Only Murders in the Building: Sparring Partners
August 16, 2022 2:14 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

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.

With Detective Kreps being their new prime suspect, Mabel tries to confront him, but Kreps denies everything; however, mentioning his admiration for Cinda’s podcasts furthers Mabel's suspicion. Meanwhile, Charles and Oliver discover the original Rose Cooper painting hidden under the cage of Bunny's parrot. Charles further discovers that Leonora is Rose Cooper herself. She reveals to Charles that she and his father were lovers for years and he was arrested as a result of trying to defend her from her enraged husband. She also shows Charles another painting hidden in the canvas, picturing young Charles and his father. Elsewhere, Oliver learns that Teddy is indeed Will’s biological father, but, for Will's sake, they both decide to keep this in a secret. Alice gifts Mabel a jigsaw puzzle as a peace offering, and with the help of that, Mabel realizes one of Cinda's podcasts included a restaurant with the same logo she saw on Kreps’ backpack. When she questions Poppy about this, she reveals herself as Becky Butler, the subject of the podcast, and that Kreps is Cinda’s lover who helped Cinda provide evidence. Mabel concludes that Cinda is the true mastermind behind Bunny’s murder.
posted by BlahLaLa (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
OK, I'll admit -- I was worried about them being able to pull all the sprawling plotlines together this season. But this episode wraps them up in a bow pretty neatly.
posted by kyrademon at 2:23 PM on August 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

I also really liked the way so many dangling threads come together here. Eagerly awaiting next week!
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:29 PM on August 16, 2022

Howard, you should have known better than to get in that elevator.

Love the use of Shirley MacLaine.

Kreps is married to Cinda?!

That's some nerve, keeping a painting under a bird cage and all that poop.

I am disappointed that Oliver isn't secretly Greek and his dad isn't who he thought it was. Would have explained the dip obsession anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:39 PM on August 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

I think it was probably Poppy who came sniffing around Rose’s painting, given how much has been made of Cindy and Poppy having the same look.
posted by CMcG at 5:58 PM on August 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, wait, I just rewatched, he doesn't mention them being married.

Looking forward to the whole Becky Butler explanation... but how does Bunny tie into this?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:07 PM on August 16, 2022

Kreps is married to Cinda?!
Oh, wait, I just rewatched, he doesn't mention them being married.

But he does mention alimony as one of his expenses in his opening monologue. I took that to mean he was married to Cinda but is no longer.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:13 PM on August 16, 2022

Oh, I took his alimony remark to mean he was married, divorced, and now he's involved with Cinda.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:31 PM on August 16, 2022 [9 favorites]

CMcG: "I think it was probably Poppy who came sniffing around Rose’s painting, given how much has been made of Cindy and Poppy having the same look."

And the fact that, when Rose described her as a brunette with glasses, Charles immediately said, “Cinda Canning?” I thought it was odd at the time that he assumed Cinda from just that description, but now I think it's a tactic to misdirect us, and that it was actually Poppy. Not that I know why yet.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:02 PM on August 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

This was a good episode and a good twist. I was disappointed by the Jan reveal last season ("women are crazy amirite?"), but the Cinda theory holds water. Ambitious podcast host fabricates a missing-person case in order to craft an exciting series (or maybe pays off Becky/Poppy to avoid a disappointing conclusion to the podcast?), has trouble coming up with a follow-up, gets annoyed at these upstarts in the Anconia outperforming her at her game, and decides to kill Bunny and frame our heroes as a way to get them out of the picture and give her another good podcast season.

She's taking advantage of Kreps and uses him to do her dirty work, although I have trouble imagining either of them doing the literal murder. She pesters Bunny for the Rose Cooper painting in order to create a red herring that points at Charles. The bloody matchbook implicates them, so she figures out a way to get Kreps to steal and destroy the evidence.

There are still some open questions:
- How is Cinda/Poppy/Kreps getting in and out of our heroes' apartments (to plant the bloody knife, etc.)? If they are using the secret passages, how do they know about them?
- Why would Cinda/Poppy/Kreps have texted them to get out of the building on the night of Bunny's murder?
- What is Poppy's role in all this?

Looking forward to the finale!

And the fact that, when Rose described her as a brunette with glasses, Charles immediately said, “Cinda Canning?” I thought it was odd at the time that he assumed Cinda from just that description, but now I think it's a tactic to misdirect us, and that it was actually Poppy. Not that I know why yet.

I also found that to be an odd moment. Why jump directly to Cinda Canning? Mabel is separately following that lead, and they otherwise haven't talked about Cinda for a couple weeks. Maybe, like you say, it's to make us believe Cinda is the killer when it's actually Poppy. But unless Cinda forced her to do it, I don't see why Poppy would have any motive to kill Bunny. I guess we'll see!
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:49 AM on August 17, 2022

I had a thought just now: Cinda must have some huge dirt on Poppy.

Poppy knows that Cinda's Peabody-winning podcast is an utter fabrication, and presumably could prove it to others, thereby destroying Cinda. The fact that Cinda nonetheless treats her so poorly could just be hubris, but I think it's far more likely that there's some sort of Mutually Assured Destruction that would also ruin Poppy.

Maybe Poppy did most of the dirty work, such that she'd be complicit in interfering with a police investigation and obstructing justice, and Cinda has got her convinced that it would be worse for Poppy than it would be for Cinda if it came out. Maybe Poppy would be in grave danger if her real identity were discovered.

Unrelatedly: the plot is using Kreps as glue to hold this conspiracy together, but I'm not convinced there's enough glue to go around. At his age, for Kreps to be making only ~$85K means he must've joined the NYPD pretty late in his career. And I can't help but think he could supplement his income through overtime work much better than by being a Coney Island security guard. And apparently, if you're an NYPD cop, you can just travel to Oklahoma and get a “freelance” gig with few questions asked?
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:22 AM on August 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, a lot of that introductory monologue from Kreps didn't make any sense (writers! you can look up typical salaries for federal, state, and city employees online!), but I did feel like they were getting closer to tying up some loose ends. I still don't get why they would kill Bunny, although part of me wonders if the fact that Bunny was wearing the tie-dye hoodie made the killer think that it was Mabel or even possibly Oliver they were stabbing initially.

I did not expect that Oliver and Teddy would end up having a heart to heart about fathers and sons, and while I'm seriously annoyed by that whole part of the story, I enjoyed that scene, watching a couple of old pros just doing some good work. I don't want Will to become a football.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:50 AM on August 17, 2022 [6 favorites]

I hope it doesn't turn out Bunny was killed due to mistaken identity. That is boring; give us an actual motive.

I am intrigued that Poppy is Becky! I'm not otherwise very interested in the Cinda Canning/Officer Kreps dynamic, but we have a lot of ground to cover in the last episode, so I'm keeping an open mind.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:42 AM on August 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's a bold move to have your greek chorus talk about how the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere, so I had hoped that meant the writers room was confident enough in their threads coming together to make a joke about it. But for a minute in the previously on, as they reintroduced Rose, I was still worried that they were basically going to pick up from the end of episode two.

But this was a pretty good job of bringing everything forward! And honestly, I don't think it would have worked if we hadn't spent the time getting to know a few of these other characters individually.

On a personal note, this episode gave me one of my favorite small joys as an ex-NYC resident: Spotting a location in a show that I've been to personally. In this case, the Oklahoma bar that Kreps meets Canning in is actually Old Stanley's, in Bushwick--one of my favorite haunts back in the day.
posted by thecaddy at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

So... Rose Cooper says that the pushy, dark-haired woman with glasses came "sniffing around a few months ago" interested in the painting. Which would place that on the timeline somewhere towards the beginning of Season 1. This is the most curious thing to me: Cinda (or Poppy) found Rose Cooper back when everyone else was asking who Tim Kono was. Then, later, somebody was hounding Bunny Folger about it. Which points to the connection to the Arconia being a coincidence. It strikes me that Uma is also a pushy, dark-haired woman with glasses, who was definitely very interested in the painting, but I don't think that works for a few reasons (notably that she and Bunny were friends and Bunny described the person who was at the diner with her as "not a friend," and that Uma would have known that the painting was in Bunny's apartment without going through the trouble of finding Rose Cooper first.)

I think the envelope of money that Bunny gave to Ivan is also going to matter - I think the implication is that she just came into that money and didn't even know what to do with it, or wanted rid of it. More loose ends: Mabel's father, who I think we can just call Hiram Lodge - there's more to that story for sure. Whether it plays out in this season or next is an open question but this season has such a HUGE "father" current running through all of it that I have to imagine it gets wrapped up in this finale.

My read on the Kreps/Canning relationship is that they are divorced and his alimony payments are shaky enough that she still has him over a barrel, which might explain him letting slip the clues that would lead Mabel straight to Cinda (though one imagines that would not bode well for Kreps himself. Maybe he thinks that as a cop he can dodge any consequences?)

As for the text for them to get out of the building: the cops were on the scene basically as soon as there was a body, so it makes sense that somebody wanted to set up our trio as looking like they were running from the crime scene.

That's what I've got right now.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:28 PM on August 18, 2022

Steve Martin on His Late Career Surge and Contemplating Retirement: “This Is, Weirdly, It” [THR]
posted by ellieBOA at 3:14 AM on August 19, 2022 [6 favorites]

We were also wondering if Lucy's new stepdad is any part of this? For a second we were wondering if maybe it was Detective Kreps, but that seems like it's no longer a fit.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:11 AM on August 20, 2022

I was not expecting that. Genuine surprise.
posted by bq at 7:23 AM on September 20, 2022

Dark-haired with glasses fits both Poppy and Cinda but pushy is way more Cinda.

I don't know all the math but Kreps' speech could be somewhat accurate. He said $85k after alimony and paying for housing - maybe he has a ridiculous mortgage and a lot of alimony and is bad at budgets?

I'm glad Teddy and Oliver called it even. Oliver is always having to explain or defend himself to Steve Martin and Mabel. I think he needs his friendship with Teddy.

Howard seems to be toughening up. The Howard we first met would have surprised me by shrugging and getting into the elevator. Bunny would have done it, no problem. Maybe he was inspired by her after her death.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:33 AM on February 13

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