This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.
Nancy Drew: Episode 6
Given how small a town Nancy Drew’s Horseshoe Bay is purported to be, it’s kind of wild how many truly bizarre things take place in it. From death-predicting seawater rituals to storms with the power to fuel restless spirits, there’s just…well, it’s a lot. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise us that this quaint seaside town is also the location of a super-elite party for the 1% that takes place every five years where everyone wears animal masks and bids on priceless antiquities. And yet.
“The Mystery of Blackwood Lodge” is a return to great form for the series after last week’s uneven exorcism adventure. Here, there are just enough spooky moments to feel genuinely frightening, mixed in with a bizarre but entertaining present-day plot that features more information about Dead Lucy’s past, the humanization of Ryan Hudson, and a chance for Bess to recapture her love of stealing things. Who can ask for more?
Sadly, despite the episode’s title and it’s vaguely adjacent to the Archieverse feel, there are no surprise appearances by Chilling Adventures of Sabrina characters, nor is anyone revealed as a secret witch. (Though probably we should just give Bess some time on that point.)
Instead, our focus returns to Lucy Sable, as Nancy attempts to figure out the meaning of a poem the dead girl left behind in a high school time capsule. Because this is Nancy Drew, the angst-ridden rhyme leads us to the underground posh rager known as “The Velvet Masque,” a party is apparently so top secret you need a ridiculously rich person to vouch for you in order to enter. Luckily, the Drew Crew knows a lot of rich people somehow.
Nancy scores an invite by sort-of befriending Ryan Hudson, who needs her to steal some priceless Roman coins for him, and is also afraid he’s being stalked by a killer. Apparently, these coins are also evidence that the Hudson family killed a bunch of people by sinking a merchant ship in order to commit insurance fraud, so this episode is even messier than usual somehow. Just go with it.
Ryan and Nancy are a pairing that, on paper, should be fairly off-putting, but is instead strangely charming and really works in a sort of reluctant-partners-for-the-moment kind of way. (I might even ship it a little bit; please respect my privacy during this strange and bizarre time.) It’s hard to remember sometimes that Ryan is technically meant to be some twenty-odd years older than Nancy and her friends, given that he generally behaves as though he’s barely old enough to order a cocktail legally. But he is, and that fact gives him a connection to yet another Horseshoe Bay dead girl: Lucy.
“The Mystery of Blackwood Lodge” reveals that not only were Lucy and Ryan romantically involved for a summer before she died, he also apparently took her to an earlier incarnation of The Velvet Masque where she accidentally spied on his mother having an affair with Owen Marvin’s uncle Sebastian — who, by the way, was famous for wearing a Kraken mask at these events and sounds like a total hoot. (I’m vaguely sorry he’s dead so he can’t pop up unannounced at a Horseshoe Bay civic gathering someday.)
The secret underground rich people party is pretty much everything what we want from a show like this. An opulent setting with all our faves sporting attractive black-tie attire while a bunch of suspect adults drink, engage in risqué behavior and try to buy random, apparently priceless artifacts on the black market. It’s all great—random rich kid Owen is weirdly protective of Nancy, Nick gets jealous of their flirtation, Bess makes out with Lisbeth, and Ryan’s mom is the kind of monster I can’t wait to see again. (Is she a murderer? Who can say?)
There’s so much to enjoy here, that its easy to handwave the paper-thin nature of the Drew Crew’s ultimate plan to steal the McGuffin of the week, as well as the fact that the alleged Marvin/Hudson rivalry has been comprised of an awful lot of showing and not telling. When everyone’s wearing sparkly glitter masks, it’s hard to get but so annoyed.
And while this episode is full of some genuinely freaky moments—the shot of Dead Lucy trailing Nancy through the Hudson home in a mirror is particularly good, as is her apparent desire to literally burn the wedding ring off Ryan’s finger—they’re balanced out by worthwhile character work elsewhere. Since Nancy is off doing her sleuth thing for most of the episode, “The Mystery of Blackwood Lodge” gives us some very satisfying moments between George and Nick (the prickliest detective team ever), as well as with Ace and Bess.
Nancy Drew is genuinely taking the time to build real relationships between and among the characters who aren’t Nancy, which helps give the show a much more well-rounded and ensemble feel. Plus, Ace giving Bess dating tips—most of which involve the fact that she can’t and shouldn’t talk about herself in pretty much any way—is deeply adorable. They all feel like real people rather than simply Nancy Drew’s sidekicks, and it offers hope that as the series continues to develop, those characters and relationships will become more and more three-dimensional.
The episode ends with a reminder (again!) that Nancy’s dad is still carrying around a lot of mysterious baggage, but is also maybe actually not a murderer. (Woohoo!) The forensics are back on Dead Lucy’s crown, and the DNA evidence says another woman was likely with her when she died. Or, at least, left some hair behind in her Sea Queen crown.
Too early to wonder if this somehow involves Nancy’s mom? A mystery for later, it seems.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays on The CW. You can find out more about it here.
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.