Photo: Barbara Nitke/HULU
After a two-part premiere that largely restored what we know and love about the show, Only murders in the building ventures into lesser-known territory in The Last Day Of Bunny Folger. We go through the final hours in the life of the outgoing CEO, parrot owner, and ball wrecker to see what makes Bunny, as Charles put it at the end of the episode, “a New York classic.”
Bunny was a minor antagonist in season one (although the wonderful Jayne Houdyshell proved minor parts don’t exist) – she was quickly eliminated as a suspect in Tim Kono’s murder, but gave the Arconia threesome every chance she got. Her death in the We Are All Tim Kono season finale propelled her to the forefront of the series and promised we’d learn more about her story in the new episodes. Solving a crime involves getting to know the victim – this is Amateur Detective 101. Now it’s time to see who Bunny was, aside from the insults and razor-thin tolerance for people who waste their time.
Charles provides much of the voiceover in this episode, likely due to his suspected connection to Bunny. He observes that the day Bunny was murdered (March 12, for those who keep track at home) turned into a day like any other in her life, but there were also signs that it was everything other than normal would become. After getting out of bed, Bunny listens to a call-in radio show, drinks tea, reads the newspaper, and does exercises while practicing her speech for the board meeting where she will step down as president. She gets a breakfast sandwich from her favorite vendor, meets up with her successor Nina, scolds Lester, disrupts a party in the yard (more on that in a moment), then takes Uma for a walk.
It all seems pretty normal — it’s more sociable than I can at least be able to do during the weekdays — but there are signs she’s about to be pushed off that beaten path. After breaking up with Uma, Bunny gets a call about Rose Cooper’s painting, and although she doesn’t recognize the number, she seems to know the identity of the caller: “Oh, it’s you. No, I don’t want to talk about the painting. Stop calling!” That seems to support the theory that Bunny’s death is related to the painting, but there’s no way we’re getting such confirmation this early in the season. There’s still a lot to uncover in Bunny’s life and elsewhere.
“The Last Day Of Bunny Folger” marks an interesting change of pace for the series, which didn’t really get into Tim Kono’s head in its first season until the second half. This time we get the episode within the first three episodes from the victim’s perspective. Could that be because the motive isn’t as shocking as the killer’s identity? Or is Bunny’s murder part of a larger puzzle? I mean, it almost certainly is. Finally, its history is linked to that of Arconia, which houses the stories of many past and present residents. She learned as CEO a lot of about the inner workings of their neighbors; We get a little taste of it in her courtyard tête-à-tête with Nina. There’s even a slim chance she’s related to Charles, who she appears to have been making out with — that is, “hanging out” — at a Christmas party.
But this episode is more broadly devoted to Bunny’s relationships with the Arconia tenants, including her fellow board members Nina, Howard, Dr. Grover Stanley (Russell G. Jones) – who, if you don’t remember, takes all kinds of online payments – and Liam, a tenant I can’t remember. We already have a sense of how Howard was getting along with Bunny; he publicly crouched before her, but privately expressed less favorable thoughts (see: his minutes of the session). dr Grover seemed to avoid her most of the time, and maybe one day we’ll find out what’s going on with Liam. Bunny and Nina’s friendship, which we only just learned about this season, implodes during the final board meeting. It turns out that Nina was only pretending to support Bunny’s plans for the Arconia; she actually thinks it should be “made more efficient. Modernized. Monetized.”
To say Bunny feels betrayed is an understatement – it’s clear that she was only willing to step down as CEO because she thought she’d found the ideal replacement, someone who would “keep” the Arconia. Bunny refuses to step down, calling Nina an “ungrateful, power-hungry, baby-bumbling bitch.” Nina responds by saying Bunny is “a relic. And I can’t let this building become one either.” Then some famous last words from Bunny: “I’m not going to let you get away with it.”
The hilarious sight of Howard busily writing this all down defuses some of the suspense, but this confrontation sets the tone WITHOUT B Team a new prime suspect: Nina. Oliver seems excited about the possibility, if only because it leads him to say, “Oh, did the pregnant charge play a harmful power play?” He’s so pleased with himself that he put it ahead of Charles and Mabel boasts that he is “on fire. You know, I think I’ve really gotten better since Tim’s murder.” (The only other person who’s that smug is Howard, who gave the “You’re Done” and “It’s Over” decorations he gave to Bun- Bun’s post as “disturbing.” [sic] Decor that gives a campy retirement” instead of ominous.)
That might be a break in the case, but “The Last Day” is more of a tribute to Bunny Folger, a hard-nosed New York native and, as the show hints throughout the episode, part of a dying breed. And yet we see how much Bunny still had or wanted to do with her life – in the run-up to her death, the feeling of new vitality is as great as the fear. only murders provides a multi-faceted memorial in which the tones are expertly shifted around the sillier moments (Charles and Oliver exchange laughing-out bunny impressions to try to get Mrs. Gambolini to tell them “who did it”) , to balance with more poignant ones.
But let’s not forget what Leonora said in Framed: “It’s a woman’s lot – to be recognized you have to disappear.” Bunny only gets them in death. Oliver and Mabel take turns expressing admiration for her; at The Pickle Diner (a converted mansion restaurant), Oliver cordially describes Bunny as a “living man” likely to be buried at the Arconia (he’s almost right). After watching Bunny fix the stuck elevator, Mabel calls Bunny a “badass”. And in a voiceover for the podcast, Charles praises it as “a treasure trove of stories, mysteries and forgotten wisdom.” He says the trio only invited her to celebrate with them that night after acknowledging it – which she clearly wanted but couldn’t bring herself to ask – they “had their life with one simple act.” saved by kindness”.
It’s a reminder of how much the lives of Arconians are truly connected, even as they keep to themselves. But it may also speak to what we are losing in the name of progress. Several scenes illustrate how good Bunny was with the Arconia. If Bunny Folger’s story starts with or is connected to that of the Arconia, what happens to the building after she’s gone?
• I really liked the scene where Mabel, Oliver and Charles are courting in the courtyard – it underlines how close they have become. But I wonder how Howard feels about the Arconiacs selling keychains in the shape of Evelyn’s leg.
• If the person who gets off the elevator at the end of the episode is the same person who attacks Bunny, then they are tall (judging by the position of their gloved hands on Bunny’s neck) with small feet. These black boots are tiny.
• This week’s Easter Egg: the champagne bottle and cork that appears in the opening credits between Oliver and Charles.