Happy Chanel-O-Ween, everyone!
Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 4 was a bit of an uneven hour but had its share of laugh-out-loud moments and memorable performances – particularly those by Keke Palmer as Zayday and Glen Powell as Chad Radwell.
First, we were treated to that fantastic opening scene of Chanel discussing her Chanel-O-Ween gift-giving tradition. Emma Roberts' tone-deaf delivery of that cringeworthy self-serving monologue was absolutely flawless. Again, it's hard to tell that Roberts is even acting at some points; she is inhabiting the role that well.
Halloween is the most important day of the year. It's the one day on the Gregorian calendar where you're allowed to go around terrifying children and not be branded a psychopath. I am a future network news anchor who's super classy and has almost no fat on her body. But a lot of my fans are, like, friendless dumpy coeds at this or that nursing school in one of this country's various national armpits. And Chanel-O-Ween is the one time a year where I can give these precious donkeys something to look forward to. They put down their Hot Pockets and bask in the warm glow of what it feels like to love me. Chanel-O-Ween is approaching so I went shopping with my comatose grandmother's credit card and bought presents. This severed hand is for Mallory. These razor apples- for Daisy!Chanel
The real highlight of the scene was the "inspirational" song playing over the home video-style clips of Chanel's Instagram followers/"precious donkeys" opening their macabre gifts. The delirious happiness that they exuded (as if Chanel were an actual celebrity or religious figure gracing them with her presence) was so fantastically absurd.
The one death this week was a big letdown. It was a weak and predictable choice to have the sole death be that of a minor character who we had just met earlier in the same episode. Plus, I vaguely recall promises that there would be huge, game-changing deaths on this show every week? Yeah, not so much. "Haunted House" definitely seemed to be missing that sense of urgency.
And for the record, yes, this is what I meant when I mentioned my concern that the showrunners were burning out too early on the cool deaths front.
Meanwhile, in a surprise to absolutely no one, the detective dismissed Gigi's and Wes' accusations against the Dean in record time. It's not like I thought that the Dean would actually be arrested or anything – but the swift way he dismissed their concerns was incredibly suspect.
That scene, paired with the closing moments of both the Dean and detective casually writing off the slew of dead bodies found lying around the haunted house at 53 Shady Lane as unrelated to the campus attacks, has me looking a little more closely at both that detective (whose name I consistently can't remember... did he even get a name?) and the Dean.
Grace and Pete continued to do their (incredibly bland) little Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys thing, going to discuss the 1995 Kappa girl's death with Mandy, one of the sisters who witnessed it and who helped to bury the body at the Dean's urging.
The Matthew McConaughey/True Detective bit fell really flat for me. The "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days" costume choice also seemed random and out of place, but I chose to interpret that one and file it away under "more reasons that Grace is the most boring."
That, and her regular jack-o-lantern. Seriously, you have Charles Manson, Chad Radwell, Drunk and Hurricane Andrew pumpkins surrounding you and you carve a boring old standard jack-o-lantern? Step it up, Grace! You and your many, many hats need an injection of personality, stat.
Speaking of personality, it seems like we're about to be introduced to a whole other side of Gigi Caldwell! That was definitely Gigi, or someone who looks identical to her, chilling out on the Hag of Shady Lane's porch in the closing scene.
What are your theories for what's going on there? I previously theorized that Gigi's throwaway line about her therapist thinking she'd had a traumatic experience that kept her psyche partially lodged in the 90s might come into play. The closing moments of the episode definitely seemed to confirm this idea, as Gigi sat there looking glassy-eyed and eerie.
Is she or was she really the Hag? Did she have the 1995 Kappa girl's baby? Even if she is, and even if she did, does this necessarily make her evil?
Next to the opening Chanel-O-Ween montage, my other favorite moments were any of the several interactions between Hester and Chad. Hester is delightfully unhinged and Lea Michele's delivery of a few absolute gems ("Are you man enough to attack my crack?") was flawless and so very un-Rachel Berry-like. Lea Michele and Glen Powell also have great, creepy chemistry. I loved all of it!
Chad: Sometimes I come out here and I just rub my hands on the gravestones...and when I find a gravestone I like, I uh, I get turned on and I rub one out to it.
Hester: I get it. I get you more than anyone. I also find the thought of dead bodies extremely arousing.
Chad: Oh god, that is such a relief to hear.
What I wasn't crazy about was the way the show seemingly turned tail and backed down from Hester's and Chad's shared morbid/erotic fascinations. It seems like they were all game for the macabre stuff until the macabre stuff became actual stuff (i.e., dead bodies) and not just talk. The way they both backed down when confronted by actual dead bodies was not something I saw coming, but I guess it is reassurance that the characters are more human than we know – not just these absurd caricatures of millennials.
The series is doing particularly well in the cinematography and editing departments, even when the dialogue and/or cohesion of the plot is a bit lacking. There have been a few excellent cut scenes over the course of the show so far.
There were two particularly excellent cuts in "Haunted House": the first was the cut from Chad and Hester running, screaming, from the haunted house to sitting, traumatized, in the coffee house; the second was the cut from Chad screaming "no" as the coffee house patrons mistook his warning and ran off to the haunted house to the party itself.
As I mentioned earlier, the two MVPs of the week for me were Chad and also Zayday. Zayday's interactions with Denise were wonderful. Keke Palmer and Niecy Nash play off of each other so well. I love their antagonism.
- I love the random shade that Chanel #3 throws at Chanel in that completely dead voice.
- Armless Dollar Scholar is still alive? Did I hear that correctly? I'm fairly certain that I heard Denise say that he almost died. I'm not surprised because this show is so completely absurd to begin with but really? That didn't kill him?
- Grace, having found out from Mandy that the 1995 Kappa girl's baby was a girl, now thinks she might be the 1995 Kappa baby. Yawn. Please, no.
- Speaking of Grace, how many hats does this woman own?! Honestly. Were hats written into the character description or is the wardrobe department just having their own grand ol' time with this?
- If Gigi is the Hag of Shady Lane, what does this mean about her relationship with Wes? I legitimately fear that the Dean might just scoop him up and have her way with him if Gigi isn't around to serve as a sort-of blocker.
- I 100% saw and appreciated where Ryan Murphy was going with that whole Chanels-against-sexism bit, but the entire scene felt very ham-fisted and shoe-horned it – and definitely not in a good way. Chanel's speech against the college bros' objectification was definitely good on paper, but the scene itself fell really flat. The timing and the tone were both slightly off there.
- I'm really excited to see how Chanel's Halloween event fares against Zayday's!
What did you all think of this episode? Too gross? Too silly? Not silly enough? Be sure to chime in with your thoughts below and remember that you can watch Scream Queens online to catch up on anything you might have missed before Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 5.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.