It’s time for a game of hide and seek as Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) picks her kidnapped ex-boyfriend over the shady new boy toy.
Let’s bitch it out…
Is it damning Scream with faint praise to suggest that ‘In The Trenches’ is the series’ best episode yet? Or is it simply a realistic acknowledgement that the episode actually takes the time and makes an attempt to generate some genuine tension, scares and gore? Whatever the verdict, it’s hard not to argue that the bloodiest episode in nearly a month is an effective adrenaline boost for a series that was dangerously close to being prescribed as a sedative for the thriller crowd.
Things get underway fairly quickly. Following an intro that teases an awkward double date between mother/daughter and their respective beaus and a nauseating PDA between Emma and Kieran (Amadeus Serafini), ‘In The Trenches’ cuts to the chase with the random arrival of Piper (Amelia Rose Blaire) at school. She catches the group up to speed about the attack and Will’s (Connor Weil) abduction with a walk-through of last episode’s abandoned warehouse, which includes a message from Ghostface Wannabe to Emma to keep the cops out of it. The group – including Noah (John Karna) Brooke (Carlson Young) Jake (Tom Maden) – mobilizes to find Will since Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) is conveniently missing. Using phone tracking software (though not “Find My Phone” because copyright?), they zero in on a “horrible bowling alley of doom” past the cross-roads where Noah delivers a running commentary about how spooky, scary and terrifying everything is (try showing instead of telling, Scream). In this time the foursome splits up twice (not sure why they bother coming together in between), which gives Jake and Noah an opportunity to point fingers at each other.
The editing in several sections of the episode is actually really poorly done: Brooke enters the bowling alley first and there’s a suggestion that Jake has been outside peeing, but then he leaves Brooke to do just that before the killer shows up. Clearly the writers are trying to make us question who could be the killer, but so much of this episode feels like a ‘Best Of’ roster of red herrings. Throw in the cliche dropped phone call between Noah and Audrey that occurs at the most inopportune moment and a lot of the developments are frustrating.
None of the developments are revelatory, they simply keep the episode moving at a quick pace. Finding Will leads to a lettered clue, then a tape that connects Brandon James (who worked at the bowling alley) to Emma’s father (on a tape marked PTSD project). While Emma plays Nancy Drew, the rest of the teens scatter: Brooke finds Jake stabbed, Noah disappears, Kieran arbitrarily shows up and Will “saves” Emma from the killer (not that she was in any real danger since we know she won’t be harmed).
Naturally all of the red herrings are dredged up in the denouement by Noah and Audrey at episode’s end. Initially I was disappointed when Scream seemingly doubles down on the romantic triangle between Emma, Kieran and Will: Emma asks Kieran for space and agrees to meet up with Will while he recovers. It’s not until the (admittedly awesome) final scene that ‘In The Trenches’ truly achieves greatness. By pulling a bait and switch and initiating the bonus round on an unsuspecting Emma, Scream forces its protagonist into uncomfortable territory by turning her into an accidental killer. I can’t wait to see how Emma handles the fact that she just killed her ex.
- Homage of the week: Will’s taped up, seated position evokes Steve’s death in the opening scene of the original Scream, when Drew Barrymore’s Casey faced the Bonus Round (Poor Will. He’s out)
- There’s a lot of kissing in the evaluation phase of Emma and Kieran’s relationship. I do not approve of this course of action.
- I do not care for the not-so-subtle nod to Halloween‘s infamous score during Noah and Audrey’s Branson conversation. Stop aping better product and develop your own!
- In the wake of Will’s abduction, Brooke accuses her father, Mayor Maddox (Bryan Batt) of murdering her mom and hiding Will. This story line still hasn’t gone anywhere and, frankly, no one cares.
- Maggie (Tracy Middendorf) makes kale and sausage for her dinner date awkward family dinner with Sheriff Hud and Kieran (Amadeus Serafini). These scenes perform two functions: 1) prove that Kiernan is an incredibly boring character and 2) remove nearly all of the tension built-up in the abandoned bowling alley. Again, Scream needs to do a better job of structuring the order of its scenes. When the episode stopped cutting back and forth, the action in the bowling alley was much more successful at generating tension.
- Noah (about Branson, offering the first truly clever meta line on the series): “The sub-plot thickens”
- Brooke (to Jake, proving her clever linguist skills): “I can’t believe you tried to put all the blame on Will. Suck a dick”
- Brooke (when Jake says he had a thought): “Your mom would be so proud.”
- Noah (when Jake suggests they split up): “Said no one who survives a horror movie ever.”
- Jake (accusing Brooke of sleeping with Branson): “Hash tag not subtle” #NoOneInRealLifeSpeaksIn#s
- Audrey (when Noah suggests Emma and Will are probably making out on his sickbed): “From laid out to laid? Please, I think Emma is smarter than that?” Are the Scream writers mocking its own heroine?
Your turn: do you agree that this was the best episode yet? Do you wish that the action had simply stayed at the bowling alley? Is the show doing a poor job of identifying suspects vs red herrings? Were you surprised that Will was killed or are you glad someone actually died after all of that action? Sound off below.
Scream airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on MTV