Boy did we get some major reveals this week! After teasing viewers for months with the mystery of who killed Tiffany Hudson, this episode fully answers that question. But the answer raises new questions as well, and still leaves open the mystery of who killed Lucy Sable (and why). Read on to find out what happened in “The Sign of the Uninvited Guest.”
At The Claw, Nancy and Bess are setting up and also going over details of the case. Carson’s first hearing is happening in a few days, and Nancy wants to find evidence proving his innocence before then. We get a tracking shot through the kitchen as the unaware girls turn their backs to the camera, so the viewer knows a jump scare is coming. It’s delivered by Patrice, Lucy’s mother, who seems to have escaped from the institution she was living in (at least until Nancy and friends destroyed it). She’s living in a fantasy that she is still working at The Claw, which she did years earlier. Nancy and Bess allow her to pretend she’s at work as they try to get in touch with her son Josh.
Nancy heads to the back office to, in Bess’ words, “Beautiful Mind” the case. Nick calls Josh, who is stuck at a gas station a few towns over. He was looking at a new facility for his mother since the old one is no longer an option, and when he stopped for gas Patrice got in the driver’s seat and drove off with the truck. Nick offers to go pick him up while the rest of the group keeps Patrice busy. Nick and Josh have a conversation which reveals that Josh is selling his shop, which means Nick will need a new place to live.
Laura, newly recovered from her and Ace’s car accident/murder attempt, arrives at The Claw. She’s got a new, zen attitude courtesy of the money she inherited from Tiffany. Since she’s now cleared as a suspect in her sister’s murder (and the Hudsons seem to have ordered a hit on her), the money went to her. Laura plans on taking off to Paris on an extended vacation and wants Ace to go with her. It’s also revealed he speaks French, which is just one of many random facts we learn about Ace tonight. He seems hesitant to commit, but he is saved from answering the question as Nancy enters with a chalkboard covered in photos and theories about the cases.
Patrice is still there, so Nancy, not wanting to trigger a meltdown from her, asks her to complete some tasks in the kitchen so they can discuss the case in detail. Laura joins the group as they discuss the case, with Nancy coming to the conclusion that the best way to figure out what happened is to retrace everyone’s steps that night. But then Patrice re-emerges, having heard it all. She stares at the board and mutters nonsense, having a breakdown just as Nick and Josh arrive. Josh, upset that they discussed Lucy’s murder in front of his unstable mother (understandable), takes her away. As he does so, the chalkboard starts leaking saltwater and washes all the photos off the board except one. It seems Lucy wants to tell Nancy that she’s on the right track in linking Lucy and Tiffany’s murders.
Nancy is even more determined to retrace Tiffany’s steps the day of her murder and recruits Ace and Laura to help her (even as Laura still wants an answer from Ace on going to Paris with her). They head to the police station, where they run into Karen. There’s still a lot of tension between her and Nancy over Carson’s arrest, but Ace quickly steps in so they can get the info they need. Karen gives Nancy the location info from Tiffany’s phone. They note she spent three hours at the country club the day she died, but Laura says that can’t be right since Tiffany hated the country club. Nancy has an epiphany: Tiffany knew she was being followed. Tiffany left her cell phone at locations near where she was actually going to mask her movements from the Hudsons. They realize that the library is near that location, and she must have been researching something there.
Ace is reluctant to go to the library at first because he “has enemies there” (hilarious performance by Alex Saxon in an otherwise pretty intense episode), but he eventually goes along with Nancy. We realize the “enemy” he was talking about was Dominique, another hacker he views as competition who works at the library. They have some banter back and forth as we learn more about their rivalry. I’m really hoping she makes a future appearance based on the amount of chemistry they have together. Eventually, they find the computer Tiffany was using. Ace had installed a key-logger on it as a teenager (I want a spin-off focusing on teen hacker Ace IMMEDIATELY), and they are able to retrace her movements online. It turns out Tiffany found an old email exchange between Ryan and Lucy back in 2000. In it, they profess their love for each other….at least until Ryan calls Lucy a “whore” and wishes for her death. Based on this exchange, Nancy believes Ryan is now the primary suspect in both murders. This part of the episode showcased the great relationship between Ace and Nancy again, and I hope the writers continue to showcase that dynamic.
Nick and Josh are back at the shop with Patrice, where Nick is helping them pack for the move. Josh gets a call to fix a broken boiler in a church, and Nick offers to watch Patrice so he can help. As soon as Josh leaves, Patrice snaps out of reality again, unpacking the boxes Josh just packed and mistaking Nick for a friend of a young Josh. She asks if Josh has friends, and Nick, not quite knowing what answer she’s looking for, says he mostly keeps to himself. She firmly says “good” as she goes about her business, and Nick is perplexed at this response.
Back at The Claw, Nancy reveals what she knows to the group. She suggests that they get Ryan to come to The Claw so they can get a confession out of him. As much as it pains Nancy to do things by the book, she invites Karen so that any potential confession can be used in court. Ryan arrives and is surprised to see everyone who was there the night of the murder. Nancy suggests they retrace the night Tiffany died, and Ryan, though initially skeptical, goes along with the idea.
As they reenact the events of the pilot, it becomes clear that something is off. The poison that killed Tiffany could only have come from the kitchen, and there were times it was unattended on the night she was killed. But then, a major revelation: the salad Tiffany ate that killed her was meant for Ryan. He didn’t want the dressing on it and sent it back to the kitchen before eating it, and Ace then used it to garnish Tiffany’s dinner. This bombshell affects each of them as they realize someone wanted Ryan Hudson dead and that they all had a hand in Tiffany’s death.
Ryan, upset, runs from the restaurant followed by Nancy. He thinks the attempted murder had something to do with his business dealings, and Nancy delivers an insult when she says he’s not good enough at running his business to inspire a hit on him (ouch). Suddenly, Lucy takes over Nancy’s phone and starts leading her around the outside of The Claw, matching the one remaining photo on Nancy’s board from earlier. Nancy realizes someone had to have been listening outside The Claw to hear Ryan’s order and sneak in the poison. Nancy makes the leap that it was a revenge hit on Ryan due to his killing Lucy. She confronts him with the emails, which Ryan claims he didn’t write and hasn’t seen. Nancy doesn’t buy it, but before Ryan can defend himself, a ghostly Lucy screams at Ryan from behind Nancy. Scared, Ryan drives off before he answers Nancy.
Back in The Claw, Bess panics when she realizes she accidentally sent Lisbeth a text about going to dinner with Amaya. George, more blunt than usual and on edge about her role in Tiffany’s death, tells Bess not to screw up a good thing before storming off. Ace and Nick talk about the possibility of Ace going to Paris with Laura. He’s ambivalent at best, and Nick tells Ace not to do something “half-assed.” Either he’s all in and goes to Paris with Laura, or he stays behind. Ace ultimately decides to remain in Horseshoe Bay. George, regretting her earlier outburst, tells Bess she’s sorry. She was on edge because of Ryan and took it out on Bess. Bess tells her she plans on keeping things professional with Amaya because she doesn’t want to lose Lisbeth. She also calls out George on her connection with Nick, telling her to go for it since he and Nancy are no longer together.
Meanwhile, Ace’s computer software tracks down the location of the computer Lucy used to email Ryan back in 2000. Nancy being Nancy, she decides to check it out herself without taking anyone with her. She heads to the location, and it turns out to be Josh’s shop. Thinking it’s deserted, she lets herself in, but Josh appears out of nowhere. She tells him she found the emails between Lucy and Ryan and wants to see if there’s more on the ancient computer. Josh loses his composure in talking about Ryan, and Nancy slowly realizes that he is Tiffany’s killer. Angry about what he believed was Ryan getting away with Lucy’s murder, he stalked Tiffany and Ryan (which explains why Tiffany thought she was being followed). He listened for the order outside the restaurant and tried to poison Ryan. Nancy, displaying excellent survival instincts, directly accuses him of murder…alone…in an empty shop full of tools that can kill you. Josh goes after Nancy with a wrench, but after a struggle ends up getting electrocuted when Nancy shoves him off of her.
The police arrive, and Nancy tells Karen the whole story. But one thing is bothering her — how did Josh get the rare poison? Suddenly, officers start running towards the shop. Nancy and Karen follow and discover that Josh’s body has mysteriously disappeared! Could he still be alive? Did someone move the body (and if so, who)? And where is Patrice, who hasn’t been seen since Nick talked to her in the shop? All questions that will have to wait until next week.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.