'Nancy Drew' Producers Preview Season 2, Outrunning a Deadly Curse and New Romances (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Colin Bentley/The CW
The Drew Crew is in for a rude awakening.
Nancy Drewresumes its otherworldly haunts when season 2 kicks off Wednesday with Nancy and her friends desperately racing against time to try and outrun and absolve the deadly Aglaeca curse, which has terrifyingly predicted their imminent (and violent) deaths. So how exactly are they going to ensure that they snuff the curse out for good, so they can live to see another day? That's one of the big questions plaguing the group at the start of the season.
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"[They are in] very deep trouble. It's for real," executive producer Melinda Hsu Taylor tells ET. "They are definitely going to die unless they figure out what to do."
And as if Nancy didn't have enough on her plate, the amateur sleuth is still reeling from the life-changing revelation that she's actually Lucy Sable's daughter and Ryan Hudson is her biological father, not Carson Drew -- a development that would turn anyone's world upside down. "Her mental state definitely goes on a bit of an interesting roller-coaster this season," creator and executive producer Noga Landau warns.
Ahead of Nancy Drew's sophomore premiere, Landau and Hsu Taylor preview the Drew Crew's latest death-defying challenge, potential new romances (hi Nancy and Ace!) and Nancy's complicated paternal triangle.
ET: The first season was abruptly cut short due to the pandemic. What creative changes did you have to make for season 2 as a result of that?
Melinda Hsu Taylor: One thing we did was create a new premiere. After we shut down, we had episode 18 ready to go. And we heard that was the season finale, unexpectedly. It was a really well-designed episode for a season finale, it turns out. The thing we did coming into season 2 was create an extra episode that felt like it should've been there all along, once we had the opportunity to fill the little time-space between the end of episode 18 and the beginning of episode 19, which happens to be six hours between those episodes. We called it 1x18.5 for a while, but now it's 2x01. In that episode, we were able to set a lot of story arcs in motion and to introduce some great new characters that are about to be introduced the supernatural elements of the wraith, which is so fun. But also remind the audience where these people were, that they're on the run essentially from a supernatural serial killer and how are they going to fix that problem in their life. As far as creatively adapting to a COVID world? Noga, do you want to talk about that for a second?
Noga Landau: I think what's cool about what we managed to pull up and it really wasn't us, it was entirely our cast and crew who are based in Vancouver, it was cool about what they managed to magically do behind the camera, which is make it seem as if nothing was different when in fact everything was different for how we had to shoot the show. Our entire crew everyday dons PPE, everyone is in masks. Everyone is in different zones. Everyone is being so careful with each other and protecting the cast because they're the only ones who have to take their PPE off in order to be on camera. The thing that Melinda and I both want to really emphasize is our cast and crew are amazing and they're our angels and they leaned into this challenging, new reality with so much enthusiasm and grace and we couldn't be more proud of the work that they've done because it really shows onscreen. You would never know that this season was shot in the middle of a devastating pandemic and we're so proud of them.
Hsu Taylor: Lily Hui, she is the architect of the amazingness in Vancouver and is supported by a team of wonderful class people and COVID safety experts and all of that. But we seriously could not deal without Lily. The other thing that has worked in our favor is that because our show so heavily and wonderfully relies on our core cast, just putting the five of them safely tested and taken care of with protocols, five of them in a room together, that's the show. We're definitely hampered by things like, can't do a giant crowd sequence, can't do a street riot... We don't have to worry about that.
In terms of previewing the new season and where everything picks up, with the Drew crew fully aware of their terrifying death premonitions, how do they go about making sure they don't die?
Landau: A lot of our influences for the new season -- I was going to mention Final Destination -- there's something about a group of teens, young adults facing their own demise, that the whole mystery of how they go about the Aglaeca is really fun, and has a lot of unexpected twists and turns. But actually you're going to ripple throughout the rest of the season in surprising ways. But I think on a character level, what we had a lot of fun with is looking at each one of the characters and saying, "OK, if this person knew that they were going to die at the hands of a bloodthirsty, supernatural entity, how would they react to that and how would it affect their personal life? It affects how George and Nick deal with the fact that right at the moment, when they're falling most in love with each other, they might have to die together. It affects how Nancy looks at how she's going to deal with the unresolved issues with Carson and also with Ryan, who's her biological dad she just found out about. And with Ace, it affects how he looks at his relationship with his own father and his own reason for existing, what he wants to do with his life. It's really about what it brings up for each one of the individual characters that I think is most exciting.
How bad do things get with the Aglaeca curse? How deep in trouble is the Drew Crew?
Hsu Taylor: Very deep trouble. It's for real. Yeah. They are very real. They are definitely going to die unless they figure out what to do.
Will a new mystery be introduced this season? Or is the Aglaeca curse going to take up a lot of the season?
Hsu Taylor: Oh no, we wrap it up. It'll be a satisfying chapter to open the season, but it is a chapter. Other things progress from that and are launched by it, but we're not going to string the audience along. I have a pet peeve with shows that make you suffer along with them for episodes and episodes and episodes -- and it's clear that they're drawing everything out. We will wrap it up in the right amount of time that feels really satisfying and epic, and yet also an inevitable launch of a whole new set of storylines. The audience will not be kept waiting to figure out how they're going to do this or what the outcome is.
One of the lines in the premiere that made me chuckle was George's line to Nancy when she says, "How do you have the bandwidth for another mystery?" On top of all the stuff she's already dealing with in regards to her dad issues, there's a new case. Does Nancy reach a breaking point this season?
Landau: It's interesting you pick up on that because her mental state definitely goes on a bit of an interesting roller-coaster this season. Not so much because she doesn't [have the bandwidth for cases]. She has constant bandwidth for new mysteries. She's been solving mysteries for 90 years and she's going to go for many, many, many more. Nancy Drew will always take on a new mystery and that's what makes her so exciting and such a fun character. But as far as Nancy Drew's internal life and her character journey this season, we really didn't shy away from the difficulties and complications of the blowback from last season, of finding out her real identity and just how hard it is to be 19 and 20, let alone suddenly finding out that your parents maybe kidnapped you, raised you as their own and that your real family are a bunch of evil billionaires who you desperately don't want to find out about you. She goes on a lot of complicated psychological paths this season.
Nancy's relationship with Carson was a bedrock of season 1, but now that's been shattered. Where do they stand and is their relationship salvageable? Does this force Nancy to forge a bit of a stronger connection with Ryan?
Hsu Taylor: Yeah to all. There's a really wonderful arc between Nancy and Carson kind of finding each other again over the course of enough time and enough adventures happening, and they very much want to be father and daughter. It will be different than it was before, but the bond between them is so strong that it can't be shaken by even this. That said, Ryan is also wanting to be some kind of dad to Nancy and it's really called out a better version of himself, which is not without its fits and starts and hilarity. He's trying to learn how to be a proper parent because he didn't have any examples from his own parents. Nancy does ultimately reconnect with Carson in a satisfying way that we earn. And Ryan also starts to get closer to Nancy and also Carson in a kind of a role model way and in a weird buddy comedy way, not weird, but enjoyable and believable. A couple relationships with Carson also start to develop.
There's a little bit of a push and pull between Ryan and Carson, and it sounds like that will permeate through the season?
Hsu Taylor: Totally. It's just a pleasure to have the two of them onscreen together.
In the second half of season 1, it seemed like Nancy and Ace were growing closer as friends and possibly inching toward something more. What do you see in this pair that may make them a compatible couple at some point down the line, if that is the direction you're going in?
Landau: On paper, what's so special about the friendship that's growing between Nancy and Ace is that they're very unlikely partners. Nancy is sort of this high-achieving, for lack of a better word, good girl, who really has done a lot of things right in her life and has really stood out in her community. There are a bunch of newspaper articles about her, basically starting at the age of 12 for solving crimes. Meanwhile, Ace is sort of a quieter slacker. Like, he's just happy to be existing and reading his books about philosophy and working at the diner. Something that's really cool about Ace is he really owns the fact that he's finding purpose in the Drew Crew to solve crimes, and he's really coming into his own and growing up as a person. What's interesting about that is the more he grows and the more he owns his own brilliance and his own ability to solve crimes, the more Nancy is going to be drawn to him.
So I am correct in reading something into that?
Hsu Taylor: Yes, there is a vibe. You are not crazy.
George and Nick are faced with whether to tell Nancy about their romance. What can you tease as they grapple with that?
Hsu Taylor: One thing to remind the viewers of is that the show takes place over a very compressed timeline. In our world, it's still October of 2019. The pandemic has not happened yet and it will never happen in Horseshoe Bay because in success, our compressed time, it will continue through the winter of 2019. And then probably Nancy will go to college and come back after a time jump in our grand plan for our future. So we will never ever see people onscreen wearing face masks on Nancy Drew. But because it's also been very compressed in the world of the show, Owen was murdered three days prior to the premiere. And George and Nick's first kiss was a week ago. So this is really new for them and they're going to be tentative about it. They've got a lot going on and it's that friend group thing when two of them realize that we've got our own special thing going on, but how do we break it to the group without offending anybody or making things weird? They've got so much other stuff going on that it's going to add a layer of complication for their coming clean to Nancy about it.
If there is an overarching theme to the season, what would it be?
Landau: The overarching theme of the season is, yes we can. It is the triumph of always remembering that even in the darkest of times, there's a reason why we make TV and we make movies and that's to reach people and to tell them their own story back at them. And I think the season is, in a lot of ways, just on screen, about finding a new lease on life. Without giving too many spoilers, we start the season everyone having to face the fact that they might die and how that shapes how you view your life in that moment and moving forward.
Nancy Drewpremieres Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. For more on the series, watch below.