Scream: 02×04, “Happy Birthday To Me” (Review)

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The fourth episode of Scream’s second season was one to remember – with reveals, horror and even some hallucinogens to keep viewers on edge. Let’s dive in to what will be noted as a major episode of the series going forward, shall we?

With Audrey being set up by the new killer, she continues to attempt a cover-up by burying the corkscrew used to kill the motel clerk that saw her with Piper. The following morning Emma is awoken by a recurring dream of Kieran being killed by a masked murderer, however Audrey wakes up to a phone call from the new killer that says they know her better than she thinks – finding the dug-up corkscrew in the same bed she sleeps in. This killer is a ballsy one, there’s no denying that. It’s officially Kieran’s birthday so Emma has special one on on plans with her on/off boyfriend once she’s able to exit her home where her parents are both seen arguing, despite her not trusting either of them.

Kieran prepares to leave for school and Eli insinuates he knows more about who Kieran really is – something that Kieran doesn’t seem too excited about. Eli suggests doing something grand for his cousins birthday but Kieran says he’s looking forward to what him and Emma are preparing. Brooke continues to text Jake in hopes that they can reconcile but the ghostface-texter stays stoic and insists she’ll be seeing him tomorrow. This can’t be good by any means… Eli follows Emma to her job at the coffee shop and fabricates a story about Kieran wanting a big birthday celebration so they decide on changing their romantic evening to a surprise party. During study-hall, Audrey notices a staring Stavo and asks Brooke and Emma their opinions of him, so Brooke admits to his semi-obsession with the Lakewood 6. Audrey exits to the restroom and moments later, pulls a fire alarm to give her time to go through his belongings. The first thing she finds are ominous pictures of the Lakewood 6 with a bloodied (and possibly dead) Emma.

Mayor Madox arrives to the sheriff’s station and insists that Sheriff Acosta does his best to track down Jake because of their unfinished business. The plans for Kieran’s surprise party continues with Brooke assisting Noah and Zoe in officiating tonight as a date for the two, meanwhile Emma reaffirms her date with Kieran to keep him in the dark. The sheriff finds himself speaking with the receptionist at his school and she states that Jake called in sick with strep-throat, reassuring the sheriff that he was certainly going to ditch school while his parents are in Mexico. The next stop he makes takes him to Jake’s home but there is no indication that anyone is there which takes us a step closer to people finding out about his murder. Eli and Emma try to party-prep her house for Kieran and the two have a moment where they both look like they want to kiss, but Brooke’s arrival ceases any opportunity for the time being. Brooke hands them a bottle she found on the porch that is an expensive and large bottle of tequila with a note from Jake. Eli leaves to find cups for Emma and she tells Brooke about what just occurred, so Brooke calls out Emma’s eagerness to participate.

The party begins to commence with a tipsy Emma making her rounds and noticing the date between Noah and Zoe – at the same time, Stavo hands out shots of Jake’s tequila to the party with enough for everyone to take a shot when Kieran walks in the door. A shocked Kieran partakes in the shots, but quickly finds out this change of pace is courtesy of his suspicious cousin Eli. People begin to talk about the odd tasting tequila with Audrey being the only one to know that Jake couldn’t have left it (but finds out too late.) Stavo is the only one familiar with the drug, having experienced Ayahuasca – a hallucinogenic drug that people believe connects them to a higher being for spiritual guidance. Audrey suggests that they keep everyone locked inside while they all undergo a drug induced experience that isn’t your average party.

With the Ayahuasca kicking in, Brooke watches her water being poured in slow motion before catching fire with multi-colored flames. She panics and falls back to the arm of Stavo, noticing his knife tattoo in a strange way with flames in his eyes. Kieran tries to confront his cousin despite hardcore tripping so Emma and Eli assist him to a bed where he can pass out and wait for the drugs to exit his system. Stavo takes Brooke to a quiet room to help her relax and “guide her” through the experience, trying to ground Brooke with his voice. She begins to see Jake who tells her Stavo only wants her physically, also expressing the fact that she is still very much in love with Jake. The Brooke scenes in this episode steal the show, going through various aspects of her personality and emotions.

Audrey searches for Emma (who was listening to a creepy story about Eli) asking Zoe where she could be. Zoe simply says “what have you done” and fades into another hallucination of Audrey seeing Rachel with the rope still around her neck. Audrey says she takes full responsibility, with Rachel telling her to not be scared and kisses her. When she returns to see things as they are, It’s Audrey and Noah kissing – so Zoe decides to get in on the action herself. Emma steps outside and sees a child version of herself saying she has something to show her still. The moon turns blue before her eyes and is surrounded by photos of herself in the middle of the woods. Emma spots the masked killer far away from her which she tells herself isn’t real. The killer takes a few steps and begins to sprint towards her (in a scene that could have been in the Scream movies for its effectiveness) and tries to stab her in the head – narrowly avoiding meeting her untimely demise. Her father finds her panicking, telling Emma that nothing is there.

Once everyone is completely recovered from the drug, they explain what happened to the sheriff but nobody believes that Emma was attacked. Audrey steps in and adds to Emma’s suspicions (knowing that she’s being targeted too) but no evidence makes things complicated. Emma and her father have a moment alone that inclines him to say he is leaving to “get better” which Emma agrees is the best idea – thanking him for saving her life. Audrey reveals what she believes is suspicious behavior from the sheriff’s son so later he goes through Stavo’s belongings to find a Brandon James mask hidden in a box. The next day, Kieran admits to Emma that maybe she wasn’t ready to come back and has been imagining things after all. He tries to comfort her but the reluctance between both is evident.

At school, Noah asks Audrey about what her apology was for during their kiss and she avoids by reminding him that Zoe and Noah could still have a connection. Zoe however doesn’t think it would end well, noting that his interest in Audrey won’t bode well for anyone involved. The Lady of the Lake assembly is set to start so Brooke takes a second to speak with Stavo about maybe hanging out again – trying to move past what her life has consisted of lately. She prepares to go despite not being interested in partaking, but he says if anyone can handle it – it’s definitely Brooke. The girls are called up individually when Zoe shows anxiety, but Brooke exudes her trademark confidence. She steps to the center of the stage where the finalists are shown – but just as the banner rolls out, blood is poured from the pageant banner which drenches Brooke Carrie-style. Just when you think it can’t get more horrific for the multi-layered character, her boyfriends mangled corpse hits the ground in front of her and the entire audience, with Brooke letting out a scream of heartbreak and terror.

Overall Grade: 9/10

This was undoubtedly a major episode for Scream. The series took the efforts of bringing in a drug-induced story that provided us with a look at the main character’s’ psyche. It had unique creative attributes to the episodes filming techniques with a psychedelic twist. On top of a dream/drug centric story, the characters officially became aware of a new murderer in what is absolutely the most heartbreaking moment of Scream so far. I enjoy the notion of utilizing Brooke/Jake to the developing plot and believe this adds to the suggestion that Brooke is/should be the true “final girl” of the Scream series.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

  • Major credit for the dreamscape path the episode went down.
  • This killer is smart enough to really mess with the main characters to the fullest extent, going for pain from the Lakewood 6.
  • Kieran and Noah continue to be my primary suspects with Emma as a psychotic wildcard, also leaving a potential third killer among the new kids.
  • Jake may be gone, but clearly he has played massive role in the Scream plot for season 2.
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Scream: 02×03, “Vacancy” (Review/Recap)

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This week’s episode titled “Vacancy” brings Audrey face to face with the consequences of her actions… The loss of the beloved Jake. Moments after, the killer calls an anxiety riddled Audrey and she is forced to remove the pins from his body with notes attached saying the killer finished her job. Emma informs her mother that she has encountered her father after years of being missing from their lives. While Maggie doesn’t want her to have that chance to talk, Emma can’t promise she’ll keep her distance. Emma calls Audrey (being the only friend who knew her father) and Audrey’s suspicions of him given the timing. Emma on the other hand has decided that they should be able to relate to his traumatic experiences after going through a similar tragedy, meeting up with him to get some of the answers she needs. When they meet, he tells her that Maggie didn’t want him to return or contact her (shocker) but he can’t give her answers as to why he left in the first place.

Audrey goes to the storage unit with Noah and expects to find Jake again, but the scene is cleaned up so Audrey is more on edge than ever. Noah locates a camera set up in the unit and decides to take it to see what he can figure out – so Audrey’s cover-up continues. Brooke (feeling abandoned) calls Jake again and leaves a message to inform him she’s made so many steps to bring them closer so she can’t understand why he’s avoiding her. (With Zoe and Stavo lurking in the distance.) At school, Emma catches Kieran up on her father’s return with his cousin Eli awkwardly staring and standing nearby. Emma takes it upon herself to show him around the campus, also giving her a chance to figure out more about the mysterious new student.

Noah is starting to feel like he’s getting closer to the truth but doesn’t quite have anything from the camera to shed light on the killer. As Audrey leaves, she gets a GIF (so meta) from the killer that had her pulling pins from Jake’s body and saying “don’t worry partner, I covered for you.” Emma’s father decides to show up at Maggie’s home, telling her Riley has been emailing him to come see Emma (but Maggie reveals the news about her murder) which means the killer has a larger role in his return to Lakewood. Brooke and Zoe semi-bond over guy trouble before she receives a call from her former flame Seth Branson. He tells her he has missed her but Brooke hangs up and wants nothing to do with the pervy/sexually frustrated teacher. A “girls only” moment occurs with Audrey, Brooke and Emma when Brooke divulges Brandon’s mysterious call and Audrey reveals the news about Emma’s dad. After referring to him as a deadbeat, Emma grows agitated and claims she wasn’t ready to share that – thus upsetting Brooke who already deals with feeling solitude. It begins to turn into an argument with Audrey saying some insincere comments that she doesn’t have the authority to say given her role in the murders.

Emma’s parents take the evidence to sheriff Acosta (who has a history with her father) and they decide to not tell Emma which makes Maggie feel uneasy. When Emma goes to check her schedule for work she’s given a note from her father (with Eli present too) telling her to meet him at the Crescent Palms Motel for info. At the motel, the young man who was Noah’s lead goes to check on a room lined with plastic and the killer appears to smash a bottle over his head with music used to hide the screams. The murder becomes more brutal when he stabs the clerk with a corkscrew and drags him away for more slasher villain madness. The masked murderer calls Audrey and forces her to go to the motel, making her possibly do his/her bidding. Unaware of what’s going on, Brooke sets up Noah and Zoe (with Stavo randomly appearing to say some oddly timed comments about the murders) and the four go to a movie where Branson happens to be seen. Brooke confronts him for calling and arriving back in town which he says is purely coincidental. More than anything she wants him to know she doesn’t trust him. Noah makes a remark about Branson’s shady past, and Stavo pretends to be Brooke’s placeholder boyfriend to keep him away (which he uses as an opportunity to make a move.) As she leaves, Brooke finds out the flowers were from Branson and not Jake – so she texts him, getting a cold response from the killer to make her less suspicious.

Emma finds her father’s room at the Crescent Palms where she locates a series of newspapers clippings that she discovered in the season opener. Audrey is on her way to the location as well, when the killer FaceTime’s her to prove he’s in the bathroom of the room Emma is waiting in. Audrey calls Emma’s phone (which is ignored) and decides to call the police to save her if possible. Right before Emma opens the door where the killer awaits her, she hears a struggle outside with her dad fighting someone in a drunken stupor. An enraged Emma realizes he wasn’t the one who left her the note or clippings, but he planned on fleeing without telling her. He does admit that part of why he left was he ended up arguing with Maggie and fracturing her jaw – so Audrey appears to comfort her (using the fight as her reason for calling the police.) Emma now feels like she understands everyone’s disdain towards her father so as she leaves, Audrey feels a sense of relief… Until the killer texts the accomplice to show her that the murder weapon is in her car and now has Audrey’s fingerprints all over what was used to kill the motel clerk. Good luck Audrey, you’re going to need it.

Overall Grade: 8/10
The new characters are become more integrated into the group with equal suspicious scenes dispersed to keep viewers guessing. Bringing Emma’s father back (even if briefly) was a piece of the Brandon James puzzle that continues to create interest. Each character, other than a somewhat missing Kieran, has their own things going on to complicate the dynamics of the Lakewood 5. For being 3 episodes in, Scream is giving us a lot to look forward to in a sophomore season of horror – and the psychological impact of these events.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-The season feels like it should be building to an Audrey showdown where she will pay the ultimate price for her association with Piper.

-I’m glad to know they weren’t willing to disregard Jake’s untimely demise and use it as a major plot to the season. (Gone too soon.)

-Brooke is queen. No need to explain, it’s simply a well known fact.

-Emma’s father is still struggling to cope with the murders 20 years ago, so I hope to see more of what made him the anxiety stricken man he has become.

Scream: 02×02, “Psycho” (Review/Recap)

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entertainment focus

The cat and mouse game between the killer and the Lakewood 6 continue on this week’s episode of Scream, picking up where we left off when Emma discovers the former home of Troy James. She notices an array of old furniture arranged along with numerous childhood photos and newspaper clippings, right before she notices a hooded figure that runs a different direction as Emma lets out a scream and makes an escape out the front door. A very smart Brooke makes the decision to stay away from the screams, grabbing Emma and speeding off hastily. When Emma fills her mother in on the discovery, Maggie confirms that they have both been to the James family farm which proves she can’t easily be trusted (still.) Maggie decides to return with Emma to the property and figure things out together – but unfortunately the house was cleared out with no evidence to back up the fragile lead’s claims.

The first person she seeks out to discuss the issue (as well as her sanity) is Kieran who remains the supportive and stand-up gentleman he’s been from the beginning. Meanwhile, Noah tells Audrey that a commenter on his podcast with Emma works at a motel and claims to have seen Piper’s accomplice with his own eyes and Audrey becomes uneasy about her stability as being viewed as a survivor/bystander. By the time school commences, Kieran asks Brooke if she can vouch for Emma’s claims, but she admits that she didn’t actually witness anything and mentions Emma does have issues in the past with hallucinations and lapses in mental stability. To change the subject, Brooke tells Emma and the others that Jake seems to be ignoring her (now on day 2) which worries the girl in love who is still unaware of his heart wrenching demise. Everyone else thinks things must be ok, but Brooke expresses a genuine concern from not having talked to any of the other Lakewood sixers. Audrey becomes distracted on her own when the killer messages her about her truth being at risk as she notices Haley (the prankster from the movie theatre) also texting nearby and making brief eye contact. Audrey follows and intimidates the girl who as it turns out was only messaging her boyfriend, but Audrey is clearly on edge given her major predicament.

With everything going on, Emma sees a slightly frustrated Zoey, then realizing she missed their study session to catch her up on everything she’s missed. Zoey tells her that she’s been through her fair share of rough times and knows that Emma is an extremely intelligent girl who has to be willing to commit to get her life back on track (in other words.) In psychology with a handful of the characters we know, the brain’s instincts for survival is a topic of conversation that Stavo chimes in on and shows his perceptiveness (total red herring.) Noah tracks down Audrey, noticing her paranoia with Haley, but she diverts to what Noah intends on doing with his lead that could reveal Audrey’s partnership with Piper. He informs her that he has an interview planned with the man who supposedly saw the interaction which prompts her to offer herself as a videographer. Emma finds herself alone in the hallway near her locker when she first encounters a very unusually creepy new character who makes an instant attempt to talk to her, even knowing her name (while also admitting he’s not even enrolled at their school.)

Brooke has a short visit with her father and when he leaves, we see recent texts with him and Jake that doesn’t provide us with all the answers, but does suggest some sort of agreement which he hinted at with his “plan” before he was killed. As Kieran arrives to his home, the new sheriff is already present and makes note of him living without a legal guardian present. His aunt is there for the time being and insists he relocate with her to Atlanta as the only other option. When Emma hears the news, she opens up to her mom about how he was the only person she felt like she could completely open up to (a little Maggie dig!) Brooke grows extremely concerned about Jake’s safety and arrives to the police station to file a missing persons report, running into Stavo. When he finds out why she’s there, he refers to Jake as number 6. Stavo then admits he has done a ranking of the Lakewood 6 in terms of importance and involvement and tells Brooke she is ranked as number 4. “I was stabbed and left in a freezer!” she protests, but he says that spot is Noah’s for his investigation successes. When Brooke is called in to meet with the sheriff, she gets a text from Jake’s phone which eases her mind. Stavo, who was also texting at the same time, tries to comment on her relationship until she tells him everyone may think they know the Lakewood 6 but they actually know nothing about them or their lives.

Emma casts her trust issues aside and meets with the psych professor who offered her help at the coffee shop she used to work at and encountered Piper. Emma is triggered by a girl with similarities to her and has a mild anxiety attack that catches everyone’s attention. The teacher (now counselor) tries her best to comfort Emma and stresses that being vulnerable with Piper doesn’t mean she made a judgmental error – stating that it’s brave to trust and open yourself up to people. All of this would be much sweeter if it wasn’t for the fact that the woman has a recorder in her bag and catches every word Emma is saying, opening up again to someone who can’t be trusted. She follows up by saying Emma needs to do whatever she can to come to terms that Piper is gone and can’t take anything else from her, something that is a necessary statement to initiate moving past her turmoil. At the same time, Brooke decides to text Jake and arrange a meeting for the two of them which is yet another hard moment to watch while Brooke is so devoted to her boyfriend who she still doesn’t know is deceased.

Emma goes to see Kieran and the mysterious young man from her school answers, who is revealed to be Eli, the cousin of Kieran. She pulls him away from his family and tells him she needs to do something that only he can accompany her for before he possibly leaves Lakewood. When they drive away, his aunt and cousin admit to possibly wanting to stay in Lakewood to shed their struggles back home with an option at living in a new home rent free. In what is possibly one of the saddest scenes of the episode, Brooke prepares for a special date with Jake and faces her father’s disapproval by admitting that she wants to be with Jake and truly cares for him, regardless of how her father may feel after the complicated past. This was a huge declaration for Brooke and makes it hard to prepare for when she hears what has happened to him.

Emma and Kieran arrive to the dock where everything took place with Piper and relives the moment but immediately seeks solace in her on/off boyfriend. They begin to sleep together but pause when her scar is shown to him that she deems “ugly.” Kieran being Emma’s Mr. Perfect says that it only makes her more beautiful to him which is enough to keep the passion alive. Noah finds his way to the hotel where someone claims to have seen the accomplice but Audrey is nearby as well and calls with the voice modulator to threaten him to stay silent – which works when Noah gets too close to learning more. She then pretends to show up late and Noah implies he got a little information about a storage unit that could have some of Piper’s belongings because the hotel wasn’t one of her known locations to the police. They agree to check it out in the morning which only means Audrey will have plans later in the evening.

When Emma and Kieran get back to his house, his aunt says that Maggie offered to house him but her and Eli decided to stay in Lakewood with him for her brother’s sake (lies.) Emma now is beginning to show signs that she is better, even deciding to walk home and call her mother to thank her for offering to be his guardian. As she hangs up, she sees a car pursuing her that could be problematic, so she screams at the driver to find out what he or she wants – her sense of security is a true roller coaster of emotion. The driver slowly steps out of the car and Emma realizes it’s actually her father, who tells her that he’s now back in Lakewood because he wanted to be present for her – respecting her decision regardless of whatever it may be. Audrey goes to this storage unit alone to see if there is any evidence against her, while Noah begins to conduct his podcast as the closing monologue about suspense, truth and mystery that leads to nothing good. He tells his listeners that he knows that when he discovers his big reveal, he won’t be happy with the end results. As he says it, Audrey opens it up and finds the mutilated corpse of Jake with words pinned to his body that stated they finished the job for Audrey. At the same exact moment, we see Brooke hopelessly waiting outside of his house to catch a glimpse of the man she loves.

Overall Grade: 8.5/10

The killer didn’t strike in this episode because it was still taking the time to explore the complex relationships of the Lakewood 6 with the new characters as well. Jake’s current absence is only going to make his death that more impactful when everyone learns about his murder in the coming weeks, setting Brooke up for a devastating season. Audrey seems impossible to redeem at this point and I can actually say that she doesn’t really deserve to make it out alive over the other survivors. Eli, Stavo and Zoey are each interesting and suspicious in their own ways, which makes each an intriguing new character to follow (and add to the potential death toll.) Scream is definitely taking the steps to bring their insecurities and hindered mentality to the table, adding a broader psychological struggle to the Lakewood 6 as a group.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

  • Even with Jake being gone, his loss hasn’t become any easier to stomach with a fragile Brooke on the verge of a downward spiral.
  • Emma is going back and forth between slightly recovered and still ready to snap on anyone, so I can’t help but wonder how she’ll react to more death.
  • Kieran is definitely a kind hearted man, if he is the killer it’ll be a sad discovery for the group and viewers.
  • As far as Stavo’s rankings of the Lakewood 6 goes, Brooke is 100% deserving of being in the top 3.