Sutton continues to be a serious hosebeast. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long, but why can’t they just slap a Band-Aid on Emma’s head and let her continue “being” Sutton? She’s better at everything. She would definitely be better at taking Sutton’s midterms, which is where we are in the school year (hello, internal show time line that makes no sense!). That provides a sufficient excuse only for Sutton to be all, “I’m too busy and damaged to pursue our biomom in earnest.” Add that to Thayer’s persistent belief that Alec has nothing to do with the twinanigans, even though the girls know for sure that he knows Annie Hobbs, and it seemed like the episode was going nowhere fast.
Then lo and behold! A clue falls in their lap: Remembering Annie’s sputter that Sutton’s attacker was or resembled a snake, they spot that Derek has a serpent tattoo in the inside of his right wrist. And since Char’s gone and there’s literally no other reason for Derek to exist, narrative-wise, clearly it’s significant. Ethan throws him against a wall to get a confession out of him, but a teacher interrupts, which allows Derek a few periods to give his interrogators the slip. The investigative triumvirate pays a visit to Derek’s house where his wary mother let’s down her guard just long enough to tell them that Derek’s car broke down at the lake the night of Sutton’s party, and he was delivered home by “that cop, the nice one” (who else but Dan Whitehorse?).
Emma volunteers to do precisely what I suggested earlier and take back over Sutton’s life, starting with her exams and the talking-to from Ted and Kristin about what a bitch she’s been. Thayer doesn’t waste a single breath without a complaint and even Thayer’s patience wears thin. They finally get a lead on an auto shop where Derek works, and Ethan and Sutton head there to rough him up, Drive-style. In the midst of a tussle involving the crunch of a crowbar on Ethan’s hand, a car pulls up, and the kids flee. They did get the parcel of information that Derek was only supposed to deliver Sutton to a third party when the car went into the lake and he panicked and left her for dead. Speaking of left for dead, that’s exactly what Derek is the next morning — only his assailant was successful. Dan’s deputy, who pulled over Ethan and Sutton after the garage altercation, mentions Ethan’s busted hand to Dan, and he is entirely too quick to take the logical leap from motive and time-and-place to calling his brother a murderer. So what does he do? He gives Ethan the terrible, horrible, no-good advice to skip town even though they acknowledge it’ll make Ethan look guilty as sin. He heads to the school with Sutton and Thayer so Emma and Sutton can switch places once again, but the police arrive and an incredibly inconvenient shoe malfunction sends Emma into police custody and Sutton speeding off into oblivion with Ethan.