The only word I can think of for the episode is weird. There's only episodes left in the season and the third was spent with almost no plot development and flashforwards to reveal something new. It was almost like a different show. Everyone was doing something unrelated to the case, so it was new but not executed well. In a serialized show that brings something new each week, you'd think an episode like this would be refreshing, but it dragged on for an entire hour and ended up being boring.
Ellen takes a trip to New Jersey to where her wacky parents live (the one's that got into the car crash mess in season 1 and never showed up again), her sister comes to town (the one who got married in the pilot and never showed up again), and they all eat dinner. It's a typical dinner in a dysfunctional family. Ellen's father is angry and cynical, her mother doesn't care, and her sister is on the verge of breaking down. It turns out her sister's husband left announced, and later Ellen finds a pipe and what I assume is meth in her bag. By the end of the day, Ellen gives Patty a call. Her situation at home is so bad the only thing she can turn to is work, and Patty offers her the greatest opportunity.
Tom juggles the Tobin case and a dinner with his in-laws to tell them he lost all their money. He goes to Danielle's house, but isn't very thorough and leaves will a tiny push from Dr. Carl. At the dinner, he realizes he missed the glass of ice water inside the house. He calls Patty, but by then it's too late. Tom proceeds to tell his in-laws that he screwed up, and that's the last we see of him in the episode. His world is crashing down and he'll be dead at the end of the season.
Danielle is injured from Joe hitting her, but she still needs to get out of the country. Even though she could be in serious trouble after flying due to her hematoma, but he decides to bring her to the airport anyways. Patty does some quick thinking, and a cop pulls Joe over before he can get her to the airport.