Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The second episode of Scream Queens, “Warts and All,” picks up right where the first ends, with Catherine Hobart (Cecily Strong) murdered by this season’s killer, the “Green Meanie.” #5 (Abigail Breslin) was left distressed in the aftermath. Of course, no one believes #5 when she explains that she was attacked by someone dressed up as a large green plant. Instead, she becomes the scapegoat. Chanel (Emma Roberts) and #3 (Billie Lourd) accused #5 of murdering Catherine because #5 was hungry for attention because she hasn’t been touched for months.
I’m glad that episode two began with a lot more humor after the show’s lackluster premiere. The jokes involving #5 are the show’s most hilarious ones. For example, the writers are sticking to the long running joke of #5 having vagina teeth. Maybe it’s the vicious quality that the other Chanels instill or maybe it’s the outrageousness that renders them unbelievable. Even so, the show took the right step in this episode by having more character interactions, which allows for more development of humor rather than of exposition.
Scream Queens seems like it is becoming a medical procedural, which presents a new medical case each episode, in addition to already being a comedy/horror hybrid. Last episode featured the case of Catherine, who was diagnosed with werewolf syndrome, which is an illness that covers your entire body with hair. She was cured because Chanel figured out (surprisingly) that Catherine needed to change her diet. This episode featured Tyler (Colton Haynes), a man whose body was covered in bubble-like tumors, making him appear grotesque and monstrous. Having the setting in the hospital and following the medical procedural format allows the show more opportunities for guest stars. I can assume that most of these diseases will turn otherwise attractive actors/actresses into horrifying creatures. I predict that incorporating the medical procedural format will detract from the show’s main draw of who will be killed off in each episode because it seems only the guest stars will be killed off. That more likely means that the main cast has a high chance of surviving, therefore losing the excitement and mystery of who will be killed in the next episode.
This episode allocates a lot more screen time for Special Agent Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) and Hester Ulrich (Lea Michele) and even features the return of Chad Radwell (Glen Powell). First off, Hemphill is the best incompetent cop on television. She claims that she is FBI’s finest cadet, but she gets all of her training by watching Quantico, which is an actual show that is just premiering its second season also. Hemphill’s advice is to trust no one and she is still hung up on the theory that Zayday is the true killer just because she thinks Zayday is a stone-cold hoe.
The entire sequence with Ulrich pays tribute to the film, Silence of the Lambs. Most of the shots are the same as the film. Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), Hemphill, and the Chanels walk down a corridor of cells, ending up at the last cell where Ulrich is in. A clear barrier separates the group and Ulrich. Michele tries her best to emulate Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, but the characterization is odd since we never get to see Ulrich transition into a psychopath. Also, if the show wants to copy Silence of the Lambs, it needs to create intelligent characters. Ulrich does not match Hopkins’ character in the film, because her intelligence is not on the same level as his and she was the reason for her own imprisonment. In the last episode, she does not understand what double jeopardy was and she mistakenly confesses to the Wallace killings.
The return of Radwell was a good move on the show’s part because the new male characters, Dr. Cassidy (Taylor Lautner) and Dr. Holt (John Stamos), do not align with the show’s exaggerated comedy style. Powell’s delivery of lines and performance is stylized and confident to the point that the viewers will go along with any unbelievable thing that comes out of his mouth. In contrast, Dr. Cassidy and Dr. Holt are trying to become the new Radwell for this season but their performance comes off stilted.
Finally, I will end on a more reasonable note. Zayday (Keke Palmer) is becoming the sanest character on the show and the one person with whom we can all relate. She is the only character actively trying to solve this season’s mystery. Initially, she believes it was Munsch since Munsch gathered her and the Chanels under one roof. She theorizes that Munsch was going to kill them off one by one. In reality though, Munsch only brings them to the hospital so they could figure out how to cure Munsch’s uncurable disease, which Zayday does.
I am hopeful that Scream Queens will continue to inject more humor in its future episodes. I would like to see Special Agent Denise Hemphill try to crack the mystery and come face to face with Zayday to accuse Zayday once again of being the killer. I’m excited to see Chad Radwell propose to Chanel and see the aftermath since a love triangle between Chanel, Dr. Holt, and Chad is developing. Finally, I would like to know how Hester Ulrich knows who this season’s killer is.
Image courtesy of gstatic.com