Note: This episode of Nancy Drew includes depictions of racially motivated police violence.
As Nancy’s guilt over recanting her testimony grows, she’s faced with the mystery of a Black woman who disappeared years before without a trace. But trapped in the police station with a group of people who all have something to do with the woman’s case, Nancy realizes there’s more to the story than first meets the eye as they all confront an ugly history of racism in Horseshoe Bay.
At the Drew house, Carson is preparing for Nancy’s birthday as she protests, saying it’s just a day they picked for her birth certificate. Tamura arrives, but he’s not there to celebrate — he’s there to arrest Nancy for contempt of court. At the station, there are people arriving claiming to have received a summons to the police station as harried officers assure them there is no emergency. Brandon, a reporter from the local paper, rushes up and asks how it feels to be known as the “Liar of Horseshoe Bay” as Tamura gruffly asks for his credentials. Ryan and Nick arrive, also having received a mysterious invitation.
At The Claw, Bess, Ace, and George start their search for Mary, Odette’s lover, in the spirit world. Since Mary never arrived in America, they need to summon one of their own ancestors to help find her. George pulls out a mahjong set to use as her totem and begins the ritual. It works, and Ace falls to the floor. He’s possessed by George’s great aunt Mei in an absolutely hilarious sequence — it’s Ace’s body, but the voice belongs to an old woman. George groans in dismay, as Mei has a lot to say about how she dresses and wears her hair.
At the station, a distorted voice comes over the P.A. system stating that the station is on lockdown. The voice wants to speak to Nancy, and Tamura assumes it’s a prank. He goes to open the door and is shocked with electricity. He’s still breathing, but this voice means business. It calls itself “The Arbiter” and says someone in this station knows what happened to Dolores Barrett. The Arbiter says Nancy needs to get them to confess, and the longer it takes, the worse it will get.
They discover that the phone signals are jammed, and there’s truly no way out. Nancy asks who Dolores is, and one of the men, Fraser, says she’s a missing person from several years ago. Dolores was a Black woman visiting from Portland who went missing after leaving a restaurant. Nancy wonders how somehow missed that case, and Fraser quietly says Rose Turnbull went missing the same week. Rose was a blonde, blue-eyed little girl who Nancy ended up finding behind a staircase. Police resources were stretched too thin, and the focus went to Rose instead of Dolores. Fraser says that’s what made him run for town council — he wanted more resources for police.
Bess tells Mei they’re looking for Mary, and George explains what’s going on with Odette’s possession (Mei: “That’s what happens when you don’t go to college”). Mei says she’ll help.
Nancy starts assembling a list of suspects starting with Brandon, the last person to see Dolores alive. Brandon says he noticed Dolores that night because she was drunk, and Nick is upset at the implication. Before anyone can fight, the Arbiter comes back. Sending water streaming through the vents, the voice says that if they don’t figure it out in one hour, the electric charge will go through the floor, electrocuting them all.
Tamura yells at the voice to turn off the water so they can work, and the voice obliges. The effort exhausts him, since he’s still injured. He needs help, but Tamura says they need to solve the case. Mei continues to berate George for her lack of a husband or career, but she also shows her sweet side when she asks George to put her reading glasses on. This leads to George putting comically oversized reading glasses on Ace’s face, and it can’t be overstated how hilarious this is. Mei looks at the letter from Mary and breathes in.
In a photo of the wreckage, Nancy notices there’s a streak of red paint on Dolores’ bumper. Hampton, another officer, runs background checks on everyone in the station. She finds that the night Dolores went missing, Ryan was arrested for a DUI in a red Porsche. Ryan says at the time, he was a blackout alcoholic. He was in such a bad place, he can’t remember if he hit anyone that night. But he also says he knows he was coming from his therapist’s office because therapy was mandatory for him. Nancy discovers that Ryan was arrested at the same time Dolores was still at the restaurant, proving he couldn’t have run her off the road.
Brandon pipes up, asking if Nancy’s as sure about this as she was about what happened with the Bonny Scot incident. Tamura backs Nancy up. Ryan goes to Nancy and tearfully tells her he’s not the person he was then, and Nancy says she knows. Tamura asks Nick what the connection is between Ryan and Nancy, wondering if Ryan had something to do with Nancy recanting her testimony. Nick asks that Tamura focus on Dolores’ case, and he says that if Dolores were white, more people would have been asking about her and would have saved her. Tamura says he wasn’t here then, and Nick says he’s here now.
Nick finds a business card with Mitzi’s name on it that was in Dolores’ car. It has information someone would write down after an accident, and a photo of Mitzi standing next to a red car. Mitzi says Dolores backed into her by accident. Dolores tried to offer her cash, but Mitzi says she refused it and claims Dolores then became aggressive. Just then, the Arbiter says Carson Drew is outside. If he makes it to the door, he dies. Nancy desperately calls him and yells at him, acting like she’s angry to get him to leave.
At The Claw, Bess asks why Mei calls George Xiao Lan. George says it means “little lazy” and was Mei’s nickname for her. Carson bursts in. It turns out Nancy’s yelling was purposeful — it tipped Carson off that she was being held hostage using code words only he knew. The code related to a case she solved where all the entrances of a store were booby-trapped. He ask for Bess and George’s help to get her out without alerting anyone.
Mitzi confesses that she saw Dolores and Brandon fighting that night. Brandon claims Dolores was drunk and he was helping her, but Ryan finds a statement from Dolores’ mother, Linda, saying Dolores didn’t drink. The Arbiter chimes in to say that a pizza is being delivered to a certain address, and Brandon says it’s not his house. Fraser loses it — it’s his house, and Brandon’s lies are threatening his family. Brandon says he and Dolores dated, and Dolores threatened to tell his wife what was going on. He tried to stop her, but Dolores left. He stayed until last call and his wife picked him up, so he has an alibi.
Just then, Tamura collapses. He barely has a pulse, and Nancy sees he was reading something in a book. Carson, Bess, and George try breaking in unsuccessfully. Nancy pleads with the Arbiter to open the doors so they can get Tamura to a doctor, and suddenly the door opens. As they rush Tamura out, Nick tells Nancy the evidence log Tamura was looking at had an erased entry from the morning after her disappearance. When he ran a pencil over it, it mentioned an earring Dolores was wearing that night. Dolores was in the police station, and someone tried to cover it up. After Tamura gets outside, Nancy asks Carson to trust her. Shutting the door, she asks the Arbiter to rearm everything. As the electricity crackles back on, Nancy tells the group that someone is still lying. She will get justice for Dolores and says, “I’m the Arbiter now,” as everyone looks on in shock.
Nancy asks why Dolores was in the precinct. Ryan says he was released at midnight, and they realize the police didn’t want Ryan there to witness what happened as Nancy gets a call from Tamura. Tamura ran Dolores’ plates from the hospital. Fraser pulled her over that night. Fraser says they got a call from Mitzi alleging that a Black woman with a lot of cash was driving erratically, alleging that she must be a drug dealer. Fraser says when he pulled Dolores over, it was clear this was false and he let her go. Nick notices that Hampton was on duty that night. Nancy asks about the sounds Ryan thought were broken pipes in his drunken state, and Ryan says that it sounded like a woman crying.
Nick asks Hampton to tell the truth, and she bursts into tears. That night, Dolores came in sobbing with a head injury. Fraser told Hampton that she was faking it, but then Dolores had a seizure. She died in front of them, and the two put the car in the ravine and her body in the ocean. Fraser tries to deny it, but Hampton says she kept the dashcam footage when he thought she’d erased it. It shows him hitting her head after Dolores was handcuffed. Fraser tries to say she was resisting arrest. But Nick has had enough. Without raising his voice, he tells Fraser exactly what he thinks of that excuse.
“She was probably terrified. Because we are always terrified.”
Nancy outlines how every single person in the precinct failed Dolores. The Arbiter turns off the electricity, and it’s over. Nick stands staring at the evidence board as Nancy approaches. She asks if he’s okay, and he says he’s not as she comforts him.
Ryan asks if Nancy knows who the Arbiter is, and she says they must be from Horseshoe Bay because they knew Carson. Ryan tells Nancy he’s proud of her, but she still feels guilty about the Bonny Scot incident. She goes to the church and prays with a chaplain, saying that Linda never got to see justice for her daughter because she died last week. But then Nancy reveals her true purpose — she saw that there was a chaplain named Adeline on call the night Dolores died who found the earring. Nancy heard church bells in the Arbiter’s voice, and she realized the Arbiter was connected to the church. She asks if Adeline has a confession of her own.
Adeline says she realized when Dolores’ picture came out that the earring belonged to her. Not getting answers from the police, she spent years helping Linda try to get justice. When Linda died, Adeline wanted to find the answers herself. Adeline says when she heard that Tamura was arresting Nancy, she saw her chance to have Nancy work the case. She says she heard about Nancy recanting her testimony, and Nancy says she doesn’t know who she is anymore. Adeline says her choices will tell the world who she is.
At The Claw, Mei reveals Mary eventually found a new love and moved on after Odette. Odette is heartbroken. George tells Mei she’s sorry she didn’t see her in the hospital, but she didn’t want her last memory of her to be like that. Mei asks if George really thinks she only came back to scold her. Mei tells George she is proud of her and all she has done to raise her sisters. Mei says George needs to find a way to get rid of Odette, or her life with be shortened. George hugs Mei as Ace comes back into his body. George asks him not to tell the others what Mei said.
Back at the Drew house, everyone prepares for Nancy’s party as Tamura appears on TV, pledging to eradicate racism in the police department. Ace asks why Carson picked November 19 for Nancy’s birthday, and Carson says it’s because Kate loved Lincoln, and that date is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Carson calls Nancy their better angel, and a guilty Nancy leaves. In her room, she sobs, sure she’s betrayed every ideal she fought for. Nancy opens her notebook, writing Everett’s name along with the word “justice” as she underlines it in bold.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.