With Covid-19 raging and not much new content going on television-wise, I’m finally checking out The CW’s supernatural crime drama, Nancy Drew. Season one episode one opens with a young woman in a bloody formal dress standing on top of a cliff above the ocean holding a crown. She hears a sound and then falls to her death.
Main character Nancy Drew (Kennedy McMann) narrates a flashback in which she’s standing in a cemetery, wearing a formal dress one would wear to a prom or pageant, draped in the Miss Sea Queen sash and holding a crown. The opening scene showed the town’s most infamous Sea Queen and now Nancy’s friends encourage her to put the crown on the dead woman’s gravestone. (It appears to be a Horseshoe Bay tradition for the newly crowned Miss Sea Queen to visit Lucy Sable’s grave.) After her then-boyfriend jumps out from behind the grave and scares her, Nancy sees something that appears to be a woman in a dress.
A voiceover by Nancy explains that ever since she was little, she was a curious person. She saw her parents digging something up as a child and when her mother noticed her, she tried to convince Nancy she was just having a dream and to go back to bed. Since that night she’s been chasing the shadows.
When a local girl went missing young Nancy Drew was the one who found her. “Mysteries were everywhere and I loved solving them,” says Nancy. However, flashbacks also reveal her mother died from cancer and she decided not to go searching in the dark anymore.
Now, a grown-up Nancy Drew introduces us to her current fling, Ned “Nick” Nickerson (Tunji Kasim). After a quick rendezvous, she’s off to work at a local diner where she arrives late and is reprimanded by her boss, Georgia “George” Fan (Leah Lewis), who seems to be the same age as her and a feisty one.
As Nancy’s getting ready for her shift, the narration provides details on other characters including Ace (Alex Saxon) the dishwasher. We also learn George has had a problem with Nancy since high school, but we’re told she’ll get into that issue at a later time. Then there’s Bess (Maddison Jaizani) who’s not from there and crashing with her rich aunt. She’s apparently not good in the waitressing department.
While they’re attempting to close early, Ryan Hudson (Riley Smith) shows up with his wealthy associates wanting a quiet table. While George takes Ryan and his posse’s order, he tells her to take care of his wife’s order as well. (She’s outside.) George, whose MO seems to be constant irritation, demands Nancy help her and cater to Ryan’s wife. The ever-curious Nancy finds this off since George is not the type to want or need help.
Nancy delivers food outside to George’s wife, Tiffany (Sinead Curry), who’s talking on the phone in front of her car. Tiffany asks for wine and as Nancy’s getting it while chatting up Ace the power goes out. After looking around the diner she decides to grab her cell, turn on the flashlight, and head outside.
It’s late at night and the fog has set in. (Not creepy at all!) She begins to call out for Mrs. Hudson when the fireworks start to go off at their town’s celebration. She then spots Tiffany lying on the ground dead. Nancy yells out for help and the only people who come running are Ace, George, Bess, and Nick who comes out of nowhere. Strangely, Tiffany’s husband and friends don’t run out and somehow the police are there right away.
The police begin to individually question the five who were standing over the body when they arrived. The cops decide Ace is good (he has an alibi) and take the rest of the group to the station. They want to know why they had to go down to the station and Chief McGinnis (Adam Beach) says, “I’m looking at a decent four-pack. Town screw up, ex-con, city girl, and Nancy Drew.”
Bess, the only outsider, wants to know why he said Nancy’s name like that. He admits Nancy used to complicate his work for him and then George snidely remarks, “You mean used to do it for you.” The chief is clearly not happy with George and brings up that he hasn’t thrown her mom in the drunk tank this month.
When the chief brought up ex-con, he was aiming that label at Nick which takes Nancy by surprise. She accuses him of never telling her he went to jail. He says it was when he was a minor and his records are sealed while pointing out to Nancy she never really seemed interested in getting to know him as anything more than a sexual relationship.
Nancy questions the chief as to why he didn’t bring in Ryan Hudson in for questioning, given that the husband is always the first suspect. He lets everyone go except Nancy and instructs her to go to his office. There, she begins to go over different scenarios such as a health condition or a drug problem. She thinks maybe there wasn’t any foul play at all.
In response, the chief plays the 911 call Tiffany Hudson made just before her death. She pleaded, “Help me!” several times before the line went did. McGinnis begins to ask Nancy again where she was during that time frame. Detective Karen Hart (Alvina August), who seems to know Nancy very well because she states, “You know I love you like family,” asks Nancy for her help by cooperating on the case. Nancy begins to have flashes of Tiffany before and after her death and suddenly she remembers Tiffany had a ring on when she served her. When she was found her ring was missing.
McGinnis, who really seems not to like Nancy, suggests maybe that nice missing ring could help Nancy and her dad out with the money they need to pay medical bills. Clearly a low blow, with tears in her eyes Nancy says, “Wow, and I thought you wanted my help.”
As she gets up to leave, McGinnis warns her not to go too far as she’s still a suspect.
Her father, Carson (Scott Wolf), shows up and it’s clear they don’t have a good relationship. He’s not happy with whoever called him and says he’s been busy at work. She brings up that he’s neglecting his daughter and storms out. Carson attempts to get her to stop so he can drive her home since she’s still living under his roof.
Nancy’s walking down the deserted streets of Horseshoe Bay when suddenly she hears children sing, “Lucy Sable once was able to look upon the sea. But someone got her in the water and now that’s where she’ll always be.”
She stops when she hears that song and then flickering lights in a closed store catch her eye. She walks over to what appears to be a dress store. When she catches her own reflection looking back at her a crown suddenly appears on her head. But when she goes to touch her head nothing is there.
Finally home and lying on the couch, she apologizes to her deceased mom for not recording the fireworks. She had set up her phone to record them while she was busy and thought she didn’t capture anything. However, it turns out she did. When she plays the video she sees Tiffany Hudson in front of her car in the parking lot right before she had died. Before dropping her food, Tiffany appears to be scared by a shadowy figure in what seems to be a long flowing dress coming toward her. The screen then goes to black.
Back at the restaurant, Nancy shows her co-workers Ace and Bess as well as her boss, George, the video. Bess believes a ghost killed Tiffany Hudson and Nancy becomes frustrated, wanting a different opinion other than a ghost committed murder. George gets irritated with Nancy reminding her she was the one who asked for their help in the first place. Ace agrees with Bess, maybe because it seems he has a thing for her.
Bess asks who Lucy Sable is and how they all know her. Ace gives her the CliffsNotes version (definitely no pun intended) that Lucy Sable was crowned Miss Sea Queen in the year 2000 and disappeared after the celebration, never to be seen again. All that was found was blood on the rocks below the cliffs and a scrap of pink dress.
Nick shows up at the diner and tells George he came by for coffee. He explains usually Nancy brings him coffee in the morning, but she didn’t today. He assumes learning about his past might have scared her off. Nancy informs him she thought he would have stayed at the police station so they could have talked fully and in private. She then looks around and notices everyone staring at them. George takes that particular time to bring up that Nancy didn’t have a problem talking about George’s sex life in high school. Nancy insists she never spread any rumors about her. George counters with, “No. You just listened to your friends and smiled. Right?”
Now that they’re off track Nick wants Nancy to say something. She lets everyone know she and Nick are seeing each other. She realizes she needs to rectify things by telling everyone publicly they’re together. This seems to appease him, and the conversation returns to the topic of them all being murder suspects. Nancy is in disbelief they’re suspects while Tiffany’s husband is not.
Immediately George speaks up and insists there’s no way Ryan did it. Bess follows suit, not believing he’s behind it. Nick asks, “Why? Because he’s rich?” He agrees with Nancy and thinks the husband did it.
Nancy, being a detective at heart, begins to go over their marriage and possibly what they could find in her bedroom. Medications? Drugs? Ace brings up a possible gambling addiction. Bess stops him and asks, “I thought you were Team Ghost?” He quickly changes back to the Team Ghost side for Bess.
Nancy seems to remember she no longer hunts for clues anymore and before walking away states she’s sure the police will figure it out. Nick asks George if she thinks Nancy will change her mind. George admits not only is she not sure, but Nancy has been different since her mom died.
The new Nancy that doesn’t do detective work anymore doesn’t last long and she’s standing in front of a gated house belonging to Ryan Hudson. Getting out her trusted black beanie, she waits for Ryan to leave his home and then she sneaks in.
She heads to the master bedroom to look around when suddenly she almost knocks something over. She somehow tripped a silent alarm and the security company shows up. Nick also shows up and helps her get out of the house. He asks Nancy what she was doing and she questions why he was there. He claims he came to help her.
Safely back in Nancy’s driveway, Nick starts to assure her he’s there if she ever wants to talk about her mom. She cuts him off and wants to know who told him about her mom. Ignoring her, he explains whenever she’s ready, he’s here for her. This seems to be too much for Nancy and she quickly tells him she doesn’t think it’s a good idea to start anything serious. She seems to upset him and he drives away.
At the diner, Nancy shows George a limited edition necklace. George makes Nancy admit she’s asking her for help before confirming she knows exactly what it is; it’s some sort of good luck charm given to guys who go out to sea from their girlfriends to help them find their way back home. George questions Nancy about where she got it and Nancy confesses she took it from Ryan Hudson’s house. A shocked George says, “You broke into Ryan’s house?!” saying it as more of an accusation than a question.
Bess overhears this and joins in on the conversation. They seem more impressed than mad when Nancy explains it was in a hidden compartment in Tiffany’s nightstand along with a note that read: “For your protection -HG.”
George wants to crack the necklace open.
Instead, they end up at the water and after Nancy holds it under it comes apart. She sees a horseshoe with a jewel in the center. Nancy remembers seeing that before on the Miss Sea Queen crown. George notices an address as well. Nancy looks up the address and it belongs to a medium. Bess thinks Tiffany was being hunted and that’s why she needed a medium.
They decide to go speak with the medium but Nancy stops them, letting them know she normally does these things on her own. George points out she wouldn’t have known about the medium if it wasn’t for her extensive knowledge of the necklace. Bess points out Nancy doesn’t even believe in ghosts and the medium will pick up on it. George wants her to admit – again – that she needs them. She doesn’t but they join her anyway.
The medium is lighting candles when Nancy asks her to just tell them about Tiffany Hudson. She doesn’t think it’s necessary to have a séance. As Nancy, Bess, and George argue over the necessity of a séance the medium warns them, “Best not to keep the dead waiting.”
They sit in a circle around a table holding hands and the medium instructs them to repeat after her, “Spirit, we welcome you.” The medium asks Tiffany if she has anything to say to them. Just when they think this won’t work the table begins to shake and in an eerie voice, the medium repeatedly says, “Find the dress. Find the dress.”
Bess breaks the bond by withdrawing her hand and everything stops. The medium demands they get out and insists that wasn’t supposed to happen. She claims she heard a voice and George reminds her that’s her job. Nancy asks whose voice she heard. The medium says it wasn’t Tiffany. Bess says, “It was dead Lucy.”
Detective Karen hands Nancy’s dad Nancy’s black beanie which she left behind at the Hudsons’ when she and Nick were running away from the house. Carson points out that it’s just a knitted black hat but Karen corrects him. She explains Nancy’s mother knitted it for her when she went to sixth-grade camp. He questions how it went from Ryan Hudson’s house to his coffee table. He points out she took evidence and could lose her job. Karen explains she did it for Nancy who could lose a lot as well.
Moments later Nancy walks in on Carson and Karen kissing and is clearly shocked. Carson begins to tell her Karen found her hat on the Hudson property. Nancy says, “And as my lawyer, you were willing to do anything to protect me?” referring to the kiss she just witnessed. Carson warns her not to turn it around on him. Karen jumps in and tells Nancy she and her father are worried about her. That’s a bad move because when she says, “as a friend” Nancy cuts her off. “A friend? Is that what you are? Is that what you were to my mom?” snaps Nancy.
Carson admits this is not how he wanted Nancy to find out about their relationship.
Nancy storms out of the house and Carson chases after her wanting to talk. She turns around, visibly upset, and says this whole time she thought he was devastated about her mom and instead he’s hooking up with her mom’s best friend. Nancy says she cannot wait to go to college so she can get out of there and he can go back to his secret life. With that, she turns and leaves.
Nancy shows up at Nick’s shop, crying. He asks if she’s okay and she tries to lie by claiming she is. But then she finally opens up and admits she wanted to believe that this is not her life, that her mother isn’t dead, that Columbia isn’t just a pipe dream. But, this her life. Nancy reveals the only good thing in her life right now is Nick and she wants to get to really know him. She tells him she has so many questions but before asking any he kisses her.
Nick takes her home the following morning and she brings up his time in jail. When he pauses, she assures him it’s okay; he doesn’t have to tell her. She claims she can wait until he’s ready.
Walking in she sees her father and the first thing she says is, “I’m sure you have a lot of questions.” Shockingly, he tells her he has just one question and that is what is she doing with Ned Nickerson. Nancy wasn’t expecting that question at all. She asks what he knows about Nick and he hints he knows more than she does and warns her to stay away from him. She asks if he was Nick’s lawyer and he responds by saying he can’t discuss it. She knows that’s a yes.
After her dad leaves, Nancy breaks into his filing cabinet and finds Nick’s file. It turns out Nick was charged with manslaughter and found guilty. The single witness who helped put him away? None other than Tiffany Hudson.
Nick shows up at her house and says, “Let’s see if we can get this baby running around,” referring to Nancy’s mom’s old car. Putting on a happy face she replies, “Great.”
Later that night Nancy is writing out a list of suspects, means, and motives. After we see Nancy writing those down, we watch all the suspects going through their nights. Bess appears to be lying and not living with her rich aunt but instead is living in a van. George shows up at Ryan’s house and he tells her it is too soon for this. She reminds him she’s not in high school anymore and he’s not married anymore.
Ace is spying on them and taking pictures which he sends to the chief. Nick’s fixing Nancy’s mom’s car when he finds something hidden in it. We can’t see what it is because it’s wrapped up. Back to Bess and she’s in her van looking at Tiffany Hudson’s ring. Apparently, she took it.
Nancy is putting together a diagram of all the suspects and their motives when the power suddenly goes out. When she goes to explore what happened, the attic door suddenly opens. Instead of being freaked-out (like most people would be), she heads up to explore the attic.
A hanging piece of wallpaper grabs her attention and as she pulls it away from the wall, she finds words written on it. “Lucy Sable once was able to look upon the sea. But someone got her in the water and now that’s where she’ll always be. Count to five, enjoy the view, hope the killer doesn’t get you.”
After ripping the wallpaper away, she spots a trunk. She has a flashback of the night when she was little and found her parents digging up the trunk. As all this is happening children are singing what’s written on the wall. They end the song with, “One, two, three, four, five, you’ll never get out of here alive.”
When Nancy opens the trunk, we hear faint chanting, “Find the dress.” And Nancy does in fact find it. It’s the same dress Lucy wore the night she died and it’s covered in blood. Narrator Nancy asks, “Why is it always the ones you love most who have the most to hide?”
As the episode ends, a ghost of a woman in the dress appears behind her.
Thoughts on Nancy Drew Season 1 Episode 1:
If you’ve ever read a Nancy Drew book, perhaps late at night by flashlight, you know full well you’ll most likely get scared. Regardless, you just have to know if Nancy solves the crime. The show might scare you but not like the books.
As with most books adapted into television shows or films, The CW’s Nancy Drew takes a lot of creative liberties with the source material. The writers went a different route with the show and opted for a more supernatural tone than the books. In fact, only one of the books I can recall had a supernatural vibe.
It seems this season will have a lot to do with one particular ghost and solving said ghost’s death. And while it’s vastly different from the books, at least Nancy Drew solving crimes – or in this case more like solving mysteries – remains at the heart of the story.
The character introductions were handled well with brief descriptions narrated by Nancy revealing just enough to slightly get to know them while leaving some mystery behind. The ending exposed a few more clues into each character and viewers were allowed to see they all appear to have something to hide.
While I’m a bit on the fence with this show, I’m intrigued enough to see where the first season goes. I hope the writers do justice to the books.
- Season 1 Episode 2 “The Secret of the Old Morgue” Recap
- Season 1 Episode 3 “The Curse of the Dark Storm” Recap
- Season 1 Episode 4 “The Haunted Ring” Recap
- Season 1 Episode 5 “The Case of the Wayward Spirit” Recap