Fresh off the five-minutes-old revelation that her supposed best friend has been duping her for the last several months, Mads is more than enthusiastic to join the bandwagon with Emma and Thayer. Frankly, I think she's just happy to find out that the Sutton who hit on her man isn't in town at the moment. Mads is a simple girl. She also remains simple (as in "not intellectually equal to her peers") in the insistence that Alec couldn't possibly have anything to do with the twins' separation, their wildly divergent lives, nor Derek's murder -- despite the approximately 596 our junior sleuths have found that suggest as much.
To prove Alec's "innocence," Emma and the Rybak kids (that should totes be an Eau Claire, Wisc., bluegrass band) head to a frat party. You see, the frat president used to buy drugs from Derek, though his drug bust (that computer whiz Thayer unearthed) never made it to public record. Oh, and look! Alec is an active alumnus of the very same fraternity. Make that 597 connections. Mads gets all tarted up and works her magic on El Presidente while Emma works over a guy she recognizes from Derek's funeral. Long story short, he was sent to pick up the Prez's drugs and saw an altercation between Derek and none other than Alec. Related note: Everyone in Phoenix is a frakking idiot. Why would you go to the funeral of the person whose murder you just witnessed when you believe it was the District Attorney who committed it?
Mads and Emma totally blatantly invite Rebeccannie to "lunch," a.k.a. La Grande Inquisición (we are in Phoenix, after all), where they indiscreetly ask about Alec's whereabouts the night of Derek's murder and squabble about whether Rebeccannie's alibi for Alec "settles" anything. Rebeccannie immediately reports this back to Alec, who pretty much couldn't be any more suspicious... until now. Way to go, junior detectives!
As for people who didn't commit murder, Ethan and Sutton are still at the Whitehorse Ranch. Ethan spends the entire episode fiddling around with saddles gruffly while Sutton single-handedly saves his relationship with his father. How she does this isn't entirely clear because, frankly, there are only three episodes left, and we don't have time for that touchy-feely crap. Unless it's touchy-feely crap of the Ethan-Sutton variety. Yep, after one almost-moment and an awkward Skype session with Emma (and Mads and Thayer), Sutton moves in on Ethan. And he lets her! At least as far as first base -- he's arrested with his shirt unbuttoned and revealing that sweet little six pack.
In other news, Laurel also has an almost-moment with her new band buddy Baz. Rebeccannie offers her a chance to work with a famous producer she knows. Laurel finds her inspiration à la Adele in writing a breakup anthem for Justin. Only problem? They haven't broke up yet. After a successful recording session, Laurel tells Justin she can't lie and sneak around anymore. She wants to focus on her artistic endeavors, by which I mean getting "creative" with Baz. I'm really hoping that, despite being a starving artist, he has more a sleeping bag and a dopey smile to offer.
Finally, Ted goes through the roof at learning about Laurel's recording session and "Sutton's" "lunch" meeting with Rebeccannie. He takes her outside the club to tell her in no uncertain terms to stay away from his family. When she keeps her cool (disturbingly so, frankly) and makes a snide remark about Justin's dead mom, he very nearly loses it. A club security person interrupts the heated exchange, and word quickly gets back to Kristin. She didn't trust Ted much before, and Rebeccannie made certain to make some old-times references during Laurel's recording session that reinforced Kristin's inferiority. Long story, the road ahead for these two is as treacherous as a rainy night car ride with Derek (R.I.P.).
Previously: Ethan and Sutton went on the lam. Laurel continued her secret romance with Justin, though she was also making new friends (specifically a cute guitarist named Baz). Alec let himself fall into Rebeccannie's clutches. Emma got so tired of taking crap for Sutton's bitchery that she blurted out to Mads, "I'm not Sutton Mercer! I'm Emma Becker, her twin sister!"
We rejoin Emma, Mads, and now Thayer later that night. Mads admits that this farce is insane, but is still willing to believe it. That seems a little too easy-peasy for me, but her brother is vouching, so I guess we've got to get a little more expedient since there are only three episodes left in the season after tonight. Emma is wildly relieved to have this off her chest and Mads is mostly, like, "Wow, you're not a huge bitch! Amazing!" Unlike Sutton, who -- it's quickly established -- was the one who hit on Ryan and slept with Thayer and generally did everything to destroy the lives of everyone around her when given the chance. Speaking of which, Emma tells Mads that Sutton is off running amok with Ethan at that very moment. Emma insists she trusts Ethan, but Mads says forebodingly, "I'm just wondering if you can trust Sutton."
Whitehorse ranch. Ethan and his dad still hate each other, and Ben Whitehorse has still given them a week to vacate the reservation. Despite this mutual dislike, Ethan shares that he doesn't trust Sutton. Ben tells him, "Trust her or not, be sure to bring her an extra blanket" because it's going to be a cold night. This is basically a clunky excuse for Ethan to walk in on Sutton in her towel. She invites him to sleep in the bedroom that night, and then assures him she'll take the couch. He thanks her for understanding about his mom earlier, but says he wants to keep the couch. Sutton may not have won this battle, but she looks back in the mirror after he leaves like she damn well plans on winning the war. Credits.
The next morning, Alec calls Dan to make sure he knows who's boss. Dan impertinently wonders when their little indentured relationship is going to end. Alec does not answer, save to say, "Find your brother, then we'll talk."
Back on the res, Sutton spots Ben getting his flirt on with a woman named Angie. Ethan thinks Ben isn't interested, but Sutton notes she is putting out some serious body language. They have a really cute moment where they bond over imitating Ethan's dad and Angie. Ethan smiles for maybe the third time all season and I'm reminded how handsome Blair Redford is. So is Sutton because she gets her "teehee" on for sure.