Only Murders in the Building paraded an entire cast’s worth of suspects in front of viewers before finally zeroing in on the real killer. But the real delight in the series is that, once the show eliminated all the red herrings, it turned out the murderer was hiding in plain sight the whole time. The clues suggesting Jan was the killer on Only Murders In The Building were right in front of everyone from the beginning.
Warning: Spoilers for the Only Murders in the Building Season 1 finale follow. Viewers weren’t the only ones distracted from suspecting Jan. All three podcasters missed many of the hints, several of which were quite literally right in front of their faces. All three saw Tim Kono when he got onto the elevator on his way back up to his apartment — which, it turned out, happened after he’d been poisoned. All three saw evidence that poison was involved somehow but didn’t realize where it came from. And as Charles noted, he had the biggest clue of all, a sample of Jan’s handwriting that matched with Tim’s suicide note.
Let’s run down the significant points fans and podcasters missed over the season:
1. Tim Kono’s Trash
When Tim Kono got on the elevator to go upstairs, he was carrying a bag of trash. Listen, I don’t know about your apartment life, but I have never once gotten in an elevator and gone *up* with a bag of trash to my apartment, only down. Someone carrying a bag of trash upstairs means they’ve taken it not from their apartment but somewhere else in the building. Why would Tim be carrying someone else’s trash, unless it was someone he was intimate with to the point that taking their trash isn’t a big deal?
In short, from the first moment everyone saw him, fans should have known Tim Kono had a partner, and that they lived in the building.
2. The Missing Ring
Zoe’s ring is a significant item for both Tim and Mabel — one that Tim was obsessed with finding as part of taking down Teddy Dimas’ illegal Angel dealings. Never mind that Zoe stole the ring initially from Angel; in Tim’s mind, it was stolen from her the night she died, and getting it back represented justice.
But the ring was nowhere to be found in Tim’s apartment. At first, it seemed likely he hadn’t scored it yet, but Tavo made it clear that it was the white whale Tim was chasing. So where was it, if not in Tim’s apartment and not in Teddy’s possession? Obviously, the murderer stole it. This was the first clue that this was a crime of passion, long before Sazz Pataki pointed it out to the assembled crew. It was a crime perpetrated by someone prone to extreme jealousy, who didn’t like feeling as if she was second place.
3. Evelyn’s Death
It took until the penultimate episode for anyone to realize Tim wasn’t just shot; he was poisoned. But poison has been part of the mix since the second episode and the announcement of the death of Howard’s beloved cat, Evelyn.
Early on, Howard insisted that Tim was the one who poisoned the cat. But the podcasters went over every inch of the apartment and found no poison. Moreover, the threat to Winnie also included poison. The podcasters should have realized much earlier that Evelyn was an accidental victim when she licked up the poison that killed Tim.
4. The Handwriting
There have been multiple notes from the show’s killer littered throughout the series, not just the one that Jan faked, but the ones to Oliver as well. Plus, from early on, there were notes from Jan asking Charles out on dates. The handwriting on all the notes was the same.
Anyone who studies murder mysteries knows that handwriting samples are a significant clue. That the show was giving fans samples of Jan’s handwriting separate from the murderer’s notes should have been a sign, even if viewers didn’t notice that the capital “J”s were formed the exact same way in every one of them.
5. The Bassoon
Of course, since Episode 2, the biggest clue has been Oliver’s accidental discovery of a toy marked “exotic instruments” that he assumed was a sex toy. As was revealed in Episode 9, it was, in fact, a bassoon cleaner. Any hardcore band geek should have put those clues together right away.
Moreover, like drummer jokes, bassoonists are stereotyped as the sneaky ones, assumed most likely to commit murder and get away with it in the musician world. As a band geek friend said to me after Episode 9 arrived, “Oh, the killer is a bassoonist? Yep, that tracks.” The moral of the story is, always know your musician archetypes.
All episodes of Only Murders in the Building Season 1 are streaming on Hulu.
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