Netflix UK TV review: Scream Season 2, Episode 1 (I Know What You Did Last Summer)
New main character8
James R | On 06, Jun 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
“We’re all final girls in Lakewood. Because we survived.”
That’s Emma at the start of Scream Season 2. Yes, MTV’s surprisingly good horror series, which spun off from Wes Craven’s movie franchise last year, is back for another run of bloody attacks and even bloodier teen angst – and it’s off to a thrilling start.
Slasher movies have always been about the fear of the moment, the suspense of the chase. Even with franchises that spawned thousands of sequels, we generally didn’t hang about to explore the aftermath. Scream was an exception to this, thanks to its self-aware analysis of the Final Girl trope through Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott. Scream the TV series takes that heritage and runs with it even further; over Season 1’s weekly instalments, we got to know the residents of Lakewood; we spent time with them, as they mourned, as well as made mad dashes for the staircase to avoid ol’ Ghostface. The very act of commissioning a second season of Scream, then, makes its a bold piece of TV; there’s no way the show can shy away from examining the consequences of what happened in Season 1.
That ended, if you recall, with the discovery that not only was Piper the one behind the deaths (as Emma’s vengeful, jealous half-sister), but that she also had some kind of secret bond with Audrey, who was hastily destroying their communications as the credits rolled. Now, Audrey’s the one who takes centre stage, as she begins to receive anonymous messages from someone threatening to expose her.
It’s a smart move from the show’s writers: Bex Taylor-Klaus’s Audrey was one of the series’ most compelling presences in the first season. While Willa Fitzgerald’s Emma Duval made for a solid victim-slash-heroine, we know the root of Audrey’s harassment here, which means that the suspense and mystery comes more from her own behaviour than the actions of an unknown third party – a far more gripping protagonist, not to mention a potentially more homicidal one.
That’s put the test immediately with a bravura opening sequence that is the best thing in the Scream series to date. We begin, as we did in the movie Scream 2, with a film within a film, as Audrey works her shift at the local Lakewood cinema, where Season 1’s events have become myth. An encounter with a fan goes awry, though, and soon, both Audrey and a stranger are running from Ghostface for real. The twist? That it’s all a prank designed to wind up Audrey – but not before she’s retaliated in self-defence and stabbed her prankster in the stomach. You’ve been framed, eat your heart out.
It’s a wonderfully unpredictable moment, and proof that the show has lost none of its ability to craft fake-outs that go one step further to catch you out. After all, this isn’t some dumb, innocent girl we’re watching; it’s a potential murderer, who isn’t afraid to stick up for herself after going through some nasty stuff. By the time the police turn up on the scene, things are unsettling, unexpected and darkly hilarious, all the things that a Scream story should be.
Of course, Audrey’s stalker doesn’t stop there, pestering her throughout the opening episode with taunting texts. But she’s not the only one being haunted by what she did last proverbial summer, as the episode’s title so cheekily points out. Emma returns from time away on a sort of psychiatric retreat, but her attempts to rekindle a relationship with Kieran don’t prove that simple (poor Kieran, who was once an almost suspect in our eyes). Her dreams, meanwhile, see her plagued by memories of a strange farm and some pig entrails. As you do.
It’s telling that some of the most gruesome things in this hour actually occur in nightmares. And, sure enough, up pops Noah to talk dreams in a class at school, courtesy of a new psychology teacher (we told you the show was really going in for the whole “consequences” thing) – and John Karna’s excitable geek is as entertaining as ever in his deconstruction of horror cliches (and, after spending time with him in Season 1, is now likeable as well as amusing).
Jake and Brooke also find their way through the trauma with a fledgling relationship – Jake’s whispered “I love you” to Carlson Young’s tough-skinned survivor is genuinely sweet. Unfortunately, that puts him directly in harm’s way and, yes, he ends up trussed up on that farm from Emma’s dreams (which, we learn, belonged to Brandon James’ brother, Troy) and is promptly deaded.
There are a smattering of promising new characters, too, from a veteran Sheriff to his son, who stares creepily at Emma in class, but bonds with Noah over their shared love of post-modern genre analysis (try putting that as an interest on your Tinder profile). He argues that graphic novels are more interesting than films, in that every issue has a twist. “The killing never ends,” he declares.
It makes for a nice, weird contrast to nice girl Zoe (Kiana Lede), who agrees to help Emma with her homework, but also provides a suitable mission statement for the show’s second run: only one episode in and we already have a returning character in the morgue and some potential suspects, not to mention a twist in the form of a new main character.
Speaking of The Morgue, that’s also the name of Noah’s podcast (because running a podcast in Scream has always been the mark of a good person), which Emma agrees to appear on as a guest. While she is grilled by Noah about the events of Season 1, Audrey is in a toilet cubicle surrounded by copies of her letters to Piper.
Some “demented troll is out to Catfish me”, she quips earlier in the episode, just in case you needed proof that the scripts still have their sassy pop culture references on tap, but Audrey’s distress at the prank is an intriguing sign that there’s more going on here than we might think. Was she Piper’s accomplice? Or did they have a more innocent, romantic relationship, with Audrey not complicit in any of the murders at all?
“We’re all final girls in Lakewood,” Emma tells Noah, underscoring the baggage that the show’s ensemble is carrying around. But with all of them having survived and the story still continuing, that only makes it clearer that anyone of them could be next. Packed with ideas, jokes and gore, this is a hugely promising start to Scream Season 2.
Scream the TV series is available to watch online on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. Episodes arrive every Tuesday at 8am, within 24 hours of their US debut.