'Nancy Drew' Finale: Kennedy McMann Breaks Down That Deadly Cliffhanger (Exclusive)

Kennedy McMann in Nancy Drew finale
The CW

The actress talks to ET about Wednesday's freshman finale and looks ahead to season two.

Warning: Do not proceed if you have not watched Wednesday's season finale of Nancy Drew. You're about to head into spoiler territory.

Nancy Drew signed off with one deadly cliffhanger. Literally.

The CW's gem of a mystery show called it a day on its shortened first season with Wednesday's finale, which ended on a worrisome note for our favorite amateur sleuths. As a result of the Aglaeca curse, Nancy Drew and her friends, George, Nick, Ace and Bess, saw their impending deaths play out right before their very eyes: Nancy, by jumping off a Horseshoe Bay cliff (paralleling her mother, Lucy Sable's, own death); Nick and George, by drowning as water filled up Nick's truck; Bess, by catching on fire; and Ace, by being hanged by chains.

If seeing their own deaths doesn't accelerate the Drew Crew's desperate attempts at freeing themselves from the Aglaeca curse, nothing ever will. 

Because Nancy Drew was forced to shelve four episodes when it abruptly shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, it was kismet that Wednesday's episode -- which wasn't intended to be the freshman season's final hour -- ended in such dramatic fashion. While the mystery of Owen's killer was resolved (it was Lucy's brother, Josh, who delivered the fatal blow), there was so many questions left unanswered, from the aftermath of Nancy's parentage twist (bye Drew, hello Hudson?) to a potential new romance, that season two will be brimming with possibilities.

To break down the finale, ET hopped on the phone with leading lady Kennedy McMann to get the scoop on that crazy cliffhanger, what the original plans were for the four unproduced episodes and a look ahead to the new season.

ET: Because the season was cut short, did you talk to executive producers Melinda Hsu Taylor and Noga Landau about where the story was going and what they were planning to do? 

Kennedy McMann: Yeah. We definitely had some talks and all of that kind of stuff, but it's all very unclear about how things are going to pick up. We just really don't know because everything is ever-changing. We are definitely set up with the Aglaeca storyline to carry us over to season two. That's a big, big deal and I think will take us a couple episodes to resolve, if not more than that. So that's set up really nicely to launch us into season two. And then obviously we have all these relationships that are sort of hanging in the balance. And horrible loose threads with Carson and with Ryan and it just like sinks your heart so bad. But yeah, we have those things to deal with. I think that'll be what launches us into season two from my understanding, but we shall see.

Was Wednesday's episode tweaked at all to fit more of a finale feel? 

I actually don't know if they changed anything. I definitely am not aware of it, but it works perfectly as a season finale because you're seeing all of us see our deaths. And it's like, well yikes, here we are. What a way to end the season.

Can we talk about that crazy ending? They all know that the Aglaeca curse can turn deadly at any moment. What was your reaction to reading that final scene? Were you a bit stunned that Nancy jumping off a cliff, paralleling Lucy Sable's death, could be how she goes?

It was so interesting to see the different routes that they took with the way each of us might die. And that was totally unexpected. I mean, we knew that the Aglaeca was still up in the air, but obviously the episode is so intense with dealing with Owen's death and with Josh. And then to have that come at the end, it's just this looming horror that they know is coming. It was so exhilarating to see that because I love that we see it fully played out in that way because it's like, Look, this is the way it's going to happen. You better watch your back. And it's really, really exciting.

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How does this foreshadowing of their deaths accelerate how Nancy and her friends go about their lives and solving this mystery?

It definitely changes things for all of them. I think it puts a lot of things into perspective and it'll accelerate a lot of relationships -- both of people reconciling perhaps or the romances that are in play. A lot of the characters are dealing with the fact that this might be my last few days on Earth. How do I want to spend that? Who do I want to spend it with? How do I want to leave things and do I want to tell anybody? Do I want to tell the people I care about that aren't involved in this about what might happen? 

We really see Nancy struggling with the reality that Ryan Hudson is her birth father, which still sounds strange to say. What will it take for Nancy to forge a real relationship with him?

Nancy at the end of the day cares about the truth. She is fascinated by figuring other people out and seeing everything that lies beneath the surface. This is a really interesting opportunity for her to turn the microscope on herself. That might end up being... I actually don't know. I genuinely have no idea how that relationship is going to develop on my part. What it might take for her to reach out to Ryan and really develop that relationship is her own interest in developing a sense of self and a commitment to the person who made her because he's the only one that exists on the planet that has that intimate connection to her biologically. For her to juggle that biological relationship and then this relationship with Carson who raised her, I think that it's really ripe for [drama with] my two dads: What do I do about this?

Things are obviously strained with Carson. What challenges lie ahead for them to repair their relationship? Is that even a priority at this point for Nancy?

She's definitely hurting. They worked so hard to rebuild the trust in their relationship throughout the course of the season and to have this happening again in a way, it's just so devastating to her. And I think that she'll find that she really, really needs him. Of course, in a way, he'll always be her dad whether or not that's biologically true. It could take some extreme circumstances, which a lot of the crew are under with the Aglaeca curse for her to realize what's important. That might be a catalyst for her.

You briefly touched on Owen's death. Many fans embraced Nancy's romance with Owen. How does his death change her? Was there more to explore there, do you think? 

I think for Nancy, Owen was a really wonderful escape away from her close circle, away from people that knew so much about her, away from these secrets and these problems. And even though he was involved, for sure, there was a level of separation there that allowed her to go to him and just let all of that go and just feel good and feel good about herself and just have a little bit of happiness amidst all of this trauma. And so for that sort of escapism to be ripped away from her, it's hugely impactful 'cause she doesn't have anywhere that she deems safe to turn because if she turns to her very wonderful close friends, that's really vulnerable. And I think that that's a tricky place for her to be right now. But I think it'll open up a lot of doors for her to do that.

We see that in this episode with Ace. She finally opens up to him a little bit amidst deciding... "When I figure out how to talk about this, I promise I'll talk to you." And I think that's a really big step for her because she is just so against [showing] that weakness amongst her friends. She feels like she has to be really stoic for them because of how much she wraps them into, how many risks she rests upon them. So in that, she can't show them if she feels like she failed because she feels guilty about bringing them into it and it not going smoothly.

Nancy and Ace have been spending a lot more time together as of late. Hypothetically, if things were to progress as friends or even romantically, what makes him an intriguing partner?

I love what's developing with Nancy and Ace. In whatever way that relationship evolves, I think they're just incredibly compatible. I mean, they're the ones that are both unabashedly like, "Yes, let's do that crazy plan!" Like, no explanations, let's just do it. And he also is somebody that possesses the only skill that she lacks. He has this incredible command about technology and he's really witty in a different sort of way than her. I just think she's really impressed by his abilities because it's a hole in her own abilities. I think it makes them a really great team. 

He also knows how to listen. He is one of the only characters that doesn't prod her for information and I think that's why she ended up opening up to him because he's exactly the type of person she knows will be patient enough to wait until she's ready to express how she's feeling. I just think that that's sort of the only thing that works for Nancy right now is somebody that will be quiet and wait until she's ready instead of poking and prodding and asking and asking. I think that they're -- whether as friends or in the future, something more -- really compatible.

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Do you feel like Nancy and Nick's love story is completely over? Nick and George are clearly a thing, but curious to hear your thoughts.

Yeah, I don't know. I think both of them really care for each other and always will and you never know what will happen. George and Nick make a wonderful couple. They're really compatible in ways that Nancy and Nick weren't, but they also have something really unique for each other. [Nancy and Nick] never really could put a finger on either of them and neither of them was really... or at least Nancy -- when they were together -- wasn't in a place to give him what he needed. And maybe if she comes to a place where she is able to do that, it might align again. But I really don't know. I'm open to anything. All of the people in our cast are really awesome to work with. So I'm kind of down for whatever they go with because everybody's wonderful.

When I spoke to the producers, they said you figured out the Nancy/Lucy Sable twist yourself. When did you start getting suspicious and what clued you in that something was up?

In the pilot... I was so curious as to why Lucy was appearing to Nancy. There has to be a why. Obviously, yes, she's this town ghost, but why is it Nancy? What's the connection here? Obviously in the beginning there was the sea queen connection. And that's when I started to get suspicious. I was like, "Something here is not quite right." That's when the pieces started to come together for me.

Looking more broadly at the season, what are you most proud of? 

I was given such a gift with the season, I think, as an actor just to have so much material and so much range to play. Near the end of the season, that incredibly emotional arc for her, I've always really enjoyed that sort of drama and that emotional turmoil. But I have never been pushed to that extent of just blow after blow after blow. And how do you play a character that has experienced so much trauma and still has to keep her head above the water and still keep moving forward? Finding a way to keep diving deeper and deeper and deeper into her pain was a huge challenge and incredibly satisfying.

Maybe this past week's episode, episode 17, may be my proudest I've been because she was pushing so hard to find a way to make sense of everything. And it was a huge emotional challenge. I think the testimony scene too in episode 16 when Lucy's story is revealed, that was incredibly special to me to do that. I held that with a lot of reverence because I knew how much that meant to the show. And it was really cool to be able to do that.

What are your personal hopes for Nancy in season two? Obviously she has to work through the fact that she might die, but...

Yes, yes, in the circumstance that she does not die... I would love for her to find a path to learning how to reach out for help a little better. I mean, she's in such incredible turmoil and we have an awesome opportunity to display somebody learning how to ask for help and how to lean on other people. I definitely want to see that and I would love to see her and the crew having fun and I don't know, go to the beach and have a fun time together. Just enjoy each other and laugh, for a moment -- even for a brief moment -- and not have their whole world flipped upside down and get to enjoy being 19 and 20. And experience friendship that isn't under the circumstances of potential death. (Laughs.)

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