Warning: This article includes spoilers for the first episode of Nancy Drew.
Ned Nickerson is just Nick now on The CW version of the Nancy Drew stories. But the character, played by Tunji Kasim, didn't just get a name change for the series. He also got a dark backstory which seems to hint that Nancy Drew's boyfriend Nick killed Tiffany Hudson (Sinead Curry). Of course, if the Nancy Drew books taught us anything, it's that the first suspect is almost never the actual culprit. But right now the evidence is stacking up against Nick.
In the pilot episode, Nancy and Nick have a physical relationship, but don't spend much time talking. She doesn't know until after Tiffany's murder that Nick has a prison record himself. Add that to the fact that he was at the scene of the crime when the murder happened, and he's looking mighty suspicious to law enforcement.
Then, Nancy discovers that Nick has a pretty clear motive as well. His previous crime, which occurred when he was a minor, was manslaughter. He was convicted thanks to testimony from a single key witness: Tiffany. To Nancy, it sure looks like Nick could have killed her as a form of revenge. And sure, that's possible, but Nick seems pretty level headed and unlikely to want to repeat jail time for homicide after already doing time for manslaughter. We should probably consider that this is only episode 1 and that Tiffany's testimony could turn out to be wrong — Nick could be innocent of both her murder and his manslaughter charge. Let's not forget that eyewitness testimony can be severely unreliable.
Still, it's too early to tell and there were some hints that Nick knows more than he's letting on about Tiffany's murder. For one, he was eager to take Nancy's side when she mused that Tiffany's husband could have been the culprit. "I'm with Nancy, look at the husband first," he said, which could certainly be a quick attempt to get attention off of himself. And when Nancy speculated that perhaps Tiffany's missing wedding ring indicated that it was a robbery gone wrong, Nick said, "Or is that what it's supposed to look like?" Outbursts like that certainly raise the question of whether or not Nick staged a robbery in order to kill Tiffany.
Even worse, Nancy learned in the episode that it was a 10-minute walk from Dodd's Repair, where Nick works, to the restaurant where Tiffany was killed. Nick showed up on the scene right after Nancy found the body. In Nick's version of events, he was there because the repair shop had closed and he was coming to get dinner, but it's equally likely he was there because he'd just committed the crime. His secret past casts suspicion on him, and it doesn't seem like his secrets are fading away any time soon.
Kasim told MEA WorldWide that "the biggest thing about Nick is he’s been to prison." It was such a huge part of Nick's character that Kasim said he actually did a lot of research on the prison system. "We were fortunate enough to work with a group of members from the ARC, a Non-Profit organization from Los Angeles. They have been through the prison system, get education degrees, and reintegrate back into society. I was able to look up to all those guys and do my own research," he said.
However, Nick is far from the only character with a motive. George (Leah Lewis) is having a relationship with Tiffany's husband (Riley Smith). Perhaps she killed Tiffany to get her out of the way. And Bess (Maddison Jaizani) is the one who stole the ring, so it's possible the murder really was a burglary gone wrong. It's way too early to jump to conclusions on any one theory just yet.
And if you're already a Nancy and Nick shipper, just remember that every good mystery fan knows a suspect introduced this early in the game is unlikely to be the killer. So even as the clues stack up against Nick, keep your eyes peeled for hints that point to new suspects.
It's almost too obvious to have Nick kill again out of revenge simply because of his manslaughter charge. Nancy Drew seems to be shaping up to tell a story that's far more interesting and twisty than that. This mystery is far from solved.