Saturday, March 13, 2021

REVIEW: 'Nancy Drew' - Nancy's Identity Crisis Connects to a Mysterious Disappearance in 'The Legend of the Murder Hotel'

The CW's Nancy Drew - Episode 2.07 "The Legend of the Murder Hotel"

Nancy is approached by a group of young girls asking for help in finding a volleyball teammate they believe was kidnapped by a ghost. Meanwhile, Ace and Amanda share a moment.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Nancy Drew.

"The Legend of the Murder Hotel" was written by Katherine DiSavino and directed by Roxanne Benjamin

The show has conditioned the audience into expecting some supernatural explanation or complication in whatever investigation Nancy and the Drew Crew embark on. It took a bit for the show to fall into that rhythm with confidence in the first season. However, that is clearly the tone the show is most comfortable operating within. That doesn't inherently make this story bad. It is still entertaining. In fact, the show has always felt compelled to balance the supernatural with the family drama. It can be a difficult tonal balance at times. The show has more often than not found a way to remain engaging with many of these concepts. Here, George's presence as Odette is the precise thing that takes this investigation of a disappearance into supernatural territory. Until that moment, Nancy had realized the hotel were this mystery started actually plays into the rumors and stories to increase tourism. In fact, the show is playing around with that concept across Horseshoe Bay recently. This is a place where there always seems to be a story that foretells some kind of death or tragedy. A lot of times it is actually true. The citizens of this place are well-versed in all the local superstitions as well. A deep history exists amongst this community. The show has always confirmed the stories to be true. And now, the narrative feels the pull to balance things out a little bit in stating that some of the stories are propped up just to play into those conventions. It makes Horseshoe Bay unique. George can easily come up with a rational explanation for how this disappearance took place. She doesn't immediately assume it was a ghost like Bess. Of course, Nancy has to operate with that assumption because it places a clock on the proceedings. And yet, no one is in any danger of dying. Instead, this story is fueled by an existential crisis where people fear they are no longer where they are suppose to be because of how their lives have changed lately. Nancy's entire world has shifted. She has grown to accept the love she has always had. She is working with Carson now. Her job as his investigator isn't as exciting as she hoped it would be. She is used to the excitement that frequently plagues this town. That is exhausting though. Plus, it's constantly spinning out new complications as a result of poor decisions being made. This episode offers a brief respite from that drama. It still escalates the story. Nancy and Bess become aware that Odette's spirit now resides within George and can take over her body. George has no memory of what Odette does. Technology is the only tool to learn just what this other presence has done. It comes in handy. But it's also a simple explanation. Moreover, it's unlikely that killing George is the only way to separate the two of them. Again, it's a way to strike fear in the hearts of those with firm connections to this world. Even Bess knows to question it. The Drew Crew have gained experience in dealing with the supernatural. That doesn't suddenly make them experts. They remain awkward in dealing with their personal relationships. The show also implies things in blunt ways as well. Carson and Ryan insist that Everett never finds out the truth about Nancy. Meanwhile, Nancy may be considering a name change in order to improve her odds of being accepted into Columbia. It's significant that she acknowledges that as something she still wants. College could still offer something meaningful to her. It's something she wants and is excited about. But again, it will carry consequences throughout this specific town. The show suggests that heavily here. It's a little heavy-handed without much consideration for nuance or firm direction. The season has starting to reach a lull where the episodes feel a bit aimless. And yet, the stylization and humor still provide enough connective tissue to make it enjoyable to watch. The season just needs a bit more clearly defined purpose. At the moment, random developments seem to pop up to create scandalous moments for the characters' personal lives. That means Ace has a sibling in witness connection he wants to meet. He also starts flirting with Amanda. That's a perfunctory detail here mostly because Amanda was important in the premiere and then basically vanished. Meanwhile, the episode ends with the suggestion that Bess is married with her husband newly arrived in town to find her. That's shocking. That's the point. Again, it feels a bit detached because of the lack of focus at the heart of the story. The narrative is grasping for things of value to give the various characters. It can feel hodgepodge and reaching for interest. That can quickly become a problem.