This review contains spoilers.
1.11 Black Friday
Scream Queens was never going to let the first death of a major character get in the road of something like shopping, particularly when it’s Black Friday. The toxic consumerist nightmare is perfect fodder for a show like Scream Queens, which, as last week’s Thanksgiving special proved, is softening. Black Friday, despite being the title, took up only a small portion of the show’s penultimate instalment, providing the weekly slice of action and guaranteed death. Black Friday was an episode ultimately concerned with decompressing before the finale and, really, some calm before the storm felt like the right thing.
Unlike previous episodes, which merrily trod water, Black Friday tried to deliver some solid development and teasing in the B-plot alongside the fluffy main action. It’s hard to make out what Scream Queens was trying to prove with the Rasputin-like attempts on Dean Munsch’s life. The show has been returning to the possibility of Dean Munsch being the killer with no rhyme or reason, other than the fact the writers, justifiably, want to include Jamie Lee Curtis as much as possible. But the KKT sisters had at least some reason to be suspicious this time around. There is evidence to suggest Dean Munsch is the killer from the characters’ perspectives but the audience saw her being attacked in private by two Red Devils and Gigi in her Antonin Scalia disguise. Scream Queens has an odd habit of revealing information to characters the audience already knows about (there was nothing faintly shocking about the reveal that Pete has a Red Devil suit), and it feels like there’s only so much dramatic irony we can take.
The big revelation was that Pete is a murderer. Not ‘the’ murderer but ‘a’ murderer, and thus not our lead Red Devil, the bathtub baby Scream Queens has been insisting is a girl. The continual reiteration of this is more than a little suspicious but it’s hard to argue when Gigi said “sister” so often.
What’s most exciting about the revelation that Pete had some part to play in the killings is that the door is thrown wide open for anyone in the cast to be the murderer. Nobody needed an alibi with potentially three Red Devils running around. Chanel #5, Grace and Hester are my top three most likely culprits but Scream Queens has remained thoroughly unpredictable and it seems it will continue to be even to the end. Pete’s weighty revelation wasn’t the mind-blowing cliffhanger the writers thought it was as a slew of exciting questions do remain with the biggest, of course, being: who is the Red Devil? It’s more than a little thrilling to think we’re just one week away from finding out.
The mall sequence was an amusing piece of broad action that didn’t quite slot into events as neatly as it should have. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable, it just felt too brief although we got lots out of it. The Chanels’ shrieking escape from the Red Devil made brilliant television (it’s a shame they’ve not been attacked as a quartet before) and Denise’s arrival provided even more levity. It’s a pity she was awarded only a cameo, as chief of police no less, but every line was a zinger: “Damn! Why didn’t I shoot him when I had the chance? I was just talking so much!”
After rallying behind Hester in Thanksgiving, the development Chanel enjoyed last week initially appeared to have been undone. She started Black Friday with another selfish monologue but there was something different about this particular voiceover. Instead of loving Black Friday for the deals, Chanel likes to torture the greedy stampede of shoppers desperate for a bargain, which is a real improvement from the schadenfreude she’s indulged in previously. She continued to thaw when she was brought round to the idea that buying thoughtful presents for other people is, in fact, a good thing. Chanel is getting nicer, and so is Scream Queens; its lampooning of Black Friday was admirable because the show could have very easily saluted it.
Aside from the physical comedy in the Dean Munsch assassination attempts, Black Friday tried to weigh up the moral implications of taking the life of a potentially guilty person. Zayday and Grace were placed at the heart of this moral dilemma and the fairly quick decision of offing the Dean wasn’t in keeping with either of their virtuous personalities, but it made sense for the show. Scream Queens occasionally pulls out of its absurd surrealist world to provide a bit of social commentary and that can be fine in small doses but a serious discussion about the ethics of murder is completely bizarre when people have been dropping dead left, right and centre for ten episodes without a single eyelid batted. Thankfully, Black Friday didn’t dwell too much on this morality quandary but it felt strangely jarring, given that murder is commonplace in the world of Scream Queens.
Recently, Grace graduated from tiresome goody two-shoes to plain tolerable, and Black Friday, ahead of next week’s finale, tried to remind us of her original ‘final girl’ status. This included an awkward discussion about losing her virginity and a step back from the over earnest “talking pumpkin” persona Chanel and the audience have been laughing at. By the end of Black Friday, she was likeable and not the naive Nancy Drew she was set up as, and so, if she’s bumped off in the finale, it’ll be a bit of a shame. Unless she’s revealed to be the killer, which is certainly a possibility.
With Black Friday, the net is tightening around the Red Devil with all the clues planted, red herrings dangled and suspects in place. Going by what Ryan Murphy has said in past interviews, the finale is sure to be a bloody one but it’s a bittersweet prospect. Scream Queens has become progressively nicer over its strangely fleeting run and so it’s going to be a shame when it finally bows out. But until then, we’ve got a mystery to solve.
Read Patrick’s review of the previous episode, Thanksgiving, here.