Hello, Drew Crew! Welcome to our fifth edition of Nerds Rewatch Nancy Drew, where we will be rewatching the series from the beginning to prepare for the arrival of season 3 this fall. We’ll be watching three episodes of season 1 per week, then switching to two episodes a week for season 2, ending the week of the season 3 premiere. Never seen an episode and want to dive in? Seen every episode but want a refresher? Either way, we’ve got you covered with both spoiler-free and spoiler-filled discussions of our favorite sleuth and her friends. You can head over to HBO Max to watch seasons 1 and 2 now.
Under each episode heading, you’ll find a discussion ONLY of the current episode and the ones preceding it, while at the end of each article there will be a section discussing how the episodes relate to the series as a whole (translation: spoilers). If you missed last week’s rewatch, you can head here for all the action. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the last three episodes of Nancy Drew season 1!
Directed by: Ruben Garcia
- We meet John Sanders in this episode, who is a fantastic guest character I hope we see again! His odd couple dynamic with Ace is hilarious, as are his many quips. A personal favorite is when Ace exclaims, “Bone time!” before an exasperated John adds, “It’s pronounced forensic analysis.”
- Lucy appearing amid the flying papers to point at the pantry is a creepy and effective shot.
- Nick isn’t jealous of Nancy moving on with Owen, another way the Nancy Drew writers have added a refreshing spin on the teen love triangle.
- Ace using the Hanukkah box to hide Lucy’s bones is pure Ace. It’s also a great way to introduce the fact that Ace is Jewish to the series.
- Tamura’s arrival on the show makes for one of the best pure comedy scenes Nancy Drew has ever had. Everyone frantically hiding Lucy’s bones is perfect, especially the quick editing cuts and the use of “Shame” by Sego in the background. One little detail I noticed on the second watch: the sign on the kitchen door that says “Please leave the kitchen cleaner than you found it” as the Drew Crew are cleaning HUMAN REMAINS off the table they also cook on. George also has a fantastic throwaway line about Tamura being a vampire that is not only very funny but also has set off an awful lot of fan theories …
- Maddison Jaizani deserves a special mention for her ability to play comedy and tension. Bess gets lots of little moments to shine in this episode, like when Tamura glances back to the kitchen and she simply picks up two spoons to indicate that she’s “working” and not eavesdropping. But she also has to be between a fighting Nick and George for much of the episode, and she plays those moments well, too.
- Finding out more about Ryan’s past with Lucy really kickstarts his overall redemption arc. He’s nowhere near fully redeemed, especially because he is still mostly allied with his father. Ryan realizing Lucy waited for him the night she died hits hard for both the viewer and Ryan. It helps add dimension to a character who was initially pegged as the spoiled rich kid. Riley Smith played all the different aspects of Ryan from the start, and that comes to fruition in the final three episodes of season 1.
- The scene between Nancy and Ryan in Lucy’s house is fantastic from both a production and acting standpoint. Smith and Kennedy McMann quietly push the father/daughter dynamic before it is even revealed, which helps add believability later. Additionally, the set design is incredible, with the wallpaper writing matching Nancy’s attic. The detail of Lucy’s diary being pink and covered in rainbows is just gut-wrenching because the thoughts inside it are so ugly.
- McMann’s entire monologue in the courtroom is brilliant writing combined with a knockout performance. Lucy’s death by suicide is treated like the tragedy is is, especially the way Nancy calls out the town for how they treated her leading up to that night on the bluffs. The direction is also perfect, cutting away to Ryan, Carson, and Lucy at just the right times. It’s also great misdirection — the reveal seems so big that there can’t possibly be another massive twist, but the craziest twist is yet to come. On a side note, the judge overruling the prosecutor’s objection by saying, “I want to know where this goes,” is everyone watching the episode.
- Carson finally telling Nancy that Lucy is her mother could not be more heartbreaking if it tried. Scott Wolf really gets to own the moment. His tearful speech is made all the more difficult to watch as we keep cutting to Nancy. We can see her pulling away from him as she has before right in front of our eyes. Wolf and McMann have the right chemistry to pull off this reveal and ground it in reality.
- Fun fact: Scott Wolf was the only one who was told about Lucy (and Nancy’s parentage) from the start. Riley Smith was told before episode 14 so that his innocence would seem real. Kennedy McMann figured it out herself before being told by the writers.
Directed by: Larry Teng
- I love the way the show picked up right where we left off in the last episode but immediately shifts the scene through camera work and performance. The last scene of “The Haunting of Nancy Drew” felt sad, but this one is just anger and tension. Nancy calling her mother “Kate” hurts, as is her assertion that she’s been alone her whole life.
- I like how the writers chose Ace to be the first of the Drew Crew to know about Nancy, Lucy, and Ryan. Of all of the group, he’s the most concerned with making sure Nancy is okay first and foremost. Additionally, as we see in the episode, he at no point asks Nancy to share the information about Ryan and doesn’t reveal it himself. While Ace has been a goofy but caring man up to this point, in this episode we see him step up and be a rock for Nancy when she needs it.
- Once again, Victoria Fan is a national treasure and it’s always a great scene when she pops up.
- Ryan shows he has some puzzle solving instincts when he figures out Lucy was pregnant. The duo of Ryan and Nancy in this episode was a great way of revealing her parentage to Ryan, but it also provided some character development for Ryan. When he thought Lucy lost the baby, it was tough to watch, but so was his face when Nancy was in pain during the ritual. In that moment, it’s clear that Ryan does care and that he isn’t like the other Hudsons. Of course, he ruins that pretty much immediately by going after Carson, but his hurt in that moment is understandable. He’s just not good at directing his emotions in a productive way (like father like daughter, right Nancy?).
- Also, Nancy withholding information from Ryan feels an awful lot like how Carson hid the truth from Nancy. Oh how the tables turn, Nancy!
- Fun fact: The baby pictures of Nancy and Lucy are both photos of Riley Smith’s real life daughter!
- Speaking of Nancy Drew Dad #2, Carson proves once again he’s the best father ever in the way he gives Nancy space in this episode. He doesn’t push her to come back to him and is there for her in all the ways she needs him to be even when she is frosty to him.
- Ah yes, the Marvin party! First of all, Bess’ dress is spectacular, and she looks amazing. Second, Lisbeth is a very good girlfriend and really knows what Bess needs. Third, the Marvins needs a spin-off right this second.
- Those were real maggots during Bess’ portent, and I’m still gagging.
- The slow walk up the hallway as the Drew Crew finds Owen’s body is shot brilliantly. Larry Teng is so good at understanding the best visual look for this series every time he directs.
Directed by: Ramsey Nickell
- Let’s talk about Owen’s death and why it’s incredible storytelling, shall we? First, it sets up the Aglaeca as a formidable villain (even if the culprit is ultimately human). It’s also the first major permanent character death we’ve had aside from the initial murder of Tiffany and Lucy’s suicide. Owen may have been a recurring character, but he was set up as a serious Nancy love interest, and his death was a shocker. Second, it gives Nancy a new reason to feel guilty about what happened with the Aglaeca, which furthers her character development. Third and perhaps the best reason for Owen’s death having the impact it had was who the true murderer was. So far on Nancy Drew, the cases have been the inverse of the Nancy Drew novels. In the books, Nancy starts off investigating spooks that turn out to be run-of-the-mill human criminals. On the show, most of the seemingly innocuous crimes are actually part of a haunting. Having the murderer be Josh upends our expectations as the audience AND has the added benefit of selling the twist of the Aglaeca still being out there. While Owen was an interesting character to have around, his death propels the story forward in all kinds of unexpected ways.
- Speaking of great foreshadowing, the ghost catcher Owen broke several episodes ago being the way they call to his spirit is a great detail. I will never get over Ace’s “Do they light up, or fly? Like Tinker Bell?” when Nancy explains the concept of the ghost catcher to him.
- Our first glimpse of the Aglaeca, and she is terrifying! Much like Lucy, the Aglaeca is played by a real actress, Jenaya Ross, who also pops up as another mysterious entity in season 2. The séance as a whole is very well staged.
- The throwaway line about Owen having a portrait in the Marvin Hall of Tragedies is my favorite line on this show, full stop.
- Nancy and Ace going on their own side quest in this episode felt like a great expansion of their relationship. Once again, he knows just what to say when he tells her that if she needs to talk, he’s there. She relies on him unconsciously, and he lets her. Also, Nancy saying, “How great is it that I can avoid talking about my two dads by talking about my dead boyfriend,” is iconic.
- Nancy and Patrice’s talk where Nancy tells her she is her granddaughter is beautifully done. It’s just the right mix of creepy and sincere. Patrice telling “Lucy” all the things she couldn’t tell her when she was alive is so sad, especially when Nancy calls Patrice “Grandma” even as she can’t bring herself to call Kate and Carson “Mom and Dad” at the moment. Plus, the added scary moment of Patrice looking at the ceiling as Nancy realizes Josh is still here is what horror movies are made of.
- The fake-out of the audience thinking Josh killed Ace was harsh. Effective, but harsh, Nancy Drew writers! Also, we need to give a shout out to actor Kenneth Mitchell, who plays Josh. Mitchell has ALS and finished the scene under difficult circumstances, and his performance is fantastic. Josh is human even as he hits every horror movie villain trope.
- I was so glad to see George addressing her complicated emotions around her relationship with Ryan. In every way, it was a relationship with a terrible power imbalance, and it left George with lasting emotional damage. In order for George to grow (and for story purposes, for Ryan to become a redeemable character), this scene had to happen. Leah Lewis knocked it out of the park.
- The last scene with every Drew Crew getting portents to the tune of “Collector” by Beasty Eyes is perfection. It sets up season 2 perfectly and is shot so well. This is also a great time to praise the music supervision on this show by Alexandra Patsavas and Justin Kamp (Lucifer, Supernatural). Patsavas is a veteran of Josh Schwartz/Stephanie Savage productions, having been a music supervisor for The O.C., Gossip Girl, and Marvel’s Runaways among many others. She is also the music supervisor for Grey’s Anatomy, responsible for the use of “Chasing Cars” and “How to Save a Life.” It was her work on The O.C. in particular that influenced how music supervision on television became about finding unknown artists and launching them into popularity. She was also the music supervisor for 230 episodes of Supernatural and all three seasons of the original Roswell. As someone who loves fantastic music cues, I think television owes a lot to Patsavas’ work.
Pages From Lucy’s Diary
- It’s a testament to the writing on this show that any episode can work as a season finale. This has never been the case more than with the way COVID-19 impacted the production. “The Clue in the Captain’s Painting” was not meant to be the season finale, yet it fit that role perfectly.
- It’s interesting that we see Lucy’s mental health struggles so clearly articulated throughout season 1, then get Nancy’s journey with similar issues in season 2. It’s a nice parallel and it works even better that they are mother and daughter. It also makes the revelation that Lucy didn’t want Nancy to find out how she died that much more heartbreaking. The line Nancy has about feeling alone also comes back into play later with how the wraith uses her loneliness and fear against her.
- Ryan’s love for Lucy and Nancy is what ultimately causes Ryan to abandon his father, and that arc for him starts here. He’s come a long way from confessing to Nancy that “I’m never gonna be free of ’em.” Nancy also sets up his season 2 journey (and her own) when she scoffs, “Don’t blame genetics, people make choices.”
- The writers are famous for foreshadowing, which makes the Marvin party even more interesting when we see one of the Aglaeca victims.
- Nancy saving Josh and confessing that she thought about letting him fall is in such contrast to the Dark Nancy arc of season 2. While the writers clearly planted the seeds for a darker turn, the Nancy we see here is distressed at the moment of weakness she had. It’s an important distinction as we start heading into “was this action urged by the wraith, or was this Nancy herself” territory in the season ahead.
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments! Seasons 1 and 2 of Nancy Drew are available now on HBO Max. Be sure to catch up on episodes 1 and 2 of season 2 for next week’s rewatch!