This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.
Nancy Drew Episode 7
Initially, Nancy Drew’s “The Tale of the Fallen Sea Queen” feels like a disjointed mess. Nick and Nancy are having relationship problems. Ace is getting pressured by the Chief of Police. Carson Drew wants to be more involved in Nancy’s life. George’s mom Victoria is wandering around town drunk, seeing visions of spirits and dark monsters. And those Roman coins the gang stole from the underground rich people party last week? Yeah, they’re haunted.
These are a lot of really disparate story pieces, and by all rights, they shouldn’t fit together into any kind of cohesive whole. And, to be honest, for the most part, they don’t. In fact, I was pretty ready to write this episode off for almost its entire first half. I’m awfully glad I didn’t.
Because by the end of the hour “The Tale of the Fallen Sea Queen” has somehow managed to become precisely the sort of story that Nancy Drew does best. There are some genuine scares and creepy visuals, to be sure – but more importantly, there are solid character moments that ground the supernatural sequences in real emotional stakes.
When this show began, a lot of viewers were likely apprehensive about the idea that this series was going to give us a Nancy Drew where the ghosts were actually real, rather than, say, a cat sneaking into an attic, in the way the original novels did. The decision to give the series an overtly spooky feel not only ups the danger these characters are facing, but gives the series a distinct opportunity to tell different kinds of stories using a horror framework.
The sequence in which Nancy, Nick, George and Bess summon the spirit of Dead Lucy into a child’s light up dragon toy is, on its face, kind of ridiculous. But it’s also genuinely visually frightening – what was up with all the grasping The Grudge-style phantoms! – and provides some real forward progress in the story. (Things we learned: Lucy and Tiffany were killed by different people; Lucy knows who killed Tiffany; and Nancy’s definitely being haunted by everyone’s favorite teen queen because of the bloody dress she found in her attic).
Perhaps more importantly, it drives multiple important character beats. Experiencing the horror of the same vengeful spirits her mother was drinking to forget earlier gives George a slightly better understanding of why Victoria is the way she is. To put it mildly: We’d probably all drink if we saw that kind of thing all the time. Lucy’s presence is what finally pushes Nancy to accept that her father knows more than he’s telling about what happened to the dead girl. And it convinces Ned that Nancy isn’t capable of letting him in the way he wants her to, when she can’t admit she is starting to suspect Carson might be a killer.
For a dead girl, Lucy Sable sure does still make an impact in the real world.
It is a bit unfortunate that “The Tale of the Fallen Sea Queen” hints that Nancy Drew will finally tell us a substantial piece of Lucy’s story and then fails to really follow through on that promise. At this point, given that the poor girl has become such a folk legend in Horseshoe Bay that little kids sing nursery rhymes about her, it seems past time that we see some sort of full on flashback episode that details the events of the night she died, or at least better explains why this one particular tragedy has captured the imagination of this town for so long.
And not for nothing, but I also kind of want to know how Nancy herself ended up a Sea Queen, but that’s a topic for another day.
By the end of the episode, supernatural scares have given way to extremely real-life drama, as Ace makes the choice to betray his girlfriend Laura to gather information for Chief McGinnis, and tells Nancy she had a motive to kill her sister, after all. Ned breaks up with Nancy, insisting that he was wrong to worry about whether there was room for him in her future when she refused to let him be fully a part of her life now. And Nancy wrestles with the damning information that’s come to light about her father.
And let’s be real, things are not looking great for Carson Drew. This isn’t precisely news, since Scott Wolf has generally seemed to revel in playing Nancy’s father as though every word that come out of his mouth is possibly evidence that he’s secretly a supervillain from the series’ first episode. Would it be a shock to discover he’s a killer too? Not really.
After all, he did get rid of the bloody dress in the Drew attic, accepted a fifty-thousand-dollar secret payoff from Horseshoe Bay’s shadiest rich family, continues to work for said family and was pretty much known as their fixer back in the day. Oh, and he stole evidence connected to Lucy’s murder, which he only knew existed because he tapped his daughter’s phone.
At the very least, Carson Drew isn’t going to be winning any dad of the year awards anytime soon.
Good news, though: One of the best traits about Nancy Drew is that its characters are big fans of just asking each other things, rather than letting them sit and fester for months on end. (Take some notes, pretty much all the characters on every other CW show). So, when the episode ends with Nancy just straight up asking her dad if he killed Lucy, we probably shouldn’t be shocked.
Bad news: We’ll have to wait two weeks to find out how Carson answers that question.
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.