George (Leah Lewis) is busy scrubbing away blood from the bucket-kicking tradition as The CW’s Nancy Drew season one episode three opens. Ace (Alex Saxon) peddles around town on a bike since his vehicle’s out of commission and stops in front of George’s place. She thinks she got punked and tells Ace that, but when he offers to help clean up she just glares at him. He takes that as his cue to leave.
Nancy (Kennedy McMann) and Nick (Tunji Kasim) are awakened by the sudden rain and he uncharacteristically offers to go get them coffee. When Nancy gets up to wipe down the water that’s leaked in, she spots what appears to be Nick’s second cellphone. Of course, she doesn’t know why he would need two cellphones. Picking it up she sees there’s a missed call from her and spots the text she found from Tiffany’s phone. The text reads “package in car.”
Nancy looks at her mom’s car in Nick’s garage and wonders if the package is in it.
When Nick returns with the coffee, he doesn’t see Nancy but does see his second phone is vibrating. When he answers it, it’s Nancy and she’s walking up behind him. Nancy confronts him about Tiffany’s last text and Nick tries to talk his way out of it by saying he has a record. He wonders if she knows what the cops would do to him with that information and Nancy admits she understands why he kept this from the cops. However, he also kept it a secret from her.
Nancy lays out the evidence. Not only was he the last person to speak (or text) with Tiffany, but Tiffany put him away for manslaughter for two years. There was a package in her mom’s car which he got access to and she questions if he was just using her to get to the car. He claims he wasn’t but she wants to know how she’s supposed to believe him.
Nick asks how she knew about his record and Nancy admits she read a file her dad has on him. She says, “If you ever want there to be any trust between us, show me what you took from my mom’s car.” He tells her he can’t – it’s not for her. With that, she walks out.
Nancy returns home and her dad (Scott Wolf) asks where she spent the night. She lies and says a friend’s house, and he wants to know if they can be honest with each other. Nancy replies, “Sure. What happened to the bloody dress that used to be in our attic?” He claims he threw it out, but she reveals she checked the trash cans and didn’t see it. Her dad explains the trash was collected already and then changes the subject. He brings up that she’s about to be arraigned on felony charges and she’s still sneaking around going through garbage. She reminds him she’s not a kid anymore and he reminds her she’s still his kid.
The argument temporarily ends when Ryan Hudson (Riley Smith) shows up. Nancy pauses to listen in to their conversation and hears her dad ask where Tiffany’s will is. Ryan explains they had a prenup but it should all go to him once her death is ruled as natural causes. Carson asks Ryan if he’s worried that she didn’t die of natural causes and Ryan reveals he’s not. However, he is worried about making payments.
Nancy shows up late for work, again, and George is in a bad mood. This time she’s going to dock Nancy’s pay. Nancy points out George is extra prickly and Ace informs her George kicked over her bucket and it spilled blood. Nancy reminds him neither she nor George believe in curses. Ace suggests maybe she’s worried about the nor’easter storm coming and Nancy doesn’t want to hear about that old wives tale either. Ace ignores her and tells it anyway. Apparently, the nor’easter blows restless spirits ashore.
Nancy’s saved from Ace’s stories when Detective Karen Hart (Alvina August) arrives with some good news. She confirms their lab tested all the food from The Claw and didn’t find any poison. Nancy wants to know why she’s really there and Karen confesses that based on Tiffany’s 911 call the D.A. is looking to build a case. She lets Nancy know that it doesn’t fare well for her since she broke into the morgue. However, they do have a new suspect…
Nancy picks up on what Karen’s saying and understands she’s referring to Nick. Karen informs Nancy that if she gives them something on Nick, her charges could go away.
George eavesdropped on the conversation as did Ace and Bess. They slide into a booth across from Nancy and Ace asks, “The cops think Nick killed Tiffany?” Before Nancy can answer Bess asks if he did something bad to end up in juvenile hall. George wonders if he did something violent. Nancy doesn’t respond and George continues prying, assuming Nick did something pretty violent. Ace asks if it was manslaughter and judging by Nancy’s non-response they realize that’s what it is.
George looks at the silver lining; if Nick killed Tiffany, they’re no longer suspects and she can get her customers to come back to the diner.
Their conversation gets cut short when Nancy receives a text. It’s Nick wanting to meet up in the storage room at the diner. He explains the cops went through his place with a search warrant but the burner phone was gone. Nancy produces it from her locker and explains she also deactivated it.
Nick shows Nancy a clock that was hidden in her mom’s car. Tiffany told him not to trust anyone with it and he admits he’s been staring at it for two days trying to figure out the purpose of it. Nancy suggests they figure it out together.
As they investigate, Nick drops the bombshell that her mom was his social worker. Her mom started off helping her dad with his case and after he was sentenced, she began visiting him in juvie. Nancy wonders if that’s why Nick’s with her, but he claims he’s not trying to use her.
Nick reveals when he was doing time her mother asked him to meet the witness who got him locked up. A flashback shows Nick sitting across from Tiffany Hudson in the jail’s visiting room. He explains that first visit went by without him saying a word to her. The next week Tiffany returned as though he was supposed to ease her guilt or something for getting him locked up. When Tiffany kept coming back, she started to bring him books. It was their way of communicating with each other.
A woman walks into The Claw and as George greets her the coffee pot she’s holding suddenly breaks and shatters. George and Bess are startled, but not the stranger who’s there looking for a job. When Ace offers to sweep up the glass and George heads off to get a dustpan, a decorative spear comes loose from the ceiling. Ace gets George out of the way in the nick of time. Bess and Ace think George is cursed.
Nancy’s messing with the clock when she pulls out a piece with engraving on it. It’s numbers and Nancy believes that since Nick and Tiffany’s secret language involved books, maybe it’s an ISBN for a book.
The duo return to his shop and look through his books. He explains the clock wasn’t the first thing Tiffany gave him. He holds up The Count of Monte Cristo and he says, “It was this.” He begins to read a quote, “But my real treasure are the rays of intelligence you have elicited from my brain, the languages you have implanted in my memory.”
Nick explains after a few months he began to ask Tiffany for new books which he still has. Nancy brings Under the Lilacs to Nick because its number matches the ones engraved in the clock. They figure out a series of clues and end up on a chapter titled “A boy’s bargain.” “The bargain has two sides, it’s not a gift. You have to meet in the middle under the lilacs,” says Nick.
Tiffany liked to leave puzzles and there was a place in town with lilac in its name that she loved. Nancy suddenly remembers seeing in the police report an application for a landmark status made by Tiffany Hudson for The Lilac Inn. She knows where to go but needs help first.
Karen stakes out The Claw and watches Nick and Nancy go inside and then drive away. She follows them and pulls their car over only to discover Ace and Bess are wearing Nick and Nancy’s jackets. Meanwhile, Nancy and Nick are in her mom’s car heading to The Lilac Inn.
Ryan Hudson’s still with Carson Drew when Carson asks him what he knows about The Lilac Inn. He says not much, but it was Tiffany’s pet project that she was dumping money into. Carson asks what Ryan’s concern is about his finances because he hasn’t found any large payment due anytime soon. Ryan doesn’t answer and instead insists he hears footsteps. “I thought your daughter left the house,” says Ryan. Carson’s still asking about The Lilac Inn but then notices Ryan’s gone.
Ryan walks upstairs to investigate what sounds like footsteps. He listens at a door and is convinced someone’s inside. Ryan bursts through the door into Nancy’s room. (We get a nice jump scare when Carson grabs his shoulder.) No one’s in the room.
Carson explains The Lilac Inn is being turned into a public landmark which seems to be news to Ryan. He thought Tiffany was flipping it for them to sell. Carson informs him after they wrap up final touches, Ryan won’t have any claim to it anymore. He expects that could happen as soon as the storm clears.
Ryan is no longer paying attention because he’s still hearing footsteps upstairs – footsteps Carson doesn’t hear. Ryan reveals that before Tiffany died she would wake up in the middle of the night because she thought someone was watching them and that someone was walking around their bedroom. He chalked it up to her anxiety medication.
As Ryan’s talking he sees a ghost hovering in the corner of the ceiling and jumps back in fright. Frantic, he tries to leave but Carson stops him and assumes he’s under the influence. Carson doesn’t want him driving so Ryan asks Carson to take him to The Lilac Inn.
Ace and Bess are driving when they spot a branch through the windshield of Bess’ van/house. Bess is visibly upset and Ace asks if she’s okay. She tries to tell him she is but he knows something’s wrong.
Nancy and Nick arrive at The Lilac Inn and begin exploring. They pull sheets from the walls and discover portraits of famous Maine authors. Nancy asks Nick if he told Tiffany about the night he was accused of killing someone, and he explains Tiffany saw how it ended but didn’t see how it started. After he told her, Tiffany wished she could take it all back.
Nancy asks how the fight started and Nick gets defensive. She reminds him she’s on his side and he claims it was self-defense.
They hear a noise as they’re talking and Nancy spots her dad pulling up with Ryan. Nick uncovers another author’s portrait: Edith Wharton, the author of The House of Mirth. This seems to mean something to him, but Nancy’s more concerned they need to hide somewhere. Nick says, “She’s telling me it’s in the kitchen,” as he smiles and heads off in that direction.
They hide in a storage room with wine as Carson and Ryan enter the building.
While they look around, Carson reveals he finds it strange there was a clause in the prenup that Ryan would get everything if she died from natural causes. Why would a perfectly healthy woman die of natural causes? Ryan explains Tiffany wasn’t healthy. She would take cocktails of mood stabilizers and sleeping pills. Plus, she was paranoid and seeing things. It was her idea to put the clause in there, so says Ryan.
Ryan confesses he believes Tiffany might have been haunted. Carson finds that hard to believe but Ryan says Tiffany believed in that stuff and that’s why she tried to do good in her life.
Meanwhile, Nick’s having a panic attack in the storage room. He hates cramped spaces. Nancy tries to get him to stop freaking out and suddenly Nick spots something that grabs his attention. Nancy asks what it is and Nick replies, “Amontillado.” It’s a wine referenced in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. He begins to take down all the wine to get to the wall behind them, explaining in the story a man is bricked up behind a wall. When Nick removes bricks he exposes a safe.
They figure out they need to come up with a combination to the clock and when they do, it opens a secret compartment on the clock which contains a key. Nick uses the key and opens the safe. He removes the lockbox inside but accidentally knocks over a bottle of wine that shatters.
Ryan and Carson hear the noise and rush to its source. Nick and Nancy are able to put the bricks back before Ryan and Carson open the door to the storage room. Nick and Nancy are gone and a broken wine bottle’s on the floor which Ryan and Carson blame on the wind. However, after Ryan walks away Carson notices a shoe print in the wine on the floor.
Later, Karen confronts Nancy and Nick and asks Nancy if she’s going to take her up on her offer. Nick is curious about the offer and Nancy’s honest with him, explaining the cops were going to drop all charges against her if she helped them make a case against him. Nick asks what she’s decided to do and Nancy tells Karen their theory has been wrong about Nick wanting revenge. Nancy shows Karen a book that Tiffany gave him and wrote, “Forgiveness is the key to redemption. Please forgive me -Tiffany.”
Nancy believes since Karen obtained Nick’s juvenile records, she should also be able to locate his visitation logs. Tiffany’s name will be in there every week.
Back at the diner, the stranger who’s name is Rita circles around George as she’s seated in a circle surrounded by salt. Rita asks if she’s afraid and although George looks terrified, she replies, “You think I don’t know about superstitions and rituals and communicating with the dead? My mother made salt circles around my highchair.”
Rita warns her it’s different during this storm. She explains restless spirits want a life and George has already been marked. Her friends have done the best they could to protect her, but the protection only works if she believes. George is now alarmed and questions who Rita really is. The woman says, “Better not leave that circle.”
Nick and Nancy arrive at the diner just as a light comes crashing down from above George. The salt circle’s broken and George looks around in a panic, asking where Rita went. Nancy has no idea who she’s talking about.
Now that the gang’s all there, Nick shows them the lockbox and explains Tiffany Hudson gave it to him. He realizes they all suspect him as the killer and that might be because he’s been hiding so much. He thought they could open the box together so maybe they can all build some trust in him. Ace says, “But you did kill someone…”
Bess asks what happened and Nick lays it all out. He got in a fight with a guy while protecting a girl and the guy who was either drunk or high kept coming after him. Nick pushed him and he fell out a window. After he finishes his story, they decide he can show them what’s in the box later – given the day they’ve all had.
Later, George moves the spear into a corner and notices a newspaper clipping hanging up on the wall. The headline reads, “Tourist Decapitated in Boating Accident,” and it’s dated July 18, 1975. The woman in the photo is Rita! (Odd how they all saw her before and when Nancy and Nick came in Nancy seemed to not know who George was talking about.)
Back at Nancy’s house, Nick expresses his surprise that Nancy chose him over a deal with the police. He opens the lockbox and finds papers that Nancy thinks are bearer bonds. She explains they don’t make them anymore and they’re untraceable. Nancy realizes the box contains almost $5 million.
Nick starts to freak out saying that kind of money brings trouble and people will definitely think he killed her to get to them. He wonders what he’s going to do with them and Nancy says he should keep them. The conversation’s interrupted by Ace texting Nancy saying he needs her help.
Nancy meets with Ace and he thanks her for coming, revealing he didn’t want to embarrass Bass as they walk up to her van. Ace walks away and lets Nancy speak with Bess. Nancy asks Bess about things not going well with her aunt since she’s living in a van, and Bess just kind of blows off the question.
Carson comes home to find a pair of shoes by the door. Picking them up he sees they’re stained with wine and tries to call Nancy. His call goes straight to voicemail. As he walks up the stairs he suddenly gets wet. The camera pans to show the ghost above him but when he looks up, he doesn’t see anything.
Nancy thanks Bess for really helping her out and wonders if she can return the favor. Nancy asks Bess if she wants to come stay with her for a while. Bess accepts and while she’s packing a ring falls and Nancy picks it up. She quickly realizes it’s Tiffany’s ring.
Narrator Nancy ends the episode saying, “Did I just invite a killer to a sleep-over?”
- Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
- Season 1 Episode 2 “The Secret of the Old Morgue” Recap
- Season 1 Episode 4 “The Haunted Ring” Recap
- Season 1 Episode 5 “The Case of the Wayward Spirit” Recap