Netflix UK TV review: Scream Season 2, Episode 2
James R | On 09, Jun 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
“The thing about the truth is it’s hard to pin down.”
Noah is getting all the good lines in this second season of Scream, but while it might sound like he’s stating the obvious, there are subtler things at work in Episode 2 of this sequel. MTV’s series, with its classical stringed soundtrack, has enjoyed knowingly straddling the boundary between dumb slasher spills and pseudo-intellectual thrills, but the more the programme goes on, the smarter it gets. Noah’s closing observation here is a textbook example; it’s a cliched generalisation, but it’s also the underlying driver of the show’s suspense.
Since coming back to Lakewood, Emma has been unsure of everything – whether the killer was working with someone else, as Noah suspects, whether she can ever get her life back to normal, and, more pressingly, whether what she’s seeing is real. At first glance, last week’s cliffhanger being dismissed as a hallucination is a cheap fake-out, but the show goes on to use that fake-out as the basis of its whole narrative. The question isn’t the usual “OMG, who was in the farmhouse??” but the far more interesting “WTF, is Emma cray cray?!!”
With multiple episodes to play with, the series can actually explore that in real depth – what might have been a brief conversation in a film becomes a full-on study of the fall-out and consequences of serial killings. Ok, it’s not exactly Broadchurch, but Scream the TV series is way better than it needs to be, consistently so.
That’s partly thanks to Willa Fitzgerald, who relishes having more to do in this second run – Emma’s reaction to going back to the farm, only to find the room once covered in photos from her childhood empty, is more suspenseful than her original cry of fear at Episode 1’s climax.
The writing, too, makes sure that she continuously has things to doubt – she’s surrounded by people who are lying, keeping secrets or just straight-up killing folk. Upon seeing the farmhouse, for example, her mum suddenly reveals that, wait, the family does have a connection with it (she used to visit Brandon’s brother, Troy, after the whole Brandon situation). The fact that we often discover these secrets at the same time as Emma gives the show an edge it otherwise wouldn’t have; when we see a car pull up behind her, we’re just as uncertain as she is whether it’s actually there, which makes the surprise of it being her estranged father (hello, new favourite murder suspect no. 1) all the more effective. And then, of course, there are all the strange new students popping up at school. Hell, even the supportive psychology teacher is looking pretty untrustworthy right now.
The one thing we do know that Emma doesn’t is that Audrey had a connection to Piper – although even then, we’re not sure about what that connection was. But if the title of this episode could refer to Emma’s mindset, or Noah’s obsessive game of playing detective with the original Lakewood murders, it could just as easily label Audrey as our resident Psycho. Bex Taylor-Klaus remains the best thing in the show, increasingly losing her cool and making sure we’re not certain when she’ll do it. Assaulting the girl who pranked her before in the school stairwell ain’t none too cool, but then we see her graduate to using the Ghostface App (available in all good App Stores) to threaten a hotel clerk/Season 1 witness into not divulging her identity to Noah.
And, of course, there’s one thing we’re 100% about that neither Audrey nor Emma know: Jake is dead. D. E. A. D. Dead. (“What up, my fellow Lakewood sixers! Except there are five of us right now…” jokes Noah, in another of the episode’s best lines.) “See how I finished the job for you, Audrey?” reads the taunting note tacked to his chest – and, like everyone else on-screen, we genuinely don’t know who it’s from. What we’re left with is an impressive achievement: for the first time in a franchise that bases itself on playing with predictable tropes, we have no idea what’s going to happen next.
So, who do you think’s the killer? And what’s the deal with them pigs?
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.