This review contains spoilers.
Much to my delight, Thanksgiving showed that Scream Queens was capable of maintaining the high quality of last week’s sterling episode. The show had something of a wobble halfway through its first season but seemed to make up for it with Seven Minutes In Hell and Ghost Stories. This week, like a lot of US TV, Scream Queens celebrated Thanksgiving, delivering another terrific episode.
What’s instantly noticeable about Thanksgiving, and perhaps it’s because of the holiday it centres around, is that it sees the show retracting its claws. Brad Falchuk’s script was all about family and being with your loved ones, and so Thanksgiving took a bit of a slower, left-field approach, building up to a thrilling conclusion. It was an episode that struck a good balance between the Red Devil mystery and the unfolding drama within Kappa Kappa Tau. You could initially argue that it was too light on action but all was forgiven when Scream Queens finished with a corker of a twist.
Offing Gigi was the most impactful curveball Scream Queens has thrown at us since they revealed Nick Jonas wasn’t really dead (oh, what a lovely day that was). With hindsight, it seems obvious, and Gigi, more or less, signed her own death warrant when she handed the Red Devil the meat carver – an object that Scream Queens made a deliberate show of pointing out – but her death certainly throws a spanner in the works of the Red Devil mystery, with the killer’s motivation getting fuzzier by the episode.
The demise of Gigi was inevitable (if she hadn’t died here, she would have been killed in the finale) but I’ll certainly miss the talents of Nasim Pedrad who stole every scene she graced. It’s also a bit of a pity that she wasn’t allowed a final speech but the image of her decapitated head on a platter sticks long in the mind. Scream Queens has always been successful when it dabbles with body horror and Thanksgiving was no exception.
Gigi’s death was, despite its magnitude, reserved for the last minute and there’s a whole forty minutes that’s not been touched upon. Chanel and Chad’s trip to the Hamptons was set up last week but the Radwell Thanksgiving feast did not pan out the way I expected. It’s something I commented on last week but with each episode Scream Queens is becoming more and more unpredictable.
Chad’s family were, as many expected, awful and because of this, also very entertaining to watch. Chad Michael Murray and Patrick Schwarzenegger were splashed across the advertising for this week’s episode but, while the pair were strong as Chad’s brothers, they were completely upstaged by star turns from Julia Duffy and Alan Thicke as Bunny and Tad Radwell. Duffy, in particular, was fantastic, making every venomous line sing, while Thicke did a nice line in sleazy smugness.
The Pictionary scene seemed almost representative of Scream Queens‘ changing ways. The Radwells’ vicious and mean suggestions – lines that are the show’s bread and butter – gave way to Chanel’s best moment thus far. When the Radwells cut into Hester (who, shockingly, is alive and well), Chanel stood up for her and rebuffed Chad in the name of sisterhood. Scream Queens tries hard to be as biting and sharp as possible and, as a consequence, has avoided making the girls of KKT friends. For a long time, they’ve been sorority sisters but mostly at each other’s throats. Chanel backing up Hester and admitting her true feelings for her felt like a milestone in her maturation as a character. Chanel has been the most aggressive and cruellest individual in Scream Queens and her actions in Thanksgiving don’t just prove she’s thawing and bettering as a person; it’s a sign that Scream Queens, as a whole, is improving.
Back at KKT, Dean Munsch, Grace, Chanels #3 and #5, Zayday, Pete and Wes all gathered for Thanksgiving. Any show with a whodunnit at its heart plays the blame game at some point but rather than the groundless finger-pointing that has come before, Thanksgiving posited many legitimate theories. It was a move by Falchuk, Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy to confuse us and have us accusing different characters. The theories weren’t particularly watertight but the drama at KKT was highly entertaining.
Thanksgiving, despite the limited appearance by the Red Devil, actually gave a lot away about the identity of the murderer. The revelation that Wes fathered Boone isn’t a particular game-changer, it just complicates Scream Queens‘ already-perplexing family tree. It was the throwback to Melanie Dorkus that provided the most intriguing revelations.
It seems possible that Dorkus may be the killer, having been supposedly burned (Scream Queens wants us to think she was killed, though it has never confirmed it) by Chanel prior to the series beginning. The Red Devil in the hotel with Gigi never took the costume off, perhaps because they were horribly disfigured? Making Melanie the killer would mean Scream Queens doesn’t need to off more regulars than necessary come the finale (which, interestingly, is called Dorkus/The Final Girl(s)). So, could Melanie be the killer? I stand by the possibility of it being Chanel #5 who arrived at the Thanksgiving dinner late, or, perhaps still, Hester? Scream Queens has either been fiendishly clever or utterly careless when it comes to giving its characters alibis because at some point over the season, everyone has had a legitimate excuse, making it hard to be anything other than stumped.
Bolstered by stellar work from the show’s regulars, a scene-stealing turn by Julia Duffy and some juicy character work, there are many reasons to give thanks for this week’s instalment of Scream Queens. The finale is just around the corner and with it: answers. In the last couple of weeks, the show has really taken off, let’s hope it can stick the landing.
Read Patrick’s review of the previous episode, Ghost Stories, here.