Nancy Drew Season 1, Episode 13 Recap: The One That Could Have Been

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It’s a good thing Nancy decided to make some real friends because on Nancy Drew episode 13, they’re her only hope of escaping a Lynchian alternate universe. Although, with the way things have been going for good ol’ Nance lately, we think she might be better off staying in her own personal multiverse — provided she brought bug spray, of course. Tonight’s episode was written by Nancy Drew‘s creator (of the TV series, that is) and executive producer Noga Landau, so you know sh*t’s about to go down.


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Nancy is trapped in a parallel universe where her mom is alive, Nancy’s home from a successful semester at college, and there are pancakes. Seems like she should stay trapped, IMO. She even gets to meet Ned in this bizarro world as a prospective buyer in a real estate drill mediated by her dad. Nancy’s BFFs with a way happier George, who went on half a date with Nick and deemed it a total disaster. Bess is a hippie Instagram influencer, and everything’s pretty much great except for the fact that Nancy is a ~great detective~ who immediately figures out she’s in a fake bizarre-o-land. There’s fire but no smoke, she’s not wearing her mom’s locket, and there are actually customers in The Claw, which brings back memories of the psychiatric hospital she’s currently dying in. Nancy freaks out and tries to convince her friends that they’re in an imagined reality, and they agree to help, mostly out of fondness for Nancy. Turns out the address of the sanatorium is the same place Nick just bought in Horseshoe Bay 2.0. In Biazzaroland, the address belongs to a gorgeous restored Victorian that Nick bought before he realized it was super haunted. Dream Nick starts flirting with Dream Nancy and Dream Owen doesn’t exist, so I guess we know who end game is going to be. Nancy finds a locked door in Nick’s attic that corresponds to the real world, and she’s hoping they can open it and wake up her corporeal body. They’re interrupted by a super spooky ghost with human hands a la Judi Dench in Cats: The Musical: The Movie. Nancy and Ned leave to find Ryan Hudson, who sold Nick the house and might have a key to its mysterious Door to Nothing.

Meanwhile, IRL, Nick, George, and their insane sexual tension are trapped outside of the hospital during a fire alarm while Nancy dies inside. Their fake orderly friend explains that the haunting of the Whisper Room is active again, and it had previously been sealed by a priest. Nick gets Ace and Bess to look for holy water to seal the door, which they procure from the world’s creepiest Man of the Cloth who informs them they cannot allow the water to run out. The whole gang breaks into the Whisper Room using some back doors, but when they try to remove her body from the room, she begins foaming at the mouth. Nancy is the only one who can get herself out of the room, so it’s up to Dreamscape Drew to save her own life.

Fake Ryan and Alive Tiffany are happy and successful, and Ryan informs Nancy that she’s the only one with access to the key. Aw, a metaphor. Nancy hid the key when she was a teen after she solved a Hudson Family case, and Ryan relays clues that she left him about its whereabouts. The Judi Dench ghost startles Nancy again, leaving another burned rune in the ground as it disappears. Back at Fake Claw, Nancy gets Drew Crew 2 to help her unravel the riddle, and she realizes the first step is visiting the cemetery. First, Nancy gets to relive past trauma when her mother has a false alarm medical emergency, but she receives a clean bill of health, a happy ending that IRL Nancy never got to experience. That must be a new form of trouble in and of itself. Nick comes over to help Nancy in her quest, but they choose to wait out a surprise storm by the fire. In this universe, Nick never broke up with Nancy, and we get to see the pair fall for each other like we never did during the beginning of the series. It’s easier to root for a couple when you have space to think it was your idea.

Back at the sanitarium, Real Nick is still on Nancy’s side, trying to find a crash cart while Bess and Ace talk to Nancy’s unconscious body, like Nancy once did for Ace. Their bedside manners shower messages on a post-coital Nick and Nancy, sharing all of their pleas for her to come back before time runs out. Drew Crew Part 2 searches the cemetery for a “sweet angel” where Nancy hid the key, and they return triumphantly to the attic. Nancy says a final goodbye to these happier versions of her friends, but the door doesn’t actually lead her home. It turns out the door was a red herring, and the key back to reality has been through her mother all along. Messages from her friends have been appearing in blue envelopes identical to the ones her mother said she would leave for Nancy in heaven with a map to her. The note shows a constellation that corresponds to the glowing stars on her ceiling and Fake Mom congratulates Nancy for finding her way home. But this isn’t Fake Mom. It feels like Real Mom, Dead Mom in heaven lending Nancy a final hand. In the end, Nancy finally gets the goodbye that was stolen from her not too long ago, and Nancy’s mom sets her free. Too bad freedom is a haunted room in a doomed building where her sad friends were thisclose to shooting an EpiPen into her heart.

After escaping the sanatorium, Nancy and her runed key debrief her friends on Nancy’s alternate reality, but before she can beg for Nick to take her back, George interrupts with Official Claw Owner Business. Looks like the c*ckblock is on the other c*ck this week. Poor Nancy. She did leave Bizzaro Land with one final task: clues throughout her weirdo head trip lead her to the historical society and a woman named Hannah who recognizes the mysterious key as the way into Tiffany Hudson’s lockbox. The only thing inside was a video of Tiffany complaining of a haunting that suddenly becomes very, very real onscreen. Tiffany was so close to solving Lucy Sable’s murder that someone killed her three days later.


It was, in fact, quite spooky.


When they slapped some pink lipstick on George to signify that she’s Happy George. Because nothing says “solid mental health” like experimenting with soft girl makeup.

Nancy Drew Episode 13 Recap: HOW WE FEEL

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The Drew Crew writers are obviously on Twitter, and we love them for it. This parallel universe addressed basically every superfan in-joke, from George and Nick’s will-they/won’t-they to the Claw’s aggressive lack of patrons. Sh*t, does that mean they might read these recaps? Um, hi, I’m sorry and I love you! Creator Noga Landau did not disappoint, crafting an episode that felt a lot like our favorite Nancy Drew video games from when we were kids (if you didn’t play those PC games in elementary school, did you even have a childhood?) with actual scares, some of the first believable chemistry between our supposed romantic leads Nick and Nancy, and a keen understanding of what the fans are looking for and how much we can take. That’s no small feat, even if we’re *still* no closer to solving either of the central murders. It also toed the line between “What Would Really Happen?” and Suspension of Disbelief in a way that wasted no time and didn’t underestimate its viewers. And it acknowledged that Ace is perfect just the way he is. Oh, and the final scene with Nancy and her mom made me cry! So all in all, I’d say this was a grand success. Next episode, we’re set to finally get some answers RE: the actual murders we’ve been ignoring for six weeks. Sad news is that the next episode isn’t coming until February 26: This was the end of Nancy Drew‘s original 13 episode order, so we’re taking a brief pause, probably so the writers can formulate their new batch of nine episodes.

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