Scream Queens “Mommie Dearest” Review (Season 1 Episode 8)

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In the latest episode of “Scream Queens,” the show managed to both be a crowd-pleaser and move the plot forward, while at the same time admittedly tread water big time- albeit not nearly as much as last week- in the amusingly-titled “Mommie Dearest.” A lot of people weren’t too happy with last week’s episode, and understandably so, given that it managed to avoid the inevitable by introducing not one but two new characters, only to bump one off almost immediately, in order to fulfill creator Ryan Murphy’s dictate that at least one character would die every week.

Well, quite frankly, it’s hard to muster up a lot of feeling for the death of a character we just met, so the last episode kind of fell flat a bit as an end result. Factor in the fact that it was just barely a character in the first place, and you can see where some were so miffed by it. Granted, this is a show that heavily traffics in caricatures- it’s like nothing so much than a slasher movie cartoon at times- but that’s also part of its charm as well. I think those horror fans that objected to that element were scared off, and not in a good way, long ago, so at this point, it’s only the die-hard fans that are watching anyway.

Be that as it may, it’s still a bit of a cheat that they have been knocking off one ancillary character after another, whose very existence is hardly crucial to the heart of the show, much less consequential in any way. At the beginning, it seemed like this might be a show that didn’t play around, what with the death of Ariana Grande’s character and Ms. Bean, both of whom seemed at first blush to be central characters. Now, it’s become clear that it was a bit of subterfuge, as most everyone that’s bitten it since have been minor characters at best.

To that end, I don’t think there was a single person out there who watches this show regularly that was the slightest bit surprised when this episode’s lone kill proved to be Jennifer (Breezy Eslin), aka the “Candle Vlogger.” For a hot minute there at the beginning, it looked like the show might actually do something genuinely bold and take out former Final Girl Supreme Jamie Lee Curtis, but they ultimately didn’t go there. On the plus side, we did get to see her kick all manners of Red Devil ass- not to mention Judge Scalia!

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Of course, if you’ve been at all aware of the show on social media, you knew that JLC was scheduled to do homages to both “Psycho,” which her real-life mother Janet Leigh famously starred in, and “Halloween,” which Curtis herself did, and we got both in said sequence, which was a lot of fun all around. I loved that the show wasn’t afraid to update the whole “Final Girl” thing for the modern age, what with Dean Munsch wiping the floor with no less than three would-be marauding killers!

That was truly a thing of beauty, even if, much like Curtis’ scenes near the end of “Halloween,” I was still all like “Don’t throw down your weapon! Don’t go in the other room and leave the killer alone!” But really, that was small potatoes compared to her worst offense: not looking underneath the mash of at least one of the killers, something that Chanel and Zayday also failed to do when the opportunity presented itself as well. I get that it’s a trope of the genre, but for a show that takes such, ahem, glee in upending a lot of the clichés, it does sometimes wallow in them as well, for the sake of prolonging the inevitable.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. To a certain extent, we already know the answers to that- or at least the identities of two of the perpetrators. We had it flat-out confirmed that one of the killers was indeed Boone, as most figured was the case- after all, we saw that he was at least in on it earlier in the season- and it was also mentioned that Gigi was the one under the Scalia mask, which was pretty clearly chosen for some of Murphy’s patented trenchant political humor, and for little else. That only leaves the one mystery devil, which itself was heavily implied to be a female, if that portrait was any indication.

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it could only be a small handful of possible characters, most likely Chanels #3 or 5, Hester, or possibly Denise Hemphill. I would say Zayday or Grace, but the former was held captive by one of the Devils and the other just seems dubious to me. I did think it was possible that one of the killers was Earl Grey, but if one of them is allegedly a female then it can’t be him if the male is already confirmed to be Boone. (Pete was another possibility.)

However, just because that portrait says there were two kids involved doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s one of the killers, so it could still be Grey (or Pete), possibly, if you think about it, and that info could just be to throw us off. Instead, the daughter in question could be one of the aforementioned girls, with the exception of Grace, whose mother’s identity was confirmed tonight as the former Kappa president at the time. I’m also pretty sure the baby was white, so that also rules out Zayday as said child.

There is one more possibility, which is that Wes is involved, but if that’s the case, Boone wouldn’t have suggested they kill Gigi off at the end, being as how that’s her boyfriend and all. Gigi herself also seemed to confirm this when she met with the one devil before heading off to her date with Wes afterwards. So, I think it’s safe to say he’s not the culprit, either, though he might well be up to something. I’m just not sure exactly what as of yet.

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Beyond that, we got a lot of busy work and back and forth as the various characters tried to figure out who the guilty ones were and continued to point fingers at one another, with diminishing results. Chanel #3 hired Denise to prove Zayday was the killer, which she was all-too-happy to do, and Chanel herself hired two Scotland Yard detectives (!) to do the same, to no avail.

We discovered that the Kappa sister who died in the tub was named Sophia Doyle, and that there was no further info on her available on the internet- or so Pete claimed- and that Grace’s mom was named Bethany Stevens, though she later changed it to Mary Mulligan to protect her anonymity, after Doyle died and she got in trouble- at one point for drunk driving with baby Grace on top of her car! She died shortly thereafter in a car crash, after Wes got full custody of Grace.

The painter lady at the asylum confirmed that Gigi was the “Hag of Shady Lane” and that there were two babies, not just one, as suspected, though naturally Gigi denied it all around. We also discovered Chanel #5’s real name: Libby Putney, and that she had actively been plotting Chanel’s death, though so had all the Chanels at one point, so that part of it was nothing new.

Denise emotionally blackmailed Chanel into apologizing to Grace for being so mean to her in revealing her mother’s real identity by threatening to steal her man, and Denise also moved into the Kappa house and became their new House Mother, announcing a new set of rules as to how things were going to be done from there on out. Meanwhile, Gigi went behind Grace’s back and told her dad she was failing school and should be admitted into an institution!

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That was about it, save a few amusing things scattered throughout the episode here and there: loved Chanel’s terms of depreciation for Grace (“walking bowling ball on a stick,” “daughter of Sam,” etc.); Chanel’s and Chad’s ill-fated “Night of 100 Compliments”; the 80’s throw-back of the week was priceless- The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” at Jennifer’s wake- see what they did there?; the fact that Grace’s mom ran for president on a platform of getting “Waterfalls” declared the official song of Kappa House; the all-too-brief flashback of a young mini-Chanel; and the hilariously off way Boone spelled Joaquin Phoenix’s name when someone mistook him for the actor at the gym in his bearded disguise and asked him for an autograph.

A fair amount of win, to be sure, and definitely an all-around better episode than last week, but still a bit of a wash in terms of moving the plot forward. It also goes without saying that, with only four episodes left at this point, the show had best start knocking off some major characters sooner than later, especially with all the minor ones essentially taken out at this point. (The lone arguable exception, assuming he’s not in on it: Earl Grey.) Further, if they introduce any new characters in the next four episodes only to bump them off like last week, that absolutely will not do. I don’t mind giving them a pass for doing it a little bit, but now’s the time to start making waves- it’s definitely crunch time, “Scream Queens.”

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As ever, I leave you with my favorite quotes of the episode. Sadly, there wasn’t nearly as many good ones as per usual, though the show made up for it with that opening scene with Jamie Lee facing off against the Devils, which was totally bad-ass. For that reason, I’m going to let it slide this week, but now’s not the time for the show to start slacking in the one area it’s always been the most consistent: the laughs.

Favorite Quotes:

911 Operator, in a recording, determining what constitutes a “real” emergency: “If you need a ride to the store or McDonald’s got your order wrong, please hang up.”

Chanel: “I hope you fat heifers did your homework. Zayday is the killer and that walking jaw-line Grace what’s-her-nuts is in on it…”
Hester, pointing out that both Zayday and Grace are on the pill, as evidence: “Their cycles are synched. And you know what else is synched? Their thirst for murder! And you know what they say- ‘those who pill together, kill together’.”
Chanel: “No one, in all of human history, has ever said that.”

Chad, struggling to find a compliment for Chanel: “That outfit, looks super-absorbent, enough to wipe down this hot bod after an hour-long bone sesh.”

Chanel, rebutting the detectives she hired from Scotland Yard when they say she has to understand they have no jurisdiction here: “First of all, I’m an American. I don’t have to understand anything.”

Gigi, to Grace after she posits a theory about her: “Honey, have you been smoking ayahuasca? Because pass the dutchie on the left-hand side, sister. I want some of whatever it is you’re smoking.”

Scotland Yard Detective, presenting evidence to Chanel: “#5 is a frequent visitor to what we call the ‘deep web,’ where she hosts several active chat-rooms with such names as ‘Does anyone want to help me poison Chanel Oberlin’?”

Denise, upon being accused she’s wearing Chanel #5’s dress: “The bigger question is, why are you the same size as a 40-year-old woman? And you know what? I don’t know what brand of G-string it is that you use, but I feel like angels are flossing my butt-crack, so thank you.”

Chanel, after Chanel #5 protests her clothes being stolen by Denise: “Oh, shut up #5. Your underwear’s probably relived to be touching actual human genitals.”

Chanel, on her childhood self: “Mommy said I was a prodigy at firing nannies and top of my class at destroying people’s self-confidence. Although they don’t give out grades for that for some dumb reason.”

Boone, to accomplice: “Look, I can’t live like this. Okay, all I do is work out and kill people… Where do you think I am? I’m at the gym.”

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That about does it for this week. Join me next week for what should be the beginning of the end, if the show knows what’s good for it. Sound off below with you crazy theories and predictions on who will get it next, and see you next week!