[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Nancy Drew, “The Ransom of the Forsaken Soul.” So unless you are caught up, go hide behind the veil that protects Horseshoe Bay from Temperance’s evil plan.]
The end of the world as Nancy (Kennedy McMann) knows it was averted, thanks to some crafty Scooby-squad assistance. But just because our gumshoe was able to vanquish soul-stealing witchypoo Temperance Hudson (Olivia Taylor-Dudley), that doesn’t mean her world wasn’t completely upended in the process. The Copperhead may have been stealing hearts all season, but this finale twist ripped ours right out of our chests.
Reeling from the fatal showdown—which wound up killing Ryan (Riley Smith) as well as Temperance, thanks to a shard of the cursed hatchet used to kill her—a morose Nancy re-emerged a month later to see her friends again and admitted to Ace (Alex Saxon) that she was guilt-ridden over taking Temperance’s life. Because Ace is awesome, he then took her on a walking tour of their town and pointed out everyone she had saved. Before long, she was feeling a bit better. So much so that she finally addressed his romantic confession last week and let him know she was on the same page. Seconds later, they were in the same bed and giving fans everything we wanted.
Their joy (and ours) was short-lived, however, as they were involved in a horrific car crash after leaving the community center’s going-away party for Nick (Tunji Kasim). Cradling a dead Ace in her arms, Nancy was stunned to see a still-alive Temperance, who revealed that she had planted an anchor in Nancy’s head following their mind-weave “in case of an emergency.” She then explained that everything Nancy was experiencing was “a simple forecast of what your life would be like if you kill me,” that she was basically in a “pause” back at the Veil, stuck between choosing to save Temperance or off her. If Nancy decided to let her live and finish her plan to destroy Horseshoe Bay, she and Ace would get to live happily ever after. If she stopped her, well, then the couple would be cursed for eternity…should they ever act on their feelings again, Ace dies.
Here, showrunner Noga Landau and executive producer Melinda Hsu Taylor explain Nancy’s ultimate choice, where we go from here, and how a potential Season 4 could look. So let’s get that renewal together, The CW!!
Oh my God, you two! I understand Nancy choosing to save her town, but now she is making a choice that I question. Because given everything that they’ve gone through, why not just tell Ace about Temperance’s curse?
Noga Landau: Oh, that’s a great question. So…first of all, she doesn’t know for sure yet if telling him would just instantly trigger the curse. Because Temperance is really sneaky and she might have built that in there. You see when all that Nancy does is almost kiss him and the barometer breaks. So there’s that. But I also think Nancy knows on some level that if she tells Ace the truth, then Ace would stop at nothing to undo the curse and that will likely trigger the curse. They’ve learned by now that you shouldn’t try and mess with Temperance’s magic; it’s very risky. So I think she’s doing this to protect him and herself.
Ace is no dummy and he’s seen this behavior in her before. How soon do you imagine he’ll figure this out?
Melinda Hsu Taylor: Not that long. I mean, I think it’s a big question on his mind coming into hopefully Season 4. At the end, when she leaves his apartment, he says, “Are you in trouble? What are you hiding from me?” So he needs to figure that out. And I think that there will be other things for Nancy to be in trouble with, so maybe she’ll be able to divert him for a little bit? But as an audience member, I want him to know very soon and for her to deny, deny, deny.
Now, how long did you have this Ace curse up your sleeves?
Landau: Not as long as it might seem. [Laughs] It kinda came in the middle of breaking the episode, to be honest.
Taylor: I wanna give Noga credit for saying, “We need them to be star-crossed. How can we make it so that there is essentially a reason they can never be together?” And then we’re thinking about how to structure it and how to do a little sleight-of-hand so we could give people what they wanted and yet also give them what they needed, which is star-crossed.
Landau: And I wanna give Melinda credit for literally uttering the phrase that changed everything, which was — and bear with us, Damian — “Have you ever seen The Last Temptation of Christ?” [Laughs]
Oh, right. Because that entire thing plays out while he is dying on the cross!
Landau: That’s right. And when she said that, we were both like, “Holy s**t…that’s how we can do it.”
Taylor: There’s also The Green Knight, which was more recent; they use the same convention, you know?
It’s such a crafty misdirection because I was thinking that in Season 3, bodies can start dropping and I was so afraid you were going to kill Ryan (Riley Smith). And then you did!
Taylor: He even [mentions] the family curse, how the Hudsons have early demises.
So you get to resolve Temperance’s arc, save the town, kill Ryan and Ace in the “pause” sequence and all of that is the supernatural stuff. But with this show, I always say you come for the scares and stay for the squad. So I have questions…why did Nick and George (Leah Lewis) have to break up and stay apart?
Taylor: Mmmmm. Well, you know, one thing that we talked about early on was, it is a little early to get married when you’re 18 or 19. I’m not saying it never works out, but I don’t think it’s wrong to wait a second. If you feel like it’s true love then, it’d still be true love at 20, you know? Maybe that’s not for me to say, but I also know that narratively, we are very excited about the possibilities for them as individuals and we didn’t want their stories to be defined by each other all the time.
Interesting. And this does spin them out into a little bit more adult material, like George considering law school and working with Carson (Scott Wolf), which I thought was such a sly way of getting them both fun material.
Landau: Oh yeah. Carson plus anybody is just great. One of the wonderful things about working on the show is that literally any combination of people results in this delightfully different and terrific dynamic.
Now…George does have a history of being attracted to older guys.
Taylor: Oh, god no, no, no, no!
Landau: [Laughs] No, no! Don’t worry, Damian. No, Carson is with Jean now and they’re gonna have a story in Season 4.
Oh, thank God. And Bess (Maddison Jaizani), given her embrace of magic, I feel like she is positioned — fingers crossed for a Season 4 — to be the one most likely to be corrupted.
Landau: Interesting. Because she’s really got everything to lose, right? And she really holds the treasure chest now mm-hmm and she has to protect it.
But of all of them, she gets the happiest resolution to the season. Ryan is probably the most in physical danger, which deeply concerns me because he is the most improved character ever. Love him as Dad 2.0!
Landau: [Laughs] Yeah, he’s gonna get a little embroiled in some shady stuff that he didn’t ask to be a part of.
And how much of that is connected to the kicker with the missing bodies?
Landau: Oh, it’s connected.
Taylor: We have to keep knocking wood and holding our breath about a possible Season 4, but in our daydreaming moments, we definitely think it’s connected.
At the very end, you also bring in the Nickersons. How is this going to impact Nick (Tunji Kasim)?
Landau: We’ve dealt really deeply with everybody else’s families on the show but there’s only really been one big episode that’s about Nick’s connection to his family. We would always talk about him having a very stable home life, you know, that his parents were together and solid in their marriage and there wasn’t drama on that front, but that he had been raised with standards. We saw that with his mom coming to town and we love that about him. We love how he kind of snaps to attention around her. What we haven’t talked at length about is his dad because we’ve had several different ideas for his dad, which didn’t pan out because of [scheduling]. So it’s a little bit of a blank slate in an exciting way because we do have so many ideas. And we’ve talked to Tunji about this, you know, to kind of get his ideas for what would be interesting to him personally. We love to get the actors input on their characters.
With Nancy and Ace sent to their own corners, as showrunners and writers, what a perfect time to introduce possible new distractions?
Landau: [Laughs] Never know. You never know.
Ace has a new job and I’m assuming that the morgue is not a one-man position. What have you already bounced off whiteboard about what could come next?
Taylor: That’s so interesting. First of all, just with Connor the coroner (Giacomo Baessato), I had thoughts of them working together. We actually had a scene originally where the two of them were commiserating about women over a corpse; that would kind of be their morning. A lot of “Women, amirite?” [Laughs]
Taylor: Also, we kicked around an idea, originally in the blizzard story, where Ace got stuck in the morgue and there were ghosts in there with him. So who knows what might happen at that point?
Like perhaps a supernatural romance?
Taylor: I don’t know. It’s just a thought that a morgue is where ghosts might hang out.
What you leave us with in the graveyard…what can you tell me about what that evil would be?
Landau: Well, what’s cool about what we did this season is we had Nancy basically avert a supernatural apocalypse. Which is big. So what we’re really excited about for Season 4 — knock on wood — is sort of a return to our roots where it’s Nancy and her beanie and a flashlight in a graveyard investigating a very crazy mystery. Perhaps there are ghosts involved, perhaps there are town secrets involved. We were really excited to both return to our roots, but also show how much we’ve changed and grown as a show.
OK so getting a little bit more micro. It’s cool that you mention the town’s secrets because that scene of Ace walking Nancy through town and telling us about all the people she saved almost felt like you were opening up the story of this town beyond The Claw.
Landau: For sure. And at least at the beginning of Season 4, we are still going to be talking about a town that is reeling from a very scary disaster. We broke this [finale] episode right around the anniversary of September 11th and it was a big reminder to us in the writer’s room, how people’s individual identities and their outlook on life changes when they share a big disaster.
Taylor: Also, you know, it brings people together as a community. I’m really glad you pointed out the main street walk-and-talk stuff because I grew up in a really small town and you kind of know everybody and no matter where you go, you run into someone and you have some kind of history with them. And so I feel like one of the reasons that people gravitate to our show, in my opinion, is because it reminds them that there is this human connection out there, you know? In Nancy’s world, people are not wearing face masks, there’s no pandemic and people are still interacting with each other in this kind of larger system of connections. And I think it feels good to be reminded of that.
Nancy Drew, Fridays, 9/8c, The CW