Only Murders in the Building – Season 2 Episode 9 “Sparring Partners” Recap & Review

‘Sparring Partners’

Episode 9 of Only Murders in the Building Season 2 begins with a voice-over by Detective Kreps. He is shown sparring in the boxing ring (the building is also his home) and mulling his annual wages in the NYPD. The $80k income isn’t nearly enough to cover expenses in one of the costliest cities in the world. To make ends meet, he must do a little “extra” on the side.

During the voiceover, we see him sneak into the evidence room in the station and tamper with it. He also divulges that he freelances as a detective in small towns and enterprises to give them city-like expertise in handling evidence and solving murders. Kreps also mentions a special lady he met in a bar.

Mabel breaks the news to Charles. His photo goes up on the board but they both agree he isn’t the mastermind. Oliver darts in with Mrs. Gambolini and a hairdo that suggests an all-nighter. Finally, he has good news about the DNA results: he is the father. Oliver tries to give Gambolini to Charles but he isn’t having it.

Something pops out from underneath the painting in its stand: the real Rose Cooper painting! Bunny had been hanging the fake one and hiding the original.

Alice drops by Mabel’s apartment and gifts her a puzzle on which she has done the art. It is a peace offering and while Mabel appreciates it, she doesn’t want to let her back into her life. She doesn’t trust Alice anymore. The eccentric Brit accepts her reasoning and leaves.

After finding the original, Charles wants to get in touch with Leonara, Bunny’s mother. He calls the assisted living facility where she is placed but he is surprised to find that she hasn’t left the establishment “in years”. The lady also directs him to a photo of hers on the website. And the woman we saw previously is clearly not Leonara.

Oliver breaks the news to his son, Will, who is relieved and emotional at knowing the truth. He is already stressed with the school production but Oliver gives him much-needed confidence. Charles fiddles around with the watch his father gave him (from the painting) and realizes there is something engraved on its back: an address. He looks up a number from the address and his suspicion is proven right. Mabel discovers where Kreps lives and wonders what the chicken logo on his shirt means. She reaches the gym and he is sparring in the ring. She calls him out and insults him repeatedly to break his concentration. She is looking for answers but Kreps won’t be easy to break.

Mabel is a fighter. She keeps up the barrage of attacks on him and even decides to spar with him. Her weekend kickboxing training comes in handy. We intercut between three scenes involving the trio: Mabel in the gym; Charles with “Rose Cooper” (yes, the old lady who claimed herself as Leonara is actually the painter herself); and Oliver in the lift with Teddy.

Mabel makes fun of Kreps’ stupidity levels, to which he replies “If I am so stupid, how did I land up the smartest girl in the world?”. A blatant hint for OMITB aficionados that will be made clearer for the non-believers in the end. Kreps mentions the OG All is Not Okay¬†from the world of podcasts and Mabel leaves.

Oliver fights with Teddy as he reveals the truth: Will is indeed Roberta and Teddy’s son. Oliver and Teddy go up to the former’s apartment. The two share an intimate evening with each other sharing their struggles and imperfect relationships with their sons. By the end of it, Teddy promises to keep it all a secret and the two are square. Back on good terms as well. Charles has an interesting conversation with Rose, who tells him that she went missing to become more famous.

‘Sparring Partners’ Ending Explained: Who is Becky Butler?

But also because her life was in danger, she asks Charles to uncover the nails in the painting that attach it to the canvas, and voila; a surprise awaits us. There is another painting inside that painting.

While the one on the top was for Rose herself as she was madly in love with Charles’ father, the one beneath was for him. It is a portrait of him standing with Charles as a little kid. A good father is something Charles’ father aspired to be but couldn’t. He also protected Rose from her abusive husband and took the blame for her.

Charles finally has closure and is proud of the person his father was. Rose hands over the painting to Charles. Better him than “that woman who came sniffing for it a few months back”. What did she look like? Brown hair and glasses.

Mabel is very close to figuring out the final pieces in the puzzle. All is Not Okay in Oklahoma is a podcast that made Cinda a huge success. She is indeed the missing piece. Mabel rushes over to her office where she finds Poppy. Cinda isn’t there but Poppy warns Mabel to leave once she mentions the podcast and Detective Kreps. And as it turns out, Poppy is that missing piece. She is actually Becky Butler from the Oklahoma podcast that Cinda claimed to have solved!

Kreps was on one of his freelancing charades and saw Cinda in a pub. He instantly fell heads over heels in love with her and tampered with evidence. That is why Poppy (a.k.a. Becky) is so afraid of Cinda.

The Episode Review

Saving the best till last is a good thing. Only Murders In The Building has certainly preserved its best episode probably over the course of the two seasons until episode 9 of its second season. If someone were to ask your opinion on the good/bad about the show, you’d probably ask them to watch this one. Except, they wouldn’t understand a thing. Because all the missing pieces; all the loose ends are found and tied together to make one hell of a story in episode 9.

All the little clues that were dropped for us through the season – examples – are fitted in an exhilarating fashion. The editing is breathtaking and actually so frenetic that you could see some of the scenes being cut halfway to fit everything in. Before you know it, the credits start rolling. Where did all that time go?

Not only that, the show’s true USP of finding lost souls in the midst of murder, mystery, and crime shines the brightest in episode 9. Against all odds, Oliver’s heartbreak felt so real and intimidating. His dynamic with Teddy is something we have been missing this season. This episode brought the two ailing fathers sailing in the same boat together and gave some sort of closure to their struggles in connecting with their sons.

OMITB was guilty of dragging things and coming up with fillers every now and then. Its appeal dropped quite a few notches in the second half of the season. It can certainly happen to any show but the storyline did seem to be a bit thin in season 2. After watching episode 9, that opinion has certainly changed.

We were all being misled expertly until now. At some point in the episode, Mable says, “I didn’t see it”. Well, no one did because it was so well hidden until now! If season 2 was 8ish before this episode, it is definitely a lot closer to 10. Fingers crossed for a grand finale!

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You can read our full season review of Only Murders In The Building Season 2 here!

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