That, of course, is because of the nature of “Only Murders in the Building.” Though Ben’s death creates a shock wave, it also introduces a host of potential new suspects, including Loretta. There’s also Jesse Williams as a documentarian following Ben on his first Broadway show since his wildly popular series of superhero films (not “Ant-Man,” of course; Ben’s in a series of films as “CoBro,” a guy who turns into a cobra), as well as Ashley Park as one of Ben’s younger, prettier, and more tenacious co-stars on stage. The burgeoning cast — it’s also heartening to see Michael Cyril Creighton moving up from recurring to a regular cast member, as the prickly Howard becomes Oliver’s assistant this year — doesn’t change a general rule of thumb with this show that can be both expected and a little frustrating: the concept of the red herring.
Even in spite of the larger scope and cast of the season, it’s still a ten-episode series in which the killer isn’t unmasked instantly. (Again, eight episodes in, there has not been some grand reveal of whodunit. “Columbo,” this is not.) What that means is that many episodes end with teases for potential killers, before very quickly establishing reasonable alibis for those very same suspects. If you choose to wait to binge-watch the season, that up-and-down style of storytelling may not stand out quite as much. But “Only Murders in the Building” builds buzz by being a weekly release (the first two episodes premiere on August 8, but all other episodes drop once per week), yet it’s a little vexing to constantly get new red herrings, simply to cause some level of confusion.
But that quibble aside, “Only Murders in the Building” remains immensely charming thanks to that aforementioned cast. We now have more than two years’ worth of proof that, as funny as Steve Martin and Martin Short are together, they make an inexplicably delightful combination with Selena Gomez, who bounces off them with aplomb and ease as they attempt to counterbalance their fuddy-duddy nature as Charles and Oliver with her more modern sensibility. Streep and Rudd (the latter of whom is understandably enjoying himself, when depicted in flashbacks, as an outrageously vain superstar) fit in well with the ensemble, too. If anyone stands out this season, it’s Short, who’s long been one of the funniest people working in Hollywood, but has depth and range beyond that as evidenced in his work this season. There’s always the chance that “Only Murders in the Building” won’t stick the landing in its third season, but for its bulk, it’s starting out pretty strong.
/Film Rating: 8 out of 10