Nancy Drew Season 2 Episode 1 Review: The Search for the Midnight Wraith

Photo: The CW

This NANCY DREW review contains spoilers.

Nancy Drew Season 2, Episode 1

The CW mystery series Nancy Drew returns for its second season with “The Search for the Midnight Wraith,” an hour that’s as confident, self-assured, and downright scary as the show has ever been.

Technically, Nancy Drew’s first season came to an early end due to the coronavirus pandemic but watching the Season 2 premiere, it’s hard to tell that the story of the monstrous Aglaeca wasn’t always meant to carry over into the new season. “The Search for the Midnight Wraith” seamlessly weaves the dangers of its ongoing curse in with a new creepy creature of the week and the overarching drama of Nancy’s quest to solve the mystery of her own identity.

The result is a thoroughly satisfying hour of television that shows off everything that makes Nancy Drew worth watching.

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After months of life in the hell of pandemic-related anxiety, it’s honestly a relief to return to the town of Horseshoe Bay, with its seemingly endless string of murderous supernatural creatures, weirdo townie rituals, and dark urban legends. The premiere is full of creepy set pieces and jump scares alongside genuine emotional moments and seasoned with a dash of exposition for the new viewers the network clearly hopes will tune in for the series’ second season.

The death visions brought on by the Aglaeca are obviously front of mind for the Drew Crew, as Nick tries to get rid of the truck he’s fated to drown in and Ace rushes to cover the sharp objects in the Claw freezer where he saw himself impaled. But the gang’s search for a weapon to use against the creature is what draws them into a more immediate – and potentially deadly – mystery.

At this point, it’s honestly more surprising that anyone in Horseshoe Bay ever goes anywhere at all after dark than that there’s apparently a specific patch of woods haunted by a murderous wraith. But the Gorham Woods is indeed home to the originally named Gorham Wraith, a dementor-esque monster who feeds on the fear of those lost in the forest during the full moon and whose victims are subsequently never seen again.

So when an injured girl staggers out of those same woods gasping Nancy’s name on the night of a full moon, well. We all know that’s definitely not a coincidence. Particularly when she turns out to be one of a pair of twins who had been offering to sell access to a particular mirror rumored to be a weapon against the Aglaeca.

Star Kennedy McMann has never been better, portraying an angry, fearful Nancy who’s still simmering over the upending of pretty much everything she’s ever known about her life and absolutely terrified that her true parentage reveals her true destiny. That she’ll only ever be the worst parts of the terrible people who birthed her: From her tortured, despairing mother to the monsters that drove her to her death and lied about their involvement afterward.

Much of Season 2 seems as though it will be about Nancy attempting to understand and reconcile these different sides of herself – the truth of who she is with the actual fact of it, that even if she’s a Hudson on paper, in her heart she’s still who she’s always been: Nancy Drew, girl detective, who solves mysteries and fights for truth. Even and most especially when it’s hard – and when it involves the sort of truths she might happily wish she’d never actually learned.

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How her relationships with either and/or both of her dads – Carson Drew who raised her or Ryan Hudson who fathered her – will look going forward remains unclear, though I doubt anyone watching is angry at Nancy for refusing to give either of them any of her time or emotional energy at the moment. That Ryan steps up to cover for his daughter not once but twice is truly the absolute least he can do, though his sudden pushback against his own father’s general sliminess is an intriguing hint that perhaps his knowledge of Nancy will help him somehow become a better man.

But it is Nancy’s own actions that prove she’s nothing like the Hudsons, as she not only vows to save the friends she’s unwittingly doomed alongside herself but also offers herself up as bait for the wraith – and nearly dies in the process. It’s true, the Drew Crew has a right to be angry with their friend for her recklessness and to resent the fact that she’s maybe kind of cursed them all to die along with her, but it’s hard to argue with the strength and tenacity of her heart.

I can’t wait to see where Nancy’s journey takes her in Season 2.

Additional Thoughts

Given the rise of Sea Shanty TikTok over the past few weeks, this series has truly never felt timelier. Bring on the Aglaeca-killing sea ballads, folks.

I screeched at the Bobbsey twins reveal (“The Bobbsey twins are hardcore”, I just cannot!!) and we’d better see this intriguing pair of con artists in Horseshoe Bay again, is all I’m saying. Where’s their backdoor pilot, CW??

Kennedy McMann and Riley Smith really do have some distinctly non-father/daughter chemistry and I don’t know how to stop seeing it.

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In a perfect world, George and Nick would just tell Nancy they’re dating and everyone would move on with their lives because they’re all friends who care about each other and hope for each other’s happiness. We all know that this is not a standard blueprint for a CW series, but, hey, I can dream, right?

Nancy and Ace’s relationship is quickly becoming my favorite part of this show, and their conversation, in which Ace admits that he’s never doubted Nancy will somehow save them all – but he’s still angry anyway – was this hour’s best moment. Their friendship is so sweet and charming that I almost feel bad for the fact that I’ve started wanting them to become something a little more than friends. (Forthright, warm platonic friendships between men and women are still far too rare on this network and should be protected as such.)

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4 out of 5