Ethan returns home, and the games really begin. Knowing that Ethan won't have a shot with a court-appointed attorney, Dan calls on his ex-girlfriend Theresa Lopez, who just happens to have become a hot shot defense attorney. She is totally on-board with the case, especially when the kids admit they have an alternative person of interest, until she finds out that the alternative is Alec. While she warily secretly starts building the case against Alec (with some help from his traitor of a son Thayer), "Sutton" approaches Rebeccannie for help establishing Alec's whereabouts the night of Derek's murder. Rebeccannie's totally all, "I got this," and begins waging an espionage-style guilty-until-proven-innocent campaign against Alec while they're on dates together. Long story short, Rebeccannie is the one cryptically saying things (that sound a lot like taking credit) when Ethan's case is dismissed.
Meanwhile, Sutton returns home, too. Though she would probably prefer to repossess her life and screw up everything from the helm of the ship, she proves just as effective at destroying everyone's lives behind the scenes. Despite talking about how she re-examined her life during her "spiritual" trip to the reservation, she is still dead-set on unraveling Emma and Ethan's relationship. She gets a prime opportunity when she intercepts a text from Theresa offering Emma the chance to meet Ethan at the courthouse. She deletes the text from Emma's phone and masquerades as her twin, hoping that Ethan will... well, I don't know what she was hoping would come of this charade, honestly. What she definitely wasn't hoping for was Ethan's confession that he kissed Emma, quickly followed by his insistence that it was a regret and that Sutton meant nothing to him. Rejected, Sutton (as Emma) concocted a lie that she slept with Thayer while Ethan was at the ranch. The next day, Ethan gave Emma the cold shoulder after being set free, and Sutton swooped in to lie that she and Ethan had slept together during their time away. She's a dreadful human being, but you have to admit that was masterfully played. Also, that everyone else around her is a gullible jerk. Still, she and Rebeccannie should really take this show on the road, right?
Also, Ted and Kristin continue hating each other and wondering why they ever got married in the first place. Laurel's band scores a gig at Coachella, and Baz begins slowly making his move so that he'll be able to seduce the innocent violinist by the time they're shacked up in his uncle's house in the deserts of California. Two episodes left!
Previously: Laurel gave Justin his walking papers. Alec unwittingly left loose ends at the crime scene of Derek's murder. Kristin read Ted the riot act, and he in turn read it to Rebecca. Sutton moved in on Ethan just minutes before he was served with an arrest warrant.
Phoenix. Emma and Dan look on as Ethan takes his perp walk. Emma promises to get him out of jail and tells him she loves him. He stays completely silent. Elsewhere, Rebeccannie watches the news unfold on TV. Credits.
Inside the station, after Ethan gets his mug shot taken, Dan demands two minutes with him since he's Ethan's guardian. He tells Ethan to keep his head down and watch his temper. He asks how "Sutton" is doing. Dan says she's been "a rock." Outside, Alec talks to the media and promises to throw the book at Derek. Because of his relationship to Derek (which is apparently suddenly public knowledge?), he promises to recuse himself but insists his office "will not rest until justice is served." Also, Ethan will be remanded without bail -- not like anyone would step up to pay it for him anyway.
Arroyo HS. Emma is self-conscious that everyone is watching her. Laurel tells her to prepare herself for Ted and Kristin's hawk eyes, too. They split up and head inside, where Baz finds Laurel and checks on her. He wants to help her "clear [her] head" from her break-up. She thinks she should keep to herself for a bit, but Baz says he has really good news -- the people at Coachella got their demo and want them to play at the festival. Laurel freaks out but immediately realizes there's no way her parents would let her gallivant off to Palm Springs unsupervised under current circumstances. Back outside, Emma confides in Mads that she worries about how Ethan's time with Sutton affected his feelings toward Emma. She must admit, though, "It's her life. I'm not surprised she wants it back."
Speak of the devil, Sutton is just chilling on Whitehorse Ranch, eating an apple, while Thayer -- who has driven over on short notice to pick her up -- shoots the bull with Ben. Ben is as gruff with Thayer as he is with everyone else in the world. He thinks Ethan should have stayed in Arroyo and fought his battle. Thayer says there were extenuating circumstances, but Ben thinks only guilty cowards run. He off-handedly refers to Sutton as Ethan's girlfriend, Thayer insists they're not together. Ben gets a wry smile on his face and calls Thayer naive. Thayer takes this new semi-information in, and Ben tells them to hit the road. As she walks out the door, Sutton turns around and doubles back to give Ben a hug. He actually embraces her and tells her that both of them are welcome back at the reservation when he gets through the trial.