Nancy Drew Episode 17 Review: The Girl in the Locket

Nancy Drew’s first season kicks off its endgame with an episode that’s both emotional and surprising in all the best ways.

Nancy Drew Episode 17 Review
Photo: The CW

This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.

Nancy Drew Episode 17

If you thought Nancy Drew was going to take its foot off the proverbial gas just because it solved its primary mystery the last time the show was on the air back in March, well, don’t fret. “The Girl in the Locket” keeps things going full speed ahead, completely upending several relationships, killing off a key character, and keeping the creep factor firmly turned up to eleven.

Nancy Drew has only gotten stronger in the back half of its first season, proving that it’s the sort of show willing to swing for the fences when it comes to storytelling and trust its audience to come along for the ride. On any other show, the secret of Nancy’s true parentage would have likely been dragged out not only for the rest of this season, but possibly for several seasons to come.

There would likely have been layers upon layers of lies, complicated feints and cover-ups, and a permanent crack in either Nancy’s relationship with her dad, her biological father, and/or one or more of her friends. (Who would, naturally, inevitably be split along lines of who knew the truth about Nancy’s heritage and who didn’t.) 

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We’ve all seen The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, folks. We all know just how long the characters on CW shows can keep a secret if they’re properly motivated. 

Instead, Ryan finds out that he’s Nancy’s father before we reach the halfway point of the episode following its revelation. He even manages to figure it out on his own, before she can even decide whether or how she wants to tell him. And thanks to the rigorous and bizarre rules of a sea witch blood curse, everyone else learns the truth roughly ten minutes later. 

It is, shall we say, a slightly more sped up timeline than even the most optimistic of us might have predicted. 

Yet, the decision to do away with the secrecy surrounding the fact that Nancy is Lucy Sable’s daughter lets us cut right down to the emotional issues at the heart of everything. Kennedy McMann, as usual, deserves praise for her performance as a Nancy that’s attempting to deal with a whole lot at once. But so does Riley Smith, who has been working really hard to make Ryan Hudson into something more than a dirtbag playboy. 

Is Ryan a good guy now? Doubtful. Does he deserve his newly discovered daughter in his life? Probably not. But there is something very compelling about his grief over Lucy’s death and his shock about Nancy’s true identity. Watching him reflect on a lifetime’s worth of selfish choices and wonder what might have happened if had he been able to reach Lucy that night? This is a depth I’d have never previously believed Ryan capable of possessing. It’s going to be interesting to see where this all goes as the season continues.

However, this is Nancy Drew so why serve up emotional devastation for virtually everyone when you can also give them terrifying visions of maggots and rotting seaweed? Turns out the Aglaeca – you know, that thing the gang summoned via a magical ritual a few episodes back, in order to find Dead Lucy’s bones? Well, it still remembers that Nancy and friends never paid the blood toll for its services, and it’s got a seriously aggressive collections department. 

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“Look, inhuman sea spirits are very unforgiving,” says George’s mom, which in theory should explain why the gang’s attempt to break the creature’s curse didn’t work. 

There’s just one small problem – it turns out the Aglaeca wasn’t an angry sea spirit after all, but a very human one, whose horrific death somehow (maybe) gave it some extremely souped up powers to boot. But, long story short, the ritual didn’t do what it was supposed to do, so now everybody’s experiencing even more horrifying visions and suddenly Owen’s dead in a bathtub.

As if Nancy hasn’t had a hard enough year. 

The shock death of Owen Marvin is…well, it’s a twist that’s rather unexpected, to say the least. CW series like this tend to live for a love triangle. Nancy Drew itself certainly hasn’t been immune to this trend, as Nancy herself was torn between Owen and Nick earlier this season and there are warring hashtag factions supporting both couples online. But his death certainly does prove both the seriousness of this new threat the gang is facing in a post-Dead Lucy world, and establishes that there are real stakes in Horseshoe Bay.

It’s such a surprising twist that you almost have to wonder if it’s real. But, in a way, it makes sense, at least on paper. Bess has been firmly established as the series’ narrative connection to the Marvin family. Ryan has a much more complex story to deal with than the Hudson-Marvin family rivalry. And the removal of Owen from the board means that Nancy herself will have to face the apocalyptic upheaval of the life she knew – no running off to New York on her boyfriend’s convenient helicopter.

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Although, to be fair, this is Nancy Drew and weird things happen. So, if I’m back here next week writing about the introduction of Zombie or Ghost Owen I won’t be but so surprised. But outright resurrection at least seems out of bounds for this show, so unless the entire Drew Crew was experiencing a shared hallucination, Owen’s really gone for good. At least, you know, in the physical plane. 

But seriously, can our poor girl catch a break? 

Rating:

4.5 out of 5