This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers
At some point, the fact that the town of Horseshoe Bay contains a hotel where the walls occasionally weep blood will stop being surprising, and yet, here we are. It’s just another week on Nancy Drew! Granted, Room 413 in the Breaker Hotel may be at least partially an owner-run hoax – Nancy isn’t even sure that anyone even died there, in the end – but it wouldn’t shock me if it actually turned out to be haunted anyway. Practically everything else in this town is, after all.
When a college girl goes missing under mysterious circumstances at the infamous Horseshoe Bay during a hazing incident, her would-be teammates do what any frightened young women might – immediately turn to Nancy Drew for help. They’re fans of the Nancy Drew News blog, and well aware of her interest in investigating all things supernatural. And they’re convinced that something terrible has taken, and possibly done something terrible to their friend.
With the end of the Lucy Sable mystery and the defeat of the Aglaeca, Nancy Drew’s focus is understandably shifting. Gone – at least for the moment – is the larger overarching case for our girl detective to solve, and in its place are more self-contained monster-of-the-week style stories. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, and it’s a change that likely wouldn’t have felt quite as jarring had the Dead Lucy and Aglaeca stories wrapped up last season the way they were originally supposed to.
That said, last week’s haunted dead body and this week’s deathtrap hotel are compelling enough stories on their own terms, and there are multiple longer arcs threaded through the background (Ryan’s plotting to bring down his family, Carson’s attempt to rehabilitate his reputation, literally everything going on with George) that it doesn’t feel like either of these installments are happening in a vacuum. Plus, “The Legend of the Murder Hotel” does manage to tie George’s Odette Lamar possession/body sharing problem into the larger case of the week, which allows our favorite girls to stop keeping secrets from one another.
In the end, however, “The Legend of the Murder Hotel” is actually one of Nancy Drew’s least supernaturally tinged-episodes. Yes, there are a couple of good jump scares, such as when the creepy hotel owner discovers the Drew Crew in his staging area full of recorded screams and containers of blood. But other than the revelation of Odette, nothing about this story actually involves ghosts at all.
Unless you count the ghosts of the people we all once thought we’d grow up to be.
In the end, it turns out that nothing actually happened to Jennifer. She wasn’t killed, or sucked into a parallel dimension, or forced to haunt the halls of the Breaker Hotel herself. Instead, she’s just a girl who tried to run away. Exhausted and confused by her college experience, Jennifer took the opportunity to try and disappear, to run away from a life where she got what she’d been told to want, but no longer recognized herself now that she had. She spends most of the episode hiding at the local bus station, wrestling over her choices and trying to decide whether or not to leave town for good.
This all naturally speaks to Nancy, who has been struggling since the show began with her decision to give up on her educational dreams after her mom’s death. And the thing is, it’s easy to see her going either way now – she’s brilliant, so one has to assume Nancy would excel in college, and probably end up in a forensic science program or something.
But she’s also made a real place for herself in Horseshoe Bay on her own terms – and a life that has nothing to do with her reputation in school or whose daughter she happens to be. Even if, at the moment, she can’t even decide which last name to claim. Has she made mistakes? Sure. It’s certainly unlikely that doing court-ordered community service in the town morgue was on her list of college resume enhancers. But it’s a punishment she earned saving her friends, and that mostly seems like a fair trade, even now.
“Maybe you’re not who you thought you should be. But who you are now is still pretty badass,” Jennifer tells her, looking (rightly) a bit starstruck as she hears all that she’s managed to come through in the past year. And that’s probably the best explanation of Nancy this show has ever offered – maybe she’s not who everyone thought the precocious girl detective she once was would grow up to be. But that’s not the end of the world – it’s just another part of her story.
Is it wrong that I kind of still want a genuine episode about a real Horseshoe Bay murder hotel?
It’s the return of the Bobbsey Twins! (Or at least one of them.) Yes!
Ace and Amanda are clearly going to be a thing, and I don’t hate it because Ace is adorable and deserves the entire world. But I also still want him to ultimately be with Nancy? They have a private server! Come on!
I do love the women of Horseshoe Bay finally realizing what a catch Ace is, though.
“All I’ve got is 50s.” (How have I come to love Ryan Hudson this much?!?!)
“Think about it: Horseshoe Bay’s two biggest tourist draws are lobster rolls and ghosts.”
I’m sorry Bess has a secret husband?! Though truly, I’m in favor of anything that gives Maddison Jaizani more to do and I always thought the idea of her con artist/kleptomaniac background was interesting.