"Scream Queens" fails to prepare its fans for its two-hour finale with an episode that didn't advanced the plot or feature any character deaths.
How Ian Brennan could have gone from writing “Mommie Dearest” to “Black Friday” is possibly a bigger mystery than figuring out the identity of the Red Devil.
Brennan had a strong take on Scream Queens. It involved rather brutal deaths — RIP Coney and Jennifer — and better than outlandish monologues — “hashtag cahoots!” and Dean Munsch’s beating of Scalia.
But, Brennan really lost his footing with “Black Friday.” The episode was not one that should be leading up to a two-part season finale. Essentially, nothing happened. It was an episode that could have made sense in the beginning, but it is crunch time and the stakes need to be higher. As noted, only four characters are meant to survive and continue on to the second season. As of now, Chanel, No. 3, No. 5, Hester, Zayday, Grace, Denise, Wes, Munsch, Pete and Chad are still alive. That means in the two-hour finale, seven people have to be killed. Having to finally kill characters every probably 10 or so minutes is not going to come with that big of a payoff. Those deaths won’t sink in like they would if viewers had more time to realize their impact. Gigi’s (Nasim Pedrad) death was gory, shocking and effective. It sent the message to viewers that change might finally be happening, but Scream Queens backtracked with “Black Friday.” No one died, and the continual let down of the former promise that the show would be a weekly slasher thriller is overwhelming now.
The reveal of the Red Devil will probably be enticing, but the journey to get there will be too rushed because Ryan Murphy and co. couldn’t deliver and actually say goodbye to their army of actors.
Much like “Haunted House,” “Black Friday” began with Chanel (Emma Roberts) narrating her love of the day, which is the “greatest non-Chaneloween holiday” because it allows her to buy cheap gifts that can be used to manipulate friendships. The episode overly emphasized that part of the storyline. Chanel later has a change of heart and realizes the point of Black Friday. Then she and the other Chanels go to the mall and are stalked by the Red Devil, which results in Roberts obviously holding that arrow she was “shot” with in her armpit than actually doing the special effects or makeup. It was minimal and rather irrelevant. It wasn’t sassy, salacious, crazy, convincing or even mean enough to work.
Instead, the episode should have been titled “Rasputin” or “Michael Myers,” as the driving force of the episode becomes the Kappas’ attempt to kill Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Grace (Skyler Samuels) and Chanel try to poison Munsch’s cider, but she sustains and continues on a feminist rant and ends up assigning them homework, as she thinks they want to start a feminist club on campus.
The biggest problem with “Black Friday” isn’t that there isn’t enough of Dean Munsch — it’s fortunately quite plentiful — but it’s filled with the wrong Munsch. All season long, Dean Munsch has been a fiery HBIC, but in “Black Friday,” she’s more reserved and actually kind of, well, lame. She seems naïve now. She actually tried to give Chanel a “timeout.” It’s not a knock on Curtis’ work by any sense. The writing was just entirely different and entirely wrong. The inconsistent characterization, which has plagued Chanel, Hester (Lea Michele) and Grace, as well, is Scream Queens’ biggest problem.
The montage of Grace and Chanel’s reactions while Munsch was talking was hilarious, but that one scene can’t make up for the entire episode.
The girls later try to freeze Munsch in a cryochamber, though she proves to be more Michael Myers than Laurie Strode this time as she survives and feels rejuvenated. The storylines are really just quite pitiful.
It’s not until the end of the episode when Chanel has Munsch meet her at the campus pool — in an attempt to drown her, though the other Chanels flake — that Munsch returns to her normal self: firm and intimidating like Miranda Priestly. That is the Munsch I bow down to.
Though Jamie Lee Curtis’ presence in the episode is welcomed with arms wide open, Pete’s (Diego Boneta) is not. I’m not sure if it’s Boneta himself or if it’s the writing of the character that I detest most. Regardless, his appearance comes with an eye roll and a scoff.
His first moments on screen aren’t all that atrocious, but that’s only because he’s in a scene with Chad (Glen Powell), whom I could watch recite his lines on loop forever. Chad tries to call a meeting of the Dickie Dollar Scholars to order, only to realize everyone has been murdered. It was an actual laugh-out-loud moment.
Apparently, Boone (Nick Jonas) left a few items, such as an X-Box and some lube, to Pete, which made Chad think the two were “secret gay lovers.” It turns out that Boone was actually Pete’s source. You know, because he’s an “investigative journalist,” as he likes to remind viewers 15 times every episode. It would make for an excellent and effective drinking game to drink every time he said “I’m an investigative journalist” this season.
It turns out that Pete had tried to get into the Dickie Dollar Scholars but knew nothing of golf or John Mayer’s albums, so he was denied. Chad now offers him a spot, but Pete refuses, forcing Chad to duel with him as tradition goes.
The scene cuts from there, leaving viewers to wonder if the duel actually occurred. All we know is that later in the episode, Pete is on the phone with someone, saying that he is leaving campus, this person shouldn’t ever contact him and “that” wasn’t who he is. The moment ends with him looking at the Red Devil costume in his closet. It’s about as vague as can be. Maybe if Pete were more interesting, I’d care and be invested. But I’m not. We were already reminded that the show gave a throwaway explanation in the premiere as to why Pete has the costume in the "Thanksgiving" episode. What purpose does it serve to have him look pensively at the costume now?
Throughout the episode, Pete and Grace discuss taking the next step and having sex. Grace was hesitant but after an awkward talk with Wes (Oliver Hudson), she decides she is ready. However, the episode doesn’t end with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Instead, this time Pete denies her and says she shouldn’t have “her first time be with a murderer.” That’s supposed to serve as a cliffhanger, but it’s not nearly intriguing enough to fulfill that function. It’s the same cliffhanger problem the “Chainsaw” episode had. No one cares about Pete. But I do care about Chad Radwell, and if Pete killed him in a duel, I will murder Pete myself. However, an alternative theory is that — fingers crossed — Pete killed Wes. The two were meeting up to chat about theories and the Bathtub Babies earlier in the episode. Poison might not have killed Dean Munsch, but there’s no way a pointless idiot like Wes could survive that.
In other notable moments from the show, Grace didn’t wear a pageboy cap until about three-fourths of the way through the show! Denise (Niecy Nash) continues to be the MVP, as she is now the new chief of police after the entire department was fired for its incompetency with the Red Devil case. God bless. Nash and Powell are what make me thankful for the show.
Gigi’s real name is Jess Meyer, and she was committed to the asylum after her sister had committed suicide. Her sister was the Kappa who took the Bathtub Babies, thus Gigi raised them and vowed revenge. That could be an important detail, but it could have been easily lumped into a different episode.
Bless Lea Michele for slaying Abigail Breslin as the best sidekick Chanel of the night as she gave an A-plus delivery on her Munsch-is-Rasputin theory while Breslin’s No. 5 just mumbled and um-ed her way through her Teen Wolf idea. Michele is way too underutilized on the show. Hester is at least a worthwhile addition to the cast. No. 5 is not. Hester serves as the quirky, creepy wannabe popular girl. No. 5 is a wannabe who is just a lesser version of Chanel. There's no reason for her to be there.
Breslin was even worse in the idiotic scene in which she, No. 3 and Hester visit a lingerie store and yell at the clerk for not switching the tag sizes. It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on the show.
“Black Friday” missed its mark in every way. There were very few one-liners to save the episode. The best characters were either not in the episode long enough or were oddly misrepresented. The plot was too stagnant. Scream Queens is about to enter its season finale, and it doesn’t seem ready.
Latest theory: Melanie Dorkus is the Red Devil. Dorkus was the Kappa president who was given an acid spray tan the year prior to beginning of the series. That would explain why the Red Devil constantly wears the costume and doesn't speak: She has terrible scars and burns and her vocal chords were probably severely damaged. Dorkus was never said to be dead in the series premiere. She instead was "settling" her case. The age would make sense, as well, because Dorkus was obviously older than Chanel, and Chad — therefore Boone, too — also seem to be older than her.
Best Quips of the Night:
- Chanel: Shut up, No. 5! When you agree with me, it makes me question whether I actually agree with me.
- Chanel to Grace after Grace finishes another monologue: Thank you, talking pumpkin.
- Denise: Damn! Why didn’t I shoot him when I had the chance?!? I was just talking so much!
- Chanel: It’s time we deal with this problem ourselves.
- No. 3: I sorta feel like we’ve already been doing that.
- Chanel: Where did you get puffer fish venom?
- Hester: From my puffer fish
- Chad: Your body is not a wonderland.
- No. 3 on how Chad got a Lego stuck in his butt: The nurse said (Chad) told her he usually does his nightly nude yoga before he sets a perimeter of Lego characters to guard his bed while he sleeps, but this time, he decided to do it later, and accidentally sat on Lego Captain Jack Sparrow.