The actress talks to ET about perks of knowing the endgame for the season, Nancy & Ace's potential romance and more.
Is Nancy Drew in over her head?
The amateur sleuth faces her most formidable foe yet on The CW drama bearing her name, with the Aglaeca curse -- terrifyingly predicting Nancy and her friends' violent deaths -- looming large over their collective mortality. On Wednesday's episode of Nancy Drew, the Drew Crew continue their battle against the deadly Aglaeca, doing everything they possibly can to gain an edge over it so they don't die. As star Kennedy McMann warns, "They are super in over their heads."
But there's already a lot for Nancy to contend with outside of the curse. There's her fractured relationship with Carson, her very complicated one with biological dad and her struggles to understand who she really is. "There are a lot of loose threads for Nancy in her life. She's floating in the ether and there were a lot of unfinished conversations," McMann, acknowledges.
Ahead of Wednesday's episode, McMann hopped on the phone with ET to discuss the Drew Crew's race to cheat death, the blessing of knowing the endpoint for the season and Nancy's very messy love life.
ET: What surprised you the most this season?
Kennedy McMann: There's an interesting element to the development of this season because our writers -- because of the timeline of production and everything with the pandemic -- they were able to write [the entire season]. We have all the scripts for the whole season, which is very, very rare. They finished writing it around Thanksgiving, so they were able to build in so many Easter eggs throughout. There were so many longer arcs that there will be stuff that you can look back that plays in episode two that becomes extremely relevant in episode 18. And because we have this different timeline, where the scripts were so ahead of production, it feels really tight-knit and feels intentional in a really amazing way. As a full season, it's going to have a nice polish that has been really fun to play with, especially when we know where our characters are headed.
The Drew crew is in a very dicey pickle with the Aglaeca curse, where everything they seem to be doing to try and not die isn't working. Can you tee up the danger that still awaits them?
They are super in over their heads. There's so little information that they're basically in a scramble for information to try and find something to latch onto in order to figure out what they could possibly do to stop this. The next couple of episodes are this real mad dash to scramble to find anything. They're pulling every trick out of the book that they could possibly try. It gets to a point where on top of the fear, on top of the deep sadness for all of them in experiencing this, that building tension comes to a boil between the five of them. On top of that, they're dealing with trying to figure out what the hell they do to break the curse, but they're also slipping away from each other. Because everybody's so anxious and so revved up, they start turning on each other. That becomes a different layer of, if these are our last couple days, is this how we want to spend them? It's an interesting emotional experience for all of them as they navigate it. But yeah, they're in lot of danger. There are so many layers of complexity to be in that storyline. It's definitely not a clean-cut ending to that arc.
What does this force Nancy to confront as her death looms?
There are a lot of loose threads for Nancy in her life. She's floating in the ether and there were a lot of unfinished conversations. Her relationship with Carson is totally on the rocks. She has no relationship with Ryan. And in her eyes, she's rejecting that. The closest people in her life, her friends, are suffering. They're having to figure out how to deal with the fact that they all might die. And she feels very much like it's all on her shoulders. And for her, it ends up pushing to a breaking point where she realizes she has to open up. She has to dive into these personal relationships while she has the chance to. And that is a special part of this first section of the season is Nancy throwing her hands up and saying, "I don't know what else to do, except to lean into the emotion of this," because she's very much a closer-offer. She put the helmet on and just busts through and keep going until it's done, but she's realizing that that's not working anymore. There's a big emotional somersault she has to make to realize that the only thing she has left is to try the thing she's been resisting this entire time, which is opening herself up and letting other people in.
You mentioned her strained relationship with Carson. Their relationship was a bedrock for much of season 1. How do you see that playing out as they try to figure out how to resolve or mend their relationship?
It's really on Nancy's shoulders. The ball is in her court. Carson has done everything that he can, really. And he's agreed to say, "You know what, I'll step back. I'll give you space and let you do what you need to do." Nancy knows that, but she's so afraid of how vulnerable it would make her to accept and forgive that because she's reeling from this whole total loss of identity. But at the same time, as much as she wants to punish Carson for "doing that to her," he's also the only one that can comfort her in the way that she needs. But there's some great stuff in this coming episode -- somebody else opens the door for Nancy to come in and addresses that relationship. That's a really sweet and lovely character moment for the three people involved in that.
The Nancy and Ryan dynamic is also interesting to chart because Ryan is trying to figure out how to fill that father void. What can you tease in regards to what their relationship to each other is and what they want it to be?
We see in the premiere, Ryan sort of putting on the dad hat and putting his stake in the ground and saying, "I am going to be your dad, whether you like it or not." And obviously, Nancy is resistant to that. I think it's just one step too far. It's too much for her to carry right now. I don't think mentally, she has the capacity or emotionally, she has the capacity to hold that. It's super weird. Ryan also thinks it's super weird, and Carson thinks it's super weird, but all three are in this weird soup together. And they're like, "Well, I guess we should do something about this. We can't not do anything about it." It's quite a humorous path for the three of them. It's a little bumbling and everybody's finding out what their relationship is with one another and how to act with each other and how Carson and Ryan navigate which part of fatherhood they're going to take on. There's a beautiful relationship that develops between Carson and Ryan that is hilarious and one of my favorite parts of the season, where Carson is becoming Ryan's dad a little bit and teaching him how he's supposed to be a dad. The conclusion of that will be satisfying.
The threat of her true identity coming out and becoming public. Is that a lingering threat she has to worry about now, like Ryan's father Everett?
Absolutely. That's a huge part of season 2 is the building threat of what happens if people find out, what happens if Everett finds out. She took Everett down in season 1, so he has a lot of reasons to hate her. She doesn't know what her identity is, but she knows that she doesn't want it to be that. She knows she doesn't want it to be as a Hudson. She's very afraid of the potential of genetic interference with her and who she thought she was. Definitely the threat of Everett finding out or just her identity being exposed in general to the public is a big part of what unites Ryan and Carson and Nancy this season.
Can you tease how Nancy takes the news that George and Nick are together now?
She finds out pretty shortly. We've never been a show that is very interested in pitting women against each other and I don't see that changing for a long time. Nancy understands completely why her relationship with Nick ended and why that was not a good fit or even a good fit right now. But who knows what will happen in the future? She's at peace with that, as much as there's always lingering hurt over her own feelings of inadequacy in that experience. But for the most part, Nancy and George's relationship really begins to flourish this season. It turns into something where they're both able to accept that they've both dated the same guy and that's okay. Nancy also sees that George is a lot of the things that Nick has always wanted. He wants somebody to love because he wants somebody to care for. George needs somebody to step in and let someone take care of her. Nancy sees that the compatibility is there. That is not a big conflict of the season, I will say that.
There's also some romance possibly coming up for Nancy with the arrival of Gil Bobbsey. What can you say about what his presence may mean for her?
A big part of Nancy's character is enjoying the escapism of romantic or sexual relationships. With everything she has going on, it's the one thing where she feels like she can claim some power, she has agency, she can make her own choices and it only affects her and this other person. She likes having a lot of fun and she's not afraid to. It gives her an opportunity to feel good about herself when in so many areas, she feels really bad about herself. She feels like she's been, in so many circumstances, betrayed or she has a lot of guilt and disappointment in herself that she's struggling to reckon with. She sees a lot of that in Gil. She sees somebody that's hurt and somebody that lashes out. There's something to that -- that there's a kindred spirit in there, of where Nancy is right now, which is very broken. She's not in a good or healthy place to make decisions. That's a part of life and I'm really glad that we are showing that. That will unfold in her romantic relationships, certainly.
There have been seeds planted, especially in the premiere, of Nancy and Ace's friendship leaving a door open for something more down the line.
There are definitely vibes. Nancy and Ace's relationship is probably my favorite in the show. I mean, I'm biased towards Nancy and Carson as well. That's probably my favorite relationship, but Nancy and Ace have a very interesting dynamic and somehow he's become the person -- she says in that final scene in the premiere, "I want to figure out how to fix this, but I can't do it if you're mad at me." She sort of rendered useless. She wants at least Ace to be on her side. If Ace is with her, she feels like she's okay, that she's not a bad person. She really, really cares about his opinion of her and obviously, Ace cares a lot about her as well. They're both experiencing something where they're, in general, both a bit hesitant to really let people in, to lift the veil and allow yourself to care for somebody or a group of people, or really allow yourself to be supported by friendship and in these intimate relationships that the whole Drew Crew is developing with one another. And Ace admits in this last scene too, that he's really afraid. He doesn't want to invest his emotion into these relationships if it's all going to blow up in his face. I think they both feel that way. So they're in a similar boat. But the interplay of their relationship throughout the season is a real pillar of the plot. And I'm really excited for it to develop. I don't want to say too much, but the vibes that are there are definitely there. Whatever that becomes when that happens, I think they have a very interesting road ahead. But at the end of the day, they care about each other and have an innate sense of trust with one another. It's very cool to see where that leads.\
Is there a scene coming up you're excited for?
As everybody knows, our season 1 finale was not originally supposed to be a finale. We have a handful of episodes coming up that were partially filmed back in February of 2020 and some [that are filmed two months ago. But the ramp-up to what was going to play as the season 1 finale, that episode is going to be fantastic. There's a bit of a boiling point, like I talked about before, with the whole crew. The way that plays out is going to be explosive and compelling and exciting.
Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. For more on the series, watch below.
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