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We’re at the midpoint in the show’s season — intermission, you might say, given the theatrical setting. We’re settling into the rhythms and beats of the murder mystery, getting used to the routine of each episode focusing on and then exonerating a potential suspect. But just as we’re getting comfortable, Howard knocks on Mabel’s door in his Paddington-like rain hat, abruptly beginning the episode by saying, “I have something I need to confess. I killed Ben Glenroy.”
As the opening credits play, we’re left to digest this confession. Surely there’s some catch, otherwise, the season would be over, right? Right. When the credits finish playing (it’s sacrilegious to skip them), we find out that Howard didn’t really kill Ben, per se, but rather feels responsible for his death. He explains that the Gooseberry Theater is haunted by its namesake, Gideon Gooseberry, who in 1919 was killed one opening night by a falling sandbag. Legend has it that your show will be cursed if you don’t sweep his energy off the stage every night, which Howard had been doing to protect the play. But on opening night, the broom was locked in stage manager KT’s office, so he didn’t sweep, and as a result, Ben died.
Mabel, Charles, and Oliver are all skeptical of this story and don’t understand why Howard is only just now bringing this up until Howard explains that he’d convinced himself that it was in his head until that morning at the theater when he came face to face with the ghost of Gideon “in his signature cap and red coat.” Hmm, a cap and red coat like the one Dr. C was wearing?
Tobert, there from the night before, brings that up, but Charles and Oliver are perturbed to have someone encroaching on their trio. Oliver suggests he take Howard to the theater alone to look into his “ghost thing,” an idea that surprises Mabel given Oliver’s previous disinterest in investigating. Could this have something to do with his newfound suspicions about Loretta and him wanting to look into them alone? Yep. But there won’t be any solo missions, and the entire trio decides to make a trip to the theater, a reunion that makes the usually dry Mabel visibly happy.
They go to the theater with Howard and are immediately met with ghostly activities. The ghost light goes out, and two sandbags fall, nearly killing Charles and President McKinley (the sole goldfish Joy left him in the split, which he brought along to help deal with the trauma of coming from a broken home). The group all goes straight to KT’s office, where the camera lingers on her shredding a page of the script for some reason, and she takes Howard to run a safety check on the stage.
Spotting a sign-in sheet, Mabel suggests they compare the cast’s handwriting to the “fucking pig” written on Ben’s mirror. Fearing that Loretta’s handwriting will match, Oliver takes the sheet to go make the comparison on his own. Meanwhile, Charles expresses concern to Mabel over Tobert’s involvement, which she bristles at given that Tobert has been more engaged in the case than Charles and Oliver.
Proving her point, Charles has to rush off to fetch more water for President McKinley, once again leaving Mabel all alone. Charles finds a storage closet/bathroom, but since the sink doesn’t work, he puts President McKinley in the tank of the toilet for some swimming-around room. While the fish has some room to stretch, Charles discovers that he no longer does because the bathroom door is locked. Trapped inside, he relieves himself but accidentally does the one thing you’re not supposed to do when storing your goldfish in the toilet tank: flushes. Luckily, President McKinley reappears in the bowl, but that good luck ends when Charles accidentally sets off a fog machine. While recording his final good-byes before his imminent death, he remembers he can use his jimmy keys to escape. There’s a real rollercoaster of emotions happening inside that bathroom.
Oliver has some big emotions of his own, who, after confirming his fear that Loretta’s handwriting matches the lipstick, follows a noise to the theater’s attic where somebody grabs him. Luckily, it’s not the murderer, but rather another director that Oliver knows, Jerry, who’s been squatting in the attic like the Pigeon Lady in Home Alone 2. Jerry says that Howard spotted him that morning, so to avoid being evicted, he pretended to be the ghost. But that still doesn’t explain the cap and red coat. Oliver confides in Jerry about falling for Loretta, and he asks if he’s worried about her violent temper, which is news to Oliver. But Jerry sees all in this theater and, by way of a puppet show (obviously), recreates the opening-night fight that happened between her, Ben, and Charles. With this new information, Oliver accepts Loretta’s guilt, but Jerry advises him to choose what matters to him.
Abandoned by her “guys,” Mabel bumps into Tobert, who was led to the theater while he was trailing Jonathan. The budding couple confronts Jonathan as he leaves his dressing room with a bag of pills, and he explains that he was so anxious about taking over Ben’s role that Dr. C gave him the “leading man cocktail.” It includes everything from beta-blockers to a little methamphetamine — the same mix that Ben was taking. The conversation reveals that Jonathan never wanted to be the lead, so there goes his motive. But, Mabel wonders, if Ben was taking the same pill cocktail, why didn’t the meth come up in his autopsy?
Meanwhile, on the stage, KT and Howard butt heads as she completes her safety check with Howard blaming her locked door for Ben’s death. But KT says she never locks her door, so who did? And what was the commotion that Howard heard from inside? And was there not a second broom in the whole theater that Howard could have used for his superstitious sweep? Okay, maybe that last question isn’t as important. It turns out it wouldn’t have mattered in any case because KT tells Howard that sweeping doesn’t actually keep away the ghost of Gideon, but she knows what does. Having done 42 shows in that theater, KT says that the only way to protect from Gideon is to perform the monologue that he was delivering when he died, which she has Howard do on stage. The exercise, for a moment, fulfills each of their discarded dreams; Howard’s to act and KT’s to direct.
Though we’re now safe from the ghost, there’s still a killer on the loose. Free from the fog closet that almost reenacted his Little Shop of Horrors death, Charles reunites with Mabel and the pair spot Oliver heading toward Ben’s dressing room where they’re shocked to discover him wiping away their lipstick evidence. Oliver made his choice as to what matters, and that’s Loretta, not this investigation. Mabel and Charles can’t believe what they’re seeing, and Oliver’s quick to bring up the punch Charles has been keeping a secret — a secret, he says, which was meant to protect Oliver’s girlfriend! The whole scene reads like a musicless rendition of “Your Fault” from Into the Woods. Nobody’s safe from the crossfire, and Oliver lambasts Mabel for targeting his cast, saying that she wouldn’t understand that grown-up jobs are important. The lowest of low blows that hits Mabel where it hurts.
“Cinda was right,” Mabel says, finally hitting a breaking point and bringing up Cinda Canning’s idea that she ditch them. All season, she’s felt cast aside by her two partners in (stopping) crime, and when they actually were present, their antics have only been getting in the way of a cause she cares about: finding the person who killed someone who mattered to her. So whether or not she’s got Oliver and Charles by her side, Mabel is intent on getting to the bottom of this mystery. So just like that, our trio has split up. It’s unclear who gets custody of the podcast, but I assume Mabel’s the only one who knows how to upload an episode.