Nancy Drew Episode 14 Review: The Sign of the Uninvited Guest

Nancy Drew returns with a dark and spooky episode that finally takes us back to the season’s central mystery.

Nancy Drew Episode 14 Review
Photo: The CW

This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.

Nancy Drew Episode 14

For the bulk of the episodes since its return from winter hiatus, Nancy Drew has been experimenting with telling stories outside of its central first season mystery. This makes sense since the show can only coast for so long on the stories of the two dead women at its center. However, it seems to still be finding its feet in that regard, and the most recent handful of episodes has been more than a little bit uneven. We’ve seen everything from haunted insane asylums to possessed panic rooms, relationship drama for various members of the Drew Crew, and boring business deals between the two warring rich families in Horseshoe Bay.

Some of that’s been pretty entertaining. Some of it hasn’t. But even so, it’s nothing short of a relief to see Nancy Drew finally dive back into the story that hooked us at the beginning of the season. And “The Sign of the Uninvited Guest” does more than that—the hour reveals not just who killed Tiffany Hudson, but ties her death firmly to Lucy’s murder back in the 1990s, and does so by staging a reenactment of the last night of Tiffany’s life that’s both deeply creepy and extremely entertaining.

The artful cuts between the past and present work beautifully, highlighting things we knew—and some we didn’t—from the events that occurred in the series’ pilot. (Plus the sequence is just fun to look at, with its shifting lighting and color palettes.) The decision to make every member of the Drew Crew something like a pseudo accessory to Tiffany’s murder is extremely dark, and watching Bess, George Ace and Nancy realize that they all made choices that indirectly led to her death was great stuff.

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Poor Bess, though. She really was the worst first-week employee in the world. But it certainly seems like she has a future in stage management. Here’s hoping every case from here on out has to be resolved by the Drew Crew acting out various theories as a group. Even Ryan Hudson was at his least annoying, for once, and even managed to be vaguely sympathetic as the last to realize that the poisoned dish that killed his wife was really meant for him.

The revelation that Lucy’s half-brother Josh was responsible for Tiffany’s death does slot neatly into the story – revenge is always a great motivator, and he and his mother have certainly suffered in the years since his sister’s death, with little justice or answers to show for everything that happened. It’s certainly not the most exciting or even satisfying of reveals, but the idea that one person committed both these crimes was always unrealistic, and there’s something extra tragic about Tiffany’s death not even really being about her at all. (While, of course, leaving the question of what exactly she found on her husband before her death wide open for further exploration.)

Sidebar: There’s still something so strange about watching the presumably much older Ryan Hudson hang out with a group of early twentysomethings, but I guess we’ve already determined he’s kind of a creep, so we should just go with it. (If he was dating Lucy in high school, he’s like twenty-five years older than the Drew Crew at a minimum, right?)

The creep factor escalates even further when it becomes clear that while Ryan maybe/possibly/probably didn’t kill Lucy, there was certainly something very bad that happened between the two of them prior to the night she died. Thanks to Ace’s hardcore hacking skills (haha), we now know what the last communications between the two of them were…and it doesn’t look good. But given that Lucy’s brother is both a murderer and possibly dead, and her mother’s dementia seems to keep her from being a terribly reliable witness, it’s not clear where we’re going to find out any more information about what Lucy so desperately needed to see Ryan about. Was she pregnant? Did the Hudsons find out? Is that how she died? And if Ryan didn’t kill her, why is Lucy so dedicated to haunting him now, all these years later?

Of course, this is Nancy Drew, so plenty of questions of the possible supernatural variety remain as well. Josh’s body disappears in the episode’s final moments, so he’s either functionally immortal, or someone’s covering up what happened to him. And since we have no idea where a guy who runs a car repair shop could get his hands on an extremely rare poison, the idea that he probably wasn’t working alone seems fairly reasonable. “The Sign of the Uninvited Guest” didn’t just drop that tidbit about the empty chair at Ryan’s booth being meant for Owen Marvin for no reason, is all I’m saying. Nancy Drew has leaned so aggressively into this Marvin versus Hudson family feud that it seems kind of impossible to imagine that it won’t be connected to this story somehow. These guys have access to what are essentially demon-summoning coins, after all. Some random poison has to be easier to get ahold of than that.

The only bits that didn’t really land this week, unfortunately, involved everyone’s relationship status. Does anyone really care that Ace decided not to move to Paris with his sort-of girlfriend? Did anyone ever think he would, for even a minute? Ace is an adorable puppy dog who deserves happiness and better storylines than that relationship so here’s hoping this break-up is the fresh start his character deserves. Elsewhere, the Bess/Lisbeth/Amaya triangle is already shaping up to be fairly predictable in its own right – does anyone think Bess isn’t going to mess up her relationship in the name of proving her Marvin bonafides? At least the George and Nick flirtation that’s been building for weeks finally seems to be heading someplace – even if that place is an inevitable crash with his clear and obvious lingering feelings for Nancy.

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“The Sign of the Uninvited Guest” isn’t just an entertaining hour. (It is, though, don’t get me wrong.) It’s an important sign that Nancy Drew is willing to follow through on the stories it’s telling—that the show will give viewers answers to its mysteries, and it might not even make them until the season finale to see them.

Rating:

4 out of 5