‘Nancy Drew’ EPs Explain the Fantastical Finale, Tease Season 3’s Wicked New Villain
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Nancy Drew Season 2 Episode 18 “The Echo of Lost Tears.” So if you haven’t seen it yet, go take a bath in an ancestor’s blood and come back when you’ve regenerated into a powerful entity.]
Nancy Drew‘s second season went out much like it came in: With the Wraith of Gorham Woods freaking the bejeebies out of us! After the reveal in May 26’s penultimate episode — that the specter we thought had been vanquished back in January was actually attached to Nancy (Kennedy McMann) — it was explained through flashbacks that this evil passenger had been driving her darker behaviors all season, as well as keeping her trapped in a toxic relationship with the controlling and now dumped Gil Bobbsey (Praneet Akilla).
Her only hope of shedding the Wraith, the Drew Crew learned, was to employ a device created ages ago by Temperance Hudson, Nancy’s witch-like ancestor who had been supernaturally exiled by the Women in White. The procedure proved nearly fatal (draining one’s blood into a bunsen burner can be tricky!), sending Nancy into a surreal dreamscape where she faced her past traumas and fractured Drew-Hudson identity — with some mystical help from her friends, including a very flirty Ace (Alex Saxon) — before escaping the Wraith’s clutches and emerging alive and seemingly more secure.
Along the way, we saw George (Leah Lewis) finally say farewell to her own spirited parasite, Odette, and propose to Ned (Tunji Kasim). We also saw Bess (Maddison Jaizani) get her heart broken again and Ace clearly ignoring his feelings for Nancy as he headed out of town with Amanda Bobbsey (Aadila Dosani). Oh, and Carson (Scott Wolf) and Ryan Hudson (Riley Smith) are bros now and we stan the hell out of them.
It was a crazy season full of scares, ‘ships, and twists, in addition to some beautifully handled social issues, so we thought it was only appropriate to check in with showrunner Noga Landau and executive producer Melinda Hsu Taylor for a debrief and maybe get some scoop on what Season 3 holds.
There’s so much to talk about because the season was so beautiful! Kennedy just crushed it with this Nancy who was so adrift, trying to find out who she is. And the way you incorporated the Black Lives Matter theme into the police storyline was so organic and impactful. Ned declaring “We’re always terrified” broke my heart.
Noga Landau: Thank you, that means so much to us. And Tunji [Kasim, who plays Ned]… like our entire cast, he is such a legit actor. He is so, so good.
I was getting so worried because Nancy was not acting like Nancy Drew. It was like, “What is happening with her? She’s gotten really dark, she’s alienating her friends…” and then you pull out this Wraith twist. How did we not see this coming?!
Melinda Hsu Taylor: [Laughs] That is all Noga. I credit that entirely to her.
Noga, how long were you planning this huge reveal?
Landau: We have been planning this, all of us, all of the writers, since really Day 1 of Season 2. It really has been in there from the beginning. Amanda Row, our producing director, has been secretly filming all the Wraith moments throughout the season that we planted in every episode. So we did those scenes two ways: we would do a normal version, then she’d be like, “Call in the Wraith!” It was such a big, fun thing that we’ve been doing for so long.
I would say your most experimental episode visually. How do you kind of sell the network on the idea of sending Nancy into a dreamscape?
Taylor: Oh yeah. This was also Amanda Row’s work. She did a fantastic job on this. And the CW is very supportive, as is the studio. They were like, “Okay, great. We embrace your vision.” They’re wonderful partners truly. And then, you know, I think having each of the Drew Crew members kind of play a different aspect as a foil to the different darknesses that Nancy became aware of inside herself was really fun and really satisfying. And we were also bring back Eden Gilmore who played the young Nancy and she’s so great. And it was really fun to explore this pathway.
And where do you feel like this leaves Nancy? Are we back to a Nancy before the show started, before her mom passed?
Landau: Hmm. Something that we’ve always done on the show is talk about trauma, mental illness and just the human condition and how complex it is. And I think Nancy is never, she’s never going to go back. She’s never going to erase the hard drive, you know? She has to live with all the pieces of herself and that’s very much what the show is about. We wanted to show in this episode that it is possible to live with your monsters…it’s a lot of work and it can be scary at times, but that’s the story of the human life.
It also seems the message is that it’s easier when you have a crew, when you have people around you and let them in. That last scene, the way she ended up positioned on that couch between her two dads, it felt like she’s now protected.
Taylor: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love that scene. Yeah.
As the season progressed, did anyone note that Gil was coming off as kind of toxic? He clashed with everyone.
Taylor: Oh, we always designed him that way. Praneet Akilla is the loveliest human being. He’s very thoughtful and gentle and really, you know, he’s totally ACTING when he comes across as toxic. [Laughs]
Thank god that was your plan. Because at first, I liked his edge… then, by last week, it was like he needed to back off.
Landau: [Laughs] Oh yeah. All that being said, you know, this is not the end of the story of the Bobbsey Twins. Because you know, you can, you can go on a long journey, start out as a toxic asshole and still have a really meaningful character arc. So yeah, this is not necessarily the end of the Bobbsey Twins.
OK, good, because there can be redemption there. But now, let’s talk about the near-kiss. People are going to lose their freaking minds.
Landau: It’s so funny, they already are. It’s all they care about!
Taylor: They caught in the promo, yeah. [Laughs]
I love that she brought her feelings for Ace out of the dreamscape with her. So how long do you plan to play this out? Like you gotta give us something, right?
Taylor: Sometimes we have these very vigorous conversations in the room about when things should happen and how long to hold off on things. And I hope that we’re achieving a really satisfying balance of seeding the romance while also not delivering anything prematurely.
So you have been seeding it! It’s not like our fan-brains went into overdrive. And now, it’s like they’re the Ross and Rachel of Horseshoe Bay…he’s even leaving town just as she realizes her feelings!
Taylor: [Laughs] I don’t know if we want to divulge this nugget, but when Alex first read for the pilot, I turned to [casting director] Sandi Logan and said, after Alex walked out of the room, “I think he could be a love interest for Nancy.”
I think it’s also worth mentioning that we love RJ Hatanaka, who plays Tamura and we’re hoping to see a lot more of him in Season 3. We love the sparks he has with Nancy.
He’s so great. Nobody that looks that good should be that quirky.
Taylor: Yeah. He’s remarkable.
And he works so well off the Crew. When you introduced Tamura at the end of last year, he looked like he was going to be a pain in the ass. But he’s turned out to be a super-fun ally.
Landau: [Laughs] Oh yeah and he only gets more fun. I would also like to state for the record that in our writer’s room, there is a clear division between #TeamNace #TeamNumora. They have equal representation.
Excellent. And what about Bess? She’s been through it with Odette and losing her Marvin ties.
Taylor: Ahh yes. She is going to have a new love interest, too. We’ll find out in Season Three that she’s kind of trying to move on by going on her dating app a lot. And unexpectedly, one of these dates turns out to be something a lot more meaningful, which is a longer play, But it’s somebody who has a bearing on the mythology, as well. I think that’s an okay thing to say.
And when have you started breaking stories for next year?
Landau: Oh yeah. And we’re starting to write them, too.
So I’m hoping that you’re going to do a bit of a witch storyline?
Landau: A witch by any other name. [Laughs] We use every other euphemism for witch in the show…
Taylor: [Laughs] Right. We say, practitioner, the dark arts, you know…
It’s so great how you revealed that it was actually The Women in White who had the power, not the men of Icarus. And it’s all tied to this evil that lives beneath the town?
Taylor: Well, something is kind of sourcing all of these hauntings and mystical events, so we feel like there is a larger mythology that we can tap into in Season 3 while still keeping the show very grounded and very accessible to folks who just want to tune in for a mystery and feel like, “These are people I would want to have in my friend group” and “Oooh, how complicated it is to have two dads.”
The visuals of the finale, especially in the dreamscape, were really cinematic…who is the horror-movie fan here?
Taylor: Noga! [Laughs] And also, again, that was Amanda Row who directed the episode. She really knocked it out of the park, in our opinion. And our visual effects house, shout-out to CoSA VFX! They had a lot of experience with tendrils and they really delivered. This was a real team effort. Noga came up with the idea and Amanda furthered it with a great team including our makeup [department head] Danielle Fowler and her team.
Landau: And James Hazell, our production designer.
Taylor: Oh, genius.
So should we count on a wedding next season?
Landau: You can start planning for one. [Laughs]
Because this town does not do well with large gatherings.
Taylor: [Laughs] That’s so true. You know, I think there’s a lot of drama to be mined in how this engagement goes. And part of Episode 1 in Season 3 is all about what Nick’s response even is. It’s not that big of a spoiler to say that yes, we’re going to plan a wedding. But how we get there and what becomes of it all is a big part of the first part of the season.
And how would you describe Temperance Hudson?
Taylor: Villain. [Laughs]
Landau: [Laughs] She is the first person we really going to meet in the show who is a truly formidable match for Nancy, who is actually capable of always having the upper hand and always outwitting her until the bitter end. Nancy is Luke Skywalker and Temperance is her Darth Vader. She is so much more powerful, older, connected to her by blood—she’s her 200-year-old great-aunt times eight and she’s seen it all. She’s lived through everything and it’s going to be so fun to see these two go head to head.
Taylor: She’s also an unrepentant sociopath. She will do the most selfish thing and own it. She’ll just be like, “What did you expect? I’m an unrepentant sociopath who is the villain of the show.” [Laughs]
Drew Crew, you have been warned!
Nancy Drew, Wednesdays, 9/8c, The CW