Adaptational Angst Upgrade barely begins to cover just how much this show puts its characters through the ringer. It's easier to count the number of characters who don't take emotional gut shots. All that can be said is that you'll need tissues. Yes even you guys. Actually, make that especially you guys. And there are spoilers ahead.
- The show's emotional tone can really be established in the first minutes. In the original novels, Nancy's mother died when she was young and Carson has more or less moved on. Here, her death from cancer happened within months of the events of the first season and is greatly effecting both of them.
- Related to the above is how Nancy basically spiraled during her mother's battle with cancer. Her grades slipped resulting in her losing scholarships and her fair-weather friends left her high and dry.
- It gains even more poignancy when we learn her real mother, Lucy, went through a similar experience.
- The end of the episode seems to imply that Carson is the man who killed Lucy when Nancy finds a bloodstained dress in the attic, with the ghost of Lucy appearing behind her.
- Even Nancy's first scene becomes a tearjerker when she places her Sea Queen crown on Lucy's grave, unknowingly mocking her real mother's death. The fact that Lucy's ghost is there just makes rewatching the scene even more painful.
The Mystery of Blackwood Lodge
- Ryan's vision of Lucy. For once we don't see him as a selfish, stuck-up prick; we see him as a guy who lost someone that he truly cared for when they were only teenagers. He looks so happy to see her again and we realize that his grief for her is real.
- Nancy's habit of playing things by ear is shown to have put a definite strain on her relationship with Nick. What makes it especially sad is how he believes she is flirting with Owen when she is actually dissuading him because of her relationship with Nick.
The Hidden Staircase
- Karen discovers Nancy's diary and uses it to have Carson arrested for Lucy's murder.
The Sign of the Uninvited Guest
- Tiffany's death is revealed to have been a terrible accident. The real target was Ryan Hudson who was targeted by Joshua Sable (Lucy Sable's half-brother) under the assumption that he was responsible for her death. Especially heartbreaking is Ace's reaction, when he realized that he unintentionally killed her, when he mistakenly plated the poisoned salad.
The Haunting of Nancy Drew
- The full story of what happened to Lucy Sable. She and Ryan were truly in love, but his parents opposed the relationship because of her social status. When Everett Hudson found out, he demanded they break-up. Lucy's refusal saw him rain hell down on her life; arranging for her mother to lose her job (which she blamed Lucy for), her scholarships to be retracted, and spreading rumors that she was a slut. Even after she broke off the relationship, the rumors continued, with Everett even impersonating his son via email to make it seem like Ryan believed them. Even her best friend's attempt to comfort her went by rigging the Sea Queen election so she'd win went awry, with everyone believing she'd slept her way to victory. On her last day, she tried to meet with Ryan, but his father prevented the meeting and then directly threatened both her and her unborn child (his own grandchild). This was the final straw that made her decide to take her own life, despite being pregnant. Only premature labor saved her daughter. Lucy's final words were a plea for the Drews to protect her daughter from the Hudsons.
- While it's still unknown whether her death was a suicide or accident (or possibly something else, given the supernatural influence on the town), either option is heartbreaking. In the case of suicide, she likely took her own life hoping that it would offer some protection for her daughter. And if was an accident, then she died right after her daughter's birth and people who were determined to keep her from taking her life were right there.
- Ryan doesn't do much better in this regard. He learns the full sordid tale of his father's above misdeeds and despite her breaking up with him and his father trying to prevent them from meeting, he still did everything in his power to meet with Lucy. Only he got there too late. And with Lucy's diary confirming that she intended to commit suicide, he must've felt responsible. Watching him nearly breakdown in the courtroom is hard to watch.
- "I'm never going to be free of them." Ryan shows exactly how he feels about with this single sentence. The people who should've loved him instead only made him suffer, cruelly separating him from the girl he loved. And he's convinced that his situation is hopeless. The defeat in his tone makes you realize how far away he now is from the viewers' first impression of him being just another spoiled, rich jerk. He's no longer someone to scorn and despise, just pity.
- The Drews rescue of Nancy is heartrending. They managed to reach Lucy and are going to talk her down after attending to the newborn Nancy, only for her to fall from the cliffs when their backs are turned. They don't even know if it was suicide or an accident.
- The way Lucy looks as the umbilical chord is cut is sure to pluck at the heartstrings. If she did kill herself, then that may have been the moment that she felt there was no need for her to remain alive. Her daughter was as safe as she could hope and, as she saw it, everyone hated her.
The Girl in the Locket
- Nancy and Carson's relationship just falls apart due to him keeping the secret of her birth. She runs away and even sabotages his car's tires so that he can't follow her.
- Nancy's desperation to leave Horseshoe Bay to get away really shows just how confused and hurt she is by the reveal of her birth.
- Ryan Hudson and his desperate search to find out what happened to his and Lucy's child. For once, his emotional outbursts and jerkish behavior come off as entirely understandable and even sympathetic.
- Nancy letting Ryan believe that when Lucy "committed suicide" (the official explanation for her death), she took their child with her. It's a cruel thing to avoid revealing their relationship and he seems about ready to breakdown.
- Bess's decision to call off hers and Lisbeth's date for fear of her family's rejection.
- Nancy and Ryan's argument. Both of them said hurtful things, but almost immediately regret them.
- "So Lucy died thinking that I abandoned her?" Ryan's pain is obvious in this single sentence, realizing how much pain he unknowingly caused Lucy. And it's also obvious that he desperately coming to grips with just how Lucy spent her final months of life. Ostracized, pregnant, and alone.
- Nancy dismissing Carson without even looking at him.
- Ryan's terror upon seeing Nancy in pain during the ritual. He may have just realized that he's her father and his first instinct is immediately to try and protect her, but he is forced to just let it happen.
- The way both Nancy and Ryan are so uncomfortable around each, they have no idea how to try and build a relationship given their prior interactions and their newly discovered bond.
- Nancy and Carson reestablish something between, but both realize that everything between has changed and Nancy is still desperately trying to put space between them.
- Diane's obvious implications that she has little interest in how Bess and Lisbeth feel for each other and is more interested in how having a source in the police could benefit the Marvin family. The Marvins may have been more sympathetic up to this point, but it's obvious that they are just as treacherous as the Hudsons.
- The discovery of Owen's body by the Drew Crew.
The Clue in the Captain's Painting
- Nancy's reaction to Owen's death is to almost shutdown in her grief. She immediately blames herself and even confesses to the police as being responsible.
- Nancy tossing everything that happened to Lucy and Tiffany in Ryan's face. Nothing that happened to them was directly his fault, but he was already blaming himself before this, he really didn't need another person blaming him.
- George's realization that her relationship with Ryan has hampered her own ability to be intimate and develop meaningful romantic relationships.
- Her confronting Ryan has meant that he is forced to do some serious soul-searching and realizing that while he may not have been as deliberately cruel as his father, his negligence has still hurt people and he needs to work to make amends for that.
- Joshua learning that by trying to kill Nancy, he almost killed his niece, his sister's daughter. His reaction is to immediately attempt suicide.
- The death that the Aglaeca foretells for Nancy: Falling from the cliffs of Dead Man's Bluff just as her mother did.
Season 2The Search of the Midnight Wraith
- Nancy's fear highlights just how much the revelation of her birth has effected her. She has virtually lost her sense of self. She is afraid that she's just as vile as her paternal grandparents, as deceptive as her adoptive parents, and doomed to the same fate as her mother.
- Ace's What the Hell, Hero? speech to Nancy. While he's angry at her for putting their lives in danger for summoning the Agleaca, there's some sadness to it: He mentions that he's never been part of a crew before, implying a Friendless Background. And there's also his noticeable concern for her given her willingness to risk death to prove she isn't like the Hudsons.
The Fate of the Buried Treasure
- The Agleaca's Start of Darkness origin Odette boarded a ship to America called "The Governance", to start an new life in America that she never got to start because once word got out about her wealth. Captain Douglas Marvin and his friend Reverend Hudson coveted her wealth and decided to murder her to obtain it. As Nancy later found out Odette likely because of her sexuality wouldn't never married Captain Marvin willingly which leads to the conclusions that their marriage license was falsified or Odette was forced to marry Captain Marvin who murdered her before the ship landed on the spot that eventually became Horseshoe Bay
- Agnes Marvin whom married Captain Marvin unaware of his sinister nature. His night terrors lead her to discover that he murdered Odette. So she turned to Reverend Hudson so he could help cleanse her husband of his sin only to discover he was in on the murder. Agnes was then locked away in a cellar as they sold an story to the town how Agnes's "mental illness" was deteriorating her. Even worse Agnes lived in mental agony in that cell luckily for her sake she died an few months later however the trauma of that time has been imprinted on her ghost who's still mentally trapped down which is And I Must Scream situation.
The Beacon of Moonstone Island
- Nancy's integrity about past cases being brought up in the town's newspaper and it even takes an dig at Carson.
- An officer later turns Nancy away angry that Nancy apparently is spreading lies about the victim's uncle refusing to listen stating that Nancy will just recant it later.
- Birdie being the solo survivor of the boating accident that killed her parents and being standard on island which wasn't that far away from Horseshoe Bay for 5 years not being found by anyone until Amanda and Ace with Nancy discovered her.
- Gil stealing Amanda's money so she wouldn't backpack through Europe and is pretty pissed off she was with Ace all day. He belittles her in front of Ace calling her desire of a trip through Europe basic. Keeping his sister in an unhealthy codependency twin relationship with him.
- Nancy and Ace's conversation with him expressing concern about her relationship with Gil. Before this point in the series Nancy had just lost her boyfriend Owen because of her revenge driven Uncle Josh and now at this point majority of the town is starting to turn on her for recanting an statement. Nancy tells Ace she's fine, but its clear she's not.
The Siege of the Unseen Specter
- Nancy breaks down in her room as the episode is ending. Tearing down her crime board with her achievements and clippings. She writes justice next to Everetts name and crosses out the word jail pretty much accepting that long as she's under Cecelia's debt she will never bring him to justice.
- Also the fact the town media is calling her "Liar Of Horseshoe Bay" forgetting pretty much all good she has done in the past.
- Getting arrested on her (legal) birthday for contempt of court as the DA is furious that Nancy pulled out of the case.
- Also the fact the town media is calling her "Liar Of Horseshoe Bay" forgetting pretty much all good she has done in the past.
- Odette learning that she was just only one part of her lover Mary's story as she had moved on after her death. The glimmer of hope in Odette's post Aglaeca afterlife just got dimmer.
- George finding out since she merged with Odette her lifeline (Initially it was an long line indicating an long happy life) on palm is changing to match Odette's whose line was short and violent. If she doesnt find a way to sever that connection she will die sooner than shes supposed to bringing her back to square one when she initially died earlier in the season. George begs Ace who was used as her aunt Mei's host not to tell anyone since she doesn't want to ruin the mood of Nancy's party.