This review contains spoilers.
Well, it’s definitely not Tyler O’Neill.
Of course, we as the audience have known from the first few minutes of the Scream TV pilot that Tyler had met an arguably even more gruesome fate than Nina’s; he’s just had the posthumous misfortune of disappearing. In the wake of Nina and Riley’s murders and Rachel’s non-suicide, then, he has naturally become person of interest #1 to most. The fact that his phone has been sending messages only seems to confirm his involvement–as does the discovery of his charred, decapitated body in the wreckage of Riley’s presumed killer’s car this week.
The key word here, though, is “decapitated.” If this is as clear-cut (no pun intended) a case as the sheriff would have us believe–”it’s over,” he emphatically tells the town hall meeting–where is Tyler’s head? The official story would certainly make things a lot simpler to believe. The real killer, in the meantime, is about to make things a lot more complicated.
In an episode with its share of gore, surprisingly, no one gets murdered. Instead, the killer sends Emma–along with Audrey and Noah–on a macabre treasure hunt back to the abandoned hospital where Brandon James’s “mask was made.” It’s here that the team finds his or her “lair,” which as Noah explains, is something every killer has…or at least every movie killer has. This one has all the goods, including photos of James’s original victims and “souvenirs” from the killer’s most recent victims.
The show is still doing a lot right. One of the best screams of the series so far happens here when the escaping teens grab Brandon James’s mask for evidence and discover behind it that one especially elusive “souvenir”–Tyler’s rotting head. (So yeah, he’s definitely not the killer.) It’s funny and shocking and gross. And perfect. In addition, the self-referential humour is still on point, with extra kudos for Audrey twice as she and Emma start searching the hospital–first jokingly suggesting they split up, then using an app to perfectly imitate the scary phone voice.
Beyond the silliness and thrills, though, is a certain poignancy that the show is developing well. Noah’s meta-commentary from the pilot–about how the audience has to care about the characters before they’re brutally knocked off–might have seemed laughable at the time. And some of the characters are indeed one-note. But, there are moments of legit pathos that I continue to find myself pleasantly surprised by. Along with the confusion and hurt that come with high school relationships, these kids are struggling with murder and betrayal. Their friends are dead. Some have lost potential first loves. Some have had their reputations smeared. Some are still to have both happen.
Noah in particular is tragically endearing as he deals with Riley’s death, ruefully pointing out that if they’d actually “punched his V-card” he might have been able to fulfill the trope and die in her place. Brooke, too, continues to be surprisingly non-shallow in her grief and self-searching. Even prying podcaster Piper is ostensibly genuine as she can’t help admitting her closeness to the story.
Now, Emma–besides being forced into the center of the whole bloody thing–is reaping what she sowed with her involvement in Audrey and Rachel’s video scandal. Somehow on Nina’s laptop recovered during the hospital venture is a video of the first time she and Will hooked up–a video that Noah and Audrey inadvertently upload and broadcast to everyone at Lakewood High. And, somehow, it’s all related to a convoluted blackmail scheme involving Will, Jake, Brooke’s mayor dad (?), and Tyler (RIP).
See you next week as we get to watch the fallout from this salacious leak–and hopefully don’t go another episode without some more slashy goodness.
Read Holly’s review of the previous episode, Wanna Play A Game?, here.
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