Scream Queens is lucky its latest episode “Beware of Young Girls” came after only a one-week hiatus.
Because of the World Series, one week separated the newest episodes. Typically, an episode that comes after a break needs to be spectacular and get the audience back into the rhythm of the show. It needs to make the wait worthwhile.
In no way did “Beware of Young Girls” fulfill this necessity.
In fact, it was actually the weakest episode of the series thus far. The episode haphazardly introduced a new plotline, but it got too bogged down in bologna to really have it make an impact.
“Beware of Young Girls” opens with the Kappas holding an open-casket funeral for Chanel No. 2 (Ariana Grande) because her parents chose to go on a cruise to “celebrate” instead. The montage of the Chanels and Chad’s last words to her is funny, but the weird tone of the episode is felt from these first moments. Instead of its usual sharpness, it felt tired. Last week, Ryan Murphy seemed to prove he was the best writer of his co-creators, but after this week, that statement has been disproven. I tried to stop scapegoating Murphy for every problem in his show, but this episode makes it seem like blaming him might not have been so wrong to do. Murphy’s writing was so much better than what had been featured in the season — except for the premiere, which he co-penned — that I even advocated for him to write exclusively in the last review. Now, I take back what I say. “Seven Minutes in Hell” was one of the first episodes to finally master the outrageous, HBIC-wannabe dialogue because Murphy knew how to write for Emma Roberts. How could he have missed the mark so badly now? What happened in the delay between writing “Seven Minutes in Hell” and writing “Beware of Young Girls?!”
I’m disappointed, but I’ll digress.
Before taking No. 2’s body to the mobile crematorium — these small bits truly save the show from utter destruction — Chanel (Roberts) warns the attendees to stay away from Chad (Glen Powell) because when you “rub uglies” with her man, you end up dead.
The Chanels believe Chanel should try to contact No. 2 so she can apologize for what she did with Chad, so they break out the Ouija board.
Kudos for this quip:
- Chanel: Those things don’t work.
- Hester: Yes they do. Didn’t you see the movie?
- Chanel: The movie Ouija? No! No one did.
Billie Lourd remains a force to be reckoned with as Chanel No. 3. She doesn’t have as much to do in “Beware Young Girls” as she has in the past few episodes, but when she tries to call for No. 2’s spirit by chanting, “Chaneelll No. Twooooooooo. … Are you theeeeeerrre?” It’s spectacular. No. 2 answers and tells the group that Chad is cheating on Chanel.
Side note: What is Murphy’s obsession with the Eiffel Tower sex position? This is the second episode to reference it.
Chanel runs to the Dickie Dollar Scholars house and finds Chad in bed with a goat. It’s not an act of bestiality; it’s just Ramy, the goat Chad uses to get milk because he’s lactose intolerant. This storyline is ridiculous and not in a good way, but Powell — like Lourd — has such a presence on the show and is so sure in who his character is that he makes it work. Powell and Lourd continue to be the MVPs even when they aren’t featured as heavily.
The Chanels return to the Ouija board and ask No. 2 who is killing everyone. Directed at Chanel, No. 2 replies, “It’s you” — prompting Hester (Lea Michele) and Nos. 3 and 5 (Abigail Breslin) to plot to kill Chanel.
But before they can actually have their “sugar party” — I guess that’s a thing — No. 2 actually visits Chanel to warn her of their plan and apologize. In Grande’s sing-songy, breathy voice, No. 2 also talks about how hell isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Hitler motorboated her and Jesus stole all of the dinosaurs. These quips are weak, but they’re so outrageous that they’re funny.
In the only moment of the episode that actually intrigues because it has something to do with the plot, Gigi (Nasim Pedrad) talks on the phone with one of the people involved in the Red Devil plan. She chastises them for not “getting rid of him.” This him is probably the same one she mentioned in “Pumpkin Patch.” She is mad this “he” is messing with their brand of being “murderers hell-bent on revenge.” Hey, brands are important and it’s good she’s looking out. She laments that “you guys” are so inefficient at killing everyone so now she has to come up with an elaborate plan to get the “scent” off of them. When Wes (Oliver Hudson) walks in the door, she ends the phone call with, “I have to go. Now, will you please go kill some people?”
Pedrad is quite spectacular. It was really unexpected that she would be so heavily involved in the Red Devil plot, but her performance has proven why she was given that task. Gigi is clearly deranged from the events in 1995, and Pedrad harnesses that insanity and mixes it with some comedy to create a truly funny yet terrifying villain. It’s all encapsulated in that moment when she hangs up the phone and turns to greet Wes. She is flawless, and I cannot wait to see more in the finale where she will likely have a big role, as it will depict how the Red Devil got away with everything it did.
Grace (Skyler Samuels) takes Gigi shopping to find her some non-‘90s, Fresh Prince of Bel Air clothes for Gigi to wear while she is with Wes. Gigi, however, turns it into a chance to steer Grace to Feather McCarthy (Tavi Gevinson), who left Kappa house after some drama with Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Turns out, Feather was the “cookie 19-year-old” Munsch’s husband, Steven (Philip Casnoff), left her for two years ago, which she mentioned in the pilot. Steven was Feather’s Beatles 101 professor, which somehow made that very unattractive man sexy to Feather. The Beatles have a lot of power, but I don’t know if they even had THAT much to compel someone to have an affair with him. And of all the Beatles songs to sing, he chose “Norwegian Wood.” He’s weird on every count.
Dean Munsch did not take him asking for a divorce well. He moved into Kappa house — which has to be illegal in some way — and Dean Munsch would continually show up, dressed however Feather was and stare menacingly. I can only imagine what Jamie Lee Curtis thought of on this day of filming.
After that, Feather and Steven moved back to his home, where Feather was almost electrocuted by a transistor radio — or an “iPod thing that picks up music from the air,” as Feather described it. Gag. Remember, that was the way the previous dean died before Munsch stepped into the top position.
Things take a quick turn for the worse when Feather goes home and finds “this way” written in blood on her walls with an actual hand pointing up the stairs. That’s followed by “step this way” with an actual foot nailed above it and “look a head” written on her bedroom door. You get where this is going: Steven’s head was found in the aquarium.
The cops arrest Munsch and take her, in a straitjacket, to a mental hospital. Will Judy and Lana Banana be there? Though she’s happy sketching formal wear and taking the blue meds, Munsch calls Grace and Pete (Diego Boneta) to have them investigate Feather and, in response, Munsch will tell them more about the Bathtub Baby. They look at the photos of the crime scene and find that a half-eaten bologna sandwich was left near the body. It obviously couldn’t be Munsch because she would go into anaphylactic shock if she ate bologna, proving Feather was involved. They even discover she has an entire website dedicated to how much she loves bologna.
This is an actual storyline written by Emmy-nominated TV writer Ryan Murphy. I cannot comprehend what made Murphy think, “Yes, this is a great plot. Good job, me.” Nothing about this made sense. I’m all for an outlandish thing being funny, but this was purely too stupid to be funny. It felt it should have come from a fourth grader’s mystery short story assignment than from Murphy.
To make amends with the Chanels, Chanel buys them all gifts: Nancy Drew hats and giant magnifying glasses. They’re going to do some sleuthing too. Chanel says she knows Feather is too stupid to have killed Steven. Instead, she blames Grace and Zayday (Keke Palmer), saying nothing had happened until they came into the picture.
Cut to Dean Munsch putting on the Dory Previn song “Beware of Young Girls” — the episode title’s namesake — and dancing around her home. It’s the classic villain reveals plot and motive scene. Except, Munsch isn’t revealing herself as the Red Devil — just as her ex-husband’s killer, knowing that his death would be easily lumped into the Red Devil killings. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” Munsch says as she takes a triumphant sip of wine. Same.
The song is still playing as the episode ends and the camera pans from Grace and Zayday entering Kappa house to the Chanels’ eery shadows silhouetted on the wall of the staircase. It’s an incredible shot. Even when Murphy messes up, he can still be a hugely successful presence behind the camera.
The use of “Beware of Young Girls” is an excellent way to wrap up the episode and almost makes up for its horrible storylines. True story: Previn wrote this song after her husband left her for a 23-year-old Mia Farrow, which led to Previn being institutionalized and treated with electroshock therapy. Hence, why Dean Munsch was taken out of her office in a straitjacket. Gevinson, whose acting left everything to be desired in the episode, actually performed this song and even looks like a young Farrow. This true story helps to elevate the storyline, but how many viewers knew about it before watching? The key demographic is probably 18 to 24, and I doubt they have even heard of Dory Previn.
Scream Queens really didn’t have anything going for it. Sure, I’ll be listening to “Beware Young Girls” for days now, but that’s about it. Besides Curtis, all of the show’s greats were essentially absent from the episode: Zayday didn’t appear until the last five seconds of the episode. Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) was nowhere to be seen, and her dynamite comedic presence was sorely felt and missed. No. 3 was featured more than Chad but wasn’t given as much to do as in previous episodes. The lack of playtime for these two powerhouses was a gross mistake on the show’s part.
Lastly, The A.V. Club noted that the “big reveals” of the episode — Gigi’s phone call and Dean Munsch dancing triumphantly — aren’t actual reveals. Audiences already knew Gigi was involved and though the phone call made viewers wonder who was on the other end, it wasn’t enough to keep us going until the next episode. Also, this Feather-Munsch storyline occurred too quickly for anyone to care about it. No one asked for the show to retreat to a storyline Munsch briefly mentioned in the pilot. It didn’t advance the overall plot. It just showed that Munsch is an HBIC, and we already knew that. Curtis performed it well, but the material she was given could have been significantly better.
Cheers to getting through that monstrosity.