Would you be up for a Nancy Drew spinoff? “The Celestial Visitor” teased the beginning of a new story venturing out of the Nancy Drew universe. Genius tech billionaire Tom Swift came to town in search of Nancy’s help in locating a mysterious meteorite fragment that landed in Horseshoe Bay nearly a century ago. Hijinks ensued, Tom’s arsenal of gadgets was used, and a wave of exposition was unleashed for us to learn about this new character in a short amount of time. Tom was fun, quippy, and had great chemistry with the Drew Crew, and his focus on science-based solutions could prove to be a good balance against the supernatural mysteries of Nancy Drew.
The biggest issue with backdoor pilots, like “The Celestial Visitor,” is that it gives way too much information and plot threads to introduce its character(s). Tom was thrown right in and had to explain every high-level detail about his story so that we as the viewers could catch up. “The Celestial Visitor” wasn’t subtle in its approach, and even when Tom grounded himself, the episode reverted back to making him a larger-than-life character who could do it all. For instance, Tom’s chats about race in a small town and wanting acceptance from his father were important conversations that inspired the Drew Crew to discuss, but then Tom would randomly change outfits (or go shirtless) and kiss Nick just to land another big moment. It was a shifting balance between confidence and humor that didn’t always hit its mark.
In a longer-form TV series, those qualities of Tom Swift will most likely translate better. The series will have more time than an hour to show his confident love of life, his gadgets, and the nuances that make him Tom. The same goes for his relationship with his father. The reason for “The Celestial Visitor” ultimately focused on Tom trying to impress his father with a trip to Saturn (using the meteorite as fuel), so that him coming out as gay wouldn’t be the central point of issue between them. It’s clear that Tom Swift has major daddy issues. You could feel the tension in every reference he brought up about his father and the pressure placed on him to live up to his dad’s expectations.
Though, as this was the first time Nancy Drew introduced Tom, we’ll have to take his word that Tom’s issues with his dad were serious enough that it warranted a grand gesture like a trip to Saturn. If one thing was made clear from Tom’s adventure with the Drew Crew, the spinoff series needs to perfect the casting of Tom’s father for it to be successful. Much of Tom’s motivation and actions stemmed from that backstory, so the right chemistry is needed for his character to develop. And without the chemistry of Nancy and the Drew Crew to play off of Tom, he’ll need to find that fire elsewhere.
Speaking of chemistry, did anyone else love Tom’s interactions with Nancy? Both leads played well off each other and felt balanced throughout the story. While Nancy was detached and approached her mysteries from a supernatural perspective, Tom focused more on scientific solutions and embraced his extroverted side. This duality worked amazingly because each had something the other didn’t, so they balanced one another and had answers to the mystery (as well as their personal conflicts). And the comedy worked well! Whenever Tom tried to fight supernatural with science, Nancy’s look of sheer disapproval couldn’t help but make you laugh because she knew it wasn’t going to work. It’s a shame Tom left Horseshoe Bay; he could’ve helped her adjust to the chaos of the Hudson work and stepping into that world.
Tom’s quick friendship with Nick will also be missed. Both characters easily understood each other and could’ve become best friends if Tom had stuck around. As discussed above, their conversation in The Claw about being Black in a small town was an important topic because it explored layers of Nick’s life in Horseshoe Bay and showcased the challenges felt living in a small-town. Much of Nick’s story on Nancy Drew focused on his connection to Tiffany and their past, but his current life barely gets shown outside of his romance with George. Nick deals with a lot and sometimes his biggest hurdles are the ignorant people in town instead of the ghosts terrorizing people.
Plus, Tom’s introduction was a great segway for Nick and George to open up even more about their true selves. No two experiences are ever the same, and for this couple to survive, they needed to come clean about any hesitations or secrets they were keeping. I liked that Nancy Drew discussed the prejudices and stereotypes that George faced in Horseshoe Bay because it showed how they impacted her daily life too. And, how the expectations and comments from others were affecting her relationship with Nick. Their conversation was insightful and easily broken down for anyone who might’ve been confused heading into “The Celestial Visitor.” This episode was a strong development for the Nick/George relationship and it once again proved why they’re the best in the series.
The big twist of the cult being revealed as the organization that threatened Grant’s mother posed the biggest question: are they the Big Bad for Nancy Drew or for Tom Swift? The answer wasn’t made clear based on Tom’s comment to the Drew Crew about them being outside of Horseshoe Bay. The organization has members everywhere, so it wouldn’t be surprising if elites from the Marvins or Hudsons were in the group, but they’re a global organization that may have sights elsewhere than an intrepid small-town detective. Chances are this could be the tie-in to Tom’s story and who he’ll need to face; Nancy’s Season 2 story has been more concerned about the Hudsons and the ghosts in town.
Nancy should follow her gut instinct about the Hudsons and be very cautious. Once Everett Hudson finds out about her, there’s no way he won’t try to manipulate her or get her out of the way to ensure he retains control of his company. Celia may mean well, but her husband is a villain and has his own secret agenda. Diving into the Hudson world will only cause chaos for Nancy.
“The Celestial Visitor” was a fun simple mystery that spent much of its time introducing the world to Tom Swift. A bounty of gadgets and Drew Crew moments kept us hooked, and important discussions between the characters added needed weight to their development. Though, the larger-than-life moments sometimes pulled us out of the momentum. If Tom Swift becomes a TV series, it’ll be an interesting one to see how it develops, but if it doesn’t happen, the character should make a return trip to Horseshoe Bay sometime in the future.
Nancy Drew airs new episodes Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW and streams Thursdays on cwtv.com.