Saturday, October 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'Nancy Drew' - Nancy Hopes Other Amateur Sleuths Can Help Solve Her Case in 'The Testimony of the Executed Man'

The CW's Nancy Drew - Episode 3.03 "The Testimony of the Executed Man"

On the trail of the Frozen Hearts Killer, Nancy and her friends follow a surprising lead from a podcaster at an annual convention for amateur sleuths - where they also find themselves unraveling ghostly clues about a homicide from the 1950s.

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 Testimony of the Executed Man" was written by Jesse Stern and directed by Shannon Kohli

Catching a serial killer turns out to be only the first step towards solving an even larger mystery. That's simply what the stakes have become in this series. Every season has had to increase the stakes in order to retain a sense of urgency. It wants to constantly be one-upping itself. Now, this was already teased simply be the sheer presence of Temperance. The suspicion always lurked about her being behind some of the supernatural terrors currently happening in Horseshoe Bay. It's still surprising when the Frozen Hearts Killer case is wrapped up here. It's just the start of something new. Nancy already has that feeling in her gut. She knows this case isn't solved completely just because she caught the man who committed the murders. She still needs to know why. The mystery still exists about what he did with the hearts of his victims. That doesn't make any sense to her. That's what she focuses on at the end of what should be a closed case. She succeeds because she has the resources to mount a successful plan and the cunning acumen to pull it off. Sure, it's manipulative of the audience as well. The viewer isn't let in fully for what everyone should expect as the Drew Crew is hoping to lure the killer out of hiding. Instead, a moment presents itself as Nancy being locked in a basement with a serial killer. She is never in any true danger. This was always the plan. The show just artfully distracts and deceives the viewer by seeming as if the live recording of the podcast is the extent of the plan. Nancy and Laci are having a discussion about the case. They seek to demean the killer so that he makes a move because he enjoys following the investigation. Of course, that too is a fairly familiar plot device. It makes the Frozen Hearts Killer a lot less interesting than how he was initially introduced. Of course, the audience should have assumed that something was up when the Drew Crew just casually forgot about the killer only having eight fingers. The action called that out repeatedly. The guy they corner because he is acting suspiciously is doing so as a performance for the convention. The show calls attention to these tropes while still trying to surprise the audience. It's a tricky balance especially in a meta episode like this one. The Drew Crew attends a Detection Convention for amateur sleuths. They have varying levels of fame. Nancy is immediately accepted as a credible podcast guest in this space. Meanwhile, George is given the opportunity to be seen as the hero of her own story. That's empowering. Sure, it too creates a mystery. George and Nick need to uncover who is profiting off of this story. George needs to give her approval otherwise it feels incredibly exploitative. It fosters a nice conversation within the family. One where George doesn't what to stifle Ted's entrepreneurial spirit. She just needs to be aware of the damage that can be done when George doesn't feel in control of herself. She has felt that all too often. Odette is so frequently positioned as having taken something away from George. But now, George is given the space to decide how to live. That must always be respected. Similarly, it doesn't allows have to be about exposing the truth about a past case in order for the people involved to feel resolved. Laci wants something from Nancy too. She needs to prove that the man her grandmother loved truly was innocent of a crime the state killed him for doing. Nancy burns the box of evidence because she and her friends are being haunted by his ghost. That too is an ominous image. One the show has dealt with a number of times. They still help him and this family find peace. That's the greater urgency of this moment. It's not about solving a case and adding it to the list for the fans. People are committed to this work because of the great empathy they have for those tortured by the world in unfair and unjust ways. Sure, Nancy deals with more supernatural threats than others in this line of work. It makes for a chaotic life for her and her friends. It's one they feel the urge to escape from every now and again. And yet, they improve the lives of those who live in Horseshoe Bay. That's where they belong. They are of service to their community. It may be under attack by nefarious forces more dangerous than a serial killer. But Nancy is on the case and will relentlessly pursue it no matter the cost.