Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 3 – TV Review
I somewhat regret my frothing rage against Scream Queens last week.
I mean, those episodes were still unfathomably awful. But now we’re another episode in, I have a better understanding of what kind of show Scream Queens wants to be.
It wants to be a joyless spew-up of horror movie tropes under the guise of camp.
See. I get it now.
TL;DR Less screentime with Chanel is a big bonus as Skyler and Pete actually start to care about the murder mystery at hand; Jamie Lee and Keke inexplicably get spotlighted as lead suspects this episode; Lea Michele gets a makeover, so now instead of being “Rachel With A Back Brace” she’s just “Rachel”; the Red Devil goes on a minor spree with a chainsaw.
We even get to see footage from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Just in case the connection wasn’t blatant enough.
So yeah, it’s less The Chanel Monologues this episode and more Actual TV Show. Skyler, Pete, and Niecy do some detective work on Ariana’s disappearance. Their investigation leads them to suspect that Chanel might have killed her in a jealous rage, because Ariana dated Chad last year. But Chanels 3 and 5 also admit to dating Chad last year, so maybe that’s not such a strong motive. Meanwhile, Chanel is again hit with the “your sorority is dogshit so I can’t date you” stick by Chad, so she decides to give Lea Michele a makeover and turn her into Chanel No 6. 5 isn’t happy. Meanwhile, Jamie Lee convinces Nasim to stay with her at Kappa Kappa Tau for a week to give the sorority girls some strong, female role models. Instead, they just snipe over who wants Oliver’s dick more, before Nasim is arbitrarily attacked by the Red Devil, and she and Oliver insanely assume that Jamie Lee must be the killer. And in minor subplots, a new college mascot is employed to replace the Red Devil, but the Red Devil murders him; Chad and his frat bros start a lynch mob to find the Red Devil, but end up attacked by two Red Devils; and Niecy gets a bizarre scene where she accuses Keke of being the killer, which is a waste of time.
There were two black characters in a scene alone that wasn’t just jive sassing? What a turn around from the Mammy jokes of yester-episode.
I definitely didn’t find myself yelling at the TV as much this week. Mostly because I think last week’s double slap was so strong that I’m all raged out right now. But I have to give credit to Scream Queens for getting our characters more interested in the whodunnit, and less interested in soliloquies about pumpkin spice lattés.
Maybe Scream Queens has a chance.
Why I hate this episode:
The two accusation scenes this episode are totally fucking stupid. The first is Niecy’s big supposed takedown of Keke. She presents a list of circumstantial evidence, and the only piece that is even mildly compelling is the fact that Keke is planning to usurp Chanel as Kappa president. The other evidence includes a CD Keke bought from a store Niecy’s now-dead partner worked at (a CD? In 2015?). But the lynchpin of Niecy’s accusation is that she found a chainsaw under Keke’s bed. Keke’s explanation for this? Her grandma sent it to her for self-defence. Seriously, Scream Queens?
Worse, Niecy, the woman who was willing to try to apprehend a girl because of a CD she bought and some wild speculation about a possible accomplice, accepts this ridiculous explanation at face value and promptly uncuffs Keke to let her go. Fucking hell.
And to add insult to injury, Keke later gets a scene where she practices her response time for whipping the chainsaw out from under her bed. It’s not cute.
The other accusation closes the episode, and is even more infuriating. Nasim leaves the bedroom she’s sharing with Jamie Lee at Kappa because Jamie Lee has an obnoxiously loud white noise machine. She tries to sleep downstairs in the lounge room, and is then attacked by the Red Devil. She fights him off, and Oliver, still keeping watch over the house, assists her. They knock the Red Devil behind a lounge, at which point the Kappa girls all appear on the staircase. Nasim and Oliver send them back up to call the police, then check on the Red Devil, who has obligatorily vanished. Jamie Lee then comes down the stairs to see what the fuss is about, and Oliver and Nasim proudly proclaim that Jamie Lee must be the killer. Umm, fucking what now? How on Earth would Jamie Lee have gotten from the ground floor lounge room, up the stairs and past all the Kappa girls who we know would have been in her path and would be able to attest that they saw her, and then back down the stairs in that time? There better be an explanation for this next episode, because it’s really bloody stupid.
The scene with Nasim and Jamie Lee in the bedroom is extraneous. Ooh, a loud white noise machine. So hilarious. Did they steal an unwanted CBS sitcom script or something? Jesus.
Chad’s frat is unbearably overwrought. I can’t take a bunch of apparently playa young men who dress like middle aged, emasculated yuppie robots seriously. I can’t tell if Ryan Murphy hates women or men more with the awful ways he portrays them.
The British one is named “Earl Grey.” Really?
Their lynch mob plan involves them all procuring baseball bats to go roam the streets. But they’re a golf frat (as the show incessantly keeps telling us). So why didn’t they just use golf clubs?
Chanel No 3’s actress isn’t great. And she twat-teases Bruno Mars into agreeing to provide her with an alibi should there be any further killings. Say no to twat-teasing, everyone.
Jamie Lee and Nasim’s rivalry for Oliver’s dick is weird. Jamie Lee hasn’t shown herself to be the kind of person who needs to fight over a dick.
Nick is absent this episode.
When Jamie Lee first introduces Coney, the new mascot, not a single student is enthused. But Coney is later shown to be fawned over by women and loved by everyone. Inconsistent.
Oh, and there’s bad CGI blood splatter when Coney is bisected. And the gore is obscured by the mascot costume. So that’s a double boo.
But it’s not all bad:
Coney does a pretty admirable job of fighting back against the Red Devil, though.
Nasim earns herself a gold star this episode by doing an excellent job of fighting off the Red Devil when he attacks at the end of the episode. Oliver tries to come to her rescue, but is immediately wounded. And she didn’t need him, anyway, because she kicks that Devil bitch over the lounge like it ain’t no thang. The scene is played fairly straight, which works against the parody angle Scream Queens otherwise appears to be going for, but I liked it. It felt like it could have fit in a regular slasher movie.
The best thing about the episode is the massive reduction on Chanel’s screentime. Her endless stream of crass dialogue last week was a bad way to introduce the show. But this week, her only real plot is her failed attempt to get back with Chad, which inspires her to give Lea a makeover. The sequence is actually a subtle exoneration for Chanel as a suspect. Chad’s heartless suggestion is that Chanel should wait for the booger pledges to be killed off by the killer, which will help make Kappa cool enough again for him to date her. Chanel, instead, decides to give Lea a makeover so that she isn’t a booger, which has the same effect. Good on you, Chanel.
Chanel also renames Lea to Chanel No 6, which Chanel No 5, the queen of following the rules, spits chips at.
5 gets an early scene where, upon she and Chanel discovering that Ariana’s body is missing from the freezer (I told you so), she informs Chanel that she’s sick of her shit and won’t be helping her anymore. 5 makes gratuitous reference to a threesome she had with some twins from the frat, which is annoying, but it’s funny seeing it come out of Little Miss Sunshine’s mouth. She’s like a wholesome Chloe Moretz.
Skyler and Pete do what little heavy lifting there is to do with the mystery proper. Nene helps them find the cleaned-up blood stain on Ariana’s carpet. Skyler and Pete then go to visit Ariana’s parents to see if she’s gone home, because her Instagram account is still active, so they figure she maybe isn’t dead. Her parents (a classy but underused Roger Bart and Charisma Carpenter) are ambivalent, as they suspect Ariana is just out on a bender. She’s embarrassed them with her alcoholism before, and they don’t care. I lol’d. Skyler and Pete do find a love letter from Chad, though.
Of course, Chanels 3 and 5 quickly squash the theory that Chanel could be killing out of jealousy, because they, too, dated Chad. I don’t know, girls. We’ve still got ten episodes to go. Give Chanel some time to work through the list.
The frat boys are attacked on the street by two chainsaw-wielding Red Devils. Niecy also mentions in her accusation of Keke that there could be more than one killer. Scream always got good mileage out of that, and with a suspect pool as vast as Scream Queens’, it makes sense.
Pete finds information on a 1995 Kappa who dropped out of college abruptly and for no apparent reason. He and Skyler are on a mission to interview her.
Chanel No 3 reveals that she’s the biological daughter of Charles Manson, which is why she’s anxious to have Bruno be her alibi if a future murder goes down to draw suspicion away from the famous serial killer’s daughter. Fair point.
Oliver gets best line of the episode with this sneaky farewell to his film study class at the end of their lecture: “See you next Tuesday.” Ryan Murphy couldn’t have the sorority’s acronym be KNT, but he’s determined to get his cunt allusion in there somewhere. I appreciate it.
Oh, and Jamie Lee keeps the ham factor at the right level. This shit is still beneath her, though.