For the longtime Nancy Drew fan, nothing could be more satisfying than the image of the girl detective wielding her flashlight, alone in the dark and on a mission. It’s only fitting, then, that this is the first image of Nancy Drew’s final season. The CW’s take on the classic heroine was always something of a misfit and a loner, jaded but protective of her town’s supernatural legacy and discovering her place within it.
All of that is true in the fourth-season premiere, but there’s growth, too, for Nancy (Kennedy McMann) and all her friends. Nancy has started her own private-investigation business; Bess (Maddison Jaizani) runs the historical society; George (Leah Lewis) is studying to be a lawyer; Ace (Alex Saxon) works at the morgue; and Nick is the town’s most eligible small-business owner. It’s not completely smooth sailing—Nancy is struggling with her bills, Bess is fighting for funding, and George is having trouble keeping up with all the legalese. Yet there’s a satisfying sense that all these characters we’ve come to love are on the right path coming into their own as adults.
Still, some things never change in Horseshoe Bay. There’s a new sheriff in town, one who refreshingly wants to work with Nancy but draws the line at supernatural shenanigans. There are also, obviously, supernatural shenanigans at play with the bodies that went missing from the cemetery at the end of last season. Nancy let that case get way cold in the five weeks that have passed since then, but when Ace is arrested on suspicion of graverobbing, she and the gang have to pick up the trail again, fast.
Nancy really doesn’t need to be carrying around any more Ace-related guilt, as she is still fully miserable over the curse that Temperance (Olivia Taylor Dudley) cast upon our star-crossed couple. Poor Nancy is deeply unlucky in love, but here’s another immutable truth about Horseshoe Bay: There will always be another mysterious hot guy interested in the intrepid detective. This season it’s Tristan, the gorgeous lobsterman who helps Nancy out of a bind when she’s doing some sneaky investigating. Unfortunately, he’s also the son of the Glasses, a.k.a. the black-market artifact dealers who tried to supernaturally assassinate Ryan earlier in the episode. Again: deeply unlucky in love.
Nance has a bit more luck with the empty-grave case once she brings her friends in to help out. Based on some barking dogs and clever map reading, the gang figures out that the bodies have been reanimated and are walking around town to convene in one specific spot. This investigation serves to exonerate Ace and convince the chief that the supernatural exists, but we still don’t know why the bodies left their graves (to poison the reservoir with black goo?) or why these bodies were reanimated.
There’s one more plot thread left dangling, and that’s Nancy and Ace. Nancy struggles to avoid Ace and treat him like a regular platonic friend, especially when she has to sponsor an event called the “Lovers Vigil.” But every time these two get close, the curse reasserts itself by shattering whatever small object is in the vicinity. That’s how Ace eventually figures things out—well, that plus the lover’s message in a bottle that Nancy super ineffectually hides under a file folder. The episode ends where it began, with Nancy clutching her flashlight. Only this time she’s not alone, and now Ace is fully aware that their love is cursed, too.
Unlike its fellow CW holdout Riverdale, Nancy Drew is not reinventing the wheel in its final season. Instead, the premiere episode signals a return to form for the mystery show. It didn’t feel like the kickoff of a final season, which isn’t a criticism so much as a wish that we could have gotten a few more years with the Drew crew. Nevertheless, it’s a solid start to a new storyline that promises plenty of creepy jump scares and good detective work to come. And, yeah, hopefully some romance too.
- This may be the only chance I have to say it, so I’ll admit: As a lifelong Nancy fan, I was always holding a torch for Nancy/“Ned”, and at times it felt like George/Nick was a way to clear him off the board. I do understand the Ace love, and the curse brings some fun drama to the proceedings, but at this point the romantic endgame of the series does feel like a foregone conclusion, which is a shrug.
- Speaking of George/Nick, they have one nice moment of committing to their breakup, because “we can’t live our lives waiting for something that may or may not happen,” as Nick wisely puts it. Hopefully the show keeps giving these two solid plot-lines outside of each other.
- “My Two Dads” continues to be an absolute highlight of the show. Scott Wolf and Riley Smith have such fun chemistry, and Ryan as a character has come so far since the first season. The dynamic with the two of them and Nancy is such a delight.
- Speaking of Carson, love to see him mentoring George through her legal studies. Wolf, who has also been a director on the show, has been a welcome and steady presence throughout the series.
- The Bess/Ryan team up is also lots of fun—it shares some similarities with the Bess/Ace pairing of days past. With the Glasses in the picture, it seems like these two will probably continue working together to thwart their new supernatural-obsessed nemeses.
- Looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season has in store!