The CW’s Nancy Drew typically follows an episode structure where 1-2 mysteries are being tackled at a time. The pacing is streamlined and easy to follow. In the case of “The Vision of the Birchwood Prisoner,” the chapter was all over the place. Each of the Drew Crew members focused on their own mini-plots before finding a way to connect to each other’s stories. This approach made the chapter feel like it was being pulled in many different directions as one arc shifted to another. It was an exhausting takeaway bouncing around the Drew Crew’s chaos in Horseshoe Bay.
As we discussed in previous reviews, Nancy’s rash and reckless discussions came back to haunt her. She shouldn’t have gone into The Frozen Heart Killer’s house alone because all that evidence went out the door due to her mishap. And now, in typical Nancy fashion, she made another rash move to clean up her mess from before. The Drew Crew isn’t experienced in using magic, so relying on Temperance Hudson to find the memory posed many risks. Sure, there was a deadline to find the evidence before the killer would be released from jail, but Nancy and Temperance should’ve planned out their approach before going all in. At least they should’ve agreed before giving the killer a stroke!
The most interesting aspect of “The Vision of the Birchwood Prisoner” was that it established the original Frozen Heart Killer as a demonic entity. Nancy and the Drew Crew theorized that there were multiple killers around, but in essence, the person they recently arrested was “inspired” by the demon and was in itself a copycat. This reveal opens up a lot of possibilities and questions about the past murders. How many victims were caused by the copycat? Which ones were the demon? Did the demon kill the coffee shop owner? Another demonic villain isn’t surprising in the world of Nancy Drew; it’s not the first time for a case to go in this direction. But, it’s a twist here that kept us on our toes for how much of a sharp change it took us on.
Five chapters in, and Agent Park isn’t my favorite of the random detectives who come to help Horseshoe Bay. He’s a tad cold and detached, a little too structured in his “by the books” approach for keeping Nancy out of cases. Still, he shouldn’t have been sidelined to a filler plot with Bess. It was painfully obvious that “The Vision of the Birchwood Prisoner” didn’t know what to do with Bess and Agent Park, so it placed them in a decoy plot while the others worked on the more pressing reveals. We didn’t need the many scenes of Bess bumbling her way through keeping Agent Park at the mansion or burying the zombie cat. Their time together could’ve been summed up in one scene. Too much filler to create comedy that wasn’t landing in the way they hoped.
The same goes for Nick’s scenes as well. Did Nick even have a plot in this chapter? He served more as a vehicle to connect to other characters, like bringing Ace’s dad closer to their confrontation or having Nick react to George’s story. It’s great to have Nick’s reaction and thoughts, but the empty restaurant could sum up his lack of purpose here. The parts he did shine were when he approached his character development and confronted George. I loved that he wasn’t blindly going with the flow; George legitimately kept things from him, and if that’s something he doesn’t like, it’s good for the couple to confront their issues. George doesn’t have to share everything with her fiancée, but meeting her birth father was the type of big life event she should’ve shared. There might be some serious issues in this relationship that she and Nick need to discuss.
Speaking of George, her confronting her birth father about him abandoning her was *chef’s kiss*. Throughout Nancy Drew’s run, George had the weight of her family’s lives on her shoulders; she did a lot to make sure they were taken care of, even to the point of sacrificing her happiness. George had a lot of baggage to tell her mother and father, so it’s great that she confronted him about everything. He impacted her life in ways he would’ve never known. Now, he can live with his guilt about the selfish actions he made; hopefully, he starts to make amends.
Between Ace and his father, his father frustrated me the most! Look, Ace may have had issues in the past, but he cleaned up his act and joined the Drew Crew. Anything happening currently with Bertram Bobbsey was out of his hands–he’s an innocent victim and tried to help where he can. I wish Ace hadn’t made risky moves in clearing his name and just listened to Carson Drew, but it’s all out of the box now. On the other hand, his father actively lied to his wife and kept his secret son hidden. It’s not Ace’s fault that his mother coincidentally walked out to overhear their conversation. Ace’s dad made the mistakes, and he deflected hard to lash out against his son; any goodwill about this character was thrown out the window. He can go away now.
“The Vision of the Birchwood Prisoner” tackled too many plots and brought out the worst in their characters. Some made risky moves, while others continued to rely on their bad habits. George and Ace pushed their plots positively, but the storylines only blew up in their faces. This chapter was a filler episode, but ultimately, it ended with everyone on bad terms. Not a great feeling to take away from a Nancy Drew case.
Nancy Drew airs Fridays at 9 p.m. EST and streams the next day on cwtv.com.