as sardonic and feisty as her late daughter. She sniffs out Charles, Mabel and Oliver, formally declaring they didn’t murder Bunny.
Mabel and Oliver sneak out to grab the painting and return it to Bunny’s apartment via the private elevator. Charles stays behind and keeps it cool because he’s always been cool. What are you talking about?
While Mabel and Oliver are leaving Charles’s apartment with the painting, she receives a text from Alice about hitting up the art studio. Oliver catches Mabel smiling, wondering aloud if Oscar is responsible. However, Mabel reveals she’s waiting for the “I want to break up” text from Oscar, as she hasn’t seen him lately.
Later, Mabel and Oliver round the corner toward the door leading to the private elevator with the painting in tow. Unfortunately, instead of keeping the door open, Charles inadvertently slams it shut, locking them outside. Oliver and Mabel urge him to return to the memorial, but Charles insists it’s over now. They decide to conceal the painting between two dumpsters.
Art Therapy and People Who Hate Us
Next, Charles stands before the resurrected murder board with a section labeled “People who hate us.” We see Jan, Teddy Dimas, Theo Dimas and Uma underneath it. Then, Charles marks himself on the “Suspect” list.
Meanwhile, Mabel reunites with Alice (Cara Delevingne) at her art studio. Alice unveils an extravagant sculpture she created of Mabel, then hands her an ax. She urges Mabel to destroy it as a cathartic exercise. Alice films Mabel decimating said sculpture, and we see images of Tim Kono and Zoe flash across her mind. Something tells me my girl needed this. Art is therapeutic!
Charles returns to the dumpsters and discovers the painting is missing (again). Uh oh. Oliver meets Amy Schumer at Sting’s old apartment for their pitching/brainstorming session. Amy reveals she wants to portray Jan for the Only Murders in the Building streaming adaptation, shedding light on Tim Kono’s murderer as a romantic antihero.
After Amy enchants Oliver with a grating bassoon solo, Oliver spots Bunny’s painting on her wall. Amy likes to dumpster dive.
Then, Mabel’s sculpture-destroying session culminates in a steamy kiss between her and Alice. Ooh, la la!
Rose Cooper and Uncomfortable Flirting
Meanwhile, Leonora goes to Charles’s place for a drink and a chat. She believes our trio is hiding something. Plus, Charles’s inexplicable fascination with Rose Cooper piqued Leonora’s interest. She tells him the value of Rose’s art skyrocketed after her unexplained disappearance. Charles replays a memory of his father walking into the Arconia for an acting audition, but perhaps it to model for Rose’s painting.
Mabel and Oliver knock on Charles’s door with information. Oh, and Amy Schumer has Leonora’s painting. Leonora accompanies them to Amy’s swanky pad to retrieve it.
Next, Amy displays an almost fanatical interest in Charles, claiming she had a shirtless poster of him on her ceiling. Leonora makes a beeline for her painting, examining it. Unfortunately, she learns it’s not the original but a replica. Who would reproduce it?
After Leonora, Charles and Mabel depart, Amy informs Oliver that she was “in character” as Jan when she met Charles. She’s more than invested in this show.
Oh, and Oliver and company must clear their names before Amy’s show moves forward. Murder is bad for business.
Truth Bombshells and Swearing Parrots
Uma drops off Bunny’s parrot at Oliver’s apartment, claiming Bunny left the bird to her favorite tenant in her will. Mabel jokes about Bunny giving Oliver “the bird” even after death. She gleefully reveals that she recorded it for the podcast. Aw, she’s turning into Oliver!
Then, Charles relives a traumatic memory of his father getting arrested after his “audition.” Young Charles watches helplessly while the police shove his dad into a car. Charles catches Leonora on her way out, and the older woman drops a truth bombshell on him — she was his father’s lover, as was Rose Cooper!
Later, Charles returns to Oliver’s apartment to relay what he learned from Leonora to Mabel and Oliver. Suddenly, Bunny’s parrot discloses a truth bombshell of his own amid the relentless torrent of expletives.
“I know who did it,” he says.
Did you record that?
As usual, Martin, Short and Gomez’s innate onscreen chemistry meshes well with the series’ tone. They play off each other seamlessly, and watching their banter is a joy. The jokes are top-notch, and, as I mentioned in the first episode recap, I believe they might be funnier than last season, which I didn’t think was possible. This new mystery is intriguing, while the writing plants enough clues to keep us invested as an audience.
I’m usually not a huge fan of Amy Schumer and Cara Delevingne as actors, but their performances work on this show. It all blends effortlessly. Plus, how can you go wrong with the legendary Shirley MacLaine, who’s side-splittingly hilarious in this episode? I can only hope to obtain a modicum of her coolness when I’m 88.
Do you think the killer made a copy of the painting, or was that all Bunny? Do you ship Mabel and Alice? Join me while I recap Only Murders in the Building, only on Geek Girl Authority.
Only Murders in the Building drops new episodes every Tuesday on Hulu.
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