"Scream Queens" follows a group of women in famed college sorority Kappa Kappa Tau as they uncover secrets relating to a mysterious murder that happened in their very sorority house 20 years ago — while avoiding an equally mysterious killer, clad in a Red Devil costume and mask, who's out to claim a victim in every episode, one at a time. Catch your eye? Well, then… read on:
We open in 1995, where we find one of the Kappa Kappa Tau pledges has given birth in the upstairs bathtub during a sorority party. The sorority prez is furious and can't be bothered with the baby or the new mother — she's gotta get back down and jam to TLC's "Waterfalls." When she comes back to tend to her pledge, she finds New Mom dead in the bathtub.
We then fast forward to 2015, where current KKT queen Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) wakens to a daily pampering by her minions. As she strides royally through the gigantic sorority house, we meet the rest of its inhabitants: the three Chanels, Oberlin's minions, and housekeeper Ms. Bean. And it seems like Chanel's got all her ducks in a row, eating out of the palm of her hand.
But it's Dean of Students Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) that she really has to watch out for; Munsch disagrees with KKT's objectifying of women and humiliating treatment of its pledges. As a result, she's out to take down the sorority.
And she does it — at least, the first step, anyway — by requiring Kappa Kappa Tau to accept anyone who wants to become a pledge. Munsch knows Chanel is furious, but so be it. And thus, the new roster is: Grace (daughter of a former KKT pledge, who passed away when Grace was two), Hester (a girl with scoliosis and hence, a neck brace, played by Lea Michele), Tiffany (a deaf girl who loves Taylor Swift), Mac (a feminist lesbian), Jennifer (a sophomore student and candle vlogger) and Zayday (Grace's outgoing roommate, played by Keke Palmer). As if the new pledges weren't enough for the little pampered princess, Chanel's boyfriend, Chad, breaks up with the next morning — because she's losing her popularity, and that just doesn't fly with him.
Determined to take her rightful place as "Queen" again, Chanel devises a plan: She will pretend to dunk Ms. Bean's head into a deep fryer (the fryer will be turned off and the oil will be cold), which the new pledges will see and hopefully get scared enough to flee from the sorority. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, of course, with plans this simple, things can usually go awry. And awry it goes! The fryer is left on, Chanel dunks Ms. Bean into a vat of hot oil, frying her face off, and within the blink of an eye, is basically guilty of murder. Uh oh.
To save face, she, the other Chanels and the new pledges all drag the deceased Ms. Bean to the freezer on the other side of campus. It's all well and good (that is, as good as this situation could be), but when Chanel (and Grace and Pete, but that's for later) goes back to check on her, the body's missing!! Is she alive or did somebody steal the body? What do you think?
I just have to say, on the subject of Broadway alums, Ariana Grande is a pretty incredible human. The rest of the world knows her as a rising pop star who exudes confidence dancing on the VMAs among her throng of backup dancers, but she really has the ability to switch gears completely and play believable ditz of a sorority girl… and I gotta say, she's pretty darn good at it. (Her deadpan delivery of "I'll see you ladies in Bio. I have a colonic at 10," among her other one-liners, was particularly amusing.) I'm really glad we got to see that side of her, and it's a good thing too. 'Cause she's the first ousted by the mysterious "Red Devil Man." (Side note: She's killed off during a texting session with her killer… another incredible, clever LMAO moment. Well done, Mr. Murphy!)
Chanel decides it's time to take a stand (again) and declares that Hell Week commence immediately. She's stopped, however, by Grace, who's also vowed — like Munsch — on behalf of her mother, to end the belittling and humiliation of women within Kappa Kappa Tau. She wants the sorority to be "about empowerment, sisterhood, and respect." And it seems like no amount of "real girl talk" coffee clatches nor special offers to become Chanel No. 6, is going to sway her. Grace is steadfast and determined in her goal. Well, looks like we've got our main hero and villain battle set in place for the season. We'll see how it turns out. (Oh, and I should point out, Grace has also befriended Pete, the coffee barista/newspaper editor/soon-to-be beau who will help her with her investigation. Just saying 'cause it might be important to know for later….)
On that note, I also have to point out, though the show touts an abundance of theatre vets, including the aforementioned Lea Michele, Keke Palmer and Ariana Grande, and the focus/star of this episode IMO is yet-to-be-on-Broadway Emma Roberts.
Is it a bad thing that the focus is given to someone who has yet to grace the New York stage (though her aunt Julia has; Should that count?)? No, not at all. Roberts' performance here is incredible: she plays the stereotypical bio-tch to a tee, and it's equal parts hysterical and incredibly frightening. ("Thank you, coffee donkey," is among one of my favorite lines of the night.) So, no, again, not bad. Again, just something I thought I'd point out.
Anyway, back at the Kappa house, Hell Week hazing has begun. For their first session, the pledges are dropped into holes in the ground and then covered leaving only their head exposed — The Sexy Gopher Whore-Head Challenge, as Chanel #5 calls it — where they must wait until the Chanels return back from their evening out. Pretty scary already. But it gets worse (well, what else would you expect?). After a few hours have passed, the gate opens again… and who appears, but none other than the Red Devil Man. He has hopped a lawn mower, revved it up, and is heading straight for the girls — who stand motionless, with only their head exposed. Amid screams, he rams full speed ahead toward the one girl who can't hear him. Blackout.
The second hour opens at the scene of the crime, where learn that until further notice, the girls have been instructed to move into the sorority house exclusively, and they're all suspects in Tiffany's murder.
Chanel and the remaining minions contemplate what to do with No. 2's body, when Hester enters with a solution. Now, here's where our Lea Michele gets to shine. She delivers an A+ monologue, showcasing how much of a lunatic Hester really is, outlining the perfect way to dispose of Chanel #2's body ("Truly grinding down a body takes a lot of work. You need a really good food processor, and you run the risk of fouling up the plumbing…"). Creeped out (well, aren't we all?), Chanel disregards Hester's advice, and heads, once again, to the meat locker.
And as they dispose of the body, Hester's deadpan one-liners continue ("We should touch her. If we touch her, she won't haunt our dreams"). I'm really loving Michele's performance here. She frightens you, but you can't help but laugh at her incredible delivery. It's clear from the get-go this character is no Rachel Berry. And it's awesome. She's definitely bringing the comic relief. Hope to see more of our fave Spring Awakening alum later. This scene was a perfect introduction.
Back at the house, the Chanels are introduced to their security watchperson, Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash), whom they learn is not licensed to carry a gun, has no formal training, comes from a program separate from campus sorority, and whom the sorority chief basically pulled out of the Yellow Pages.
So, I can totally tell, this is going to go well. Fortunately, Nash is bringing it in the comedy department: Her monologue detailing the three-step process to getting her attention totally deserves some praise.
While looking in the supply closet for soap to scrub the floors (further punishment for Hell Week), Grace is almost injured (by the Red Devil Man??? We do know he was present. Hmmm…), when a bookcase falls on top of her. Grace appears to be fine, however, and the fallen bookcase has seemed to reveal a "secret hidden door that only one person has the key to."
She takes this information back to Pete, and, after they share a kiss, they devise a plan to uncover the meaning behind the door. Looks like the mystery portion of our series is surfacing. And with all the potential clues and surprises, there's no telling what this mystery could uncover. But, given that it's all Ryan Murphy, I can totally tell it's gonna be good — even if it's the "good" that makes my spine tingle.
Elsewhere, Dean Munsch talks with Grace's dad, Wes Gardner, about the recent goings-on at Kappa Kappa Tau. After being denied the opportunity to take his daughter home, Wes requests a full-time job at the school, so he can keep close watch over Grace.
Meanwhile, Grace returns to the supply closet, where she now discovers a bathtub (Hmm…) and a mix CD with TLC's "Waterfalls" (Hmm…) Man, this show is good! I'm getting goosebumps as I watch. And it just gets better, as we flashback to '95, and learn that Dean Munsch (supposedly) was the one who covered up the young girl's death, after receiving a tip about it from then-alive Ms. Bean. Hmmm… could that be related to why she hates the sorority so much? Because she knows they know she's hiding a secret about a death that happened 20 years ago? Or because she's still haunted by what she did, covering up the death? (Either way, Grace totally believes it's related to what's been going on recently). We'll see. Only time will tell. But it's a pretty damn good clue.
Later on campus, after a raucous evening of intercourse, Chanel breaks up (once again) with on-again-off-again boyfriend, Chad. Chad goes back to his room, where he laments his heartache to roommate and golf buddy, Boone (How to Succeed alum Nick Jonas). For comfort, Boone suggests they sleep together… which makes Chad uncomfortable because he knows, although Boone's not yet out to the public, Boone is gay.
Chanel arrives with an apology for Chad, but is caught off guard when she sees her ex-lover and Boone in bed together. She threatens to blackmail Boone with telling the whole school his secret, but Boone gives Chanel another proposition: he'll publicly come out, but then would like to join Kappa Kappa Tau, citing Munsch's new rule of the sorority having to accept anybody who wants to join. Much to the chagrin and horror of her minions, Chanel accepts.
Meanwhile, Pete's snuck into the supply closet and uncovered a list of member names from the 1995 sorority. But as he's writing them down, he's knocked out from behind by…. (who else?) the Red Devil Man. While back at home discussing the evidence and helping Pete tend to his wounds, Grace discovers the infamous Red Devil costume in Pete's closet. Though he swears he's not the killer — "I'm the school mascot during football games," he explains — Grace isn't too sure. Remember, she didn't see Pete get knocked out by the real killer in the supply closet, so she can't use that as proof. She also figures out Pete's the same age the baby would be if it were still alive today. Furious, she storms out on him, and as she walks away, Pete looks at the mask knowingly.
Which begs the question… could there be more than one mask? More than one person? Just a thought: Though I don't believe Pete to be the killer, it could have been him watching Grace on the pledge night in the pilot from behind the trees. Maybe he was coming back from a game? Just something to ponder. Also, having more than one Red Devil Man would infinitely intensify the mystery aspect of the story… as if it wasn't super incredibly intense already. Later that night, Officer Hemphill's on patrol with partner Shondell, watching out for the killer as Hell Week hazing occurs inside the house.
We also see Wes is parked outside as well, staying true to his promise to always look out for Grace. Gigi, sorority chief, manages to distract him, though, and he drives off with her…. leaving the coast clear and Grace unprotected. :-O
Inside the house, the Chanels are mid-hazing ritual, when Chanel #1 is attacked by the Red Devil Man. Officer Hemphill runs into help the girls, who insist on confronting the killer themselves. They head upstairs in full battle-mode, ready to attack, and find the Devil Man has left them a message written in blood: "SLUTS WILL DIE."
"This is freakin' terrifying!" Chanel screams. Oh, Chanel. If you only knew what was coming next. Hemphill runs back to partner Shondell, who the killer has murdered while the officer was out of the car. Terrified, Hemphill dumps the body and drives away.
Boone's bumped off, too; The Devil Man got him while he was working out (presumably for his hazing process into KKT). Interesting though, that when Boone first saw the costume, he assumed it was a joke. Does this mean the frat boys are constantly dressing up in that outfit (they must joke around… they're frat boys)? Only furthering my suspicion that there could be more than one devil.
During the last leg of hazing, the KKT girls share their predictions as to who the killer might be: Chanel's still dead set on Ms. Bean (a prediction she made last episode), surmising the maid is seeking revenge for the deep fryer debacle. Grace has her bets on Chanel, who wasn't present during the "Gopher" hazing when Tiffany was murdered. (Wait… wasn't she with Grace?) Either way, the whole verdict's still up in the air.
Man, wouldn't it be incredible if one of the 2015 Kappas turned out to be the baby? Like, so incredibly freaky. I mean, we do know (though, to be fair, we don't know exactly how), there is some connection to the 1995 Kappa party and the death of the new sorority pledge.
Hemphill bursts in with more news: Shondell's body, which she dumped outside the sorority house, is now missing. Chad also arrives to share with the ladies the news of Boone's passing.
But wait! We zoom in on the mortuary, where Red Devil Man (I'm thinking I'll call him RDM from now on) opens a drawer and pulls out Boone's body. Boone opens his eyes (!!!!) and looks slyly at RDM. "What took you so long?" he says, before tearing away a bloody piece of stick-on skin. WHAAAAAAAAATTTT?! So, he's totally fine?! The blood was fake!? That whole thing was a prank?! OMG!! So, do you think him faking his death was part of his plan to come out to the fraternity? Obviously, from the way he gave that last line, he's in cahoots with the RDM. But the only person who knows about that plan is Chanel. So… could it be… but also the audience knows Chanel was attacked by a different RDM. Or was that fake?
What do you guys think? Two killers? Multiple costumes? Was Chantel's scream/attack fake? (We did only see it in flashback).
Here's my theory, though I'm not quite sure how it relates to the plot as a whole yet. Grace's mother has something to do with this whole thing, and could possibly be alive, and might be the killer. I just glean this from Grace talking about how she wants to feel closer to her mother (hint hint), and I feel like Gigi's monologue to Wes about giving her kid some space (and Wes' response that "she's pulling away from me") was pretty telling as well. Definitely some significance there. And that amulet? They wouldn't just put that in there without it having some significance. I bet it's going to come up later in the series. Just some thoughts to peruse.
But then again, how would Boone know about Grace's mother? Honestly, right now, it's anyone guess. But all the more reason to tune in next week. Mwahahahaha.
Total Body Count: Chanel #2, Tiffany, Shondell