Thursday, September 29, 2022

‘Nancy Drew’ and the Case of Agent Nice Guy: Is Park Evil?

THE CWNANCY DREW'Nancy Drew' and the Case of Agent Nice Guy: Is Park Evil?

Contributors: Jules, Brianna

Agent Nelson Park, profiler extraordinaire. Since his arrival in Horseshoe Bay in season 3 of Nancy Drew, Nancy’s latest love interest has fans wondering if he is simply one side of a steamy love triangle … or a secret villain. Fans were divided about Park’s intentions from the start, and with the end of the season approaching, Park’s motivations have taken on a new importance. So we shall debate the question: is Park a friend or a foe? And what does that mean for our finale theories?

Evil or Good?

Shane Harvey/The CW

Jules’ Take:

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The Nancy Drew writers are very intentional storytellers. They plant seeds early, and they almost always pay them off. There are a lot of signs pointing to Park not being who he says he is.

First, Park’s acceptance of the supernatural without question is a red flag, to say the least. There’s open-minded, and then there’s barely reacting when a light monster comes after you. Park doesn’t crack once in the face of major revelations, not even breaking a sweat before helping the Drew Crew.

The next clue is the way Park’s profile of the Copperhead is shot. After Ace is trapped outside the tunnels while Nancy and Park continue on, we immediately get a shot of Park as though Park somehow caused Ace to be shut out. They see an old Woman in White symbol etched into the stone, and Park pauses as though he recognizes it while Nancy notes it and moves on. The camera cuts to Park peacefully sitting in the Copperhead’s cell, face framed by the bars, as he asks Nancy if she’s ever been in love.

It’s odd, and Nancy’s reaction indicates she knows this, but Park smoothly explains it away as being a product of his profiler skills. But Park’s profile is far more emotional than a typical profile, and more importantly, it seems to serve the function of leading Nancy to a specific conclusion: that Beckett Dow is the Copperhead and that he was in love with Charity. That conclusion is borne out by Temperance’s visions, which we know were also manipulated by Temperance to get to Nancy. Coincidence?

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It’s telling that Park only makes overt moves with Nancy when Ace is out of the picture. A moment that many fans caught in the last episode involves Ace attempting to communicate from the parallel dimension. Nancy hears the static from a police radio and seems intrigued, but Park turns it off quickly without a passing glance. If we read Park as evil, this is a deliberate attempt to keep Ace from escaping the parallel dimension.

We still know next to nothing about Park other than his traumatic stint in the ER. He appears to have arrived as Nancy’s perfect match, the kind of man that she should love. Nancy doesn’t want to risk blowing up her friendship with Ace for a “maybe,” and isn’t it convenient Park gives her an option allowing her to practice the tried-and-true Nancy move: avoidance.

There are other clues, like his strangely close relationship with Temperance and his arrival in Horseshoe Bay just as the Frozen Hearts Killer is most active. But overall, Park is just too good to be true — there’s a twist coming.

Colin Bentley/The CW

Brianna’s Take:

Where we find faults with Park we can also explain those suspicious actions. There is a strong argument for Park’s easy acceptance of the supernatural. While shocking, his encounter with the Burning Sorrows was highly stressful. Temperance was injured, Nancy and Bess were in danger, Park was in investigation mode, and all of his police training kicked in. First, remain calm under pressure and second, protect civilians. In this case, Park had to roll with the punches or risk injuring himself and three civilians. As Park himself stated, he trained at Quantico and can override immediate fear with professionalism. After his lifesaving table dive, Nancy points out Park was shaking. It’s not that he isn’t rattled, he just strives to maintain professionalism (especially with his growing affections for Nancy).

It’s true that Park’s biggest moments with Nancy are when they’re alone, but how often do couples make their first moves and grand gestures with an audience? While Nancy and Park become close, Park is still very much a stranger to the rest of the Drew Crew who are all involved in their own aspects of Horseshoe Bay. Nancy dives deeper into the crime solving world this season, which involves a relationship with law enforcement outside the Drew Crew. It’s natural that Park feels his most comfortable with Nancy when they are alone.

This same aspect reappears when Park and Nancy are trapped in the tunnels. Nancy spirals as they hit a wall, and Park calmly pulls her back from the edge by asking her to sit with him and accept the not knowing. His distraction (which works, by the way) is highlighting that Beckett put himself in his cage. The bolts prove it was finished from inside. Park discusses love and the lengths to which it drives a person. It’s this chat that gives Nancy her theory on Charity and Beckett’s lovers’ pact.

Park’s winning personality has also been a point of suspicion, but this may well serve an entirely different purpose to the Nancy Drew plot. Thus far Park has been kind, supportive, and wholly on board with Nancy’s help in solving various local crimes (including the frozen hearts murders). In short, he’s everything she’s never received from law enforcement. Where McGinnis and Tamura were combative, Park genuinely finds Nancy brilliant. Does that description sound familiar? It’s because Ace is all these things for Nancy, minus the fancy badge. Park serves his purpose as a plot device (as much as I love Park, “interim police figure” never sticks around on this show); he’s forcing Ace to realize his romantic feelings for Nancy. If Park does stay longer than the next three episodes, he may also help Nancy realize she can have a healthy romantic relationship with a supportive man without it going up in flames. However, if he doesn’t last long due to some nefarious plot twist, the opposite holds. Nancy may question herself and shut down the idea of a relationship with Ace for fear of irrevocably ruining their friendship.

Romantic relations aside, we can also explain other “coincidences.” Park arrives in Horseshoe Bay after the first body. With Tamura gone, it makes sense for the department to call in a specialist and one who is familiar with the string of other frozen heart murders across the country. Park is a lot like Nancy: passionate about catching the bad guy and really good at it. As for the argument of Park actually being the Copperhead, have Park and the Copperhead ever been in the same space together? No, but neither have Ace or Bess or George or Carson … the list goes on. Park’s expertise in psychology, his ease around officers and in a position of authority, and his obvious frustration every time a new body drops are all things a monster locked away in a cage for 150+ years simply wouldn’t be able to fake well enough to fool our Nancy Drew.

Temperance’s Evil Plan

With Temperance’s plan becoming clearer, we need to question everything we thought we knew about her endgame. It’s time to examine what these two opposing Park theories mean for the narrative.

Shane Harvey/The CW

Jules’ Theory:

When we first saw her visions of Charity, it seemed that all Temperance wanted was to reunite with her daughter. But what if the Copperhead is actually working with Temperance, not against her? And what if Park is the Copperhead?

When Temperance tells Nick her plan to use Charity to “fulfill her destiny” and open the veil, it’s in contrast to the way she talked about Charity earlier. Before, it seemed like Charity was a willing participant in her mother’s plans. But what if Charity knew her mother needed her whole soul to complete her ritual — and decided to split her soul to keep that from happening? It is still an assumption that Beckett Dow is the Copperhead, not something that was conclusively proven. If Beckett assisted Charity to stop her mother and didn’t become the Copperhead, then who is the monster?

Here is where some intentionally missing information may come in handy. We know almost nothing about Charity’s father. What if, instead of Cora Dow creating the Copperhead and using her son to do so, Temperance created the Copperhead to help her find Charity and used her lover, Charity’s father? This would explain the Copperhead’s fascination with Charity’s doll and his inability to harm a Hudson.

But here’s where Park being evil takes on new significance. I believe that Park is the Copperhead in another form, working with Temperance to find Charity’s soul. If Park is the Copperhead, all of his actions make sense. He is working to find the other missing pieces of Charity’s soul, and the killings are done in a way that mimics a real life serial killer. No one would question the FBI sending in an agent to investigate, and we know from Temperance’s ability to change forms that the Copperhead could use the face of Agent Park to get close to Nancy.

It would also explain Park’s strange coziness with Temperance. Park is Temperance’s alibi for Jake’s death since he claims they were out getting coffee at the exact time of Jake’s murder. Could this be a convenient excuse? After all, Jake owned a coffee shop, and his body was found outside. What if Park/Copperhead killed Jake with or without Temperance’s help that day?

This also makes Park zeroing in on Nancy romantically important. He makes his move when Ace is out of the way, keeping them apart despite their strong connection. We saw that Ace was able to directly communicate with Nancy through the parallel reality in a way that Hannah could not. If their connection could spell doom for Temperance’s plans, it makes sense that she would want to break it.

Park is Nancy’s perfect man to such a degree that it’s unrealistic. It’s almost like he was perfectly crafted to lure Nancy in. Could they use Nancy’s affection for Park in their plans, perhaps using him for bait only for it to be a trap? Only time will tell, but Park being the Copperhead or working with Temperance is certainly a theory worth exploring.

Robert Falconer/The CW

Brianna’s Theory

We know Temperance plays fast and loose with the information she gives the Drew Crew, so when Nancy posits an act of love rather than Temperance’s idea of hate, nearly everything makes sense. Rather than cursing themselves so they can remain together always, I’m offering the option that Charity asked for her soul to be split. Temperance is bent on bringing Charity back so they can finish her ritual and unleash the evil under the town. But given the feud between the Hudsons and Dows, it makes far more sense if Charity asked Beckett to split her soul before she dies. This way, Temperance could never (or at least not easily) bring her back and force her to complete the ritual.

Beckett makes the vow but on the condition he protects her always. Charity concocted the Copperhead curse, and he sealed himself inside his cell. There he waited until Temperance lowered the barrier, triggering his release so he could once again gather the bits of Charity’s soul to protect them from Temperance.

If this is the case, then Nancy is correct that this is a tragic story and also supports the theory that Park is an innocent bystander who falls for an intelligent and passionate woman. Nancy Drew is all about the parallels, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Park ends up as either collateral damage in the final fight against Temperance or willingly sacrifices himself for Nancy. We already know Nancy feels responsible for everyone around her, and Park’s death would set her back emotionally. Loss usually drives characters in one of two directions: away from those they love or right into their arms. Either way this could set up more slow burn or rapidly accelerate Nancy and Ace’s relationship.

What are your thoughts about Agent Park? Is he everything he appears to be? Let us know in the comments! Nancy Drew airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. You can find our other coverage of the series here.

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