“The Haunted Ring” opens with Nancy lying in bed remembering the ring (Tiffany’s ring) she found in Bess’ van while she packed to stay with Nancy. They hear a noise that Nancy brushes off as an old house creaking, but they follow it downstairs to see the flickering porch light. When it stops the microwave mysteriously turns on and the glass door shatters. Then, the living room lamp flickers, but stops as they enter the room. When the tv turns itself on (totally not creepy right?) Nancy’s video of Tiffany plays before the TV also shatters.
Thoroughly shaken, Nancy brushes it off when her father comes downstairs to check on them. Upstairs, Bess believes the odd happenings is a message from Lucy warning Nancy. However, Nancy claims it was a weird glitch. What she doesn’t say is she thinks it might be Lucy warning her that Bess is the killer.
The scene transitions to Nancy preparing for her senior year winter formal, and talking with her sick mother in the living room. She agrees to ‘try to have fun’ and leans in to kiss her on the cheek, but when she stands up she sees her mother’s grave instead. Nancy is jerked awake and thinks, “I have too many dead women in my life.” Now morning, Nancy and Carson discuss Bess in the kitchen, who appears a moment later asking for sugar in her coffee (get your own?) and Nancy obliges. Carson asks Bess about her family, she is a Marvin after all, but Bess seems to flounder at the questions. Carson changes the topic, telling Nancy he’s meeting Ryan Hudson and that the coroner’s report showed Tiffany died of natural causes. Nancy, still suspicious, questions the report and her father’s willingness to accept what is obviously a lie. Bess points out the positive side, if she died of natural causes then they’re no longer suspects.
Nancy visits the docks where she finds Jeff Tucker, the caretaker for the Marvin’s boat. In the course of their conversation, Nancy discovers that Jeff, who has worked for the Marvin’s 20 years, has never heard of Bess. Her suspicions that Bess is lying about her identity are confirmed.
Switching gears, we see Ned setting up a surveillance camera for the safe he bought to keep Tiffany’s bonds, well, safe. Everything appears to be working when Nancy calls. Ned confesses that he knows cashing them will look suspicious but keeping them feels like a ticking time bomb. They discuss the ‘fake’ autopsy report and Nancy says she won’t give up just because of the report. Ned tries to explain, “This is a get out of jail free card.” Nancy hangs up to buy a paper which is snatched from her hands by a passing Laura Tandy. Who? Well according to Nancy she is, “Tiffany’s sister, orphan, global playgirl. She now holds the distinct honor of being the last living Tandy.”
We follow Laura to the police precinct where she demands the police continue the investigation into Tiffany’s death. She reveals she talked to Tiffany a week before her death and she was fine. She also offers the fact that Ryan is broke and was cheating on her. Laura, unsatisfied with the cops, says she will have to do their job then and storms away. Police Chief McGinnis calls Ace to have him tail Laura and report back on her activities. Ace tries to refuse, but McGinnis mentions Ace and Laura’s ‘history’ and Ace can’t back out of their deal.
Inside The Claw, Ace fake coughs loudly and George immediately snaps at him to leave if he’s sick. She is unwilling to risk dying via cold apparently, and he happily leaves. Bess, preparing for her shift in the locker room, hears whispering noises coming from inside her locker. Startled by Ace’s appearance, she tries to brush it off as nothing. In the restaurant, George and Bess tell Nancy to end her murder investigation. They’re willing to live with a ‘fake exoneration’ but Nancy isn’t. Bess goes to the freezer and slips on Tiffany’s ring. Suddenly, she hears an odd noise from inside the freezer’s vent. Rather than immediately leaving the freezer like a normal person, Bess creeps slowly toward the vent where the noises and whispering get steadily louder. She asks, “What do you want?” and the vent flies off the cooler and she screams. Nancy and George run to the freezer where Bess is lying on the grown with claw marks (fingernail claw marks) down her calves.
Back in the locker room and freaking out, Bess tries to explain what happened, but George sees the ring and accuses her of killing Tiffany. Bess looks exasperated, and Nancy jumps at the chance to question her. Bess explains she found the ring on the ground and didn’t realize it was Tiffany’s until after they were suspects. “I like sparkly things,” Bess whispers fiercely, “they calm me!” Nancy says this can’t be Lucy, and George isn’t pleased by the idea of two ghosts but points out the other ghost has to be Tiffany. George then leaves to find someone she knows can help with their ghost situation.
Returning to Ace and Laura, we see him following her. After a quick bite, Laura confronts him with two gifts “for his efforts.” He tries to brush it off as coincidence (it’s not convincing at all) and she asks if he is still doing the ‘bumbling stoner thing.’ Laura reminds him of last summer when he suddenly stopped talking to her. She then grabs his arm to demand they catch up. Laura shares that her last conversation with Tiffany was a fight. Tiffany was working up the courage to divorce Ryan and Laura told her to suck it up. She asks if Ace knows who the suspects are and he reveals he and The Claw gang were suspects and that Tiffany called 911 just before her death. Laura pleads with Ace to pull one of his ‘hacker moves’ and get her the call recording.
Ever the investigator, Nancy searches Bess’ work locker and discovers a British passport with the name Bess Turani, not Marvin. Bess catches Nancy, and the two argue about the passport before George interrupts them for a ‘team meeting.’ Sitting at one of the tables is George’s mother who inspects Bess’ scratches and tells the group they are the work of a new ghost, like Tiffany, that doesn’t know what it’s doing. She explains that most ghosts can’t talk without a medium so they express emotion in dangerous and unpredictable ways. Tiffany is trapped between the world of the living and the dead, unaware that she died. George’s mom explains that they need to return the ring to Tiffany’s body (to guide the ghost into the body) as well as place a mirror over her heart so her ghost will know it’s in the right place. With Tiffany’s funeral hours away, the trio plans to return the ring after the service.
Dressed for the funeral, Nancy sneaks into her dad’s office and looks at the autopsy report. She tells him the report is a lie because it doesn’t list the puncture wound behind her ear, when Nancy drew blood. Her father is appalled to learn what she did, but Nancy defends her actions by saying no one is looking out for Tiffany (it’s true). She accuses him of selling out and storms away.
After Tiffany’s funeral, George sneaks into the room with her body while Nancy stands watch. However, she gets distracted and tells Bess to keep watch. George almost gets caught when Ryan and his father, Everett, enter the room. George hides under the casket and overhears Everett say it’s a shame Ryan didn’t get her pregnant. Ryan apologizes to her corpse and leaves. George quickly puts the ring on her finger and leaves. Outside, Nancy threatens to reveal Bess’ secret if she doesn’t tell the truth. Bess finally drops the facade, and her apparently fake American accent, to tell her story in a South London accent. She grew up in a bad area of London with a mother who talked of the rich Marvin’s she was descended from. Bess then came to investigate the family. She even has a genealogy kit ready to go, but has to acquire DNA from a Marvin first.
At the cemetery, Everett begins a speech but is interrupted when Laura plays the audio of Tiffany’s 911 call. She announces that she doesn’t believe Tiffany died of natural causes and accuses the Marvin’s of not caring. She storms away after saying her sister was murdered and she will prove it. Furious, Chief McGinnis walks with Ace to tell him he will go easy on Ace because of his father’s ‘sacrifice.’ Ace tries to deny giving Laura the audio, but McGinnis reminds him of their deal. “I can revoke that deal and prosecute you to the full extent of the law.” Ace looks shaken by the statement.
Nancy walks away after Tiffany’s service, but Detective Hart follows her. They stop near Lucy’s grave and Nancy asks if Karen knew her. Karen says they were in the same high school class but ran in different social circles. When Nancy questions her death, Karen recites the same line we’ve heard multiple times, that they don’t have anything other than the bloody knife and tire tracks.
George is alone at Tiffany’s grave and says a heartfelt apology. What she doesn’t see is the mist (the ghost) circle her legs and enter her backpack. Nancy visits her mother’s grave where she finds Carson standing with two bouquets. He tells Nancy the tension between them has to stop. Nancy, emotionally spent, tells him she wasn’t by her mother’s side when she died. Nancy also tells Carson he should have called her when he realized she was dying. She never got to say goodbye because of him. Carson answers the accusation, explaining that her mother wanted Nancy to remember dancing and fun, not sorrow and suffering. As he says this, we see Nancy arriving home after her winter formal to find smashed glass and a pill bottle lying in the entryway. She meets her father’s eyes and realizes her mother has passed. Nancy asks, “What about what I wanted?” Carson gives wise advice about her pain, “Whatever you’re feeling you can carry it with you, but you can’t let it consume you.” The two seem to call a truce between them and Carson leaves to give Nancy some time with her mother’s grave. Kneeling down, she says that she didn’t want to believe in ghosts because if it was true then she thought her mother would come to her. She feels hurt and upset that she wasn’t enough to hold her mother’s ghost to this world.
Meeting outside The Claw, Laura apologizes to Ace for playing the 911 call which all but outed him as her source. He shuts her down and she turns to leave, but then he tells her being with her the previous summer was very intense and still feels that way. She walks back over and kisses him.
Ned arrives home to find that his belongings seem to have moved but the safe is still locked with all the bonds inside. He reviews the footage from his camera and discovers that Laura searched for something before leaving with a USB drive.
Now back at home, Nancy goes over the video she took of Tiffany the night she died again. She sees Tiffany drop her ring which bounces away and proves that Bess is telling the truth. As she watches, the screen glitches and Lucy appears (looking rather terrifying) and shatters her laptop screen. Bess arrives just then and Nancy tells her she knows she’s innocent. When she leaves Nancy realizes the shattered screens all have the same pattern, which is actually a map of Horseshoe Bay with the center at her high school. Nancy goes to the school to investigate when the light in the trophy case mysteriously turns itself on. She finds a picture of Lucy and Karen together, clearly Karen lied about their relationship.
George is leaving The Claw as the ghost of Tiffany appears again, encircles her and goes inside George. George falls to the group, the mirror she forgot to put on the body flying out of her bag. Seemingly possessed, she terrifyingly recites Tiffany’s last words, “Help me! Please, please help. I’m at The Claw! No!”
Nancy Drew airs on Wednesday’s on The CW at 9/8c.