Scream Queens: Chainsaw Review

Scream Queens' third episode, Chainsaw, positively vibrates with potential.

This Scream Queens review contains spoilers.

Scream Queens: Season 1 Episode 3 

Every show that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have been responsible for ushering into the world I have had exactly the same experience while watching. There is a stunning, wry, dark, subversive episode or two. Each one is full of just enough wit to balance out the delicious crass jibes. The pacing, the comedic beats — all flawless. Plus, Murphy and Falchuk’s demonstrable love for the genre of television itself is enough to inspire instant ardor. That feeling for me lasts for…three episodes, four, maybe five — and that’s only because I got far too invested in season one of American Horror Story.

But that magic never seems to last. Glee? Drowned in the treacle it sought to undermine. American Horror Story? Lost its camp appeal and eventually revealed itself for what it was — a shock and awe campaign, with a soupcon of Jessica Lange worship to keep things on the up-and-up. That any of us kept watching after Asylum is a mystery I have to plumb in full.

Yet, just three episodes into Scream Queens and I’m positively vibrating at the sheer potential. It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud (or, you know, lol as the kids say) while at home, recumbent in Mario and Luigi underpants watching my programs. But Niecey Nash’s penchant for carrying luminal (which she typically uses to detect the presence of horseradish, which she abjures) set me off for so prolonged a period as to then induce a coughing jag phlegmy enough to make a latter-day Howard Hughes shudder.

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I just had a very real epiphany: This is the Pretty Little Liars we have been waiting for. It is finally here. From go I’ve been amassing a list of suspects, weighing the options, coming close to making a Beautiful-Mind-esque string chart on my wall to track the characters’ movements — much in the way I used to do with PLL when it first hit the scene. But even at its finest PLL’s heels-dug-in earnestness keeps it from ever reaching the Heathers-style grit of the slasher mystery afoot at the KKT house.

PLL went off the rails long ago. Folks watching it now, ardent fans even (I count myself among them) would be hard pressed to explain to you what is happening from episode to episode without their heads spontaneously exploding. While the continuing mystery of just who the red devil with the chainsaws (red devils, perhaps) is is a gripping one, it’s not a stupidly convoluted one — not yet, at any rate. Already the central cast of characters from the reprehensible manwhore Chad to the borderline personality Chanel and the plucky girl detective Gracie are far more engaging than any of the dolls in the PLL universe.

For me special guest star Niecy Nash was the highlight. Her irrational (but well-researched) obsession with Zayday being the true killer was delicious. Her deadpanned reveal of the bagged chainsaw was a delight. Jamie Lee Curtis also continues to win at life with her white noise machine of horror and her 19th century era night clothing. Though the prize for scenestealer of the week should really go to Lea Michele for losing her scoliosis brace but not her sheer unadulterated weirdness. 


4 out of 5