This week, the Drew Crew races against time to bring Nancy back into our dimension from the Whisper Box, while Nancy must work through her emotions to find the clues that will bring her home. The episode also includes the introduction of a character from the original novels who is near and dear to book readers’ hearts, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how the writers interpret the character as the season unfolds. Intrigued? Read on to find out what happened in “The Whisper Box” …
We open to the perfect alternate reality where Nancy found herself trapped at the end of last week’s episode. Her mother (played by Sara Canning of The Vampire Diaries, which is perfect casting) is alive, Nancy is home from college, and life is great in general. She visits The Claw, where everyone is different. George is happy and wearing lipstick, even hugging Nancy. Bess is an influencer who lives in a van. Nick doesn’t know Nancy and seeks her out for help on a property he just bought. Ace, however, is the same, which is hilarious. The costume, hair, and makeup teams did a great job distinguishing the imaginary versions of the Drew Crew from their real-world counterparts, with Bess’ wig being a major highlight.
Nancy is also blissfully unaware of her predicament, which only makes it more heartbreaking as she slowly begins to realize something is wrong, and her memories come back. She panics, and she explains to her concerned imaginary friends that she needs to make it home. Her first instinct is to head back to the asylum. But in this world, Larkspur Asylum doesn’t exist. However, Nick reveals that the property he bought is a haunted house that shares the same address as the asylum in her world. They decide to head there and see if there are any clues for Nancy to use to find her way back.
Despite his initial skepticism, this version of Nick is eager to help Nancy. He’s even more interested when Nancy reveals that in her world, they were together romantically. He gets in a great line about Nancy having seen his scar, and it proves this pairing has even more chemistry than it did at the start of the season. It doesn’t take Nancy long to realize that the house is just old, not haunted. But she also discovers the locked door to the Whisper Box and thinks if she can open it, she can make it home. Needing the key, Nick reveals that Ryan Hudson sold him the house and that he may have the key to the door.
They go to Ryan, who, in this reality, is building a shelter for at-risk youth and happily married to a still-alive Tiffany. He reminds Nancy that in this reality, she hid the key to the door at his request, with a series of clues in case she needed to find it later. He recites them for her, and as they leave the precinct to follow the clues, Nancy notices a window with billowing curtains. A burned hand reaches out and nearly grabs Nancy, leaving behind the burnt symbol from the key in the Whisper Room. This symbol is important. Nancy and the dream Drew Crew discuss the clues, and Nick realizes the phrases are in the cemetery. They agree to meet there later to look for the clues.
When Nancy arrives home, her mother is worried, expecting a phone call with test results. Nancy is heartbroken, forced to relive the moment her world changed forever. But in this reality, the test is negative, and Nancy’s mother is perfectly healthy. Kennedy McMann is heartbreaking in this scene as Nancy cycles through happiness, coupled with the realization that she’ll never have this perfect reality. Nick arrives, ready to help Nancy. This dream reality, however, also uses this as the chance to keep Nancy from searching for clues. How? By Nick asking about their relationship in her world. The sparks are still there, and the pull is just too strong for Nancy. The two sleep together.
Meanwhile, the real world Drew Crew has found Nancy’s body in the Whisper Room with the help of the patient/orderly from the last episode. They also have holy water procured from a ghost priest (Ace: “There’s no directory for mysterious priests in Horseshoe Bay”), retrieved by Bess and Ace in a hilarious car scene. They try to bring her back but only succeed in causing more disturbances in the spirit world. Like Ace, Nancy will have to find her own way back. Ace and Bess sit by Nancy’s body, with Ace suggesting that they talk to her. He remembers everything they said to him when he was in a coma and thinks this could help Nancy as it helped him. Bess, crying, takes Nancy’s hand and starts to talk to her. As she does, envelopes fall on Nancy in the imaginary world, waking her up. They contain the messages her friends are saying to her in the real world, and it makes her realize she needs to keep searching for the way out.
The dream Drew Crew meets Nancy at the cemetery. Nancy expresses surprise that they believe her, and dream Ace gets the line of the episode when he retorts “as long as we eventually get to sample what you’ve been on this whole time, I’m in” while helping her search. They find the key in a hollow oak, where the ghost arm once again tries to drag Nancy into the great beyond. The burned symbol is left behind. They head back to the attic, the door acting as the passageway to saying goodbye to her dream reality friends. It feels like the goodbye scene in The Wizard of Oz, with Nancy tearfully telling them that she wishes she could stay in this happy world with them. But then the key doesn’t work.
Nancy goes back to her house, worried about how to find her way home. Her mother at first asks her to stay, which made me wonder if the writers would take this in a horror-movie direction. But instead, she helps Nancy recall the blue envelope from several episodes prior (props to the writers for bringing this detail back, which I missed until I re-watched the episode). It contains a map to heaven that Nancy’s mom drew for her when she was young, which corresponds to the glow-in-the-dark stars on her bedroom ceiling. Those stars point her toward a door, which is the real way home. Her mother enters, asking her one more time to stay. But Nancy tearfully tells her that her mother is the one who told her to seek out the truth no matter what. And that truth is waiting back in her reality. This scene is lovely and showcases the great chemistry between Sara Canning and Kennedy McMann. I’m also glad that the show was able to prove the emotional weight of the decision without making it seem that Nancy seriously considered staying.
Nancy wakes up in the asylum surrounded by her friends, and they quickly drag her out as the hospital collapses around them. Back at The Claw, she tells them about what she saw and how different they all were. But when it comes to Nick, she hesitates, which Ace notices. When he questions her, she quips, “Dorothy never had to deal with an ex.” Nancy heads home, where Carson is waiting for her since he’s now on house arrest. They joke about how Ace ended up saving the day in her absence, and Nancy encourages him to volunteer at the historical society since he has extra time, calling back to what dream Carson was doing in the alternate reality. Carson remarks that she used to go there with him all the time when she was young since Carson was working on a case there. When Nancy sees the symbol for the society, she realizes it is related to the symbol she saw in the alternate reality and on the key from the Whisper Room.
Nancy heads to the historical society, where she meets the woman in charge: Hannah Gruen. In the books, Hannah is the Drews’ housekeeper and a mother figure to Nancy, so I’m glad the show found a way to include her. They even have a line about her occupation as a “keeper … of sorts”, which is a subtle callback to her original role. Hannah has burned hands, which a stunned Nancy reacts to. She explains that she saw those hands in a dream. Nancy gives Hannah the key, which corresponds to a safe deposit box belonging to Tiffany Hudson. Hannah seems to have more secrets hidden in her other boxes, which gives me hope that she will become an important part of the series moving forward.
They open the box, which contains a video Tiffany made proving Lucy haunted her before she died. Hannah wanted to share the video with the police, but after Tiffany’s murder, she worried she’d be next on a hit list if she came forward. Tiffany also had uncovered a crucial piece of information about Lucy’s murder, which Hannah believes made her a target … just like Nancy.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET and returns from its hiatus on February 26 on The CW.