“The Drowned Woman” was once meant to be the season 1 finale of Nancy Drew, and it’s clear from a plot perspective why that’s the case: it ties up the Aglaeca mystery, and it’s an emotionally satisfying episode that provides new ways for mysteries to find Nancy and her friends. It’s also the series’ best episode so far, delivering on the bonds between the main characters and giving viewers some of the best horror sequences Nancy Drew has attempted thus far. Written by creators Noga Landau and Melinda Tsu Taylor and directed by series veteran Larry Teng, “The Drowned Woman” gives the Drew Crew new creative direction while staying true to the relationships and characters we love.
As the episode opens, Nancy and the crew have realized that the sand from each of their portents hold the key to killing the Aglaeca since each one represents how she died. Nancy knows how to get the Aglaeca to fall into their trap: the crew must use themselves as bait. With 24 hours left, they have very few options. But their hopes shatter when Bess reveals she threw out Nancy’s seaweed portent with sand on it, leading George to need to search in her own house. But George instead ends up spending time with her giggly sisters, who have no idea what’s coming. It’s a sweet moment between them despite the tension, and it’s even more clear what the stakes are.
Ace is on a message board seeing photos of AJ Crane’s death. He and Nick realize that the Aglaeca can only kill one of them at once, so in Nick’s words, “we have five shots to take her out … and one of us has to be first.” No one in the crew has any of the sand, and the tension explodes, all of them fighting by pulling out everyone’s worst insecurities and traits. The fear is palpable, and the entire cast does excellent work throughout the scene as long-forgotten quarrels take center stage. It all centers on Nancy and her part in the curse, and Nancy tells them she will fix it. Nancy scoffs, saying, “Look at us, the one moment we’re all supposed to be working together, this is what we do” before storming off.
Carson and Ryan are tailing Nancy as the two have a heart to heart. Carson says Ryan could reinvent himself and be a father to Nancy despite his own father’s weaknesses, but Ryan is scared to lose his comfortable life by trying to go against his father. Nancy goes to Hannah to see if other Aglaeca victims have portent sand they could use. Hannah tries, but she tells Nancy that the cursed objects she does have locked away would do more harm than good. Nancy suddenly has a realization as she sees Ryan’s car outside (smooth move, dads). She remembers that she left some sand in Ryan’s car and goes into his truck to get it from his vacuum. Apparently Ryan cleans his car every day, a fact that surprises Nancy and leads to a hilarious exchange between Carson and Ryan over a DustBuster. She leaves each of the crew the sand with the voice message to pretend to give up to summon the Aglaeca. Whoever she comes for first will have to take her out and weaken her for the others to have a chance. The ominous message concludes with the not at all concerning “don’t miss.” As each of the crew go to the site of their deaths, they contemplate what’s about to happen.
Nick and George sit in his truck and get a call from Bess, who is desperate for contact. Soon they all end up on a conference call, not wanting to be alone. Bess proposes they tie up their loose ends together. Ace reveals the reason he hacked into the federal database: to get the number of someone in Witness Protection (but won’t say who … interesting). Bess lists off the many small, shiny items she pickpocketed from the Drew Crew. Nick says he still hasn’t done the one thing Tiffany asked: to use her information to take down the Hudsons. He just wanted to move on with his life. Ace tells him that the information is useless without an insider, and Nick jokingly asks for Nancy’s permission since she’s technically a Hudson. George bluntly (and perhaps not truthfully) says she has no regrets and asks for Nancy’s. Nancy cries as she says she most regrets hurting her friends, even as they reassure her. Suddenly they all hear the Aglaeca singing as Nancy is pushed over the cliff, screaming for someone to help her.
As Nancy dangles, the rest of the crew start seeing their portents come true. The Aglaeca lands on George and Nick’s car, and they realize they’re first. In a terrifying sequence, the two desperately try to see where she is as the car fills with water. Nick opens the door in the roof and yanks George out, averting death for now as the sand does its job and weakens the Aglaeca. The portents disappear, and Nick says, “she’s gone” as all the water pours from Nick’s car. But Nancy is still dangling. She hears Carson whispering to her as he did when she was a baby on the same cliff, telling her to “just hold on” (no, YOU’RE crying). Using the memory as strength, she pulls herself back up the cliff face and over the ledge. The group meets up back at The Claw, where they start to celebrate until the Aglaeca sends another portent: everyone dead in The Claw at midnight. They didn’t kill her; they just angered her. With just three hours left, even Nancy is at a loss for how to stop what’s coming.
Bess goes to drive George home, wanting her to spend her last hours with her family. But George reveals that she thinks she’d ruin everything if she went home, in a heartbreaking monologue about what her sisters would be doing without her right now. George offers to take Bess to the Marvin estate for her family, but Bess says she’s already with her family. Ace finally calls the mysterious number – and he leaves a message for the long lost brother he has never met. Nick goes to Ryan and gives him the USB drive from Tiffany. He lays it all out, knowing that Ryan is the only one who can help. Nick says Nancy will never let him be a father to her unless he proves he’s worthy, and this is how he can do it. Nick subtly hints that after tonight, Ryan will feel differently about helping.
Nancy goes home to Carson. She sobs as she tells the story of one of her best memories from childhood, and she’s asks him to pretend everything’s okay. He’s terrified, not knowing what’s going on, and he simply says, “you want your dad back. The one who raised you. The one you could trust.” He tells her he has loved her from the moment Lucy placed her in his arms. Everything else might have been a lie, but that love never was. He says “it lives in us forever.” This sparks something in Nancy about the Aglaeca. She says, “I love you too, Dad” before hugging Carson and leaving. In a show with many strong performers, scenes between Kennedy McMann and Scott Wolf are consistently the strongest, and this moment once again proves it as Nancy opening herself to love once again helps her find her way.
Nancy realizes the sand represents the trauma Odette went through, which is why it made her stronger and angrier. Nancy believes they can appeal to the human inside the Aglaeca and remind her who she used to be. Nancy gets the letters Odette wrote to her love before her death, believing maybe this love will save them. They keep searching and memorizing passages, but soon the Aglaeca makes her entrance.
Nancy frantically starts reading from the letters as the crew joins in. But the Aglaeca continues, shrieking. Nancy and the others try saying the letters as they remember them, and it begins to work. The lights flicker, and Odette emerges. The group tells her she is human and she is not forgotten; in fact, she is loved. In a flash, she disappears, and the friends realize it’s past midnight and rejoice. But then they find George stabbed on the floor, gasping for air: the only one of the friends who also had a blood curse on her.
Nick sobs as he holds George, who whispers, “I love you” as she stops breathing. She’s gone. Nancy stands, and with tears streaming down her face she says, “I won’t let this happen to her” as she leaves. Nick, heartbroken, screams “I got her” over and over when Ace tries to help him, holding George in his arms. Nancy remembers Hannah has a shroud used to revive the dead, and ignoring Hannah’s warning about the cursed objects, she picks the lock at the historical society to find it. In anger and fear she takes the shroud, even as Hannah tells her she doesn’t know what the shroud will do or take from her. Nancy just can’t lose George. She runs to The Claw and throws the shroud on George as she whispers “please.” George gasps back to life as the friends sob. They’re relieved, but as they all look at each other it’s clear they know this isn’t the end.
The group sits outside together celebrating the end of all the curses. George goes inside to get more cider and when she does, Odette watches her in the mirror. As a creepy cover of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” plays, Nancy feels a breeze hit her. At the historical society building, all of the lockboxes holding the cursed items open at once, releasing their contents. Turning straight to camera, Nancy says, “did you hear that?” as the screen goes black.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.