Nancy Drew Episode 3 Review: The Curse of the Dark Storm

As a creepy Nor'easter hits Horsehoe Bay, Nancy and friends battle curses, ghosts and the looming specter of Nick’s past.

Tunji Kasim as Nick and Kennedy McMann as Nancy in Nancy Drew Episode 3 The Curse of the Dark Storm

This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.

Nancy Drew Episode 3

Even storms can apparently have a life of their own on Nancy DrewAs seems to be par for the course in Horseshoe Bay, pretty much any regular everyday event can somehow be tied to the supernatural, and thus is the case for an impending Nor’easter that’s about to hit the town. Here, these storm squalls have an almost mythic property, and supposedly blow restless spirts ashore to haunt the living. Dun dun dunnnnn. And, if this episode is anything to go by, that’s actually true.

(Seriously, have we ever talked about why there are so many varieties of ghosts in this town?)

In the wake of George’s discovery that she is marked for death, courtesy of the annual Seawater Ceremony in which a bucket of water turns to blood outside her front door, weird things start happening around The Claw. These include a variety of sharp objects hurling themselves at George, light fixtures trying to drop themselves on her and a dead woman trying to score herself a job. 

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Yes, Nancy Drew introduces its first real, tangible ghost this week in Rita, a young woman who tries to apply for a waitressing gig. She does not get the job, largely because she vaguely threatens George’s life and vanishes before the interview process is over. Awkward. 

Turns out that Rita is a young woman who, according to newspaper reports, was decapitated in a boating accident in 1975 and is most definitely dead right now. Also, she seems pretty sure that George is marked to follow her, whether she believes in things like curses or not. 

One of “The Curse of the Dark Storm’s” strangest moments, though, is how abruptly this portion of the episode concludes. Once it stops raining, Rita vanishes and all the angry diner lighting fixtures calm down. Is George safe? Or just until the next time she runs into a ghost? Will she spend the rest of the season dodging angry spirits? Do we need an exorcist in this town?

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But George isn’t the only character trying to outrun something from the past. Nancy Drew finally digs into Nick’s mysterious history this week, including how he knows Tiffany Hudson and what sent him to jail in the first place. In all honesty, the facts are a little bland. He killed a fellow teen yes, but if his story is true it was really in self-defense, and he’s clearly spent years torn up over what he did. 

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And though it feels like the sort of exposition that will doubtless come into play in more important ways later, “The Curse of the Dark Storm” handles much of the saga of Nick’s backstory rather clunkily. Though there are a handful of flashback moments, but much of this episode involves Nick simply reciting things that have happened to him while holding various objects. The most interesting bit in the whole story is probably the fact that it was Nancy’s mother who brought him together with Tiffany during his time in jail. 

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And while Nancy’s softening toward him—as well as her ultimate belief in him—is very sweet, it can’t make up for how boring watching Nick recite various bits from the English Lit 101 canon at us is, either. Even if I do genuinely ship them a little bit now. (Though, to be fair, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth really is a slog. He’s not wrong about that.)

Yet Nancy Drew often manages to make every character appear suspicious and tremendously creepy somehow, even as the show appears to be actively trying to exonerate them, so it’s unclear how much we should trust this version of Nick’s story. The dude’s lied a lot in the span of three episodes, after all. But, his gratitude toward Nancy’s mother, and Tiffany herself, certainly seems genuine. For now, at least. 

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On the plus side, though, thank goodness someone in Horseshoe Bay has been watching the other CW network series. At least three separate times in this episode one character discovers potentially damaging information or a dangerous secret and just straight out asks the other person involved what’s going on, rather than spending three to five weeks fretting privately and lying to one another in the process. 

Nancy confronts Nick about his burner phone almost immediately. Ace sends Nancy to fetch Bess from her van down by the river as soon as he realizes it’s where she’s living. Nick tells the gang the full story about his manslaughter conviction. And Nancy comes clean to Nick about the offer the police made her. Honesty. It’s so unexpectedly refreshing.

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That doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of mysteries to solve or contradictory stories to crack. Why in the world would Tiffany leave Nick five million dollars in antique money? What really happened to the bloody dress in the Drew attic? Is Dead Lucy haunting Carson because he burned it? And what about the engagement ring in Bess’ van? 

Since we’re still fairly early in the season, it’s likely that the ring story will be wrapped up as neatly next week as the spare burner phone was here. (Though probably with fewer literary references.) And that’s okay. I doubt anyone actually thinks that Bess—or any of the Drew Crew for that matter—is actually Tiffany’s murderer. But focusing on their individual Hudson-related secrets is an easy enough way to tell specific and worthwhile stories about Nancy Drew’s supporting cast, while making sure the dead woman at the heart of the story is more than just a narrative prop in other character’s arcs. 

Oh, and by the way, is Tiffany a woman with layers or what? It’s hard to square that the same person who loves puzzle boxes and is willing to build hidden The Cask of Amontillado-style wall safes in her home is also a posh socialite with a drug problem who married an obvious dirtbag like Ryan. What happened there? (Or is still happening, depending on who you think Ryan owes money to and where that story is going.) Perhaps that’s another mystery that Nancy and her friends can solve… 

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Lacy Baugher is a digital producer by day, but a television enthusiast pretty much all the time. Her writing has been featured in Paste Magazine, Collider, IGN, SyFyWire and elsewhere. Literally always looking for someone to yell about Doctor Who and/or the CW superhero properties with, you can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.

Rating:

3.5 out of 5