Scream Queens “Hell Week” Review (Season 1, Episode 2)

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In the first part of my review of tonight’s two-part premiere of “Scream Queens”– which can be found here– I gave you my overall impression of the show. Now let’s tackle the general plotline. Ostensibly, the show is a murder mystery, and potentially one with multiple solutions going on, a la “Scream,” which is to say, there may be more than one murderer, and thus, more than one motive for the murders as well.

The opening sequence is pure slasher movie, through and through: In 1995, a sorority sister dies during childbirth, leaving the baby motherless. The sorority sisters present opt to cover it up, rather than admit they didn’t help the poor girl. Later on, we discover that Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Ms. Bean (Jan Hoag) were also present, and actively participated in the cover-up.

In present day, someone also sets up the latter to be killed in a prank-gone-wrong, when Chanel (Emma Roberts) attempts to scare the pledges and accidentally kills Ms. Bean, whose body goes missing after the new crop of girls also attempt to cover it up. All of this, as I’m sure slasher fans are aware, is very “House on Sorority Row”-ish.

After that, we had several deaths, clearly establishing that this show wasn’t going to be messing around when it came to taking people out. We had sorority pledge Tiffany (Whitney Meyer), aka “Deaf Taylor Swift,” who, along with several other pledges, was buried up to her neck in the flower garden, a la “Motel Hell” (with a side order of “Heathers”) before being unceremoniously run over with a lawnmower as she sang- what else?- “Shake it Off.”

I’d say you gotta wonder what T-Swift herself thought about this, but I’m sure co-creator Ryan Murphy had to run it by her first, so one assumes she was in on the joke. Besides, her lyrics are kinda spooky at times. Either way, that’s one pledge that Kappa won’t have to worry about dealing with anymore.

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As predicted by myself to anyone who would listen, also biting it early was Chanel #2, aka Ariana Grande, so if you’re one of those haters who hate-hate-hate Ms. Doughnut Licker 2015, consider your wish granted, as she got stabbed to death while frantically trying to tweet for help when she should have been making for the door after disabling the killer.

Such a dubious action was not made by security guard Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash, late of “Reno 911”), who, in what may have been a nod to Duane “Brothers don’t last long in situations like this” Martin, of “Scream 2” fame, got the “F” out of dodge when the girls announced that the killer was “trapped” upstairs and now was their chance to “get” him and proceeded to try and do just that, needless to say, unsuccessfully.

Alas, when Denise got outside, her fellow security guard and pal had joined the ranks of the killer’s victims in the meantime, causing her to toss her out and make for the hills, in a great scary/funny moment. “Why you got a knife in your throat?” indeed.

Finally, there was a last kill/fake-out courtesy of Boone (Nick Jonas), who I also predicted would bite it early on, but actually turned out to seemingly be in cahoots with the killer. Or is he simply in on something with barista/investigative reporter Pete (Diego Boneta), who we know to possess a Devil mascot outfit, which is the killer’s costume of choice? Either way, his death was clearly faked, so he’s either in on it, or pulling a fast one to mess with his frat brothers, whose reaction to his “death” was pretty priceless. (At least I think they were in a frat- they could have just been random douchebags he was friends with.)

So, was any of this remotely scary? Not really, but it was a lot of fun, thanks in no small part to Murphy and his co-writer’s savvy, take-no-prisoners dialogue, which, as noted in my first review, was super-quotable and often very funny. I really liked how equal opportunity Murphy was with the bile, as well. Not unlike “South Park,” no one was safe from his barbed quips, be they gay, straight, smart or stupid. He’s truly an equal opportunity offender, and that’s a good quality to have as a writer.

Also, the deaths were fairly inventive at the very least, including the one I forgot to mention, in a flashback, in which Chanel’s predecessor was also killed in a spray tanning “accident” in which tanner was replaced with hydrochloric acid! Yeah, that was kind of awesome, there. Got to hand it to FOX, they did not shy away from the gory stuff at all. “Scream Queens” might not be as dark or hardcore in the violence department as Murphy’s other horror show, “American Horror Story,” but it’s no slouch, either.

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As for the rest of the cast not previously mentioned, Nasim Pedrad (“SNL”) was pretty funny as the “sorority chief” Gigi; Billie Lourd, aka Carrie Fisher’s daughter, as Chanel #3, had a wry, deadpan tone that was definitely inherited from mom, and also paid homage to her infamous “honeybun” hair style in “Star Wars” with her ever-constant earmuffs; Abigail Breslin was solid if somewhat nondescript as Chanel #5, whose main highpoint was a daft homophobic rant against the aforementioned Boone, who wanted to join the sorority as the first openly-gay member; and Skyler Samuels was likable if a bit bland as the leading lady and potential Final Girl, Grace, a legacy at Kappa who has decided to do a little investigative reporting on the side for potential love interest Pete (shades of “Rush Week”).

Why is it that the leading ladies in these new slasher shows are typically so meh? “Scream: The TV Series” had the same issue. I don’t know, but I do know that I wish it were the ridiculously-named but hella cool Zayday, played by Keke Palmer instead. “All y’all ratchet,” indeed. The good news is that few of the above are liable to last long at the rate they’re going with this thing. Murphy has promised at least one death per week, so don’t count on everyone sticking around for the whole shebang.

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As for the mystery element, if the show is following typical slasher tradition, and that would certainly seem to be the case here, then whoever is doing it likely has a connection to the flashback incident. If I had to guess at this early a juncture, I’d say that it’s the pregnant sorority sister’s kid grown up and seeking vengeance on sororities, not unlike Ms. Voorhees sought revenge against camp counselors when her son died because they weren’t paying any attention in “Friday the 13th.” Perhaps the kid’s father is assisting him or her in the process, making for a team, a la “Scream.” (Could well be Grace’s dad, Wes, played by Oliver Hudson, brother of Kate.)

Speaking of which, I already like this more than “Scream: The Series,” which was good, and admittedly scarier than “Scream Queens,” but nowhere near as fun and well-written. Granted, the deaths there were gorier, too, but the show is still early in its run, so there’s plenty of time to make up for it, though that spray tan thing was pretty gruesome and the maid’s death wasn’t pleasant, either, so there’s that. I’ll hold off passing any more judgment than that, as we see how the show develops, but so far, so great.

What did you think of “Scream Queens”? Were you scared at all? Or were you too busy laughing to be frightened? Who was your favorite character? (Gotta go with Chanel on this one- Emma Roberts just gives great bitch, plain and simple, say what you will about her.) How about your least favorite? Were you disappointed it was more funny than scary? Will you keep watching? Who do you think will get it next? Do you have a main suspect yet? Sound off down below and I’ll see you next week!