Shippers, get ready for whiplash: this episode starts with our dashing detective duo, dressed in their finest, entering an extremely swanky establishment for dinner. “Oooh,” I hear you think: “a proper date! Finally!” But alas, they’re actually only undercover as a doctor and his wife. Why? We’re going to have to wait to find out, and in the meantime, this happens:

Duke Silver, to the waiter: Get me this wine, and the lady will have sherry.
Victoria Mars, as if anyone hasn’t already figured this out: If we were actually married, I’d order for myself.
Duke Silver: If we were actually married, I’d be drinking whiskey.
Victoria Mars: Whatever. What are we looking for, anyway?
Duke Silver: There have been a bunch of crimes linked to this restaurant. Not sure what exactly is happening, but there’s a connection. We just have to figure out what it is… might have to pretend to be regulars. And you’re not listening to anything I’m saying, are you?
Victoria Mars: Am so! Ok, I’m not, but it’s only because my childhood nemesis Arabella is here. She got away with so much crap AND she stole my necklace!
Duke Silver, half trying to be supportive and half roast-mode: Want me to arrest her?
Victoria Mars: Just be cool, maybe she won’t see us.
Arabella, obeying the laws of fiction, and drawn to our friends by the mere utterance of “maybe she won’t see us”: OMG, Victoria Mars, is that YOU???
Victoria Mars:

A teenage girl nods and says "bingo."

This is my husband… Duke Evans.
Duke Silver: Hiiiii
Arabella: Great to meet you! I have a new surname as well; I’m widowed, you see. Anyway, you look great, which is a big surprise because when we were kids you were always covered in mud! Everyone used to find it so funny!
Victoria Mars: I didn’t! Anyway, don’t want to keep you from your friends…
Arabella: Oh, no, I’m not here to eat! I own this place! Like, I literally named it after myself, so.
Duke Silver: Well, congrats, it’s super nice.
Arabella: I try! I better go, but here’s my card. Come for tea, I want to catch up! Nice to meet you, husband, and get the duck, it’s delicious.
Duke Silver, once she leaves, possibly just winding Victoria Mars up: She seems nice!
Victoria Mars: She’s not, and don’t trust her!
Duke Silver, fair hit: You’re the one who just lied and told her we were married.
Victoria Mars: Whatever. We’re NOT getting duck.

LOL. Post dinner, as they leave, Victoria Mars opines that this was all a waste of time: the only criminal activity they saw was the prices, and the chef was only so-so. Before Duke Silver can get in even a token argument, a woman calls for help down the block — someone’s stolen her bag! Dashing as ever, our friend runs off in pursuit, leaving Victoria Mars to get threatened by a surprise second bad guy with a knife.

Victoria Mars, falling back on her old standby: You’re surrounded by undercover cops. Drop the knife!
Mugger: That didn’t work last season, why do you think it’s going to work now? I’ll be taking that jewelry and pushing you in a puddle. Toodles!

Hard to argue, tbh. Later, inside, Arabella asks a server to grab Victoria Mars some water, while our heroine in question ignores her in favor of arguing with her “date.”

Duke Silver: Why are you like this?? Stop fighting people on the street!
Victoria Mars: First of all, I didn’t actually fight him! It was my mom’s brooch, I didn’t want to let it go. Also, this is your fault: this was supposed to be safe!
Arabella: Uh, what?
Duke Silver, coming clean: I’m sorry, I’m a cop, we’re here undercover because people keep committing crimes against your clientele. Mostly jewel theft. We think there’s a spotter inside, that’s why we’re here. Sorry for the lie.
Arabella: Ok but then why are you here, Vic?
Victoria Mars: I’m a private detective.
Arabella: Like your dad! Neat! And you two are… not married?
Victoria Mars and Duke Silver, as one: NOPE.

That settled, they move into case solving mode: the fact that there were two thefts in a row is probably because the first was a diversion (especially since the woman who “got robbed” didn’t stick around after). Arabella also gets on the case: the case of hitting on Duke Silver, who doesn’t seem to totally hate it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he also allows Arabella to escort Victoria Mars home, which is a sure way to piss off his friend. But it’s not like he’s ever had a firm grip on what the lady in question actually wants, so why start now?

Over at Victoria Mars’ house, our pal heads upstairs to change, only to come down to her parlor to find Ivy friendship-canoodling with Arabella. Victoria Mars tries to gently(ish) suggest that Arabella leave, with absolutely zero success. See, Arabella is either genuinely worried about Victoria Mars or great at faking it, and Ivy, who is always worried about our friend, eats it up with a spoon.

Arabella: And speaking of eating things up… Ivy, this cake is amazing.
Ivy: Awwww, shucks! Come by any time to have more. So cool that you own your own business, no one does that! I mean, other than you, Vic.
Victoria Mars:

A man in a wig sarcastically nods "Mmmhmmm"

Ivy: Anyway, a restaurant sounds so cool. Family business?
Arabella: No, it was my husband’s. But he passed last year. My dad was a jeweler.
Victoria Mars: Yes, and she always had the fanciest pieces. Even as a kid!
Ivy, putting two and two together: OH. You’re THAT Arabella. I mean, a childhood friend, yay!
Arabella: Well, I better get out of here. Great to see you, Victoria Mars, I’ll check up on you soon. Ivy, killer cake. Don’t get up, I’ll see myself out!
Ivy: She’s changed, huh?

Victoria Mars, however, isn’t so sure. Later, at her office, Duke Silver barges in without knocking, which he correctly points out is only fair, since she’s forever breaking into his space. Why is he here, she wonders? Surely not to check on his friend — that would be *checks notes* bad? Anyway, he’s also got an update: the other robbery was set up as a diversion. Victoria Mars was the real target all along!

Victoria Mars: Did you find the brooch?
Duke SIlver: No, but I got a name for the thief: a Hungarian named Tibor. I also know where he parties.
Victoria Mars: YAY, roadtrip!

Rolling up outside the tavern, Victoria Mars asks if they’re going to go undercover again, or just barge in.

Duke Silver, snarkmaster: Well, Baby Detective and I are going as detectives here to arrest a thief, and you’re playing the witness who waits outside. Dude, he had a knife: you’re staying here.
Baby Detective: I’m just excited to use my boxing skills! I’m training, you know!

As if I could forget, Baby Detective. As if I could forget. Victoria Mars is just as amused by this as I am, and Duke Silver pretends that he doesn’t love hearing his work son’s long musings on boxing footwork, before shoving our friend into a carriage.

A woman folds her hands under her chin and says "awwww"

Inside, the boys head to the bar and ask the server which of the patrons is Tibor. Alas, they’re not super quiet about it, so while Duke Silver’s ramping up into threatening mode, Tibor’s strolling out the front door behind him. Naturally, Tibor’s escape route takes him right past the carriage, so Victoria Mars does what any self-respecting “witness who waits outside” would do, and opens the door into Tibor’s face. Hard. Tibor’s not even starting to think about getting up yet when the boys return, and is easily smooshed into the side of the carriage and searched by Baby Detective. Inside Tibor’s pockets, they find a note that says “Lady. Blue Dress. Spiller.” which they find just as confusing as I do. One thing that Victoria Mars DOES know? The note was written on Arabella’s card, and that means her erstwhile nemesis is involved.

Duke Silver: Come on, she probably gives those out all the time. Doesn’t mean she did it!
Victoria Mars: You don’t know her.
Duke Silver: Neither do you, it’s been years!
Victoria Mars: She was incredibly mean to me; she had everything and still liked to steal stuff!
Duke Silver: Yeah, you mentioned that earlier, but she’d have to be super dumb to use her own card to tip off thieves, right?!

Victoria Mars can’t really argue with that, so she doesn’t try. Instead, she focuses in on the “spiller” thing: she doesn’t think it’s a person. Duke Silver, unfortunately for her, is not so easily distracted, and tells our friend that she can’t be involved in this case: it’s a conflict of interest. He’s not wrong, but he’s also a real goober if he thinks that’s going to work. Naturally, she heads right home to do some research, quickly finding out that a similarly spelled “spilla” in Italian means brooch.

Meanwhile, at the station, Tibor continues to protest his arrest, claiming he’s innocent. Baby Detective confirms that there isn’t anyone at Arabella’s called Spiller, before joining Duke Silver for the interrogation. Duke Silver pulls up Tibor’s sleeve to show a tattoo from a notorious Hungarian prison, which he uses to threaten Tibor: help out, or get star in the Victorian version of Locked Up Abroad.

Tibor: You’re gonna send me to prison in Hungary? Yeah right.
Duke Silver: Baby Detective, your uncle still works at the home office, right?
Baby Detective: Yup.
Duke Silver: Right, so he could help us send this fella back. ASAP. Unless you help us.

Yikes. Speaking of yikes, across town, Victoria Mars drops in on Arabella at her restaurant just in time to hear her nemesis firing one of the maids.

Victoria Mars: Oh hey! Just stopped by to thank you. This a bad time?
Arabella, fake as heck: Nooo, it’s fine. Gotta uphold standards, and Grace over there wasn’t. Had to let her go. Glad you’re here though, how are you doing?
Victoria Mars: I’m great! Will you give me a tour of your restaurant? I’m so curious about how it all works.
Arabella: I would love to! But also lol remember how bad you were at cooking class? You almost burned the school down!
Victoria Mars:

A man says "yes, thank you for your input." while slamming the door in his companion's face.

After the tour, Arabella explains that they’re having trouble keeping up with demand, and having to send folks away most nights. She’s thinking of expanding, in fact! Sure, it’ll mean less time for having fun, but: sacrifices! Victoria Mars, whose business is always on the brink of disaster, can’t really relate, and uses her annoyance as a cover to ask questions. Specifically, aren’t Italian chefs all the rage? Does one work at Arabella’s? Yes: there’s a pastry chef, and the server who waited on Victoria Mars and Duke Silver the other night, Enzo, is also Italian. Alas, the server is out sick that day, so there’s no way to speak with him. Arabella is just starting to wonder why she’s getting questioned when Duke Silver shows up, also looking for Enzo.

Arabella: Weird coincidence — Victoria Mars was just asking about him too!
Duke Silver, inside:

An annoyed man says "oh, sure, of course, absolutely."

Duke Silver, out loud: He’s been tipping off a thief to prey on your clients.
Arabella: Ugh. Well, he’s out today, and unfortunately I don’t have his address. He’s only been here a couple of weeks.

Bummer, but all is not lost: they send her off to get the rest of the staff for questioning, and Duke Silver seizes his opportunity to be grouchy at Victoria Mars. She tries to convince him to let her interview the female staff, since she’s here, but no dice: he sends her home. Luckily for our friend, when she leaves she runs right into Grace, the maid who was just fired a few minutes ago. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Victoria Mars invites Grace out for a drink.

Back at the restaurant, Duke Silver finishes up his work, without any luck: nobody knows where Enzo lives. He asks Arabella if she has any other thoughts, and leaves his info in case she has a brainwave. Not gonna lie, reader: she seems on the precipice of telling him something, but then changes her mind and walks him out instead.

A young woman says "oh, curiouser and curiouser."

Arabella: I feel so silly for trusting him. What happens next?
Duke Silver: There’s a good market for stolen jewels. We’ll ask around and see what we find out.
Arabella: What about Victoria Mars?
Duke Silver: She’s off the case. She was a little overenthusiastic because her mother’s brooch was stolen.
Arabella: I was hoping we could become friends again, but I get the vibe that she doesn’t like me. Oh god, sorry, I’m talking your ear off.
Duke Silver: Don’t worry about it, my job is kinda like being a priest, except that people feel worse after they talk to me, not better. Anyway, goodbye ma’am.
Arabella, DEFINITELY flirting now: Call me Arabella!

A man says "yay!" extremely sarcastically.

Meanwhile, at the bar, Grace spills the tea: she liked working at Arabella’s, and is annoyed to be let go, but isn’t surprised: Arabella couldn’t afford to pay her anymore. And even worse, Grace isn’t the first one who was laid off!

Victoria Mars, who after all JUST had a speech about how well the restaurant was doing shoved in her face, and gets to be a little vindictive: So, money troubles?
Grace: I shouldn’t be saying this…
Victoria Mars: I’m just asking because I’m her friend! I worry!
Grace: Don’t. Last week I went into the office and found her putting a bunch of cash in the safe. She said it was a loan, so she must be on the way to fixing the issue.
Victoria Mars: Who gave her the loan?

Great question, and we’re about to find out: turns out the loan was from Arabella’s mum, and Victoria Mars wastes no time stopping in at her foe’s house.

Arabella’s Mum: She’s not here; she’s *sniff* WORKING.
Victoria Mars, pretending to be snooty also: Oh, gosh, embarrassing. And such a shame because I came down from the country to see her; I don’t have a lot of time because my VERY fancy husband is a member of parliament and I need to meet him for dinner.
Arabella’s Mum, taking the bait: Oh, well I could make some time for you I guess!

A maid is despatched for tea, and while they wait, Victoria Mars compliments Arabella’s house. Except it’s not Arabella’s house at all: she moved in with her mum after her husband passed. Arabella’s Mum makes it clear that she’s not a fan of said dead husband, given that he left her daughter with a lot of debt.

Victoria Mars: Ah, right, she did say that. But she assured me you were supporting her financially.
Arabella’s Mum: Well that’s BS: I’ve been clear, I’m not giving her any money for that place. She’s been to all the banks instead.

Applying for a loan? As a woman?? Can it BE??? Alas, Arabella had just as much trouble getting money as Victoria Mars herself, which probably explains why when our heroine follows Arabella, the restaurateur is in a distinctly dodgy part of town, chatting to the woman who was fake mugged outside the restaurant. Victoria Mars sends a beat cop to go get Duke Silver, and eventually, backup arrives, disgruntled. Victoria Mars tries to lead him over to where she saw Arabella, but he’s not having it: she’s not being objective, and he wants her to back off. For once, I agree with our grumpy friend’s attempt to sideline Victoria Mars, although clearly she’s still an asset to the case despite her grudge. Alas, when I wrote attempt, I wasn’t exaggerating: Victoria Mars cannot be stopped, and even Duke Silver finally has to cave and agree to follow her to where she last saw Arabella.

However, once they get inside, Victoria Mars’ righteousness is short-lived: Arabella isn’t randomly consorting with a fake thief: she’s running a soup kitchen.

Arabella: Oh hey guys, what’s up?

They explain, prompting Arabella to, understandably, get a bit miffed. Do they really think she’d steal from anyone?

Victoria Mars: Uh, YEAH BUDDY.
Duke Silver: Cool it.
Victoria Mars: She’s in bad financial shape! But she lied and said she was crushing it!
Arabella: It’s pride, pal, look it up!
Victoria Mars: I also talked to that maid you fired —
Duke Silver: Oh good gravy.
Victoria Mars: — and SHE said she saw a lot of money in the safe! What gives?
Arabella: That’s from my customers. It went to wages, and rent. I’m struggling, ok? Bad enough without you dragging my name through the mud. I thought we were friends!
Victoria Mars: Seriously? You don’t remember how you treated me when we were kids?
Arabella: Dude, we were kids! How is that connected to this?
Victoria Mars: Because it shows your character!

Not a great convo, all in all, and everyone is having, frankly, a pretty bad time. Arabella leaves, because, as Duke Silver points out, there’s no evidence that she’s done anything wrong. He also gently tells Victoria Mars that her judgment in this case is compromised. Her judgment in general might be compromised, TBH, because later, Ivy finds her trying to bake a cake. It goes about as well as you’d expect.

A man surveys a room and says "It's like the f**king Titanic in here."

Ivy, finding Victoria Mars baking, is understandably quite concerned, and gets the truth out of her charge.

Victoria Mars: I messed up. I let my feelings override my sense. Dad would never have done that!
Ivy: Don’t feel too bad, she was a jerk when you were kids.
Victoria Mars: Sure, but I wasn’t perfect either.
Ivy: I mean. True.
Victoria Mars: I never fit in, and that made me angry and mean. I’d pick fights, because if I gave her a reason to dislike me, it’d be about my behavior, not who I was.
Ivy: I remember that. Nothing you could have done would have made those girls like you: you’re your own person. And that’s a good thing. So. What are you gonna do?
Victoria Mars: I think I have to apologize to her. Ugh.

And so, the next day, Victoria Mars heads to the restaurant to meet Arabella. Getting there early, she’s sent to wait in the office, and gets a really good stew in. Also, because she is who she is, she can’t help but break into the safe, and that’s what she’s doing when Arabella turns up. Inside, she finds some jewels and some paperwork, which I can’t read, but whatever it is, it sends Victoria Mars out of there just before Arabella arrives.

Meanwhile, back at the station, Duke Silver is in a faceoff with a meat pie when Baby Detective pops in for a chat.

Duke Silver: This looks disgusting. And mysterious. Want it?
Baby Detective: Nah, bro, I’m apparently supposed to be counting my macros!
Duke Silver, in the grand tradition of everyone with a friend that’s gotten too into the gym/diet culture: As you’ve told me. Repeatedly. What did you find?
Baby Detective: Enzo wasn’t working alone. He’s got an uncle, also from Italy, who we were investigating before he fled back home. But we heard that his workshop is open for business again, so he might be back.
Duke Silver: Good work. Let’s give the pie to Hardscrabble; he’ll eat anything.

Baby Detective’s info was good, and they end up bringing back a whole crate of recovered property from Enzo’s uncle’s hideout, including Victoria Mars’ brooch. Duke Silver’s just pocketed the jewelry to bring to his friend, but she finds him first: she’s been lurking in his office.

Duke Silver: Good news: we found your brooch!
Victoria Mars, genuinely overcome: Thank you.
Duke Silver: I have to enter it as evidence, but I’ll get it back to you ASAP, I promise.
Victoria Mars: Who’s this Enzo guy? Did you find him?
Duke Silver: No, but I have guys surveilling the workshop. Anyway, what are you doing here?
Victoria Mars: For the last few months, Arabella has been selling off jewelry pieces. And before you say anything, I have receipts. Literally. Here. I talked to the pawn brokers, but they won’t tell me anything. Care to investigate?

I mean, she’s got him there: it's too good a lead not to follow up. He’s not thrilled to be bossed around, but he does go check it out, and stops in later that night to fill her in. Here’s the deal: Arabella owned all the pieces she sold, and he’s got a list to prove it.

Victoria Mars: Hang on, but I saw this heart shaped sapphire ring in her safe!
Duke Silver: So her safe was just open, huh?
Victoria Mars: She can’t have sold it and kept it, it doesn't make any sense!
Duke Silver: I kinda don’t care. Here’s your brooch! You’re welcome!
Victoria Mars: This is new evidence, why don’t you care?
Duke Silver: There’s no motive or real evidence that Arabella did anything wrong!

Victoria Mars, frustrated, looks down at the brooch in her hand which… starts to fall apart? Meanwhile, at Scotland Yard, they still haven’t found Enzo, despite an overnight stakeout. But Duke Silver did find out something interesting about Enzo’s uncle. See, when he first came to the UK, he worked in a family jewelry shop, run by an Italian immigrant. Seems worth following up on!

And across town, Victoria Mars does some followup of her own, stopping in to speak to The Amazing Pawn Broker.

Victoria Mars: You know about gems, right?
The Amazing Pawn Broker: Yes, but I’m old and my vision is failing.
Victoria Mars: That’s a load of crap, but how about I buy a couple of things from the shop? Does that help your eyes?
The Amazing Pawn Broker: Sure does! What’s up?
Victoria Mars: Take a look at this brooch.
The Amazing Pawn Broker: It’s pretty! And it’s also a fake. A good fake, but a fake nonetheless.

Well well well. I wonder where the real one is! We don’t have to wait long to find out: Baby Detective and Duke Silver, attempting to visit the jewelry shop, happen to notice a familiar piece in pride of place in the window display.

Duke Silver: Right. We better go get the bolt cutters.
Baby Detective: Don’t you mean we should go get a warrant?
Duke Silver: Don’t need one! I’m employing the age old illegal police trick of claiming to hear a woman screaming for help!
Baby Detective: Cool, gotcha. I’ll get the bolt cutters.

While they do that, Victoria Mars goes to Arabella’s to say “I knew it! I knew you were up to no good!” in person. Arabella, naturally, tries to send her away, but Victoria Mars is nothing if not persistent. She reluctantly agrees to let her nemesis finish the seating, and heads back to the office to wait when she runs into Grace. Why’s the erstwhile employee there? She claims it's to pick up some of her stuff, but it turns out she’s got a bag chock full of jewels so… not so much.

Back at the storefront, Duke Silver and Baby Detective have gotten inside, and close enough to the brooch to confirm that it definitely is Victoria Mars’. Baby Detective realizes that Enzo is from Murano, a part of Italy famous for glasswork. A jeweler would be able to tell the difference between glass and a real gem, which means whoever owns this store is in on the hustle.

Duke Silver: It’s a good scheme: they show the customers the real version, then swap it with a fake right before they sell it.
Baby Detective: Then they can sell the same piece multiple times.

Back at the restaurant, Victoria Mars questions Grace, who explains that she stole the jewelry for Enzo. See, he’d threatened to hurt someone if Grace didn’t go grab the stuff. But who???

Duke Silver and Baby Detective’s next stop? Arabella’s Mum’s house, where they get a polite “she’s not here,” followed by Arabella’s Mum returning inside to the parlor, where Enzo is holding the maid at knifepoint. Panicking, he lunges at Arabella’s Mum, but not before Duke Silver makes his entrance and punches Enzo in the face. Baby Detective puts him in cuffs, while Duke Silver calls in the rest of their party, namely Arabella and Victoria Mars.

Here’s the deal: Enzo had approached Arabella to get her to sell her jewelry. She’d been reluctant: partly out of pride, and partly because she didn’t want her mum to find out she wasn’t doing well. Finally, Enzo convinced her that his uncle could make such high quality replicas that she could sell what she wanted and purchase fakes, so no one would know she’d been reduced to selling her jewelry. She genuinely had no idea he was a crook.

Arabella: Am I going to jail?
Duke Silver: Look, there’s no crime in wearing costume jewelry, and the waitress only stole stuff because your mother’s life was in danger. You’re fine.
Arabella: I promise, I would have reported it as soon as my mother was ok.
Duke Silver: I need you to fill out this statement. I’m going to go talk to Enzo.
Arabella, once Duke Silver is out of earshot: He’s cool.
Victoria Mars: He is. I should go.
Arabella: You were constantly talking about your dad when we were kids. He cared about who you were. My dad didn’t care about me at all. I was jealous, that’s why I was mean.

Yeah, fair enough! I mean, bullying is still very wretched behavior, but I dig the honesty. Jury is, however, still very much out regarding Victoria Mars’ views on the matter. Speaking of whom, the next day, Ivy coaxes Victoria Mars into the kitchen to finally learn how to make a Victoria Sponge. Victoria Mars isn’t thrilled, but I’m with Ivy: it’s always good to learn a new skill! Especially because it means you can bring your detective friend a nice cake.

Duke Silver: Wow, it actually looks edible! Maybe there’s a homemaker in there somewhere afterall. And surely that’s what you want, deep down.
Victoria Mars: Stop teasing me and enjoy the cake, that’s all you’re getting.

Reader, I don’t think it’s just my imagination that a certain detective seems a little disappointed by that response. But also, come on dude, you cannot be surprised about that at THIS point. We are on season three! Anyway, no time to pout, because at that moment Arabella arrives with a large selection of cakes from her restaurant, which quickly eclipse Victoria Mars’ offering. Do I like the sad face our heroine is making, hugging her cake box? Not even a little bit! That frown is very briefly turned upside down when Arabella pulls her aside and returns a certain pilfered shell necklace, but only briefly. Arabella has just asked Victoria Mars if she wants to get dinner that night, when the answer is interrupted by a groan of delight from Duke Silver, who’s shoving cake in his mouth like his life depends on it.

Arabella: Glad you like it! I miss having a man to feed.
Duke Silver: Seriously, this is so good. Thank you ma’am.
Arabella: What did I say? Call me Arabella! Anyway, Vic, dinner?
Victoria Mars: Uh. I actually already have plans. Some other time, maybe.

Oh, Victoria Mars :( I totally get why you’re doing this, but I wish you’d reach out and take the offer of friendship here instead of feeling threatened! The only person you treat like a friend and not an obstacle or rival is Ivy, and she works for you: that’s not enough of a social circle! Will our friend figure her weird surprise jealousy about this out? Will Duke Silver start picking up what Arabella’s putting down emotionally, and not just when it pertains to cake? Only one way to find out, and that’s catching next week’s episode!