After last week’s cliffhanger featuring a car accident involving two major characters and Nancy’s suspicions about her father finally coming to a head, this week’s episode needed to provide major answers. While it resolved some questions before the midseason finale next week, the show also introduced some new supernatural mysteries for the Drew Crew to solve. Let’s jump right in and find out what happened in “The Path of Shadows”…
The episode opens with Nancy narrating the scene of Ace and Laura’s accident. We go to Nancy and Carson in the aftermath of Nancy directly asking him if he killed Lucy Sable. Nancy is angry and lists her many pieces of evidence against him. Carson insists he’s innocent, but also doesn’t explain how he ended up with her bloody dress or why he took her crown from the medical examiner. He’s looking pretty guilty until George shows up with terrible news: Ace and Laura Tandy have been in a major car accident and it’s not looking good for either of them.
They go to the hospital, with Bess arriving with Lisbeth. Carson goes to be with the police standing watch over Ace; his father was a legendary cop and they’re all there to pay their respects. Nancy notes that if Laura dies, her claim to Tiffany’s estate will die with her. Someone could have been motivated to cause the accident. Her suspicions turn to Lisbeth due to her connection to the Hudsons. Bess protests, saying Lisbeth is there to support her. Nancy notices Ace’s belongings and goes for his phone, thinking he may have evidence. She sees the audio recording he was making during the crash. As Nancy starts listening, Lisbeth conspicuously leaves. On the recording, Ace asks Laura to slow down, but she insists she’s not touching the gas pedal. This was no accident.
Chief McGinnis and a doctor exit the ward and tell the friends that Ace is in a coma, though they are struggling to find a medical reason why. McGinnis sees a dark spirit in the hall and follows it, thinking it’s Ace. Nancy in turn follows him and sees his startled reaction to what he thinks is a ghost. He walks away as Nancy tries to see what he saw.
Nancy and Bess are at the hospital waiting for news as Bess indulges in some very sponsored retail therapy courtesy of Old Navy. Nancy calls Nick and tells him that Laura is still in surgery and Ace’s brain waves are still abnormal. She asks Nick if it’s possible to hack the self-driving feature of a car and take control remotely. Nick says it’s possible, and Bess notes that since Nick was the last person to service the car he will fall under suspicion. Nancy proposes they go to the police impound lot and look at Laura’s car for evidence, and Nick agrees.
At the police station, Bess and Nancy go into full distraction mode so Nick can get to the car. McGinnis tells Nancy there were no skid marks at the scene and that this could be a suicide. Nancy shares the recording with him and says there’s no way this was a suicide. She reveals that she knows about Ace’s secret deal with him. Nancy asks him what he saw in the hospital and shares that she’s experienced some supernatural haunting while looking into the case. McGinnis brushes it off, but as Nancy leaves he opens a trunk containing sage and a feather. When he attempts to cleanse the station, the sage sparks and burns on its own. Something is definitely targeting him.
George and her sister Ted are at The Claw, where George is babysitting (which is really more like locking Ted in a room by herself while their mother is gone). Nick tells Nancy and Bess that he didn’t find a device, but that someone could have removed it after the accident. But he ran a diagnostic on the CPU in her car looking for discrepancies. His repair should have shown up, but it’s gone, which means someone wiped it after Laura picked it up. Suspicions turn to the only other mechanic they know: Lisbeth. Bess protests, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty damning.
Just then, McGinnis arrives. He wants to know who’s been tampering with the spirit world. They confess, and McGinnis admits that he saw Ace’s spirit at the hospital. Ace is lost in the spirit world. Nancy asks if there’s a way to bring him back, and McGinnis asks if there’s a place they’ve contacted spirits that’s a bit less contaminated than The Claw. George, Nancy, and McGinnis head to Nancy’s house, where Carson walks in on them starting a ceremony to bring Ace back. McGinnis explains the ceremony, which is from his tribe’s spiritual tradition. He explains that the spirit world has layers, with the outer one being clogged from the souls coming for the coins during their earlier DIY seance. Carson gets the line of the episode when he turns to Nancy and quips, “There’s many things we need to discuss,” after he gets the run down on the gang’s supernatural extracurriculars.
Back at The Claw, Nick tells Bess that the Hudsons just landed in town, which means that Lisbeth lied about being at work yesterday. We get our second shameless product placement for Old Navy in one episode, which takes away from the tension of the moment as Bess gleefully exclaims, “My Old Navy Rockstar jeans!” seconds after being told her girlfriend is lying to her about a potential murder attempt. Bess calls Lisbeth, asking her to meet so that she and Nick can try to get her confession.
Back at Nancy’s house, they start the ceremony. McGinnis says only one can enter the spirit world at a time and that they can’t choose who it will be. He tells them that Ace has one of the figures he carved from stone for the ceremony years ago, a bear. He gave Ace the bear as a child when his father was in a terrible accident, and his father ultimately survived. Each of them take a figure, which are in the shape of animals. George finds herself in the spirit world, wryly remarking, “Of course it’s me.” She goes looking for Ace but keeps seeing random ghosts who came for the coins. The rest of the group hears George describing what she sees, and McGinnis talks her through what to do. She panics and runs through the spirit world pursued by ghosts. She sees an overturned car and goes to help Ace, but it’s really an evil spirit that drags her away.
George manages to escape, but McGinnis realizes the tension in the spirit world is due to the conflict between Nancy and Carson. They need to solve this or George will also be trapped with Ace. They go to the porch, where Nancy lays out her whole theory and everything she’s learned so far. Carson explains that on the night Lucy died, he was looking for her at the Hudsons’ request. He got there too late and Lucy was already over the cliff. Nancy chooses to believe him for the sake of Ace and George, but makes him promise to tell her everything after the ceremony.
Lisbeth arrives, and Nick hides to secretly record their conversation. Bess uses Lisbeth’s suspicious social media activity to confront her, asking if she hurt Ace and Laura. Bess threatens to go to the cops, but Lisbeth stops her and tells her she’s undercover. She’s with the state police. They think the Hudsons have a local cop on their payroll, and she’s there to find out who. Nick reveals himself at this news.
George is still looking for Ace, and she finds his most vulnerable moment: when Ace was six years old and his father was in a wreck. Little Ace is sitting alone in the snow, wearing boots that are too big. George carries him, sending both Ace’s spirit and George back to reality. George wakes up holding Ace’s bear figurine — proof that they brought his spirit back.
At the hospital, McGinnis and George tell Nancy that Ace is still in a coma, but that his spirit is back within his body. It’s up to Ace now. Nancy and George go back to The Claw, where Lisbeth reveals her identity. Lisbeth is worried about her relationship with Bess, since Mrs. Hudson has concerns and it could become a liability in her investigation. They decide to combine resources to find the dirty cop. George thinks the boots she saw with little Ace were the last thing he saw at the accident — potentially belonging to the person who erased the data from the CPU. Lisbeth says they can cross reference her list of payments made by the Hudsons to find the cop. However, Lisbeth worries about how to get the info to McGinnis without revealing her identity. Nancy volunteers to give McGinnis the information so that Lisbeth can maintain her cover. McGinnis is skeptical since Nancy won’t reveal her source, but then Officer Rawley enters with his final report on the accident. It’s clearly doctored based on the evidence Nancy already gave McGinnis and it’s obvious Rawley is the man on the Hudsons’ payroll. Sealing the deal? He’s wearing the boots Ace saw after the accident.
Carson explains to Nancy that the Hudsons will simply buy off Rawley for his silence and dismiss the transactions linking him to the family as a personal loan. He explains the night of Lucy’s death. He saw the crime scene and took the dress to protect the Hudsons because he feared for his family’s safety if they were responsible and he was the one who turned in evidence against them. He took the $50,000 the Hudsons paid him and moved the family to Europe to avoid the Hudsons for the first year of Nancy’s life. She starts to chastise him, but he points out that they both do things outside the law if they believe they are right. He thinks impulse runs in the family. He took the evidence from the lab to cover for her. Nancy seems to believe him, and it seems that for now their relationship is in a good place.
Nancy, Bess, and Lisbeth stage a scene to convince Mrs. Hudson that Lisbeth broke up with Bess and that Nancy is off the case (complete with a fake punch). It works, and Bess rushes to Nancy’s side with an ice pack. Back at The Claw, George’s sister Ted is taken by the spirit hiding in her possessed toy (and this is why we check our toys for demons after using them to communicate with vengeful spirits). George look for her to no avail, and the episode ends with George screaming her name from the parking lot.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.