Nancy Drew Episode 15 Review: The Terror of Horseshoe Bay

Nancy Drew perfectly mixes real life drama with supernatural scares and winds up with one of its strongest episodes of the season.

Nancy Drew Episode 15 The Terror of Horseshoe Bay
The Drew Crew Photo: The CW

This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.

Nancy Drew Episode 15

“The Terror of Horseshoe Bay” is Nancy Drew at its best and most entertaining, featuring pretty much everything that makes the show so much fun to watch. There’s another ridiculous town festival, a shocking murder revelation, a group summoning of a possibly demonic water spirit, and some grotesque body horror, all with a little bit of romance on top. Ace’s amazing dad even makes a return appearance. What’s not to love?

As its first season has gone on, Nancy Drew has become increasingly adept at mixing its creepier supernatural elements in with its real-life drama, and this episode finds what feels like a perfect balance between the two. Of course, a near-death experience at the hands of a vengeful sea spirit would be the reason that the long-awaited hook-up between Nancy and Owen Marvin finally happens. Obviously, the next step in the Lucy Sable murder investigation would involve a Drew Crew group text blood ritual that causes actual human bones to rise from the sea thanks to Bess’s homemade seaweed garland. The only vaguely normal thing that happens this week is the fact that Nancy’s dad’s girlfriend turns out to be an accessory to murder, and kind of a monster besides. 

I don’t know that I have said this enough lately but, man, I love this show so much

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“The Terror of Horseshoe Bay” begins right where we left off last week in “The Sign of the Uninvited Guest,” as Karen and the rest of the police department investigate Joshua Dodd’s garage only to discover a video feed of him somehow staggering away after having seemingly been electrocuted to death. (Seriously, men in this town appear to be functionally immortal. Looking at you, giant arterial laceration on Owen Marvin’s arm.) 

In one of the series’ most satisfying investigative sequences to date, Nancy, Nick and Ace head to the police station to try and figure out how dull mechanic Joshua could have ever gotten hold of the rare and deadly poison that was used to kill Tiffany Hudson. Once there, they make a murderboard charting potential connections between Josh and serial poisoner Liza Ainslie’s crimes before realizing the two had nothing to do with one another and the simplest solution of theft is probably the answer. No one should be super shocked that the Horseshoe Bay PD doesn’t exactly keep its evidence room under the securest of conditions, but the fact that it takes Nancy and friends approximately five minutes to lie their way inside it is admittedly worse than I expected. 

What is surprising, however, is that it’s Karen Hart who gave the poison to Joshua in the first place. And switched it with a vile full of water, like she was a high school teenager replacing the booze in her parents’ liquor cabinet and hoping no one would notice the missing vodka. The scene in which Nancy reads her the riot act for being a liar and a thief while claiming to work for the side of justice is fantastic, as is her classic old-school sleuth style run-down of all the ways she knew Karen was guilty. (That dagger of a line about how glad she was that her dead mother couldn’t see her former BFF’s fall from grace was especially cutting. Whew, girl.) 

There are certainly some elements of this story that don’t entirely make a ton of sense—the fact that Karen decided to charge Carson based on the information in Nancy’s journey, when she herself had always believed Ryan Hudson to be guilty of Lucy’s murder, so much that she tried to kill the man is…well, it doesn’t super work for me. But, Karen has been such an uninteresting, wet blanket on a canvas that’s full of intriguing and fun other characters—well. I can’t exactly blame the show for trying to spice up her currently vaguely nonexistent personality. Prior to this moment, we’ve never really gotten the sense that Karen particularly cared one way or the other about Lucy Sable, let alone was so destroyed by her death that she’s spent the better part of two decades plotting revenge because she was so certain the system couldn’t punish Ryan Hudson. And her sudden plea to Nancy that Lucy was her BFF falls more than a bit flat, particularly given the fact that she basically lied about even knowing her earlier this season. Carson, you dodged a bullet here, my man. 

Elsewhere, it’s Harbor Day in Horseshoe Bay, precisely the kind of ridiculous town-wide festival that seems to happen here every other week or so. This one is all about celebrating a boat full of settlers who first landed in the town, blown off course by a storm that was allegedly created by an evil sea spirit. Naturally, on Harbor Day, you can ask that spirit for something and pay a toll and if the spirit grants your request, you know, because you start bleeding out of your eyes. Totally normal for this show, honestly. 

As children, our Drew Crew’s requests were simple—a PS3 for Ace that never arrived, a hoverboard for Nancy that she’s still waiting on. Now, however, things are a little grislier. Thanks, of course, to Dead Lucy. After a series of disturbing visions—involving vomiting up teeth and stepping on femurs—Nancy realizes that what she needs to prove her father’s innocence is Dead Lucy’s remains. Or her bones, specifically, since she fell off that cliff way too long ago for much else to be left behind. Which, in a normal story would be the end of things, as decades have passed since her death, and any evidence in the bay would have been washed out to see long ago. Luckily, this is the sort of show in which asking murderous sea spirits for supernatural assistance is just another standard Wednesday night activity. Even if that request does come with some rather deadly strings. 

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One has to wonder how soon the entire cast of Nancy Drew is going to be marked for death in some way or other—there’s George and her blood bucket, the fact that Owen’s life was meant to be traded for Lucy’s bones, Nancy’s newfound ability to vomit up rotting seaweed. Bess might want to dial back the excitement about being descended from a founding family, is all I’m saying.

Rating:

4.5 out of 5