This article contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building.
Hulu comedy Only Murders in the Building didn’t even have to take its central murder mystery that seriously to begin with.
As a satire of America’s true crime podcast obsession, the series could have gotten away with yada yada yada-ing the details of the murder its characters were solving. Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) are all amateurs, after all, so who could reasonably expect them to actually solve a murder?
It’s to the show’s (and its creators Steven Martin and John Hoffman) credit, however, that our podcasting trio actually pulls it off! Yes, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel solve the mystery at the center of Only Murders in the Building’s first season, and do so with real stylistic aplomb. In the process, the show concludes one of the more satisfying murder mysteries depicted on television this year.
Let’s break down exactly what happened here.
Who Killed Tim Kono?
Jan (Amy Ryan) killed Tim Kono (Julian Cihi). Why did Jan kill Tim Kono? Well, Jan is crazy…as all bassoonists naturally are.
Some years after witnessing the traumatic events of Theo Dimas (James Caverly) accidentally killing his friend Zoe (Olivia Reis), Tim Kono was lonely. His friend group, The Hardy Boys, drifted apart after Zoe died and after Tim was coerced by Theo’s father Teddy (Nathan Lane) into blaming fellow Hardy Boy Oscar (Aaron Dominguez) for the crime.
Into this relationship void, stepped crazy lady Jan. She and Tim met on the elevator, immediately began making out, and embarked on a torrid affair. Things were going well until Jan discovered an emerald ring in Tim’s apartment and thought he was cheating on her. In reality, Tim had secured the ring as evidence from Zoe’s death, suggesting that he was trying to take the Dimas family down once and for all. He would never get the chance.
First Jan poisoned Tim (with some meds from her “Jan’s Lil T❤️xins” box) in her room. Then Tim went downstairs to his unit (taking Jan’s trash with him) and fell to the ground, ill. Jan started a recording of her practicing the bassoon so none of her neighbors would know anything was amiss and then went down to Tim’s place to taunt him and shoot him in the head, making it look like a suicide.
How Did Charles, Oliver, and Mabel Figure It Out?
Jan would have gotten away with it all too if it weren’t for those meddling podcast kids. Thankfully, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel were all on the case. Oliver, Mabel, and the audience figured out that Jan was Tim’s likely killer last week when Oliver and Mabel found a bassoon cleaner among Tim’s items.
Charles doesn’t figure out his girlfriend is a killer until this week and almost when it’s too late at that. Oliver and Mabel try to tell him, obviously, but he’s the kind of man who needs to figure things out himself. He figures it out thanks to the first letter that Jan wrote him: “Dinner? Lobby in an hour. This is Jan by the way.”
When comparing the “J’s” on that letter with the other letters that the ostensible killer left around the Arconia, Charles realized they matched. That’s when he realizes Jan is Tim’s killer and knows not to accept a drink from her. Unfortunately she beats him to the punch on that and doses a handkerchief with the poison as well…but Charles survives thanks to a strong constitution and a timely hospital trip.
Charles, Oliver, and Mabel figuring this mystery out is really quite impressive. Not only because they’re amateurs but because Jan is apparently an expert.
“I’m not one of those who always does it the same and has to carve a niche for myself,” she tells Charles as she believes him to be dying.
This suggests that the gang didn’t just find Tim Kono’s killer, but perhaps the killer of many other innocent victims as well.
Who Killed Bunny?
Since Only Murders in the Building premiered its first season eons ago (August 31), you would be forgiven for forgetting how the season actually opens. Just to jog your memory, the series picks up in media res, with police swarming the Arcadia. Charles and Oliver burst into Mabel’s unit only to find her covered in blood and leaning over the body of someone in a tie-dye hoodie.
“It’s not what you think,” Mabel says and then the episode jumps back to “two months earlier.”
In the finale, we finally see the lead up to that scene. As Charles and Oliver are celebrating their victory on the roof (and plotting what to do about the next season of their podcast), they each get a text from an unknown number warning them to get out of the building. They rush downstairs to grab Mabel and get out but when they find Mabel they discover that somehow has killed Arcadia lead board member Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell).
The police then arrive and naturally immediately arrest all three, who are the scene of the crime and covered in blood. It doesn’t look good for the trio as they had an obvious axe to grind with Bunny as she was the one who evicted all of them for their podcast shenanigans. Mabel was also quite rude to Bunny in public, telling her “Hey Bunny, congrats! You’re the most hated person in the building now, you cranky old bitch.”
Hopefully the police will eventually find out that Charles, Oliver, and Mabel didn’t kill Bunny. But who did then? Only Murders in the Building has already been renewed for a second season so this thankfully won’t be a loose thread for long. As of right now, there aren’t many compelling leads, aside from maybe Howard, just because he’s a little odd.
Given that both criminals in Only Murders in the Building season 1 were played by big name guest stars (Amy Ryan and Nathan Lane) it’s a good bet that Bunny’s killer hasn’t even been cast yet. Keep an eye out over the next couple of years for conspicuous casting announcements for this show as it’s likely our real suspect is among them.