Nancy Drew Series Premiere Recap: A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Friends
The CW followed up Riverdale‘s emotional tribute to Luke Perry with one of the most highly-anticipated teen TV premieres of the season: Nancy Drew, but make it trashy. Based on the trailers, we were expecting a blend of Riverdale and Veronica Mars (although, maybe not this blatantly), some anachronistic TBT vibes, and a healthy portion of teenagers behaving badly. What we didn’t expect was to have the living daylights scared out of us on a Wednesday at 9 PM. We’re still not sure if we’ll love Nancy Drew or love to hate it, but it’s definitely got us hooked. Don’t watch this with the lights out.
Nancy Drew Series Premiere Recap: What Just Happened!?
We open on a beauty queen in a stained white dress standing over perilous, windy bluffs as non-diegetic children chant in the background. She drops her crown. She jumps. She screams. Jughead’s narration explains just how the Sea Queen of Wherever found herself at the world’s end. No, wait. That’s not Jughead, it’s Nancy Drew. Sorry, for a second I thought this was Riverdale’s first season opener. Pretty girl, white dress, dramatic rapids — an honest mistake.
Years later, the Sea Queen is just a myth, the way dead teenagers become cautionary old wives tales for the generations that follow. New Sea Queen Nancy goofs off with her best friends and boyfriend in the small-town graveyard tradition of p*ssing off ghosts in the name of harmless fun, but Nancy isn’t a normal teen. She sees a ghost in the distance and is determined to unmask it Scooby-Doo-style. IDK, girl. Nancy’s town is creepy AF, so that’s probably a real ghost, just like those grave robbers she saw as a child were probably real grave diggers. The adults in Horseshoe Bay need to hire better police officers because the following montage of a tween Nancy solving multiple missing persons cases didn’t make us super impressed by Nancy as much as it made us super concerned about the number of kidnappings happening in this small, suburban harbor town.
The one mystery Nancy couldn’t solve? Her mother’s cancer diagnosis. Now, she’s given up a life of crime-solving for a normal teen existence, vigorously having sex with Ned Nickerson in some garage. Not exactly the gritty reality we were expecting, but we’re thrilled that the CW made Ned a black man. Just because Nancy Drew was written in 1930 doesn’t mean we have to act like it’s still 1930 — color-blind casting is the future, y’all! Ned is, apparently, not Nancy’s boyfriend, but a casual lay she knows basically nothing about. Also, he goes by Nick. It’s a brave new world. In a very Veronica Mars move, Nancy is no longer the homecoming queen she was before her mother’s death. She’s angsty and working at tourist-trap restaurant The Claw after flunking her senior finals and ditching her Columbia application. George is her equally angsty diner manager and foe, while Bess is a wealthy Veronica Lodge-type who’s working alongside them for no apparent reason other than a love for dropping plates and saying “amuse-bouche” at inopportune times.
A wealthy vacationer comes into town, but while Nancy and her co-worker Ace are pouring some white Franzia into a cup for Mr. Moneybag’s wife, who’s waiting in the car, the power goes out. Naturally, when Nancy goes out to investigate, she finds Mrs. Hudsen murdered in the midst of a blackout as Fourth of July fireworks blaze in the distance.
The entirely useless police force shows up to interrogate Bess, George, Nancy, Ace, and Ned, the main suspects in the case. We’re going to go out on a limb and assume it was none of these people. Just seems like a safe bet. Only Ace has an alibi, so Nancy and her coworkers get taken to an aesthetically shocking police station. Truly inspiring how the CW managed to capture how terrible precinct lighting is. Take notes, Brooklyn 99.
The four remaining suspects have a friendly chat with the Chief of Police, where he casually reveals that George’s mom is a drunk, Bess enjoys the occasional five-finger discount, and Ned is an ex-con. Really, Nancy Drew? You had to make your one black male character an ex-con? That said, perhaps this is *really* a commentary about how young black men are more than five times more likely to be detained or processed for low-level crimes than young white men. A girl can hope.
Nancy makes the obvious suggestion that Mrs. Huden’s husband should be questioned, and the sheriff responds by taking her into interrogation, playing her Mrs. Hudson’s final 911 call… and asking her for help. Nancy realizes that Mrs. Hudson’s body was missing her wedding ring, but the sheriff just sees that as a motive for Nancy, whose family is suffering financially after paying for her mother’s treatment. Good Cop Karen, a close friend of Nancy’s mother, seems inclined to believe that Nancy is innocent, but TBH, that just makes me suspicious. The first rule of CW-land: trust no one outside of the Core Four. Here, that seems to be Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned. The rest of them are just plot devices waiting to be used. Case in point: Nancy’s absentee father, Carson Drew, who shows up and does nothing helpful.
While chilling at home, Nancy realizes the phone she set up to record the fireworks accidentally caught Mrs. Hudson’s murder on tape, and it looks like she was killed by a Harry Potter Dementor, so we’re not sure how much help that’s going to be. The CW seems to think it’s a big effing deal though because they cut straight to commercial.
Instead of taking this video to the police like a normal girl, Nancy shows her Claw co-workers the ghostly snuff film, and they decide the perp must be our favorite screaming Sea Queen. Lucy Sable disappeared in 2000 — which is apparently a long time ago, so I’ll be filing for Social Security any day now — and has been blamed for every strange occurrence in the town since.
Ned shows up to the diner looking for Nancy because he assumes learning that he’s a felon was a bit of a turn-off for her. Nancy has 99 problems but this, somehow, is not one, and she instead goes public with their relationship. Nancy is dead-set against investigating this case, but there are like five innocent lives at stake here, so she does the right thing and breaks into the Hudsons’ mansion in the middle of the night. She finds a hidden necklace with a note saying its for protection, right out of a Nancy Drew Mystery Game, but gets interrupted by police officers who have gotten wise to the break-in. Nick saves Nancy from discovery despite the tremendous risk of being caught committing yet another felony because he likes her enough to stalk her and follow her into dangerous situations. Seems like it’s getting serious. Except that Nancy doesn’t want it to get serious, and Nick is not happy.
The next morning at work, Nancy asks George about the mariner’s necklace she found because her family is full of sailors or something, and George uses seawater to open its secret compartment. Inside is a Sea Queen seahorse with the address for a medium, who strong-arms them into a seance with Mrs. Hudson. The medium receives a voice asking them to “Find the Dress,” but it was *not* Lucy’s and the medium is *not* happy about it. Looks like ghosts are real, but Nancy has bigger problems. When Good Cop Karen finds one of Nancy’s belongings at the Hudson home, she returns it to Nancy’s deadbeat dad instead of giving it to the police. This nice gesture backfires a little when Nancy finds Good Cop hooking up with her dad. In her grief, Nancy runs straight into the arms of Nick and overshares about her terrible life. They hook up, but I feel like she should ask a few questions about his felony conviction before having sex with him again. What if he, like, was arrested for filming adult movies without a condom? That’s definitely a crime. There’s a measure of risk involved here that we’re glossing over a little.
When Nick drops Nancy off, her dad freaks out, but not for normal dad reasons. He was the lawyer on Nick’s case, and this was clearly more than a small-time bust. In another classic Veronica Mars move, Nancy breaks into her dad’s safe and discovers that Nick was convicted of manslaughter. Even worse, Mrs. Hudson was the case’s key witness. Buh Buh Buhhhhh.
If you thought that was the episode’s big twist, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the CW for the past dozen years. Nancy realizes that everyone from the Claw is a suspect, and their various secrets are revealed to us (not to Nancy — that would be too easy) while “7 Rings” plays in the background. The CW knows its audience. Bess is living in a truck along with Mrs. Hudson’s stolen ring, George has been hooking up with Mr. Hudson, and Ace is spying on everyone for the chief of police. Oh, and Nick just unearthed a fat brick of drugs from one of the cars at his garage. Looks like we were wrong — in this corner of CW-world, trust no one. Not even your own mother. As the music cuts out along with the lights in yet another blackout, Nancy is directed by ghostly noises to tear away her attic’s wallpaper and reveal Lucy Sable’s ghostly chant carved into the walls: “Enjoy the view, hope the killer doesn’t get you.” Instead of running for her life, Nancy discovers Lucy Sable’s bloodied homecoming dress hidden in a trunk upstairs. Meanwhile, a bloodied ghost stands behind her, watching from the shadows.
The Most CW Moment
When Nick and Nancy ~reconciled~ to an acoustic cover of Avicii‘s “Wake Me Up.”
How We Feel
The Veronica Mars reboot just didn’t do it for me, but luckily Nancy Drew is here to pick up some of the slack. With the aesthetics of Riverdale and plot points ripped directly out of Veronica Mars’s first season, I have no choice but to stan Nancy Drew, but this we knew. What I’m surprised by is how blatantly this teen girl detective TV show rips off the best-known teen girl detective TV show of the modern era, right down to the pithy V.O., the upstairs/downstairs characters, and the disgraced former mean girl schtick. And did Carson’s warning for Nancy against dating Nick not reek of Keith Mars asking Veronica to stay away from Troy Vandegraff during season one? Despite the Riverdale vibes, Nancy Drew even *looks* like the early ‘00s Veronica Mars, like when you directly copy a homework answer from Sporcle and move some words around to avoid being caught by TurnItIn. Not that we’ve ever done that…
What Nancy Drew has that Veronica Mars doesn’t is a nasty ghost problem. This sh*t is seriously terrifying. The chanting kids? Big nope. The constant jump scares? Impressive, but no thank you. The premiere’s closing scene got a bigger yelp from me than anything on the first three seasons of American Horror Story, and I’m completely hooked. I need to know who this ghost is and what it wants with Nancy more than I need to know why the CW seems to think it’s the beginning of July.
Other side mysteries we’d like to see Nancy solve include why the CW thinks that rich people talk like old-time-y debutants and dress like Miss Manners, why Nancy was having sex fully clothed during the beginning of the episode, and why the CW constantly mistreats its black male characters. The black men on Riverdale are either in jail or big enough d*ckheads that they should be in jail (Chuck Clayton, here’s looking at you), Ned Nickerson is a felon now, and Black Lightning has to star on Black Lightning. Diverse casting only really works if you give your POC characters the same respect you show your white ones — and on the CW, that’s barely any in the first place.
The biggest mystery, though, is what the heck happened to Freddie Prinze Jr., who played Carson Drew in the pilot before being unceremoniously replaced. And I, for one, will not rest until it’s solved.
Because this isn’t just about me (a rare occurrence), we thought we’d let some fans do the talking about the pilot episode of Nancy Drew because we all know I’m hooked..
— dana-nerys ?? (@danarache11e) October 10, 2019
Nice touch having Pamela Sue Martin there. She was the original #NancyDrew after all…
— Paul Hogan (@phogan500) October 10, 2019
— spooky b ? (@enoontsurt) October 10, 2019
Yass girl none of this hair pin bs, we breaking into this drawer with a freaking screwdriver. #NancyDrew
— Katherine (@lifemessesofkj) October 10, 2019
— Jessica Halsema (@JessicaHalsema) October 10, 2019