Scream Queens, Season 1 Episode 3: “Chainsaw”

Sadly not the end to a musical number. (Image courtesy of Fox)

Sadly not the end to a musical number. (Image courtesy of Fox)

I had to look up the title of tonight’s episode of Scream Queens, but given all the chainsaws it really should have been obvious. I record this show and watch it the next day, usually when other people are in the house, and my mum asked if I was hooked. I’m vaguely interested, but if I’m being honest, I’m mainly watching this because it’s a zeitgeist show. And it’s much more interesting than season two of True Detective – yes, this is already a better show, even though it is… not great. But it knows what kind of show it is, and I respect that.

The episode begins with a ‘Take Back the Night’ rally on campus, complete with Dean Munsch saying that there is absolutely not a serial killer going around and killing students, and that it’s probably time to change the school mascot to an ice cream cone called Coney. As soon as Coney walks back to his dorm room, he’s decapitated by a chainsaw, still in costume. Also, the coroner has ruled Nick Jonas’ death a suicide, which I guess is a way of saying they can’t admit that they’ve lost the body because he’s still alive. Grace and Chad Radwell both came to the conclusion that this was wrong, but Chad used some bizarre logic that involves Boone dying twice. Chad also doesn’t believe that a ‘Take Back the Night’ attitude is the right way to go about finding the Red Devil, so they go to the streets and yell for the Red Devil to come out, which in true Chad Radwell tradition is not a well thought out plan. The Red Devil does indeed appear, but he kills one of them and slices off someone else’s arms with his chainsaw. Again, how could I have missed the title of this episode?

Jeff Fordham from Nashville is way too overprotective as a father, not only getting a job at the university but also as one of his daughter’s teachers (the first film he shows in ‘Intro to Film Studies’ is Texas Chainsaw Massacre). It’s slightly less endearing now, and then we find out that he tracks Grace’s phone using GPS. Kappa alumnus sits in on the class and Jamie Lee Curtis goes to see him afterwards. My main problem with Scream Queens at this stage is the Jamie Lee Curtis character. She’s a great actress, but she’s not even attempting to chew scenery, and I just don’t care about her desire to sleep with Jeff Fordham when he’s clearly interested in someone else, and because she’s the Sue Sylvester of the show, she has to try and manipulate her way to getting closer to him. The first instance of this is suggesting to Kappa alumnus that they should both move into Kappa house. Jeff and alumnus have a salad date complete with Jamie Lee Curtis, and it was all I could do to stop from rolling my eyes. Or maybe Jeff Fordham knows what’s up, because when pretty alumnus lady gets attacked by the Red Devil (and she has some wicked moves) and he saves her from the sound of her screams, he accuses Munsch of being the killer. I don’t know. I also don’t really care that much.

Grace is getting better at avoiding her father and investigating with Pete. Grace apologises to him for being all weird last week, and it seems that all is forgiven. Grace, Zayday and Denise all end up at Ariana Grande’s former home to check on her parents, after finding the bloodstain on the carpet, reading her twitter feed while she was being murdered, and seeing that her Instagram page is still being updated. It turns out that Ariana Grande was also sleeping with Chad Radwell (as were Chanel #2 and #5), so that’s who Grace suspects next, but she doesn’t know that his friend’s arms are about to get cut off with a chainsaw. Meanwhile, Denise has decided that Zayday is the killer, with some really terrible evidence except for the fact that she has a chainsaw under her bed. Her grandma sent it to her after her taser was taken away (she and Grace tased another student dressed in a Red Devil costume), in one of the most ironic twists to the second amendment I’ve seen on television. After all, when Denise hears that argument, she sees it as entirely reasonable.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not watching this show particularly closely, especially since people are talking to me while I’m watching it, but I’m worried about the construction of the mystery. I love Sherlock Holmes and books by Agatha Christie, so I am slightly invested in how this turns out. From reading the wikipedia page of the show (I have it open because I forget characters’ names), I know that there’s a plan, but they’ve also constructed it in a way that makes it really difficult to eliminate characters, which is cheating. Yes, fans like to figure these things out, but that’s because it’s fun! I understand that they don’t necessarily want a True Detective season one scenario because people are disappointed when they’re not right, but Broadchurch was a great miniseries (before it was renewed) because of the emotions behind the case, even as many people had figured out who the killer was. Who isn’t the most interesting question, why is. All good mysteries have red herrings, but you need to be careful not to cheat the audience. After Glee, this is one of the reasons I’m concerned aobut Scream Queens, but at least I’m not too emotionally invested this time.

Other thoughts:

  • There are some arguments among the Chanels this week, as Abigail Breslin tells Chanel that she would much rather be having a bunch of sex than worrying about serial killers and bodies that go missing from meat lockers. Then Chanel makes “Neck Brace” Chanel #6.
  • Chanel #3’s father is Charles Manson, who seems to be having a cultural moment right now. In my head every reference to Charles Manson is a reference to Mad Men.
  • Maybe this section should just be called “Chanel Facts”.
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