Scream: The TV Series Recap
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Scream: The TV Series Recap

"When A Stranger Calls" ... maybe don't answer?

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Scream: The TV Series Recap
Photo appears courtesy of MTV

The following recap contains major spoilers from the season two finale of “Scream”, so if you haven’t seen it, press the back button on your browser now.

Watching scripted TV shows can be frustrating when you’re a writer. I’d imagine it’s the same way surgeons feel watching shows like “Grey’s Anatomy”: “that’s so unrealistic!” “why would you write it that way?” “that would never happen!”

Bad writing and clichés tend to jump out at writers like a killer in a slasher flick does. It makes it all the more disappointing when this happens in a show you normally enjoy watching, which is exactly how I felt after watching the season two finale of “Scream: The TV Series.”

From the cold open, the viewer got their first hint that this would be a weird season finale. It started out okay with an obvious homage to a similar scene in “Scream 2.” This is where it gets weird though: the killer just pops into the scene like some kind of demented Jack-In-The-Box, and after killing the deputy, gives Emma and Audrey the keys to their handcuffs.

Sorry, what? That is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen a horror killer do. And this is coming from someone who likes B-movie horror like “Thankskilling” and “Troll 2.” It felt like the series was trying so hard to be clever and inventive that it forgot to actually make sense plot wise. If you’re the killer and your only goal in past episodes has been to kill, why would you all of a sudden let your prey go?

The stupidity continues after Emma and Audrey “escape” from the cop car. Emma gets a call from “unknown,” yet she answers it. Girl, you know that’s the killer. Why are you answering the phone? Even for a horror movie character, the nearly nil utilization of brainpower was painful to watch.

The killer tells them to play his “game” or another person dies. This is the same “run and don’t call the cops or I’ll kill one of your friends” thing he’s been pulling all season, so it’s a bit surprising that Emma and Audrey are still scared and surprised instead of mad that he’s still screwing with them. I did miss the requisite “what do you want?!” and “screw you” dialogue that most meta horror shows/movies have. It just gives them that wink wink nudge nudge edge that makes the show/movie more enjoyable. There was a glimmer of that with the episode title and having the local movie theater playing “When A Stranger Calls,” but nothing after that.

Naturally, the girls run to a gas station and use the phone there to call Brooke, who is with Noah, who is still recovering in the hospital. They all agree that they’re in this together and hang up. We see Noah take out his IV, put on some clothes, and just straight walk out of the hospital with Brooke. Because someone who almost died from a stab wound can just walk out of the hospital like that with someone who isn’t his legal guardian. Sure, “Scream.” You’re pushing suspension of disbelief pretty far, but okay. Whatever. Do your thing.

I love how the girls went from murder suspects to murderers in the span of .02 seconds too. The girls see their pictures flash on the random TV above their head (have you ever seen a TV in a gas station? Especially in a small town that’s not-so-fondly referred to as Murderville? C’mon) and they know they have to split before the police get there.

Of course, the first place they run to is to Kieran’s place, because that makes tons of sense. I found it hilarious that he was still so focused on personal hygiene when his girlfriend and her best friend were suspected of murder. He said some reassuring platitudes, there was a shifty run-in with Eli meant to make the viewer suspect him more, and then Emma was off again. She went over to Audrey, who, hilariously, was hiding in the bushes in a camouflage shirt.

They decided to run to the nearby movie theater to hide because they’re queens of good decision-making. For some reason Audrey still has the keys, even though I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen her work there since season one. Noah and Brooke show up shortly after and they all pick up some movie props that for some reason aren’t blunt to defend themselves with because of course that would happen.

Kieran also shows up with them with a shady reason for magically knowing where Emma was, but none of the gang stops to acknowledge this. That’s when the killer calls from an unknown number. You’d think Emma would have wised up by now, but no.

She answers it, tells the killer where they are and to come get them. Because, again, queen of good decision-making. Stavo also showed up for a second (again, how does everyone know where they are?) in a scene that recalled Randy and Stu both begging Sydney to let them in in “Scream.” No one let him in and he was definitely better for it.

After Stavo left, the gang made the excellent decision to split up and Kieran disappeared. Brooke ended up getting stabbed in what was perhaps the only tense moment of the episode. Emma somehow found them and decided to chase after the killer now that she’d whipped out the gun she’d got off the dead deputy.

This is where the biggest problems with this episode were. Instead of feeling frenetic and tense, like the episode was racing to a conclusion, it jumped around from “oh! Brooke got stabbed!” then “oh! Emma’s chasing the killer!” to “wait, what is Eli doing here?” so much that it read more like lack of focus. The extremely dark lighting made it hard to tell what was going on, which was frustrating since it was now the climax of the episode.

There was the obligatory chase scene with the “final girl” and when she doesn’t find the killer, she then gets a text with a picture of Audrey lying against a wall, unconscious. The text says, “come alone or she dies”, so because Emma’s a genius she does. In a very Dean-Winchester-rescuing-Sam-who-got-kidnapped-for-the-millionth-time sequence, she runs into the empty room and over to Audrey.

She’s then accosted by Eli, who, in the show’s final weak attempt to make viewers think he’s the killer, tells Emma that he was stabbed by Kieran when he came in. In another callback to “Scream,” Emma was forced to decide if he or Kieran were more trustworthy. Eli didn’t help his case by launching himself at Kieran, which caused clueless Emma to shoot him.

Viewers were then lead into the first false resolution. Emma thinks it’s over … until Kieran says how he’ll make sure she’s safe.

In the one of the most anti-climactic reveals in recent history, he reveals that he’s the best actor ever and was faking how he cared about her ‘cause he wanted to ruin her life the way she ruined his. Turns out he and Piper used to be friends and he got a little miffed when Emma killed her last season. At some point, he decided she would never feel safe again and torment her. Clearly they were going with the Billy Loomis/Stu Macher type reveal but it just fell flat and made it seem like they were blatantly ripping off the original instead of paying homage.

Loomis and Macher were a lot creepier because while you thought they were creepy in the first place, the movie did a good job of creating doubt, misdirection, and red herrings. It was also creepy because Sydney thought she’d saved herself and everyone else from the killer only to find out she’d locked herself in with them. They also had a better written “I am killer, hear me roar” speech. It still gives me chills, especially since they were able to successfully frame someone.

“Scream: The TV Show”’s final reveal felt very tacked on instead of planned and I was beyond disappointed that this was the ending they went with when they’d been setting up an Emma/Audrey break with reality all season. That would have been a more original and fascinating way to go.

While we’re at it, since when is Kieran a technology whiz? For someone whose personality literally consisted of being Emma’s concerned boyfriend with a side of mysterious, this came out of nowhere. It’d be one thing if he’d been introduced as such or been given a smidgen of personality, but he wasn’t.

The way he was torturing Emma and Audrey spoke of such a deeper resentment that it just made the reveal downright confusing. No one is that good of an actor all the time. The writers said in an interview that they always planned to make Kieran the killer, but if that was the case, why did he have all the personality of a pizza box?

Even Eli and the psychologist who ended up being wrong all the time had more of a personality than Kieran, a character who’s been on the show since last season.

The only thing the show did do right was have Emma choose not to shoot Kieran, because she realized he wanted her to.

We open an unspecified amount of time later where everyone has made an uneasy return to “normal” life, podcasts, and relationships.

We also see Kieran in jail. He gets a call and, in only the second actually shocking moment, that familiar voice of the killer says, “who told you you could wear my mask?” hinting that Brandon James or someone related to him could be back for good.

The show hasn’t been renewed for season three yet, but the ending seems to suggest the writers want to continue the story. Remember that note Emma’s mom wrote to Brandon James? Yeah, that’s now stuck to a tree on a knife with a bloodstain. Creepy.

Should the show be renewed, hopefully it won’t culminate in as much of a train wreck as this finale was.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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