Only Murders in the Building Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Sparring Partners

The penultimate episode of Only Murders in the Building season 2 clears the deck of some suspects and resolves some familial mysteries.

Only Murders In The Building -- “Sparring Partners” - Episode 209 -- Closing in on the killer, Mabel takes her investigative talents into the ring. Oliver and Charles duke it out over a birdcage only to end up confronting their deepest paternal struggles. Mabel (Selena Gomez) and Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport), shown.
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn | Hulu

This Only Murders in the Building review contains spoilers.

Only Murders in the Building Season 2 Episode 9

The sheer amount of storylines this season on Only Murders in the Building has made it somewhat difficult to follow along and tie everything together. Each week there seems to be something new to focus on, a different character thrown into the spotlight, or a cliffhanger that is ignored for several episodes. This forces the audience to not only be patient, but think closely about every single plot line that is shown. We must pay close attention and decide if each item is going to cause a butterfly effect down the line. 

As the penultimate episode in the season, “Sparring Partners” is finally able to close a few of the many mysteries that have been collected throughout the season and have been put on the backburner for later. It sets up anticipation for the finale in fine fashion, but moves so quickly that it feels like you need a rewatch to fully confirm all of your suspicions and to understand where we stand with one episode left. 

Oliver (Martin Short) and Will’s (Ryan Broussard) parental relationship is finally resolved here after the idea of them not being biologically related was brought into the picture mid-season. Oliver tells Will that the DNA test results have come back and confirmed their blood ties, but it’s easy to tell Oliver might be lying to his son. The show uses some levity to reveal the truth when Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane) walks onto an elevator with Oliver, where the latter man starts some fisitcuffs right there as his version of revenge.

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There is a touching moment between the two men late in the episode, as Oliver poignantly asks his arch-enemy of two seasons to not reveal the actual paternity test results. Oliver wants to remain close with Will, and he thinks that won’t happen if Will knows the truth. It’s unfortunate this is the route Oliver wanted to go, because if a parent and child are close enough, finding out this type of news won’t break them. Nevertheless, the show does a fine job of tackling important life topics with their core players. 

Charles (Steve Martin) gets to finally learn the entire truth about his father and the painting that was central to the first few episodes of the season after it is revealed in a secret compartment underneath Bunny’s bird’s cage. Leonora Folger (Shirley MacLaine) is not actually the woman who came looking for it several weeks ago, but rather Rose Cooper, the artist of the painting. She posed as Bunny’s mother to gain an advantage in her quest to get the artwork back after Bunny’s death. Charles figures this out after finding the real Leonora Folger online. 

Rose helps Charles take a nail out of the back of the painting to reveal the real gem underneath: a depiction of Charles as a child with his father. Charles finds out his dad actually had great pride in his son, and wanted to become someone Charles could remember fondly. He wasn’t able to do so before his death, but the revelations associated with this painting help Charles to resolve some of his childhood trauma. 

And now for the meat of the murder mystery. Mabel (Selena Gomez) is able to identify Detective Krepps (Michael Rapaport) as the glittered man she attacked on the train a couple of episodes ago. She decides to dig deeper into Krepps’s background over some boxing training. Detective Krepps is so close to the heart of the mystery because he’s been working with Cinda Canning (Tina Fey). Cinda has been hinted as a possible manipulator of the crimes she podcasts about, and she’s been doing it again this season. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the murderer, though. The trio pin her on the board as the criminal mastermind, meaning we now know Cinda is puppeteering the mystery for her own good behind the scenes. Maybe she’s the murderer, or perhaps she’s just instrumental in it happening. The big cliffhanger entering the final week of the season is that Cinda’s assistant, Poppy (Adina Verson) is actually Becky Butler, the victim in one of Cinda’s most famous murder mystery podcasts, “All is Not OK in Oklahoma”. 

It feels like we are now closer than ever to seeing the whole picture, but the person who ends up being revealed as the murderer is going to have a hard time comparing to the brilliance of Jan’s reveal last year. The suspects at hand are compelling, but unless there’s a 180 degree turn and the killer is someone completely unexpected, the potential culprit feels semi-lackluster. But we also know the show is going to have a third season, and we are ultimately going to get another cliffhanger that leads into the next phase of the show. It all should come to fruition soon!

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4 out of 5