This Nancy Drew review contains spoilers.
Nancy Drew Season 2 Episode 8
If any character on Nancy Drew was going to turn out to have a secret low-rent scammer husband it was always going to be Bess Marvin. Even though we’re well into the series’ second season, she’s still the character we know the least about – and that’s counting Ace, whose last name we still don’t even know. (And truly, if it isn’t Hardy, I don’t want to hear it.) Plus, there’s already existing canonical evidence that she’s not only a girl with a shady past, one she’s more than willing to lie about it if she deems it necessary.
So when a dirtbag man named Steven shows up claiming to be married to Bess and tries to strong-arm her into stealing a valuable piece of family jewelry (the eponymous Spider Sapphire) from her Aunt Diana, well. It’s not really that surprising. What is a shock, maybe, is that Bess doesn’t immediately fall back into her old thieving ways. She tries to do the right thing, come clean to Diana, and kick Steven to the curb once and for all. That, dear readers, is growth.
Of course, it doesn’t work, because women seemingly must always pay a price when they try to get out from under controlling and/or potentially dangerous men. (I can’t be the only person who picked up a vaguely abusive vibe between Bess and Steven – he’s awfully grabby, and she’s physically skittish around him in a way she has never been with Nick, Ace, or any other man in Horseshoe Bay.) But she deserves credit for truly trying to break the damaged patterns of a lifetime, even if she ended up losing her Marvin family in the end. At least for now, anyway. Diana certainly seems the sort of person who will reappear in Bess’s life when she wants something.
Plus, you know, Bess ultimately saves her best friends from being burned to death in an abandoned shack. That’s nothing to sniff at.
Maddison Jaizani, finally given an episode to really show her stuff, knocks it out of the park here, selling Bess’s determination to save her friends and heartbreak at the consequences for doing so in equal measure. Throughout this series, all Bess has ever wanted is a place to belong. She’s forged identities and crafted false lives, lied to her family, and omitted the truth to her friends, all in search of a place where she could be accepted and loved unconditionally. This episode proves nothing so much as that she’s already found it, just not in the place she originally intended to look. (Drew Crew forever, y’all.)
What this will mean for Bess’ future in Horseshoe Bay is unclear, but in all honesty, she deserves better than to be stuck in the dull as dishwater Marvin family subplot, which has never really sparked in a memorable way. The most complex story here involved Diana not wanting her niece to date the help, after all. Let’s hope this twist is a fresh start for the character, who has occasionally felt underused within the larger canvas of the show.
Elsewhere, Nancy and George are trying to figure out how to eject the ghostly Odette from her timeshare in George’s body. Naturally, this leads to an investigation into the creepy burial shroud that Nancy originally used to resurrect her friend and several shocking revelations – including that if anyone else uses the shroud, George will die for real. Just as the man before her did when Nancy used it on her.
One of the best things about Nancy Drew is the way it at least attempts to wrestle with some of the consequences of the Drew Crew’s often seemingly insane actions. Yes, George was brought back to life, which everyone is obviously happy about, but that only happened because Nancy did something that inadvertently ended the life of someone else. And whether or not you think Ralph Jenkins was already essentially living on borrowed time, that’s still something Nancy’s going to have to carry. (Along with everything else.)
Though Season 2 has generally felt more episodic than its first, Nancy Drew is still managing to weave its stories together in a way that feels like a cohesive whole. George’s death, resurrection, and subsequent fusing with Odette are all things that are a direct result of the deal the Drew Crew made with the Aglaeca which, in turn, ties back into Lucy Sable’s ghost and Tiffany Hudson’s murder. This show is a tapestry of desperate, often hopeless choices compounding back in on one another and creating more monsters along the way – of both the human and the supernatural variety.
George and Nancy’s friendship is truly a thing of beauty.
I kind of love Nick and Ryan as partners, both in terms of bringing down the Hudson family and giving Ryan a way to stay connected to his daughter – one that isn’t Carson. (Or at least get updates on her mental state.)
Bess’s outfit for the Marvin family’s annual rich people scavenger hunt is truly fabulous.
“Not a lot of people know this about me, but the woods – they speak to me.”
The recentering of Bess and Ace’s friendship in this episode was very welcome – their relationship was one of the first forged among the Drew Crew, and I’ve missed it.
“Have you seriously been thinking about flatlining me?”
The chloroforming was a classic Nancy Drew novels move.
I am an adult woman who got a little swoony about Nancy thinking Ace has pretty eyes. This is the romance we deserve y’all.