After last week’s big reveal that someone claiming to be Bess’ husband has shown up in Horseshoe Bay to look for her, “The Quest for the Spider Sapphire” puts the focus squarely on Bess as she deals with this blast from her past. Maddison Jaizani gets a powerful showcase as we finally learn more about where Bess came from and how she truly ended up in Horseshoe Bay. It’s an emotional exploration of blood relations vs. found family, and it introduces a new antagonist to the mix who is not of the supernatural variety.
The episode opens in Manchester, England at an airport, where Bess meets up with a mystery man to board a plane. He refers to her as his wife as they flirt, but when Bess spills a drink on his bag the mood instantly changes. As she apologizes, flustered, he grabs her arm and roughly says “don’t make us wait”. Bess leaves to clean up, and while she’s gone, security officers show up to arrest the man. Someone made a call to an anonymous hotline about contraband euros, and as he’s dragged away yelling her name she smiles, relieved, as she hides behind a pillar.
In the present, Bess is talking with Aunt Diana about presenting a toast at an upcoming Hunt & Roast being held in the Marvin family’s honor. Diana chuckles at Bess caring more about family history than their wealth. Bess genuinely wants to use the event to make the Marvins become known for more than just being rich. She wants them to be a force for good in the community. Bess gets a text from Ace – an SOS after his discovery. As Ace frantically tells her a man is claiming to be her husband, Bess catches sight of Stephen watching her from across the dock. Hanging up on Ace, she goes to him, afraid but trying not to show it. He menacingly touches her hair and says “worried I’d never find you? Let’s talk business.”
Nancy and George are discussing ways to get rid of Odette. Nancy wonders if getting rid of the shroud is the best idea, but George is worried destroying the shroud would kill her. Nancy discovered someone named R. Jenkins last returned the shroud to the historical society in 1987, and as they go to investigate George tells Nancy not to tell Nick. Meanwhile, Nick and Ryan are discussing an upcoming magazine profile by Valentina Samuels, a reporter who Nick is worried will see through Ryan’s façade and realize he’s going after his father. Ryan thinks it’ll be easy, and Nick is distracted by George and Nancy sneaking out.
Stephen and Bess talk about the past, with Steven telling Bess she’d be nothing without him. He claims he taught her everything she knows about scams and implies they used to be a team, with Bess saying their marriage was a “sham” that he somehow believed. Stephen tells Bess he found her through the Marvins, which brings him to the reason he’s in Horseshoe Bay. The Spider Sapphire watch is a priceless Marvin heirloom, and if Bess gets it to him, he’ll walk away and forget the history between them. Bess tearfully says this is her family and she won’t steal from them, but Stephen taunts her, saying she’s already thinking about it. He says if she doesn’t, he’ll tell Aunt Diana and the authorities everything.
At The Claw, Bess practices telling her aunt the truth as Ace helps her work on the speech (what are platanchors for?). Bess reveals the marriage was fully a scam since she is only attracted to women, a revelation Ace takes in stride. Bess also reveals her mother kicked her out at 13 and that Stephen took her in, preying on her desperation. As Ace and Bess leave, Nick introduces them to Grant, a new line cook helping them out. Nick tells Bess she has a visitor, and it’s Aunt Diana responding to her text. Bess prepares to launch into her speech, but Diana tells her she already knows everything. She did a thorough background check on her when she first arrived. Bess cries as Diana says it doesn’t matter to her at all – as long as Bess remains devoted to the Marvin family and if her past really is behind her now. Not reading the threat behind those words, Bess calls Stephen to tell him he has nothing to hold over her head anymore. She hangs up, happy again, as Stephen broods.
Valentina meets Ryan at The Claw for the interview. She’s on him from the start, bringing up his wife’s murder, Lucy’s suicide, Everett’s murders, and Ryan’s rehab stint in the span of five minutes. She accuses him of being a shiny distraction from Hudson Enterprises’ problems, and he turns the tables on her, asking if she’s on good terms with both her parents. She asks if he’s forgiven Everett, and he dances around the question while implying he has (for the sake of fooling his father). He suggests they move on to the Hunt & Roast, which both the Hudsons and Marvins will be attending.
George and Nancy hit a wall when it’s discovered that “R. Jenkins” is dead by finding an estate sale of his belongings. Nancy picks up a music box as an excuse to talk to the girl running the sale. She says the music box helped keep the voices in Uncle Ralph’s head away as Nancy perks up. George finds out Ralph was miraculously revived in an accident after his mother viewed his body. What if she used the shroud to revive him? Even worse, the day George was revived was the same date and time Ralph died. If anyone else uses the shroud, George will die next.
At the Hunt & Roast, Aunt Diana is giving the history of the event and why they switched to a scavenger hunt format, ending with “but at least this way people don’t get shot!” Ace and Nick talk, with Nick revealing that Ryan is helping get Hudson family secrets. Ace is excited for the hunt, saying “not a lot of people know this about me, but the woods speak to me.” Nancy agonizes over the fact that an innocent man is dead, but George is definitely trying to rationalize it. Nancy realizes that the other drivers who died in the accident must have gotten stuck inside Ralph the way Odette got stuck in George. George goes to get a snack and collapses, while behind Nancy, a hand holding a rag clamps over her mouth.
At the hunt, Bess and Aunt Diana are completing the scavenger hunt together. They have a good time, with Diana saying she wished she joined the family sooner. Bess is thrilled. Stephen calls and reveals he was the one who took Nancy and George. She has one hour to get the sapphire watch, or he’ll kill them. Bess tells Nick and Ace in a panic, believing it’s her fault. Nick and Ace reassure her, with Ace saying he can get Nancy and George’s location from the photo. Bess tells Ace that when he’s done, she needs him for a “two person play.”
Meanwhile, Nancy wakes up and realizes Stephen has her and George in constrictor knots designed to choke them after an hour. But she’s not with George anymore – Odette reveals herself by calling Nancy a “bedbug” (Leah Lewis is brilliant in this scene). Odette apparently has a crush on Stephen, which reveals to Nancy that Bess has a husband. Nancy asks to talk to George, but apparently Odette has no control over who’s in charge in her head.
Ryan continues to try to charm Valentina, who tells Ryan that people like him more than he realizes. Even Patrice Dodd told Valentina that Ryan is a good man, but Valentina has a question. Patrice kept mentioning that Lucy had a daughter, and Valentina wants to know if Ryan knows anything about that. She says that any child of Ryan’s would have a birthright coming to them, and Ryan tenses. He plays it off, acting like he’s never thought about it, and it seems to fool her.
Ace and Bess begin their play, with Ace “accidentally” spilling cider on Aunt Diana. Bess uses the moment to slip off Diana’s watch under the guise of getting the chauffeur to bring the car for her. Ace tells Bess he’s going with Nick to where Nancy and George are being held, while Bess goes to meet Stephen alone. Meanwhile, Nancy tries to urge Odette to help her. Odette tells Nancy she has to stop needlessly beating herself over Ralph’s death, telling her it’s ridiculous. Nancy takes this the wrong way and says she was born to make bad choices. Nancy reveals she’s a Hudson, which Odette is not pleased with since Reverend Hudson killed her back in the day.
Bess gives Stephen the bracelet, and he taunts her. He drives away as Nick and Ace find Nancy and George. Nick breaks in as the candle burns lower, threatening to light the room on fire. Ace manages to blow out the candle and cut the rope, saying “good thing you brought an Eagle Scout.” Nick goes to cut George’s cord and Odette panics, confusing him. Suddenly, George returns, collapsing into Nick’s arms as he whispers “I got you.” Bess walks on the road alone as Aunt Diana’s car pulls up. Diana says she’s looking for something. Gesturing at her wrist, she says “do you happen to know the time?” as Bess stares, terrified.
It turns out that the sapphire has a tracker on it, and it’s in Bess’ pocket. Stephen slipped it back into her jacket, making it seem like she stole it to drive a wedge between Bess and her family. Bess tries to explain, but Aunt Diana says she’s worried about whether Bess will choose her “dysfunction” over the Marvin family in the future. Breaking Bess’ heart, Diana tells her she no longer considers her a part of the family as she drives away. Back at Nancy’s house, Bess confesses everything. Bess realizes Stephen knew how this would end and storms out crying as Ace goes after her. Nancy tells George that she realized that the music box is from Larkspur Lane Asylum. She tells George she’s scared that if she doesn’t get Odette under control, George could go insane.
Valentina places a call to her editors, telling them she’ll need a few more days to unpack the Hudson secrets (boy, is she right). Ace goes to Bess with milk and cookies as she burns the last connection to the Marvins in the fire. Nick confronts George about why she was speaking French, and George reveals that Odette is still in her head. She also tells Nick about the shroud, reassuring him that Nancy is going to find it so it can’t be used again. But when Nancy gets to the locker room at The Claw to get the shroud, the whole room has been ransacked and the shroud is gone.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. Check out the preview images for next week’s episode here.