The facts of the case of the week were these:
A girl ran away from home in order to become famous. When her mime of a boyfriend was found murdered, Emerson and Ned were led to a traveling circus. It turns out the young, confused girl was trying to help the circus' owner spy on his set of clowns (who wanted to start a union, naturally). She was almost killed by the acrobat who didn't want anything to change at the circus he loved.
Follow all that? Good. Because the tale related to our favorite characters:
- Emerson was intent on tracking down the missing girl because she reminded him of his missing daughter. We find out in the episode that, seven years ago, Emerson's wife ran off with his daughter. He hasn't seen either since and his now worried that too long a time has passed, and too much has changed, for him to have any luck seeing his little girl again.
- Lily and Olive were undergoing change, caused by guilt, of their own. Each was spending time in the nunnery, as Olive was working out her crush on Ned, while Lily was expounding on the secret she revealed last week: yes, she was Chuck's mom; and yes, she had slept with Vivian's fiance (Charles Charles); but, no, that man was not actually Chuck's father. Lily had just made him think he was.
Eventually, Lily returns home to be with Vivian, who is feeling more lonely than ever. She popped into The Pie Hole earlier in search of Olive - and pie, of course - and had almost seen Chuck.
- As for Chuck and Ned: Ned is reeling for living apart from his love. But Chuck is inspired to start over, thinking how her state of being "dead but not dead" has given her a second chance to embrace change. Seeing the case described above makes her realize that change can be scary on its own...
... so the episode ends in an adorable manner: Ned and Chuck start their day by meeting in the hall and pretending to be strangers. Turns out, change is a lot less scary when done with someone else.