Last we left Nancy Drew, the heroine of the story learned the devastating truth about her real identity: She isn't actually a true Drew, she is Lucy Sable's secret daughter. When The CW mystery drama returns for the final two episodes of a shortened freshman season (due to the coronavirus outbreak), the action picks up seconds after Nancy (Kennedy McMann) confronts her father, er, who she thought was her biological father about keeping the truth hidden her entire life.
"It changes things in a profound way," Scott Wolf, who plays Carson Drew, tells ET of Wednesday's episode, which is "really our first look into what their life is going to look like for a minute. And it's difficult. Unfortunately for Carson and for Nancy, at least, all of the greatest fears that Carson and [Nancy's late mom] Kate held about what it might mean to reveal this truth to Nancy really come to pass. And things get very, very difficult for them."
Sure enough, the impending clash between father and daughter becomes heated as tensions flare; it's a heartbreaking and soul-crushing argument to witness as accusations and indictments fly. Wolf observed that while Nancy Drew isn't "Nancy Drew" by blood, "the writers have said they called the show Nancy Drew for a reason." "But this idea of, 'How do they find a way to move forward individually or together?' is a step-by-step process. And step one, which we'll see this week, is a really, really painful step," the 51-year-old actor warns.
"Our writers have chosen to take this primary relationship between Carson and Nancy, which is an indelible relationship from the book series, and made it contemporary and powerful. But they've also chosen to make it incredibly challenging," Wolf continues. "The first half of season one, their relationship was driven by this well of pain and angst between them, and how they were yearning to find each other but they couldn't. They were brought together gradually step by step by step, only to get torn apart again by the prospects of what Carson might've done and the fact that he's sent to jail. Now, there's this existential threat to their relationship."
"The love between these two characters is undeniable and their value to each other is undeniable. But there are so many chains that they have to fight through to really have each other the way they want each other in their lives -- this being the biggest challenge they've ever faced," he adds. "In the next handful of episodes, we'll see them working through that."
On the other side of the coin, there's the lingering question over who Nancy's biological father actually is, a central focus of Wednesday's return. While it's easy to presume that wealthy bad boy Ryan Hudson is the answer to the question, don't be so quick to close the book on other possibilities.
"There's obviously going to be a huge implications to the news we find out in the episode and it's going to change the way everybody sees each other and makes a lot of us rethink about the way we feel towards each other," Riley Smith, who plays Ryan, coyly tells ET. "What does this mean? Where does it go from here? I don't even know that! That I can say. I'm excited for season two because there are so many places that it could go. This is a huge turning point in the series."
Smith and Wolf were both let in at the start of the series on Nancy's bombshell reveal, a decision executive producers Melinda Hsu Taylor and Noga Landau made to give them an idea of where their characters were going in the first season and beyond. Keeping the secret from castmates and their loved ones proved quite challenging.
"Yeah. It was... I mean, it was hard. I feel like I pretty much tell my wife everything, work-wise or otherwise, so I didn't tell her. I really didn't tell a soul. And it felt like there was a huge amount of importance in keeping that a secret," Wolf recalls. "I know very early on, even from... episode two, there were some people talking about possibilities online and I think someone mentioned that as a possibility. And it never really caught a huge amount of momentum. But I just filed it away in a vault and didn't think too much about it. I guess I proved to myself that I can keep a secret pretty well."
"I was kind of waiting to get to these [story] points, but enjoying the ride of the character along the way," Smith says of playing the long game. "Playing a guy like Ryan is fun because there's so many colors to him. He was a product of his family, so he was perceived a certain way in Horseshoe Bay. It's funny... We always talk about how bad Ryan is, but you don't ever really see him doing anything too bad. I thought that was interesting."
"It's been fun to watch the arc of the character. Where we're at now is so different than where we started and truly, that's so much fun to play as an actor," he marvels. "You get to build this and the writers did such a cool job letting the character grow over time, where people question their opinion about him. I think that's fun."
As Wolf tells it, playing Carson for the first 16 episodes of Nancy Drew has been uniquely challenging because the character was the sole keeper of the secret. "Having to navigate what he can and can't say... The thing that was really important to the writers and to me was you want people to be able to go back and rewatch your story and never feel like we pulled any punches or misled anyone or were dishonest to keep people from figuring anything out," he explains. "When you go back, you'll see that at all times Carson was being as honest as he possibly could without ever revealing this thing that he believed would threaten everything he loves."
But with Nancy out for blood and desperately seeking answers to who she is, Wednesday's return is a huge pivot point for her relationships with Carson and Ryan.
"I'm biased, but it's my favorite of the season," Smith says of the hour. "Melinda Hsu [Taylor], who is our executive producer and writer, co-wrote this episode and it was amazing how it came about because they could've done so many different reveals and twists with everything that they built up to and the way it's played out is beautiful. Everybody has these wonderful moments with Nancy and with each other and it shakes up everything you know about Nancy Drew. I mean, literally, to the point of her name. So yeah, it's exciting. It's a great episode."
Nancy Drew returns Wednesday, April 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
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