Ladies and gentlemen of Horseshoe Bay, that’s how you do a finale.
Nancy Drew wrapped its third season on Friday with an epic, heartbreaking and endlessly twisted hour that found the titular sleuth fulfilling her destiny — even if she really, really didn’t want to.
Long story short, Nancy successfully killed Temperance and prevented the apocalypse, only to lose Ryan in the fight and Ace one month later. Sure, we finally got the barometer-shattering Ace/Nancy sex scene of our dreams, but that only made his death all the more tragic. Tragíque, even. We were relieved, however, when Temperance reappeared to explain that everything Nancy experienced after their final battle had been a vision, one that was certain to come true if Nancy killed her.
And just for fun, Temperance threw in one last kicker: If she does kill her evil ancestor, Nancy will be forbidden to act on her feelings for Ace, or he’ll also die. So when she got the chance for a do-over, Nancy hesitated, allowing Temperance to open enough of the veil to flood the streets of Horseshoe Bay. (Seriously, a tsunami?! And we thought poisoned donuts were savage.)
Nancy eventually came to her senses and returned Temperance to the great beyond, saving Ryan in the process, but it cost her a future with Ace. Not even a one-month time jump — which found Ace professionally relocating from the Claw to the morgue, Bess stepping up as the historical society’s newest keeper, Nick working to repair the town’s water damage, and lawyer-to-be George discovering her own engagement ring in a store window — could present a solution for now-official detective.
As it stands, the new owner of Nancy Drew Investigations (eek!) is prepared to live out the rest of her days without her “soulmate” (eek again!) by her side. Hey, at least that first big tip — which led her to a cemetery full of empty, dug-up caskets — will provide a much-needed distraction from all that drama. (Just kidding!)
TVLINE | As a longtime fan of Nancy and Ace, thank you for making their first time so hot that it broke his barometer.
LANDAU | You know, we just felt like it was about time. We felt like we’d earned it. People have been waiting, the characters have been waiting, and it just felt really organic. It also felt totally organic to then move into a storyline where their love is very much star-crossed. We had a lot of fun talking about [them getting together] in the room. Kennedy and Alex are always great, but they particularly impressed me in this episode. I forgot I was even working — I was just watching as an audience member. I was really, really delighted.
TVLINE | I was also delighted… until you cursed them. What are the parameters of this thing? How close is too close? Because she already almost kissed him once.
TAYLOR | We haven’t talked in the room about this yet because we’re still crossing our fingers, but in the event of a Season 4, that will be one of the first topics on the table: What exactly are the rules? What puts his life in danger? I think the most delicious thing is that she has to pretend forever that she has no feelings for him. As a rule, or at least a rule that she makes in her own head, she’s not going to risk it. She would be the kind of person who would say, “Well, if I just hold his hand, does that lead down a road? What does ‘act on my feelings’ really mean?” There’s a version where the conclusion is that saying anything — giving him a look that you wouldn’t give to a friend, writing him an extra line in a card at Christmastime — counts as acting on her feelings
TVLINE | That’s why I was so inspired by Carson’s speech about fighting to save her mother. Perhaps she was also inspired to try and break the curse herself?
LANDAU | Well, she’s definitely not the type to sit idly by, and neither is Ace.
TVLINE | Since Temperance’s curse remains, does that mean her story didn’t end with her death?
LANDAU | That is to be determined. The thing that’s really fun about temperance is that she’s a villain of many faces. And I’d like to do a special shout-out to all the Temperance actresses. There’s Marilyn Norry, who played her as an aged woman; Bo Martynowska, who plays her in her youthful form; and Olivia Taylor Dudley, who plays her when she looks like her dead daughter. [Laughs] What’s so fun about Temperance is how she just keeps coming back. While we don’t have any plans at this time specially, her menace definitely looms over Nancy now.
TVLINE | Speaking of deaths, kudos on the Ryan fake-out. You got me. That was almost the major focus of this interview. Did you fool anyone during the table read?
TAYLOR | I didn’t have the heart to fake them out, so before we sent the scripts, I sent them all text messages saying, “Don’t be alarmed with anything you read in the scripts. We have high hopes for a Season 4. We’ll see you at the table read.” [Laughs]
TVLINE | The ending, in some ways, feels like a rest. Like whatever comes next will be a totally new chapter.
TAYLOR | We love new chapters. If we’re fortunate enough to get a Season 4 — knock on wood — we’d be able to welcome new viewers in a way where you wouldn’t have to have seen the previous three seasons. It would benefit fit you to check them out on HBO Max, but you wouldn’t have to in order to join the fold.
TVLINE | So Nancy received that creepy tip about the graves at the end. Is that at all connected to what came before, or would it be a totally new mystery?
LANDAU | There is a very small tendril of something that’s already been planted that will become a part of that next mystery, yes. But the fun part of seeing Nancy Drew back in a dark, creepy graveyard is that after this big, crazy, epic season where she saved the world from a supernatural apocalypse, we really are designing Season 4 — knock on wood — to be a return to the roots of Nancy Drew, more where we started in Season 1.
TVLINE | We’re all hoping for a fourth season. Can you give me any more clues about what that would look like?
TAYLOR | Well… Carson and Jean are still a thing, Ryan is going to have a dastardly entanglement with the seemingly nice folks who made him get in their car at the end of the episode, there will definitely be a through line of supernatural and mythological mysteries, and Nancy is going to take a major step into the grown-up world. Sometimes you have to pick and choose where your energy goes as a grown-up, and we’ll see the ramifications of that.
Once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, grade the finale and season below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on… all of that.