Netflix UK TV review: Scream Season 2, Episode 3
Ivan Radford | On 20, Jun 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
Will she or won’t she? That’s the question we’re left with by the end of Episode 3 of Scream’s second season. It’s a significantly more exciting question than the previous one: Did she or didn’t she? We’re talking, of course, about Audrey, whose initial unclear role in Season 1’s killings is looking clearer and clearer the more she tries to cover it up.
Vacancy is the name of this episode and, once again, the show’s choice of title is a smart nod to what’s on the cards. In this case, it’s a thorough dressing down of the usual motel tropes found in genre flicks – after Episode 2’s Psycho, Norman Bates has a lot to answer for. The motel in question is Crescent Palms and it’s already clear the place reeks with death: don’t forget Jake’s body in a storage unit last week, and the ensuing interrogation of Eddie, not to mention the fact that Piper stayed here in Season 1. And, of course, Emma’s dad is staying here now.
Crescent Palms needs to do better background checks on its customers. After all, Jake’s corpse appeared and disappeared overnight without anyone realising – apart from Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus), of course, who returns to the garage with Noah (John Karna) in bright daylight and finds the whole thing harmless. Except for a CCTV camera that Noah promptly scours for evidence. Did someone break in before them?
Speaking of unwanted guests and intruders, Brooke (Carlson Young) has gone from missing Jake to being surrounded by new friends and old lovers. Stavo (the wonderfully smirking Santiago Segura) continues his Look-At-Me-I’m-A-Suspect act, to amusingly suspicious effect, as he keeps appearing where Brooke is and asking about Jake – just how much does he know? Any suspicions, though, are briefly allayed by his rallying to help her when none other than Seth Branson (Bobby Campo) turns up out of the blue. An anonymous phone call? Great way to announce your return to Lakewood, you creep.
There are lots of those jumps in logic in Scream, from Brooke seemingly happy to accept that Jake is AWOL and texting her from a distance, despite the events of Season 1 still being fresh in everyone’s minds – those flowers, we discover, were from Seth, not him, which prompts her to dump him via SMS. “Hasta la vista,” comes the reply. A threat from the killer?
Equally daft is the way that Emma’s mum, Maggie (Tracy Middendorf), continues to hide secrets from her – there are only so many times we can watch them have the same conversation in which they promise to be more honest with each in the future.
We do, however, get some welcome depth in the latest chapter of Emma’s Troubled Family History, as her dad’s evasive talk at a reunion breakfast leads to later revelations about his alcoholism: when she was young, his drunken behaviour caused Maggie to get hurt and their marriage to break up, something that Maggie wanted to spare Emma from knowing. Would you really cover that up for so long, especially when you know he’s back in town? It’s hard to say, but Scream is, naturally, more than aware of its own artificial contrivances – note that Seth’s return happens in a cinema, of all places, because this is a story steeped in stories, fiction and spooky cliches.
The reason it works is because the series manages just the right balance between stupid and sincere – a balance that gets better the more it continues and we spend more time with these people. Audrey’s the main proof of that, as her apparent guilt leads us to enjoy the blood-splattering murder scenes in a new light. Suddenly, we find ourselves scrutinising the way the killer walks and moves to see if there’s any similarity to Audrey’s gait and height.
The killer, of course, is dispatching Eddie, everyone’s favourite motel clerk – a gory (one word: corkscrew) demise that occurs in Room 213, the same room Emma’s dad is staying in. A visit there, with Audrey frantically racing in the car to stop her confronting Ghostface 2.0, leaves us wondering if it’s all about to kick off – in fact, the kicking off belongs to Emma’s dad outside, who’s in a fight at the nearby pub. But the most thrilling moment occurs earlier on, when Audrey is once again pushed to her limit, as Noah opens the CCTV footage on his computer. As he taps at the screen, she picks up a bookend from the shelf behind him, raising it, ready to… what? Bludgeon him to death? Will she? Won’t she? And how much longer until he realises it? It’s a smart, exciting cliffhanger that Scream doesn’t need to leave until the end of the episode to keep us tuning in. (The other reason: Zoe (Kiana Ledé) and Noah’s fledgling relationship. We’re officially shipping Zoah.)
Scream the TV series is available to watch online on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. Episodes arrive every Tuesday at 8am, within 24 hours of their US debut.