If putting Mabel, Charles, and Oliver in the hot seat marks a narrative departure for Only Murders, the action surrounding them in season two represents a kind of deepening: more celebrity guest stars, more clashes between classic and modern, more insight into the prewar apartment building where the series takes place, more cliffhangers and twists. “That feeling of being embraced [in season one] gave great buoyancy to ideas and trust that the audience would go with us, ”says Hoffman. “It just made us more confident in our approach on season two.”
Consider the core relationships of Only Murders: Just as Mabel, Charles, and Oliver were getting to know each other, the well-known actors who play them were honing their dynamic too, finding humor in their generational divide and a kind of barbed affection. Those qualities are now baked in, allowing room to explore new angles. Mabel meets a love interest in Cara Delevingne‘s Alice, an art-gallery owner of her own generation who puts Mabel in touch with a side of herself she’s been somewhat neglecting since the show began. Gomez and Delevingne are longtime friends, bringing quick, sexy intimacy to their onscreen rapport. “It was amazing to have the two of them know each other and feel comfortable,” Hoffman says. “It’s a little sparky in all the right ways that makes you feel like, Oh, someone’s opening someone’s world.” Inevitable clashes with Oliver and Charles amp up the intensity: In one episode, Mabel throws a party that the pair attend, and, well, “It’s a little bit rough,” Hoffman teases.
The Only Murders world also opens up around them. Bunny’s death unlocks new secrets of the Arconia, both in its literal design and in its fascinating history, which connects to Charles’ childhood. Hoffman says this development reflects his writers’ core interest in “this understanding about place and time and history, and how lives are lived in places like that — in a communal way, in an apartment building — with secrets and great mysteries that factor into them . ” Charles’ father enters the story in flashbacks — no spoilers as to his exact connection to the building — which adds an extra layer of mystery to the plot. The show expands its series-long mission to, Hoffman says, “know the history of each of these people with the building… the secrets that are unfolding.” He adds, “There are the unknowns that catch you off guard emotionally.”