OMG Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) has a viral sex tape!
Let’s bitch it out…
A quick recap of last week: stuff happened. No, but seriously the only thing that matters is that Emma (Willa Fitzgerald), Audrey (BexTaylor-Klaus) and Noah (John Karna) went to an abandoned (ie creepy) hospital and a) confirmed that Tyler isn’t the killer (head roll please!) and b) accidentally uploaded a video to the cloud of Emma and Will (Connor Weil) porking for the first time.
‘Exposed’ picks up the morning after as Emma’s dirty business is all over social media (In unrelated news, the sex looks pretty chaste). It’s clear right away that despite learning that the killer remains at large, this episode will focus almost exclusively on Emma. Cue the heavy sighs.
I applaud Scream‘s writers for investing so much time and effort in their protagonist, but despite repeated attempts to make her more interesting, Emma remains a bore. Fitzgerald’s dazed, one note performance certainly isn’t helping. Thankfully there may be some light at the end of the tunnel if ‘Exposed’ is an indicator of things to come. Yes folks, Emma is a freak magnet and she has horrible taste in men. If ultimately she is revealed to be a complete weirdo, the show can only benefit because the milquetoaste protagonist we’ve endured through the first four episodes is a snooze. This new girl – prone to bad decisions and mildly slutty to boot – isn’t exactly a dream lead, but at least she’s slightly more interesting.
I’m suggesting that there’s a shift in Emma primarily because her relationship with Will has apparently (finally?) come to an end. After Brooke (Carlson Young) confesses to Emma that Will initiated their relationship as a bet with Nina, Emma finally gets the balls to toss him to the curb. Emma doesn’t even give herself a chance to breathe before she’s sucking face with Kieran (Amadeus Serafini), whom we still know nothing about aside from the fact that he’s apparently a total creep.
Scream already has a problematic view of relationships, but Kieran is taking things to a whole new level. On a show that already features a gross teacher-student affair, turning your alt-leading man / biggest red herring into a mildly abusive douche is an odd narrative decision. At least once during every interaction in this episode Kieran physically assaults Emma. In the hallway when she’s trying to make Will jealous, Kieran forces her up against the wall and gropes her. Is it meant to be hot? Things don’t get any less icky when Kieran takes her shooting later in the episode, which is a really messed up first date. He even makes a comment about attacking her (which despite being a callback to the self defence class is still inappropriate after three teens have been killed)! The fact that the date ends in sex – in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night no less – confirms that Kieran is creepy and Emma 2.0 is stupider and more reckless than the girl we knew before. Between “sex tape” Will and “abusive” Kieran, Emma needs to work on her romantic choices. Seriously stop sleeping with creeps, girl!
Aside from the relationship drama-rama, the rest of ‘Exposed’ is pretty rote. The killer exchanges a few bland threatening phone calls / texts with Emma to keep her silent when a new detective, Lorraine Brock, enters the fray. The scene at the candlelight vigil is laughably silly: after Emma gets a text, there’s a few quick cuts to all of the evil looking men in the crowd, including Sheriff Hud (Jason Wiles), Jake (Thomas Maden), Mayor Maddox (Bryan Batt) and Kieran. Of course, when Emma dives into the crowd because she’s convinced she’s seen the Brandon James mask, he’s already disappeared. Although I appreciate the homage to Scream 2 (when Sidney sees Ghostface during her Cassandra rehearsal), this would have been more effective if it contained any suspense or tension. Alas Scream continues to struggle to create anything even close to frights.
As for the investigation, Noah discovers that the malware used by the killer to capture video of Emma at the vigil originated with Mr. Branson (Bobby Campo) and Nina. He and Audrey track it back to Branson’s computer, but they don’t get very far before they’re interrupted. This scene seemingly exists solely for Branson to glower at them in a mildly-threatening way. It’s as if the Scream writers think we’ve forgotten that he could be the killer. Thanks for that!
Meanwhile Detective Brock processes Nina’s computer (discovered last episode) and stumbles onto the blackmail scheme because this is apparently still a thing. The show’s worst subplot chugs along, acting as the mechanism that breaks up the bromance between Will and Jake. Despite working together to screw over the Mayor for their blackmail scheme, Will decides that he’s through with Jake. As punishment, Jake IDs him as the masked perp when he knows that Brooke’s father is listening. What I find strange is that the video Mayor Maddox watches in his house is identical to the malware footage that Brooke watches of his potential murder of her mom (ie: the video that Branson, Nina & Tyler used for their blackmail enterprise). Do all of the security cameras in town look identical (which is poor technical execution from Scream‘s production team) or should we interpret this to mean that lots of people have access to the malware/blackmail files*?
*The latter option doesn’t make a lot of sense because Mayor Maddox would just delete his own video if he had access, no?
At this point, Scream‘s first season has been a hit and miss affair and the last two chapters, despite featuring a few enjoyable scenes, have done little other than move the investigation along and double-down on Emma. Moving into the back half of the season, I hope that the world building improves (that vigil suggests an entire town of potential characters to explore), the stakes rise and the investigation moves along more quickly. Scream isn’t a disaster, but it still feels like a mildly derivative clone of Pretty Little Liars and MTV’s own Eye Candy. That’s not good enough for a series that needs to stand on its own.
- Should we applaud the fact that Emma and her mom (Tracy Middendorf) sleep with members of the same family? At this point, if Scream the TV series follows the same two killer pattern of the films, the most obvious choice is Kieran & Sheriff Hud. For the meantime, the double sex act confirms the slut shaming message from the picture the killer leaves in Emma’s locker (which suggests that Emma is just like her mother).
- Brooke’s sudden urgency about a secret she’s been keeping for a year comes out of nowhere – there’s been no mention or hint of this in any of the other episodes. And yet we’re now suddenly meant to believe it’s been eating Brooke up inside?
- Side bar: I love that Jake and Brooke have an entire conversation about whether or not to tell Emma about the bet…in the coffee shop Emma works at…three feet away from Emma. Big surprise when she overhears them.
- Audrey gets a slow clap (from Noah, naturally) when she – in enjoyable fashion – takes down Will in self-defence gym class. Despite getting practically zero screen time, Audrey remains my favourite character.
- So Piper (Amelia Rose blaire) is like Emma’s new bestie? Suddenly they’re swilling booze from flasks and sharing terrible origins stories. What should we make of Piper’s revelation that her father was murdered? Is that a constructive backstory or is it a plot point that we should remember later?
- This week’s painful hashtag is brought to you by #TruthAboutTheTape. It definitely has zero trendability
- Finally, another week without a murder? Come on Scream, you’re losing your nerve!
- Mr Branson (sweeping Riley’s death under the rug): “We do have learning to do”
- Kieran (denying he’s watched the video to Emma): “I like anticipation.” What part of this isn’t creepy?
- Jake (suggesting a personality make-over for Brooke): “Less bitchy, more truthy?”
- Emma (slapping Will): “I was a bet?” Rachel Leigh Cooke in She’s All That called and she wants her line back!
- Mayor Maddox (when Brooke inquires about his nose): “I’m having work done.”
- Mr. Branson (after Audrey inquires about finding Noah a new partner): “I’m sure someone would be open to a…dramatic threesome.” It’s meant to be threatening (cue music), but I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t say these kinds of things to students
Your turn: are you more interested in Emma now that she’s making increasingly poor decisions? Is Kieran a sexual threat or is he just a red herring? Does Scream have a problem with its depictions of relationships? Why is Piper around? Are you investing more in Brooke? Do you care that Jake sold out Will? And why can’t we get more Audrey like we want? Sound off below.
Scream airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on MTV. Next week Detective Brock zeroes in on Audrey. Here’s your preview