Friday, October 23, 2015

Scream Queens 1x06 "Seven Minutes in Hell" (Maybe There's Hope For This Yet. Maybe) [Contributor: Melanie]

"Seven Minutes in Hell"
Original Airdate: October 20, 2015

This week’s iteration of Scream Queens was billed as the bloodiest yet. Though, by my count, the first episode still had one additional by the end. Surprisingly, I didn’t hate this episode, and there are a few reasons for that. First of all, Westin, Gigi, and the dean were either barely in it or not present at all. Don’t get me wrong: Jamie Lee Curtis is a shining moment in most of these episodes, but unfortunately she’s usually flanked with the other “adults” and the stupid revenge love-triangle going on there is boring and annoying. The other thing I liked about this was the actual meaningful use of genre motifs. Though some were obviously harped on (“I knew it was you,” Sam says as the killer reveals himself to her), others happened by chance in the episode’s writing.

The group hosts a slumber party, which is so far the closest this show has gotten to achieving the levels of meta it thinks it’s consistently pulling off. The slumber party quickly becomes a forced lock-in with the Dickie Dollar Scholars, and the killer begins picking them off as they separate. It’s rife with the commonalities of slasher horror: teenagers/young adults in a confined area, sexual promiscuity, love triangles and drama, loud music, and — of course — alcohol. All these different elements hold together fairly well this week, though there are a few annoying heavy-handed moments, plus some plot holes and exceptionally dumb logic. One thing I found interesting, though I’ll address this more in future reviews, is missed opportunities. There’s tension in that, and watching those opportunities slip by oblivious characters can create a strong connection with the viewer. What doesn’t work, however, is a never-ending round of musical chairs with accusing people of being the killer — something most episodes have suffered from and something that will likely continue to cut the tension as the show continues.

I keep harkening back to Scream (and who wouldn’t?) but it’s the best example for comparison in terms of what’s happening on Scream Queens. In Scream, there were only two characters explicitly and seriously considered to be suspects, Billy and Sidney’s dad. Though, of course, genre-savvy Randy does point out that several other characters fit the bill, as slasher movie rules state that essentially anyone can be a suspect. Still, we only ever had two contenders.

Scream Queens, however, has explicitly named just about everyone as a suspect at this point, and layered potential motives on so heavily, that not only do I not care who the killer is, but the shock has been completely taken out of the eventual reveal. Taking the guessing game too far ruins the fun and bores the audience. At this point in the show, all I can say is that someone’s the killer, and whoever it ends up being probably won’t prove to be too big of a deal. That’s less of a missed opportunity and more of a misstep. But more on some other missed opportunities down the road as they pop up.

For now, here’s what happened this week.

The episode opens with the vote for president ending in a tie, so Zayday and Chanel end up as co-presidents. After making a scene, Chanel reveals to #3 and #5 that she ensured it was a tie to make herself less of a target for the killer. She then extends Zayday a seemingly harmless peace offering by naming her acting president of the sorority. The next day, Zayday and Grace decide to throw a slumber party in order to use truth or dare to force answers out of people (because they’re magically bound to absolutely tell the truth during truth or dare, obviously). The rest of the house reluctantly agrees.

At the Dickie Dollar house, they have an intervention for Chad’s sexual promiscuity and he decides he will devote himself only to Chanel. His newfound monogamy is kicked off with a panty raid, after the brothers learn the Kappas are having a slumber party. At the party, Chanel #3 adamantly insists they play spin the bottle so she can explore her confusing feelings for Sam. The game works in #3’s favor, as she gets to kiss Sam, but ultimately she decides it’s too dangerous to risk a relationship. Meanwhile, Chanel is off making s’mores when other sisters arrive to inform them the entire house has been sealed up, and everyone has been locked inside (because Chanel had the whole house converted into a panic room after watching the movie of the same name). Chanel calls Chad for help and he manages to break a second story window, which are apparently the only ones on the house not bomb-proof, when the Red Devil appears and picks off the newly armless brother (okay now he’s dead) while the others run inside.

Grace asks Zayday if they can flee the school, but Zayday refuses to be kicked out of her own turf, and they return to the living room to play truth or dare, where at least the Candle Vlogger has the sense to point out that absolutely nothing about truth or dare makes sense as a viable interrogation technique. We quickly learn some interesting information during the game, but #3 becomes angry when Sam reveals Charles Manson is her father. In return, she dares Sam to go down to the basement alone and take a nap in the tub. And while down there, Sam is, unsurprisingly, attacked and killed. But not before she insists on knowing the killer’s identity and delivers a very cliché “I knew it was you” as her final words.

Upstairs, Hester talks with Chad in the kitchen and insists she is not going to give up trying to win him from Chanel, who then appears and immediately insists they play Seven Minutes in Heaven, pulling Chad off to go first. She asks Chad for a real relationship and he “pinkie pledges” to remain monogamous with her... on the grounds that her dad is rich and that she’s hot. #5 and Dodger take a turn playing while the rest of the group rushes downstairs after Hester finds Sam’s body. They immediately start pointing fingers while Dodger gets a few nails to the head from the Red Devil. The group continues throwing around blame. Zayday and Chanel decide to team up to explore the tunnels beneath the house, realizing that’s how the killer got in (never mind the fact that the frat guys left their ladder outside the broken window?). While investigating, the pair is attacked. Chanel rescues Zayday from the killer and they escape.

The next day, the dean and the police search the house and decide to post an armed guard outside at all times. The dean also relishes in an opportunity to publicly hurt the reputation of the sorority by claiming their status as targets is a threat to other students’ safety. #3 and #5 commiserate over their mutual losses and make a deal that — no matter what — the pair of them will outlive Chanel. The episode ends with Chanel gifting the sisters pink nunchucks to protect themselves with, should the killer strike again.

Body count: 3

WTF moments:

  • Everything #3 says, but in a good way.
  • Truth or dare? Really? This is the surefire way to figure out what’s really going on?
  • I knew it was you.” Yeah, because I’ve never heard that line before.
In this week's killer suspects...

  • Zayday: I still remain suspicious since she's the only one who had direct contact with the killer.
  • Hester: Still a psycho and now a woman scorned.
  • Chanel #5: The reasons for her to hate Chanel are just piling up.

There is no episode next week (since they exhausted all their Halloween themes, I guess). But tune back in November 3rd at 9 PM on Fox for more episodes and check back here for recaps!


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