Turns out, that’s not the only awkward assumption Mac makes about Nick. You can draw your own conclusions about Mac’s likely level of racism beyond the veil, but he definitely assumes that Nick is his old bartender BFF named Buddy because he is also a Black man. Mac, it would seem, remains convinced that Buddy knew where the lone 45 recording of the Aglaeca shanty was hidden, so now it means he thinks Nick does too.
This leads to a lot of fun scenes involving mirror hauntings and glass exploding, but Mac’s racial assumptions tie neatly into the episode’s other main subplot of the week, involving a visit from Nick’s mother. Given the fact that Nick was in a relationship with Nancy and had a connection to Tiffany Hudson, there wasn’t a lot of room to really get into his backstory last season. This is probably why a plot that centers on him as a character for once feels long overdue.
Millie Nickerson, by the way, is amazing. She doesn’t even blink at the revelation that ghosts are real, citing her Bible and prayer shawl as evidence that she has always known the supernatural is very present. She’s also determined to bring Nick home to Florida after the death of a family friend in what the police are calling a drug deal gone wrong, but she knows is just another example of a young Black man who paid the ultimate price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Millie is deeply rattled by the fact that Nick spent two years in jail despite all her best efforts to impress upon him all the ways that young Black men must navigate the world differently – understand that people will view him as larger and scarier than he is, keep his hands visible, don’t talk back, look like anything but a threat. That she still lost him has spooked her, and she wants him back home where she can both see and protect him.
Nick, of course, isn’t into this plan, as he’s built a real life for himself in Horseshoe Bay, complete with a business, a girlfriend and a group of friends for support. It doesn’t seem as though we’re ever really supposed to assume that Nick leaving is a possibility, but this is one of the first times that Nancy Drew has attempted to wrestle with the fact that Nick’s experience of Horseshoe Bay specifically and of Maine generally is different than everyone else’s, simply because of his race.