‘Scream: The Series’ (Season 1): Ever Danced With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?

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On the penultimate episode of “Scream: The Series,” it was time to get down to the real nitty gritty, and, as expected, the show ended on a cliffhanger. But the real question is: Who did it? Join me as I try my best to puzzle through this bad boy and get to the bottom of things once and for all- that is, assuming the show does. As we know, it was renewed for a second season, so it remains to be seen whether the show wraps up the current storyline or not, or ends on yet another cliffhanger.

The way I see it, there are two options- A: The show reveals in the final episode who the killer- or killers, as the case may be- is/are, and he/she/they is/are caught and that’s that for this season, and we start next season either with a new killer(s) and whoever remains of this current cast, or an entirely new cast and plot, more or less “American Horror Story” style, minus the recurring characters. Or B: The show doesn’t reveal much of anything, we end on a cliffhanger, and we’ll have to wait until next season to find out who the killer(s) is/are.

There is one final option: The show has two killers (or possibly even more), reveals one of them, and that one is either killed, caught or gets away, but then it’s revealed that there’s another one still out there, and that killer (or killers) will end up taking over in earnest next season, perhaps recruiting another in lieu of his/her potentially fallen comrade.

Let’s take a look at the potential suspects, shall we? First and foremost, I think we can safely eliminate Emma and her mother, because why would they be tormenting themselves? But that’s about the only ones I don’t think could be it, however.

Here’s what we know: Brandon James was a troubled, disfigured young man who was bullied by the local teens at his high school. He was befriended by his neighbor, Maggie, aka Daisy, aka Emma’s mother. At a certain point, some of her friends misread a situation and thought Brandon was hurting Emma and attacked him. Subsequently, several teens were murdered, with Brandon being the lead suspect. Emma felt bad about it, arranged a meet with Brandon, but was followed and the cops shot Brandon and he felt into the lake, never to be seen again, dead or otherwise.

We also know that Brandon had a brother who looked after him, Troy, who also seems to be unaccounted for. Further, we now know that Daisy had an affair with Brandon, which resulted in a child which she gave up for adoption, and that her future husband, Kevin Duval, who escaped the killing spree, wasn’t too happy about it. We also know that Duval is in town as of recently and there isn’t much of an account of his whereabouts as of late, and that someone claiming to be Brandon’s son paid a visit to Brandon’s mother- though she’s a bit on the loopy side, so we should probably take that information with a grain of salt.

When we last left the show, all signs seemed to point to the teens’ English teacher, Seth Branson, aka Seth Palmer, as being the culprit. He has a shady past, was accused of inappropriate relationship with a student who later turned up murdered, changed his name, and various incriminating stuff was found hidden in the wall of his classroom at the school. Further, at the end of the episode, he seems to have killed a cop and escaped the jail and is on the loose once again.

However, also looking mighty suspicious is Kieran, aka the Sheriff’s son and Em’s boyfriend, who we now know was with Nina right before she was murdered and covered it up, and, according to Piper, at least (and by extension, Brandon’s mother), paid a visit to his “grandmother,” not Branson, as originally suspected. But is that true? The visit part, not the Nina part, which we know to be true, as per the video footage taken by Rachel.

Let’s break things down a bit further, and look at means and motive. Okay, assuming that at least one of the killers, if there is more than one, is the son of Brandon James, then obviously, that’s plenty of motive to terrorize Emma and her mother. One gave him up for adoption, the other got to live the life he didn’t. However, that person would have to be a fair bit older than Emma and her pals, so we can safely rule any of them out as the son, at least.

That leaves Branson as a likely suspect, but his whole situation screams, if you’ll pardon the pun, “set-up.” Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But then what about the escape and the murder of the cop?” The way I see it, there are two possibilities on that front: Either the “real” killer went to the station- which would have been sparsely-populated because most of the cops were at the Halloween dance, guarding it- and killed the guard and busted Branson out to make him look that much more guilty, and now, on the loose, thus taking the focus off of the “real” killer in the process; or the partner of the killer, who really is Branson, helped to break him out and they are now both on the prowl and likely headed to either the dance and/or Brooke’s after-party, possibly both if they split up.

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So, if that scenario is true, then who is the partner, or the person setting up Branson? If I had to guess, I’d say Piper. After all, she’s a bit older than the rest of the cast, and you’ll recall that she mentioned that her own father was murdered under mysterious circumstances and the case was never solved, which was what led to her becoming a reporter. Keep in mind as well, that she was the one who told Emma that Kieran was the one who visited Brandon’s mother, not Branson. That would be a clever way to throw everyone off of her scent, if she were the actual killer, or one of them, as well as Branson, her potential partner. Ditto the fact that she managed to “escape” the killer’s clutches when “he” attacked her and Will, leaving her behind.

But we also know that Brandon’s mother is a bit out of it, so do we really know for sure that Brandon’s kid was a boy? Sure, she said that he was, but what if Kieran came by, investigating the matter on behalf of Emma, and simply said he was Brandon’s kid, and his mother, not knowing any better, or simply too out of it to argue, simply accepted it? If that’s true, then maybe Piper is actually Brandon’s daughter, and her father’s murder was the case she alluded to. Plus, Piper is the only one that claims that it was Kieran that went by Brandon’s mother’s place, so we don’t even know for sure that he did at all.

Maybe it was Branson, which would make more sense, given the age factor- as in Kieran seems too young to be Brandon’s kid- and Piper is just covering for her partner, throwing shade on Kieran because she knows it will cause trouble. Given how omnipresent she is as well, she might even know about the video footage of Kieran and that he’s already a burgeoning suspect as it is, and thus, the perfect patsy to take the heat off of her and her potential partner while they get up to more mischief later in the night.

Another potentially shady suspect is Jake. After all, we know good and well that he had access to various video surveillance footage of a lot of the main characters in town, that he blackmailed at least one of them (the mayor), and that, like Piper, he had a confrontation with the killer that left him injured but basically okay. You’ll recall that, in the original “Scream” film- spoiler alert for all the entries in the “Scream” franchise from here on out!- that the killing team there did things that would seem to make it impossible for it to be them, as they were in situations where they couldn’t have done it.

This was, of course, because, while one had a firm alibi, the other was out killing someone, and then they’d switch off, “Strangers on the Train”-style, covering the other person’s alibi while the other one killed someone. In the end, they planned to injure one another, but not too much, just enough to make themselves look less guilty than they might otherwise.

It went wrong in “Scream,” but who’s to say it did here? Maybe it’s actually Piper and Jake in cahoots, and the incident with Will was meant to take the heat off of Piper, while the bowling alley incident was meant to take to the heat off of Jake. If Piper is actually Brandon’s kid, and Jake is her partner, then they’re setting up Branson as the fall guy, and only broke him out of jail to make him look that much guiltier and take the heat off of themselves that much more. Now that he’s supposedly on the loose, they can kill some more people and it will be chalked up to Branson still. Pretty clever.

You’ll also note in the preview for next week, there’s a scene in which we see Branson pleading with Brooke to let him in, swearing he’s innocent- maybe he is, and simply wants to tell her what really happened, i.e. that the “real” killer killed the guard and let him out to frame him. Chances are, the killer wore the customary outfit, so even Branson won’t be able to identify him. Then they simply left the keys for Branson to escape, knowing that he would because otherwise he’s screwed, what with a dead cop right in front of his cell and all.

Note also that there were drag marks leading up to said cell, as if to indicate that the guard was killed elsewhere, then dragged to Branson’s cell and left there. If Branson had done it, how would he have dragged the guard from way over across the room, much less killed him in the first place? Either he was set up, or his partner did it and then let him out. I vote the former, because the frame job on Branson was way too neat.

I mean, if he really was the killer, why in the world would he leave incriminating evidence in his classroom, knowing full well that if his past caught up to him, that would be one of the first places they looked? It’s also worth mentioning that it was Noah and Audrey who found said evidence. I think Audrey’s reasonably in the clear, as it isn’t likely she would have killed her own girlfriend, plus she’s already been a suspect because of that previous video footage of her ranting and raving against Nina.

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But Noah, on the other hand, is absolutely a possibility. He certainly has the know-how, he’s a huge fan of all things horror and serial killer, and he could easily have been directing the evidence where he wanted it to go, i.e. setting up Branson to take the fall. He’s also managed to emerge relatively unscathed through several attacks by the killer, despite at least one situation where it would have been easy to take him out, the bowling alley siege. He might not have a motive, per se, but he could have been an easy recruit to Piper’s revenge ploy, given his decidedly unsavory interests.

Not that I think all horror fans are potential psychos in the making at all, mind you- I don’t, and I say this as a die-hard horror fan myself. But within the framework of the show, it makes sense, and is in keeping with previous plotlines of the series as well- remember Mickey, the “freaky Tarantino film student”? He was also recruited by the main killer as a helper and it was done online, which is how it could have been done here as well, and we know that the killer(s) is/are tech-savvy, which certainly applies to both Piper and Noah, as well as Jake.

Last but not least, there are the potential killers by omission. We haven’t heard much of anything about Brandon’s brother, Troy, for instance. Where’s he been? Who’s to say he might not be involved, avenging his brother? Also, there’s Emma’s father, Kevin Duval. He certainly has reasons to want revenge on his ex-wife, who had a kid with Brandon, and we already know he was livid about that.

The person calling Emma also seems strangely protective of her, constantly reminding her that everyone around her is lying to her and that everyone is harboring secrets, which is basically true. And while Emma has been terrorized, she hasn’t been explicitly hurt, either. Maybe because the killer is secretly protecting her, because it’s her father? Definitely possibilities.

So, crunch time. I’m going to go with Piper and Jake as the killing team, mostly because I don’t trust either one of them, and, as a horror fan myself from way back, I really don’t want it to be Noah, which would only feed into the whole “horror fans are twisted IRL” thing, which I would just hate. Yes, they essentially did it in the first one, as both the killers were avid horror fans, so it’s certainly possible, but hopefully it isn’t in this case.

For that matter, they also went down the whole killer child route before, both with Billy from the first movie, and Roman, from the third installment. Both of them were wronged by relations of the main heroine, which is why they went after them in the first place. So, technically, they’ve been there, done that as well. Ditto the killer being female, which was also the case in parts two and four, respectively.

So, yeah, it’s gonna be tough going not repeating some aspect of the previous movies in some respect. But that’s why I’m going with Piper and Jake because it’s just enough of a spin on the previous entries to not be a total letdown. I suppose the same could be said if it were Emma’s father and/or Brandon’s brother, and both would be solidly in the slasher movie tradition of the culprits being wronged family relations. Furthermore, it’s never been the father and/or the brother in the “Scream” franchise specifically before, so it would be a way to do something “new,” so to speak.

But given that we’ve never seen Troy on the show that we know of, he seems unlikely. I can see it being Emma’s father, though, working in cahoots with someone else, possibly Jake or Noah. I suppose he could be working with Piper, but only if she’s not related to Brandon in any way, because I don’t see Kevin Duvall teaming up with the child of his romantic rival, so to speak. But I absolutely can see him framing said child, which may well be why Branson was framed. Maybe he is Brandon’s kid, and that’s why he changed his name and his past is shady. Would you want people to know you were the child of an alleged serial killer? So, that’s a definite possibility, too.

But I’m going with Piper and Jake (or Noah) in the clutch, with Kevin Duvall and Jake (or Noah) a close second place for potential suspects. We shall see if I’m right- or if it’s even revealed at all next week. By all means, leave your crazy theories below, and feel free to mock me next week if I’m way off base! (Don’t be Noah, don’t be Noah, don’t be Noah…lol)
See you next week for the big finale!