All is now OK at the Arconia, now that Bunny Folger’s killer has been apprehended.
Prior to Paul Rudd’s surprise debut, Tuesday’s Only Murders in the Building finale revealed that Becky Butler (aka Cinda Canning’s assistant Poppy) killed the curmudgeonly board president — but why?
Through a series of flashbacks, we learned that the Chickasha native, inspired by an earlier Cinda Canning podcast, successfully disappeared herself. She changed her appearance and traveled to New York, where she introduced herself to Cinda as Poppy — named after Cinda’s favorite bagel — and pitched her All Is Not OK in Oklahoma. Though Cinda liked Poppy’s style, she couldn’t commit to All Is Not OK — not unless Becky turned up dead. And so, Becky returned to Chickasha, where she met (and began a romance with) Detective Daniel Kreps, who helped her fake her own death and dupe Cinda (and the rest of the world).
On the heels of All Is Not OK‘s success, Becky learned of the elusive Rose Cooper and her missing painting. She pitched Cooper as a potential podcast subject to Cinda, and in her downtime attempted to convince Bunny to sell her the painting, but neither party was interested. That’s when Becky decided to create an even bigger New York story: She’d kill Bunny, steal the painting and frame Charles, Oliver and Mabel. If all went according to plan, Cinda would move forward with Only Murderers in the Building, Becky and Kreps would sell the painting and move out of Becky’s “s–tbox” apartment, and Kreps would “solve” the case and earn himself a big promotion. But alas….
Below, series co-creator John Hoffman and Becky Butler herself, Adina Verson, weigh in on Season 2’s killer reveal.
TVLINE | Let’s go back to the beginning. Adina, how’d this journey start for you?
VERSON | Originally, I had auditioned for Cinda. It was clearly written for Tina Fey, but I think because of the pandemic — it was still towards the beginning, as TV production was just starting to come back after the original shutdown — they weren’t sure if Tina could do it, so they had some people audition just in case. Knowing that, I just had fun with the tape. A few weeks later, I had a [callback], and a few weeks after that, my manager called and said, “Tina is available, but they really liked you and they want to write you this role.” So they wrote me Poppy, which was thrilling, but it also kind of threw me into an existential crisis. I was, like, “Well, they don’t really know who I am, so did they write it for me? Or did they write it for the character that I did as Cinda?” I had no idea. But then it became clear who Poppy was, and I do pretty well playing self-hating beta woman. [Laughs] I don’t know why!
TVLINE | John, how long has the Becky Butler reveal been in the works? Did you already know Poppy—err, Becky, was Bunny’s killer at the end of Season 1?
HOFFMAN | There was a sense by the end of Season 1, once we knew Bunny was the victim. Poppy felt really interesting because of where she was positioned. But also, I loved Adina. It was exciting to imagine giving someone the spotlight that some people haven’t seen as much, and boy could she handle it. I thought she was just brilliant. The other part of it was when we landed on the Becky Butler reveal — and truthfully, that didn’t come until early in the Season 2 writers’ room — I thought, “Oh, there we go! Now we have absolute basis because she’s had success.” Her biggest success was helping to create her own case.
TVLINE | Adina, when were you looped in on Poppy’s true identity?
VERSON | It was before we started shooting Season 2, and they had reached out to my agents about my availability. There was some weird stuff about not wanting to bill me a certain way, and my agents didn’t understand why. Finally, they were like, “OK, here’s the deal.” But instead of having my agents tell me, John and [fellow executive producer] Jess Rosenthal had a Zoom with me, and that’s when they told me. They had an outline of the season at the time, so I didn’t know all the details, but I knew I was Becky Butler and I knew I was the murderer. Going forward, I got every script a week or two before shooting started.
TVLINE | Did you have any sense this is where your storyline was headed based on where things left off in Season 1?
VERSON | I was just thrilled that I got a second episode in Season 1! I had a friend who was on costume crew who got the [finale] script before me, and she said, “It seems like they’re leaving it open and that you could be in Season 2.” But that never occurred to me, based on that [script], that I would be the killer. I just thought Cinda and Poppy would be part of Season 2.
TVLINE | We saw quite a bit of Bunny’s killer, either masked or from behind, before the big reveal — first when she approached Bunny’s front door, then inside the Arcatacombs, then in diner surveillance footage. Did you shoot any of that, or did you have a stand-in?
VERSON | It was me inside the Arcatacombs. Originally I was supposed to do all of those [scenes], but [that changed] after we did Episode 4. I remember I put on the suit and the mask, but you could still make out the shape of my legs. It was clearly a specific body type, so they had me go back up and put on big Carhartt pants. At one point, the director was like, “Umm, can you hunch just so we don’t see your breasts?” [Laughs] It was just a very physical scene — don’t show my legs, walk a different way, hold my weight differently, hunch my shoulders — so after that, they said we need to have [a stand-in]. Also, being on location, passersby wouldn’t go, “Oh, that’s the actor who plays Poppy sitting with Bunny!”
TVLINE | Knowing what you knew, were you tempted to modulate your performance at all this season, in scenes that preceded the initial reveal in Episode 9?
VERSON | I had played with it a little at the beginning, but what I ultimately came to was the idea that Poppy is a really good liar. And the writing is good enough that, if you go back now knowing the end, you can see where little things are planted. I didn’t need to try and layer two stories on top of each other.
TVLINE | Talk to me about how you approached those flashbacks to Becky’s life in Chickasha.
VERSON | It was important for her to be more real. Poppy is a little bit of a cartoon, in so much as everybody on Only Murders is a little heightened. Even the way Poppy looks is a little cartoonish. When they first put the wig on me, it almost made me cry. She looked like this little wounded creature. I still felt like she had the same meek demeanor as Poppy. I don’t feel like they’re totally disconnected, but there’s definitely a before and after.
TVLINE | What are your individual takes on Becky Butler? Can you empathize in spite of what she’s done? Is she someone the audience can (or should) pity?
HOFFMAN | This is what I like about dancing in this territory of storytelling —and I don’t look at it like there’s some sort of apologist’s point of view on these characters and their choices. Anyone who murders someone deserves to pay for that. I don’t want anyone to go, “Oh, poor thing! Now I feel bad for her!” No. She’s done a terrible thing. But it’s usually rooted in something having gone very wrong, and usually there is confusion. You want them to get more help than they’re getting, to resolve their lives in ways that don’t come to this insanity. In that respect, I very much lean into finding the humanity in both the victims and the perpetrators.
VERSON | I’m a big proponent of empathy. I don’t believe that true villains exist, but it is weird to humanize a [killer]. What Poppy does is horrific. I generally don’t condone of murder, but I think it’s important in life to know that even if somebody has done something unforgivable, that doesn’t mean that they are one-hundred percent a terrible human being. They probably became that way because of something tragic. Poppy had big aspirations and her hubris got the best of her. When you’re leading a secret life, I think it’s easy to feel like your actions don’t matter, or that you don’t have to live up to the same moral code. It’s horrific that she stabbed this older woman eight times, and she will likely be in prison for the rest of her life. But I’m curious how prison will be for her — if she’ll go totally cuckoo or become a nun.
Look, I’m all for empathy, but the liverwurst and marmalade sandwich is unforgivable.
VERSON | [Laughs] I think it sounds kind of delicious, but I might be in the minority.
HOFFMAN | It’s not really a red herring, but I loved the idea that the one clue that [Charles, Oliver and Mabel] have that they know the killer doesn’t have are Bunny’s final words [“fourteen” and “Savage”]. It makes perfect sense that it wouldn’t make any sense to Mabel. The resolve of that feels very New York to me — the absolute madness of anyone having a liverwurst and marmalade sandwich and how disgusting that would be to Bunny, and how all she can remember is that she ordered this sandwich.
What did you think of Only Murders‘ latest killer reveal? Had you suspected Poppy/Becky at any point before Episode 10 — and if so, when? Grade the finale here, then drop your thoughts in a comment below.