This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.
Nancy Drew Episode 11
Not even the spectacularly extra return of Dead Lucy can salvage a thoroughly middling hour of Nancy Drew, in which the series spends way too much time on a mystery no one really cares about at the expense of almost all the ones we do.
Not that the dead sea queen doesn’t try her best. Not content to simply haunt the Drew house and write foreboding messages on its attic walls, Dead Lucy’s spirit is busy traipsing around the aggressively minimalist Hudson home and making its gigantic creepy family portrait drip blood before slotting herself inside it next to Ryan like she’s a self-insert in an AO3 fic.
Dead Lucy is honestly the best.
The problem, however, is that “The Phantom of the Bonnyscot” is set around a central mystery that isn’t exactly compelling, precisely because it has almost nothing to do with the characters we’re most interested in.
To be fair, many of the pieces of this episode are great, particularly as it pertains to the increasingly messy relationships between almost everyone in Horseshoe Bay. For the first time, Nancy’s crush on Owen Marvin feels like it might actually be going somewhere, and the two finally kiss (even as the show simultaneously reminds us of her very real and genuine emotional connection with Nick). As far as love triangles go, this isn’t particularly groundbreaking territory – Owen is the hot guy Nancy seems attracted to despite herself, while Nick is the one who’s tried to really understand her – but all three parties are at least likable so let’s check back here in a few weeks and see how it goes.
The show’s slow build of whatever it is that’s going on between George and Nick is perhaps even intriguing, as he lets her down and she calls him out on using other people’s problems as a shield from having to face his own. Nancy’s investigation into the mystery of Lucy Sable’s death is revitalized after a couple of weeks of no progress, and the real-world question of whether The Claw can stay fiscally solvent feels like exactly the sort of grounded story the show needs in the midst of all its other supernaturally-fueled mysteries.
But do any of us really care about the Marvin family’s vendetta against the Hudsons? I mean, sure, it’s fascinating in sort of a town lore kind of way, since these are the rich folks that drive basically everything that happens in Horseshoe Bay. And it’s certainly interesting to watch Nancy embrace her inner fixer in the name of helping her father. (Until she doesn’t, of course, because she’s Nancy Drew, after all.) But this ongoing thing between them about insurance fraud, a boat filled with expensive rare artifacts and the death of an uncle that I’m not sure Owen even ever knew is…well. It’s not exactly a riveting case.
Almost every member of the Hudson family is the kind of obviously evil that’s like two steps away from gluing fake mustaches to their faces just so they can twirl them. Of course, they murdered Owen’s uncle, even if one of them was having an affair with him at the same time. Duh. That’s what people like this do. By the time they hour’s over, they’re plotting to kill Nancy’s father. They’re like a nonstop murder shop. The Marvins aren’t exactly great people themselves, but they’re not the Horseshoe Bay mafia, either.
On the plus side, this is maybe/hopefully the last time we’ll ever have to hear about the Bonnyscot or its cursed treasures or the ghosts of its dead crew members haunting random guest stars.
Fingers crossed anyway.
But there’s still plenty to enjoy in this episode, even if you find yourself zoning out during the Hudson family stuff. Remember when Ryan was busy planning to turn over a new leaf and be a better person like half an episode ago? Snort. At least the scene where he blackmails his own mother is fun.
Poor Carson Drew gets little screentime this week, but at least Nancy’s talking to him again, and her guilt over the fact that he’s in prison in the first place is kind of adorably neurotic. For his part, Carson’s finally ready to turn on the Hudsons in the hopes of getting a plea deal, though I don’t know if any of the (apparently legion) things he’s covered up for them can possibly be more shocking than what we’ve already seen.
Bess appears ready to officially join the Marvin family, which I guess means my wild speculation that Owen lied about their DNA match is wrong. But, just because the Marvins aren’t murder-you-in-cold-blood terrible, it doesn’t mean they aren’t also bad people, who basically force everyone associated with them to dump their unsuitable friends and love interests so as to better fit in with their class-conscious way of life. Blech.
The upshot of all this is, is that if she wants to be a Marvin, Bess is going to have to dump Lisbeth, who she conveniently just dropped the L-word to this week. Your mileage may vary on whether or not you feel like this relationship has either a.) lasted long enough or b.) gotten enough focus in the larger narrative for either of these women to be in love with one another yet, particularly when their entire relationship was sort of founded on lies. Neither of those things is true for me, for what it’s worth. But, here we are, I guess. Let’s see how it goes?
“The Phantom of the Bonnyscot” isn’t going to be a particularly memorable installment in Nancy Drew’s first season. It’s not bad, per se – it’s mostly just dull – Dead Lucy inserting herself into paintings aside. And that’s the real kiss of death on a show like this.