Nancy Drew Episode 8 Review: The Path of Shadows

The Drew Crew gets help for Ace from an unexpected source, while Nancy and her father have a much-needed conversation.

Kennedy McMann as Nancy Drew in Episode 8

This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.

Nancy Drew Episode 8

Nancy Drew’s small town of Horseshoe Bay is so full of ghosts, spirits, clairvoyants, mediums and other supernatural-adjacent beings that it’s honestly becoming a bit surprising when we meet someone who doesn’t communicate with or get haunted by the dead in some way.

(Sorry, I guess, to Carson Drew?)

In “The Path of Shadows,” we learn that police chief E.O. McGinnis isn’t just aware of the weird stuff that happens all around town, he actually participates in it occasionally too. McGinnis appears to be something akin to a Native American medicine man, though the show is pretty vague on the specifics of his particular style of spiritual belief and practice.

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Is it kind of weird that the town’s police chief is not just willing to hang out with a bunch of townie millennials, but to perform magical rituals with them? Probably. But, then again, it’s not really that much stranger than anything else in this town.

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And it’s all pretty much worth it for McGinnis’ reaction when the Drew Crew fills him in on just how much messing with the spirit realm they’ve done all season. (To be honest, I’d actually forgotten a little bit of it. Remember random Dead Rita who showed up at The Claw that time? That was fun.)

The disastrous accident involving Ace and Laura Tandy that closed last week’s episode means that both are now in surgery struggling to survive. McGinnis is concerned that Ace’s spirit is lost and wandering around the hospital (because, why not, at this point?) and Nancy’s convinced that someone cut Laura’s brakes in an attempt to kill her and prevent her from inheriting her sister’s estate.

That they’re both right is kind of why this show is awesome.

Whatever sort of cultural tradition you want to believe McGinnis is engaging in, he’s actually helpful to Nancy and her friends this week, probably because he cares about Ace and what happens to him. In what may actually be the first bit of real backstory we’ve gotten on the character thus far, we learn that he’s the son of a well-respected, even idolized cop on the force, a twist which paints McGinnis’ effort to keep him out of jail in a whole new light. Even if it really doesn’t explain the blackmail part.

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So far this season, Nancy Drew has often made us question whether various secondary characters might actually be evil, suspicious that they could turn out to be evil at any moment, or at least convinced that they aren’t who they say they are. (To be fair, Bess’ new girlfriend does turn out to be an undercover cop in this episode so maybe sometimes that aggressive suspicion is warranted.)

But it’s an interesting reflection of a key aspect of Nancy’s own personality, which is – as her father quite rightly points out – deeply untrusting and suspicious of almost everyone around her. But, just as she’s learning that she’s got to trust those she considers closest to her, Nancy Drew itself is reminding us that the lines between good and evil are often pretty close to one another, and that most people occupy the grey space firmly between the two.

Many characters we initially viewed with suspicion – from McGinnis to Carson to Bess and Ace and even Dead Lucy to some extent – have turned out to just be complicated people who’ve made difficult and/or selfish choices. They’re not bad, they’re not dangerous, they’re just human. And it’s been interesting to watch Nancy confronted with that fact over and over, especially when she seems so often convinced instantly of a given person’s guilt as soon as she decides they’re a suspect.

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It’s certainly an intriguing reflection on the way that Nancy’s youthful obsession with crimesolving really has impacted her life as an adult in unsettling ways. After all, a lot of this season does seem to be about challenging some of Nancy’s preconceived notions. She believes in ghosts now.

Which is, naturally, how she ends up in a circle with the town police chief, one of her best friends and her father, attempting to access the spirit realm to find the missing soul of the comatose Ace. Weirdly, it makes more sense in context. Honest.

The decision to have George be the one chosen to cross into the spirit realm is a logical twist, given that communicating with the dead seems to run in her family, even if most of us probably did expect it to be Nancy. The sequence in the alternate dimension Drew house is deeply creepy, despite its weird Goth night club blacklight effects and aggressive use of fog machines. From the strange zombie like spirits who hang around the hallways to the sequence where George is nearly dragged into a ghost car, there are several real, genuine scares, along with the revelation that the Drew family home is basically a black hole of negative emotions.

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No one should be shocked that the Drew family needs therapy by way of supernatural intervention, but at least we finally get a meaningful conversation between Nancy and her father for the first time in several episodes. One of the freshest things about this series is that characters simply ask one another direct questions, and the fact that Nancy simply confronts her father about his possible involvement in Lucy Sable’s death is really great. As is the fact that Carson tries to be honest with his daughter, even when none of the things he confesses to – evidence tampering, inaction due to fear of the Hudson family’s influence are particularly flattering. Scott Wolf and Kennedy McMann have really lovely chemistry with one another and I’m looking forward to watching their relationship evolve into something that’s less suspicious and combative in the future.

As the episode comes to a close, Ace is still in a coma, George’s little sister is missing, Nancy’s outed a dirty cop on the police force, and Bess is spearheading an elaborate new scheme to keep the Hudsons from finding out that their new driver Lisbeth is really trying to bring their whole family down. These all seem like very real-world problems for a show that has primarily dealt with ghosts and coins that can summon the dead, but then again, I didn’t expect that the police chief would be quite this knowledgeable about access the spirit realm, either. Anything can happen.

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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