Taking a cue from The Vampire Diaries, Scream stages a Halloween dance for its penultimate episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
With Seth Palmer aka Mr. Branson (Bobby Campo) in custody, everyone in town is breathing a little easier. Yes folks, the nightmare of Scream is finally over! Oh wait…no, it’s already been renewed by MTV, so clearly there’s more murder and mayhem to come.
‘The Dance’ is a mildly perplexing episode. On one hand, it is doing exactly what needs to be done to set things up for next week’s finale. Characters are isolated, (somewhat) shocking revelations are being revealed and mistrust is spreading. True to form, however, Scream also wants to explore as many red herrings as possible. This means that we’re meant to analyze every comment Branson makes to Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) when she visits him in jail (let’s collectively groan at his “scary” voiced “Hello, Emma”). Plus by the end of the episode Branson has seemingly escaped jail in a big ol’bloodbath.
At the same time, however, the writers are working overtime to establish Kieran (Amadeus Serafini) as a potential candidate, particularly with the confirmation that he appears to be Brandon James & Maggie’s (Tracy Middendorf) lovechild.
If we’re being honest, neither option is all that great. Branson has been such a secondary figure – the stock perv teacher character – that it seems unlikely the writers would hang such a vital role on him. Kieran, meanwhile, is too obvious; by this point the deck is a little too heavily stacked against him for the reveal to be a surprise. Plus the evidence may not stand up under scrutiny: his parentage is easily called into question if we consider how prone Mama James is to misinformation. After all, she’s already changed her tune following some gentle prodding by Piper (Amelia Rose Blaire). It’s important to remember that earlier in the season, many viewers harboured a suspicion that Piper was the killer, so I found it additionally suspicious that we have to trust her that Mama James ID’d Kieran. That’s an easy lie to fake.
Perhaps the most (or is it least?) damning proof of Kieran’s guilt is the evidence that Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) and Noah (John Karna) uncover while sifting through dead Rachel’s unedited video feed.* There they discover the startling truth that Kieran left a bar with Nina (Bella Thorne) the night she was murdered. When Emma confronts him, Kieran has a MADD-approved DD excuse for taking home the drunken party girl, which is either a) bull (if he’s the killer) or b) perfectly logical and further evidence of the writers’ attempts to throw up red herrings right up until the finale.
*While it makes sense for the pair to investigate the footage for evidence of Branson’s guilt (and motivation for killing Rachel), this conveniently timed activity is proven to be Scream‘s greatest narrative weakness this season. Why didn’t anyone look at this footage earlier in the season? Is it because the damning footage of Kieran and Nina had to come out in episode nine when it would nicely segue into the finale?. Because that’s what it feels like…
Heading into the finale, Scream is hedging its bets on two potential killers: the cute teacher with multiple names and too many teeth and the boy next door who can’t dance and has a propensity to disappear whenever the killer appears. At this point, it could go either way, though if either truly turns out to be the killer, it will be hard to muster any enthusiasm for going with such obvious choices.
- The episode opens with a flashback (the first of two when there have been none in any other episode? Is this the series in desperation mode, attempting to tie up loose ends in advance of the finale?). I’ll admit that I’m confused about the relevance of this scene. Why do we care that one year ago someone broke into County records and stole the Brandon James mask?
- Sheriff Hud (Jason Wiles) makes a good point when Piper incredulously inquires why the dance is going ahead: it’s easier to protect the teens at one location instead of a dozen house parties. Alas Brooke’s (Carlson Young) penchant for wah-wah melodrama will throw this reasonable plan into disarray in the finale when everyone leaves the safety of the dance for her unsupervised party.
- My favourite thing about these ridiculous TV events is how professional the costumes and decorations are (seemingly at a moment’s notice).
- Dear Emma: you murdered your boyfriend a few days ago and now you want to go couples costume shopping for the Halloween dance? I don’t want to spread shame or anything, but that’s a wee bit whoorish and insensitive.
- Bad friend alert! When your recently attacked bestie calls you from the liquor store about a private house party, you don’t blow her off to meet your lame-o, obviously psychotic boyfriend at the dance.
- ‘The Dance’ dedicates a lot of screen time to video surveillance technology as the pervy laptop surveillance story line rears its head, as well as the suggestion that these teens are living a recorded life. While Rachel’s video obviously has bearing on the plot, it remains unclear who or what the webcam business has to do with anything. Here Brooke accuses Jake (Tom Maden) of spying on her while she’s changing. If Branson’s in jail and Jake pleads innocence, then who is the mystery perv? Even better question, why do we care?
- Ridiculous hashtags include #EmmaVsBranson, #MamaJames, #IsItKieran and my favourite #SaveTheSheriff.
- Of course Jake’s wifi password would be “TheJakeStopsHere”.
- Finally, it remains to be seen if Sheriff Hud can survive his encounter with Fauxface Killer in advance of the killer house party in next week’s finale. The preview looks like quite a bloodbath, which is good because the only thing that killed in ‘The Dance’ was Maggie’s awful tasting punch.
- Brooke (putting her scar in perspective): “Goodbye arm modeling.”
- Noah (when Emma admits she saw Branson in jail): “I want the fava bean by fava bean recount.”
Your turn: do you believe either Branson or Kieran is the killer? Will Hudson survive? Is Emma a bad friend? Why didn’t Audrey look at Rachel’s videotapes before? Do you understand how the webcam business fits into anything? And what are you expecting from the big massacre at Brooke’s place in next week’s finale? Sound off below.
Scream airs its first season finale next Tuesday at 10pm EST on MTV