Veronica is still short on cash, so when a random classmate offers to pay her to dig up dirt on his parents, she obliges. Word gets around, and soon Veronica is running a brisk business on parent-shaming. Not long after, her friend Mac (who cashed in big time with her Purity Test business in "Like a Virgin") asks Veronica to look into her own family - she's always felt like her parents don't really "get" her. They're blond, perky, and clumsy, while she's an introverted, intellectual brunet. Veronica puts out feelers and, sure enough, discovers a doozy of a secret in Mac's past.
Meanwhile, Keith is hired by the sheriff's department on a contract basis when Neptune's very own serial killer, the E-String Strangler, strikes again. This charming fellow kidnaps his drunk party-girl victims, suffocates them over the course of 48 hours, and ties a guitar string around their necks as his signature. Keith worked on this case back when he was a sheriff, so he's the closest thing Neptune has to an expert. Unfortunately, this means teaming up with the pigheaded Sheriff Lamb.
Keith's pain, however, is Veronica's gain - it's the perfect opportunity to return to the sheriff's office to see if she can sneak a peak at the official Lilly Kane case file. It certainly doesn't hurt that the rookie officer on duty - Officer Leo D'Amato - is young, hot, and totally digs her. Using her cuteness, a pizza, and some assistance from Weevil, she distracts Leo enough to steal the Lilly Kane Tip Line tapes from the evidence room.
Whodunnit: 1) Veronica discovers that Mac was switched at birth with the Queen Bee of the Oh Niners - Madison Sinclair.
Everything to do with this mystery was just one giant punch to the heart. Mac is devastated. While she kind of figured she was adopted, she never imagined she could have had - that she should have had - the life of a wealthy Oh Niner. And it's not just the money - when she and Veronica crash Madison's party, she can't help but notice the Sinclair's enormous library, the pictures of all the far-off places they've travelled to, and the adorable little sister who's exactly like her. It doesn't help that all of this wealth is completely wasted on Madison Sinclair, a vapid, selfish twit who "wouldn't know Monet unless Revlon named a nail polish after him."
And what really stings is that this mystery doesn't really have closure. It's not like Mac can simply demand the families switch them back after seventeen years - nor is she cruel enough to tell Madison the truth (although she comes close). She's forced to accept that she's stuck with her non-bio family - and even though they aren't terrible parents, it still kind of sucks. There's a supremely painful moment where she and her biological mother Share an Obvious Moment, but it's clear that nothing can come of it without hurting a lot of other people.
2) Keith discovers the E-String Strangler is Gabe, the owner of a music store who hides his victims in his soundproofed studio.
It's all celebrations and lollipops after that - except for poor Officer Leo. He got a week's suspension because A Certain Cute, Blond Someone left the evidence room unlocked on his shift. Veronica feels awful - especially since she was starting to fall for him. But Lilly's murder takes precedence - Veronica finds the recording of the anonymous caller who turned in Abel Koontz, and with Mac's help, decodes the voice until she recognizes the sultry tones of one Clarence Wiedman - the Head of Security for Kane Software.
- Some familiar faces - look! It's Max Greenfield before he became Unbearably Annoying in New Girl! And there's Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul as a pervy peeping Tom.
- Veronica exacting some photographic vengeance on Clarence Wiedman.
- Officer Leo is a former cop-themed stripper who's now a real cop who also plays drums in a band. Veronica, if you don't lock that one down, I will.
- Mac and her mum :(
- While Mac's Mystery is full of delicious painful feels - it also not-so-subtly suggests that Madison Sinclair's trashy horribleness comes from being the biological daughter of trashy lower-class people. Which, just, no. No. Don't do that.
- Sheriff Lamb is a slutshaming pig who hasn't seen Spinal Tap. But we already knew that.
The Lilly Kane Case Files
- Clarence Wiedman, a Kane Software employee, is the man who called in the anonymous tip implicating Abel Koontz as Lilly's murderer.