Nancy Drew showrunners unpack that major reveal and solving the season's mystery early
Melinda Hsu-Taylor and Noga Landau reveal that episode 16's big moment was in their original series pitch.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for this week's episode of Nancy Drew, "The Haunting of Nancy Drew."
The biggest case of Nancy Drew's life ended up being her own.
All season long on the CW's supernatural thriller Nancy Drew, Nancy (Kennedy McMann) has been trying to solve the murder of Dead Lucy, the spirit haunting her. But in this week's episode, "The Haunting of Nancy Drew," she learned the mystery is much more personal than she could have ever imagined: Dead Lucy is her mom!
Nancy always thought that Carson (Scott Wolf) and Katherine (Sara Canning) were her parents, but they actually took her in after a disgraced, depressed, and secretly pregnant Lucy gave birth and then took her own life. In discovering Lucy's journal with a suicide note, Nancy was able to clear her father of all murder charges with her testimony. But the victory was short-lived, as Nancy also discovered the biological link between her and Lucy, prompting Carson to tearfully confess that Lucy had called him and Katherine for help the night she died.
They had arrived right after she gave birth, and as they held the baby, Lucy jumped off the cliff before they could stop her. Carson and Katherine then left Horseshoe Bay for a few years with the baby to help cover up her origins, returning once there had been enough time for people not to suspect them raising Nancy as their own daughter.
Below, Nancy Drew showrunners Melinda Hsu-Taylor and Noga Landau break down what this world-shaking revelation means for Nancy moving forward, why they chose to solve the season 1 mystery of Dead Lucy's death a full six episodes before the finale, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you always know you were going to be building this season toward this shocking moment where Nancy finds out she's actually Dead Lucy's daughter?
MELINDA HSU-TAYLOR: Noga always knew, because it was her idea.
NOGA LANDAU: From the first day that I pitched the show to the CW, that was always in the DNA of the show. It was always going to be the very first case that Nancy solves.
Why reveal the resolution to Dead Lucy's case/Nancy's origins now instead of as a season finale cliffhanger?
LANDAU: It was important to us, in order to keep our viewers a little on their toes, that we not set up a paradigm that the end of every season finale that you solve the season-long case, or that it’s all solved at the end of 22 episodes. We wanted to create a paradigm where you never know when a case is going to get solved. It could get solved in two episodes, it could get solved in 18.
HSU-TAYLOR: I also didn’t want the audience to feel like this was season 1 of Nancy Drew and they can move on to something else because a chapter is closed. We engineered it as a cliffhanger here, a new story is launched, but the ripple effect of the Agleaca ritual going poorly is the thing that they really have to deal with front and center for the next six episodes. How we address that is going to launch us into season 2 with a couple of different story engines that will become clear. It’s not going to be a huge, cut-to-black cliffhanger kind of thing because I find that unsatisfying. It’s so irritating to have to wait for four months! So this will be like, “I can breathe over the summer but I definitely need to know how that turns out when it comes back in the fall.”
Factual question: Does this make Ryan (Riley Smith) Nancy’s father, since he was her boyfriend at the time?
LANDAU: That’s certainly what Nancy would ask herself and what she would suppose. But that is going to be explored fully in episode 17.
Where did the idea come from to make Nancy Lucy's daughter?
LANDAU: It comes from this idea that you have this girl who has been solving mysteries her whole life, but little did she know that she was the greatest mystery all along. That’s our interpretation of Nancy Drew, where she is very much at the center of the mystery that she has to solve. This felt like the most intricate, poetic way to do that with this character. It’s also fresh — no one has done this before with Nancy Drew, and we’re doing it in a way that we’re respecting the canon and everything that came before. No matter who her parents really are, Nancy is still Nancy Drew. The show will never be called anything other than Nancy Drew. It just creates another layer of depth for the character moving forward as she starts to unwind who she is, what her identity is, and what that means for her relationship with her father.
How does this revelation affect Nancy’s relationship with Carson, knowing that he's been lying to her all her life, especially after she just worked so hard to exonerate him?
HSU-TAYLOR: It’s going to be really hard on them. She doesn’t react well to betrayal or being in the dark about things. Their relationship will never be the same. They might be able to find their way back to each other, but it’s going to take a while. Scott Wolf has known from day one that this was going to be the plan, and he’s been excited to play so many different iterations of Carson. Now Carson is freed from this load of this terrible secret, but he’s still holding himself accountable.
Aside from her relationship with her father, how does Nancy handle this revelation moving forward?
HSU-TAYLOR: She’ll have some distractions. [Laughs]
LANDAU: There’s going to be some things that move into her life now that keep her pretty busy, which is probably good after you realize you’re not who you thought you were your entire life. Her reality has been shaken. But a lot is going to start happening that is going to take her attention as she continues to grapple with her identity in the last chapter of season 1 as she moves into the next phase of this case.
HSU-TAYLOR: There are definitely some very pressing concerns, like the Agleaca not being happy with them for not fulfilling the toll, other mysteries popping up along the way, other problems, and a lot of interesting revelations still to come in the last six episodes of the season.
Speaking of the final six episodes of this season, now that Nancy has helped solve Lucy’s murder by proving it was a suicide, where does this leave the show moving forward?
LANDAU: In the next six episodes we’ll be dealing a lot with the Agleaca and the toll that was not paid. In order to combat that, we have to start unwinding the story and the mystery of who the spirit is. We have been laying the tracks for that all season as well. There are definitely things that viewers who have been with us since the beginning of the season will feel very satisfied and rewarded with.
What can you tease about the way the show ends its first season in the finale?
LANDAU: We are very excited about it. Melinda and I are currently writing it as we speak. We are going to have something happen at the end of the season that is going to create a vehicle for a lot of twisty, turny mysteries that are going to arise in season 2.
HSU-TAYLOR: As much as we love telling a story over 16 episodes, next season the long story arc won’t necessarily be 16 episodes; it will feel like a lot of cool chapters with things running continuously through, like romance and emotional journeys. But going forward the viewers will feel rewarded even more so week-to-week.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.
Nancy Drew (2019 TV series)