Nancy Drew kicked off the night of programming by airing an emotional final episode that celebrated the heart of the show on Wednesday, August 23. After defeating the sin fog that threatened their small town, the Drew Crew came together to say goodbye as they all headed off in different directions.
Nancy (Kennedy McMann), Ace (Alex Saxon), George (Leah Lewis), Nick (Tunji Kasim) and Bess (Maddison Jaizani) reminisced about their days working at The Claw before leaving the restaurant for their next big adventures. Ahead of going their separate ways — with the understanding that they will reunite with each other — Ace immortalized their time at The Claw by carving everyone’s initials into a table.
“My dad once told me that it is possible to live a good life without a soulmate. He was half right. It is. But now I know that we choose soulmates ourselves. Fate leaves that up to us,” Nancy said in a voiceover at the end of the episode. “And like he also said, maybe you get more than one. I know that I have. I got four.”
Meanwhile, Riverdale took a much darker tone while concluding seven seasons on The CW. The series, which is inspired by the Archie Comics, focused on Betty (Lili Reinhart) in the present timeline as she recalled her time in high school.
Angel Jughead (Cole Sprouse) visited the now-elderly Betty and offered to take her back to her last day as a student. The episode offered viewers updates on their favorite characters by having Jughead remind Betty how each of her friends died through the years.
The series finale also revealed that the core group of friends never properly crossed paths again after graduation. Several of them moved to other states and either found love with random people or they didn’t build families at all. The characters ultimately found true happiness after they died and went to the Sweet Hereafter. The final scene showed the group spending time together as teenagers in Riverdale’s version of heaven.
Earlier this year, Barbie and Oppenheimer became summer’s biggest movie event as people rushed to watch the projects together. Film fans enjoyed pointing out how Barbie stood out as emotional — but fun and bright. Oppenheimer, however, came off as more doom and gloom due to the source material about the man who created the atomic bomb.
Nancy Drew celebrated the show’s message of found family, working through your trauma and fighting for your happy ending. Riverdale, meanwhile, promoted a more somber message about peaking in high school and feeling semi-fulfilled for the rest of your life while missing past connections and mourning lost loves.
Before Nancy Drew came to an end, McMann, 26, highlighted the satisfying conclusion to her character’s journey.
“[Nancy] is really soft this season in a way that is such a great product of her growth from season 1,” she exclusively told Us Weekly in May. “This is the first time — obviously, she’s got great close relationships with her parents and she loves her friends — but [her romance with Ace] is a love and a care that she’s never experienced before and it’s overwhelming to her. It’s the first time she’s encountered that sort of emotion [and] feeling bigger than herself.”
The actress continued: “It’s really beautiful to watch her contend with that. Especially knowing where she comes from in season 1 as someone who’s very hard and jaded and emotionally closed off.”
Riverdale‘s executive producer Sarah Schechter, meanwhile, reflected on how their show said goodbye via a different take.
“I think we’ve approached everything as fans, you know? So I think you go through all the emotions, and then you end up in a place where you really just wanna honor the experience,” Schechter told TV Insider on Tuesday, August 22. “So, it really is that cliche yearbook quote of ‘Don’t cry ’cause it’s over, smile ’cause it happened.’ It’s a gift that the show has just been such an incredible experience and so was watching all the cast grow up.”