When a nor'easter hits Horseshoe Bay, Ace warns everyone that the storm has been known to blow restless spirits ashore. Meanwhile, Nancy confronts Nick about the secrets he's been keeping.
After their night of making up, Nancy discovers Nick's secret burner phone that he'd been using to communicate with Tiffany Hudson. Ned, having gotten up to get coffee for the both of them, returns and is confronted by Nancy. The last text Nick had received from Tiffany is about a package left inside Nancy's mom's car. Nancy suspects that Nick got close to her for that reason. Nick denies the accusation, but when Nancy tells him to come clean completely and show him what he took from her mom's car, and he refuses, Nancy walks out.
When Nancy returns home, Carson tries probing her for her whereabouts the night before. Not only is he concerned about her relationship with Ned, he's also worried that she isn't presenting the best image for her arraignment. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Carson's new client: Ryan Hudson. Nancy is less than impressed with Carson's devaluing ethics, but the only reason he's taking on Ryan Hudson's case is because he had to afford Nancy's bail.
Carson asks Ryan about Tiffany's will but, it turns out neither Ryan not Tiffany had one because of an agreed-upon prenup. As long as Tiffany died of natural causes, Ryan gets everything.
When Nancy arrives nine minutes late to work, George tells her it'll come out of her paycheck. A tad surprised at her extra grumpiness, Ace explains about George's blood bucket to Bess. Karen enters a moment later to talk to Nancy and tries to convince her to shift the focus of the investigation to Ned. While it looks like Karen is trying to do this for Nancy's sake, Nancy doesn't trust Karen considering what she'd found out about her father's relationship with Karen. Nancy also doesn't believe in trying to send an innocent man to jail, because she isn't yet convinced Ned is guilty.
George seems equal parts relieved and gleeful that the murder case will be put behind her, but Nancy is concerned that the police will only be looking to pin the crime on Ned, while the real murderer remains loose. Ned shows up to tell Nancy that the police overturned his place after triangulating where the burner phone was since it was recently used. However, the police hadn't found the phone, because it turns out Nancy had taken it and deactivated it.
Ned agrees to show Nancy the package from the car which turns out to be a clock. Nancy wants to know why it was in her mother's car in the first place. And it's revealed that not only was Carson his lawyer, but Nancy's mom was Ned's social worker. Nancy's mom was caring and kind to a relentless degree and wanted Ned to meet Tiffany, the key eyewitness to his trial. Ned was understandably reluctant but eventually caved. That's how he properly met Tiffany.
Tiffany and Ned met but didn't speak to each other in the traditional sense. They communicated by her giving him books. Tiffany referred to it as their "secret language." The two grew to be close friends, and Ned found it in himself to forgive Tiffany. So, him killing her in cold blood was unthinkable.
Back at the Clam, a woman named Rita enters as a prospective employee. Before George can speak to her, the coffee pot in George's hand shatters. And when Bess goes to interview Rita, a spear falls from the. ceiling and narrowly misses George again. The others grow convinced that George is cursed, but George remains in denial.
Nancy examines the clock to find a string of letters and numbers engraved on it. Having heard Ned's story, Nancy correctly supposes it's an ISBN number. The two return to Ned's place and find the corresponding book to the number, Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott. Nancy figures out where they have to go next, but first, they need to lose Karen who has been following them.
They return to the diner and get Bess and Ace to act as decoys. After they lead Karen off, Nancy and Ned head to their actual destination in Nancy's mom's car, the Lilac Inn. It's a property that belonged to Tiffany and is being preserved as a historical landmark. Which, is unfortunate for Ryan who had thought they'd purchased the building to flip it and sell it.
While they continue going over papers, Ryan, who had been hearing noises at the Drew house all day, gets up and follows the sound of footsteps to Nancy's room. Carson fetches him, and when they return downstairs, he sees a ghost. Carson thinks Ryan might be on drugs, but regardless lets himself be talked into driving Ryan to the Lilac Inn.
At the inn, Nancy and Ned continue to follow the clues left behind by Tiffany, when Nancy hears Carson's car drive up. The two hide in a cupboard while Carson voices some of his suspicion about Tiffany's prenup to Ryan. The 'natural death' clause strikes Carson as odd, considering Tiffany was an apparently healthy young woman. But Ryan tells him that Tiffany was actually taking numerous self-medication and it caused her paranoia and seeing things that weren't there. Ryan says he doesn't know who had killed her if she had been, and wonders if Tiffany might've been haunted
Inside the cupboard, Ned notices the wine rack in the back and references The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe. Moving the rack aside, Ned pulls apart the brick wall and uncovers a lockbox. The clock is actually a combination lock, and after unlocking the clock they find a key inside, which can be used to open the box. Ned accidentally knocks over a wine bottle, catching Carson and Ryan's attention. Ned and Nancy escape without getting caught, but the red wine stain on the floor is noted.
Later, Karen returns to Nancy to discuss the deal she offered earlier with Ned right there. Ned thinks Nancy will accept it, but Nancy lays down her own summation and reveals an inscription in the book: "Forgiveness is the key to redemption. Please forgive me. Tiffany." Nancy just doesn't believe that someone could leave a message like that in a relationship of animosity. Since Karen obviously got into Ned's juvenile records, she should see that Tiffany had been a regular visitor to Ned as well. Karen, resigned, leaves the Drew residence.
At the diner, George is sat on a stool encircled with salt. Rita warns George not to leave the circle, but an electrical surge sends an overhead light crashing into George's place and lighting the sale circle on fire. Luckily, Ned, who had returned with Nancy, pulls her out of the way; saving her life. George asks where Rita is as the latter had disappeared.
Everyone gathers around Ned who places the lockbox in front of them. He acknowledges why the gang would be suspicious of him since he's kept a lot of secrets. But hopes that opening the box together will instill some trust among them all. When questioned about who Ned had killed and why, Ned explains.
A peer of Ned's, a football player on a rival team named Austin had sexually assaulted a female friend of Ned's at a party. When Ned was told to leave but had to leave the girl behind, Ned and Austin got into a physical altercation. During the fight, Austin went out a glass pane window and died. The gang is stunned, but Nancy holds his hand supportively. The others also show that they don't think Ned's a monster as he'd believed he was for a long time. They also indicate that Ned and Nancy can open the box privately, but to tell them what's inside later.
While George is cleaning up, she catches sight of Rita Howell in an old newspaper clipping that decorates the walls. The headline reads, "Tourist Decapitated In Boating Accident" dated July 18, 1975.
In Nancy's room, Ned and Nancy open the box to find a thick stack of bearer bonds that total nearly $5 million. Nick is alarmed but Nancy is delighted. Nick thinks the bonds will make him look guilty but Nancy tries to reassure him. They are interrupted by a text from Ace to Nancy asking for her help.
Nancy meets up with Ace outside of Bess' van that had been wrecked in the storm. He wants Nancy's help to talk Bess into helping her because he believes it would embarrass her more if it was from him. Nancy cajoles Bess to stay at her house, but while Bess packs up some of her things, a diamond ring falls from her pocket. The one that Tiffany was wearing the night she died. Nancy wonders if she'd just invited a murderer to stay with her.
Carson returns home, calling out for Nancy who hasn't returned yet. While he's on the phone texting someone, it is revealed that there is a ghost in the house, even if Carson can't see it.
Cast and characters
- Kennedy McMann as Nancy Drew
- Leah Lewis as George Fan
- Maddison Jaizani as Bess Marvin
- Tunji Kasim as Ned "Nick" Nickerson
- Alex Saxon as Ace
- Alvina August as Detective Karen Hart
- Riley Smith as Ryan Hudson
- Scott Wolf as Carson Drew
- Zibby Allen as Rita Howell
- Nancy: "George is extra prickly today."
- Ace: "She kicked a blood bucket. So the curse says she'll be dead inside a year."
- George: "I don't believe in curses."
- Bess: "Well, then explain that!"
- George: "Gravity!"
- Nick: "This one guy, we got into it one night. Tiffany saw how it ended. She wanted to know how it started, so I told her. Afterward, she told me she wished she could take it all back. Like if she could turn back time she could change my life."
- Nancy: "How did the fight start? I'm just trying to solve this."
- Nick: "No, it feels more like you're trying to solve me than Tiffany's puzzle."
- Nancy: " I'm on your side."
- Nick: "Doing what, exactly? Digging into places I've asked you not to go? And for what?"
- Nancy: "You haven't told me the details of what happened! If I knew the circumstances I could try to understand how-"
- Nick: " How what?! I could take someone's life? It was self-defense! Why do you care how it happened?"
- Ryan: "I don't know how she died. You think maybe she was haunted?"
- Carson: "That's a literal question? You think she was haunted...by ghosts?"
- Ryan: "I don't know. Maybe. Do you think we're visited by vengeful spirits? You know, forces that are trying to harm us?"
- “Yes, he took a life once. But Tiffany learned he would never do it again.”
- — Nancy about Nick
- “No way. This kind of money brings trouble. I mean, people could think I killed her to get to these.”
- — Nick about the money Tiffany left him.
- The Lilac Inn is a reference to The Mystery at Lilac Inn, which is the fourth book in the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories book series.
- The clock that was hiding the bail bonds Nancy found for Nick was a reference to the first Nancy Drew Mystery Stories book The Secret of the Old Clock.
- on The Internet Movie Database