Emma begins the episode with about as much spunk as we've ever seen her. It's still only a pale facsimile of Sutton, but it's a nice change of pace and a long-awaited slap-in-the-face for Sutton (literally). She refuses to believe that Ethan man up and admit he cheated. Ethan refuses to answer her phone calls (or the door when she shows up at his trailer), so she has no choice but to ambush him. When they actually do talk things out, it's established very quickly that Sutton set them up. They get back together, though Ethan misses a prime opportunity to tell Emma about the kiss he shared with Sutton. None the wiser, Emma invites Ethan along to chaperone Laurel's trip to Coachella with her new band. After a series of misadventures, they end up getting stranded in a tiny town in northern California. Specifically, in a motel room. More on that later...
While the motley crew heads up to Indio, Mads -- at Ryan's urging -- makes her peace with finding out that Alec might be a homicidal maniac. The whole group decides the best plan of action is to dig up as much information as they can on Rebeccannie because not only is her alibi is shielding Alec from the scrutiny of the law but also her return to town has been swift and a little suspicious frankly. Thayer and Sutton jump on it, calling Rebeccannie's ex and learning that Rebeccannie told her housekeeper she was moving back to Phoenix to revisit the love of her life. Furthermore, they learn that Rebeccannie keeps a picture of this mystery man in a locket. Sutton devises a ridiculous plan to sneak into the Chamberlins' house and find the locket. While she does so, Thayer and Mads will distract Alec and Rebeccannie. The Rybak kids do as they're told but boy do they have no idea what's coming at them. Within minutes of arriving home, they find the happy couple sipping champagne and celebrating their engagement. Thayer catches up with Sutton to tell her this stunning development, and then the hits keep coming. They find the locket and inside is not Alec's picture, but Ted's.
Meanwhile, Dan Whitehorse mouths off to Alec and then has a legitimately sexy moment with his old flame Theresa as they decide to take down Alec together. Baz and Laurel also seal their burgeoning relationship with a kiss. Ted and Kristin also reconcile -- but only because Ted lies that the call that distracted him from Justin's mother's surgery (ultimately causing her death) was about Kristin's fertility -- or lack thereof. Kristin assumes all the blame, and Ted feels awful. Because he is.
Now about that hotel room... Emma dutifully spends the first night with Laurel, finally admitting with a blush that she's a virgin. Laurel very nearly laughs her out of the room. This is Slutton Mercer we're talking about. Long story short, Laurel's band misses the Coachella booking but gets a chance to perform somewhere else. It's a prime opportunity for Emma and Ethan to have some alone time. Emma is convinced the timing is right for her first time. They get thisclose (or at least ABC Family's approximation, which involves pants and a full complement of underwear) to doing the deed when Ethan cannot ignore his guilty conscience any more. He confesses to Emma that he did kiss Sutton at the ranch and vagues that things have been "complicated" between Sutton and him. Despite his insistence that his feelings for Sutton are finished once and for all, Emma tells him he's always going to want to be with Sutton and leaves him with a heavy heart and a raging case of blue balls (I'm guessing).
Previously: Kristin was closing in on Ted's lies about Rebeccannie while Rebeccannie herself was closing in on Alec. Laurel found a new boyfriend, and Dan reconnected with an old love. Alec was ID'd at Derek's murder scene, and Ethan murdered Sutton's heart by saying (when she was posing as Emma) that she meant nothing to him. So she retaliated by lying that Emma had slept with Thayer then doubling back to tell Emma she (Sutton) slept with Ethan at Whitehorse ranch. Ethan got his freedom, but it came at the price of his love.
Emma is driving Mads to school and raging about Sutton's flippancy in telling her about sleeping with Ethan. Mads wisely suggests Sutton was probably lying, but Emma says it's the only explanation for Ethan's cold behavior toward her in the courthouse. Plus he won't return her calls. Mads tells her to stop the car and switch drivers because she's "emotionally impaired." Really it's a ruse to storm the Whitehorse trailer and make Ethan man up. They arrive and pound on the door until Dan answers. He won't let them in, so Emma continues to bang on the door to try to get Ethan's attention. Dan finally tells them he'll haul them in for trespassing if they don't leave and go to school. Dan has second thoughts and offers to deliver Ethan a message. Emma says to tell Ethan she came looking for answers... and got them. Credits.
A while later, Ethan strolls out of the trailer and tells Dan he didn't want to go to school considering what he just went through. Dan is willing to take it easy on him for now, but he does wonder what's going on with Ethan and "Sutton." He's suddenly on her side for sticking by Ethan during the recent ordeal and calls Ethan an idiot for dropping her so suddenly. Ethan says, "Trust me, Dan. There's a lot you don't know."
School. Emma is still going off about what a coward Ethan is for refusing to admit his cheating to her face. Mads says now Emma has to confront Sutton, or, as she puts it, "Slap the lips off of her smug little face." They head inside, where Ryan passive-aggressively chastises Mads for blowing him off. She doesn't have any good news -- or time -- for him and pretty much continues to blow him off. He wants to know what's going on, but she of course can't tell him. His insecurity grips him, and he tells her that he's starting to miss the days when she made fun of him to his face. At least then he knew where he stood.