At this point, most Scream Queens episode break down into two sections. There’s the stuff with Grace and Pete trying to find the Red Devil, and there’s the stuff with Chanel and the sorority, which is where Ryan Murphy and company’s comedy instincts are most overindulged. Along the way, some character we’ve probably just met for the first time will get knocked off in a funny death scene, and one potential murder suspect will be profiled and seemingly exonerated in time for the next episode to move on to another suspect. Chad was the chief suspect last episode. So, Zayday was the main suspect in “Pumpkin Patch,” since Denise is convinced that Zayday staged her kidnapping and is the true killer.
How did everything else play out in “Pumpkin Patch”?:
The Sorority Stuff
Chanel 1 is extra-bitchy this week, pushed to the edge by Zayday’s recent threat to her power and Dean Munsch’s decision to put the campus under a strict curfew and thus close down Chanel’s big planned pumpkin patch even for Halloween. When she finally pushes the Abigail Breslin Chanel too far, Lea Michele swoops in to hatch a plan. With the assistance of one of the pledges, Breslin and Michele tell the cops about Chanel killing the housekeeper, but her ensuing trip to prison is short-lived. Just as she forms a bond with an Orange is the New Black kind of crew in the prison, Chanel’s dad manages to get her released, and she goes straight to the sorority house to take it out on the Breslin Chanel, who was actually being set up by the Lea Michele Chanel. As punishment, Chanel 1 sends the Breslin Chanel to light all the candles in the pumpkin patch, knowing full well that the Red Devil will likely be there. She takes her fuck buddy twins with her, and sure enough one of them ends up being killed after a lengthy recreation of the maze chase scene in Kubrick’s The Shining.
Back at the sorority house, Chanel 1 calls an emergency vote to guarantee her of a win since neither Grace nor Zayday are present, but Zayday surprisingly waltz in right before the vote, quick to explain how she escaped the Red Devil. The episode ends right before the big vote.
The Murder Investigation Stuff
Grace and Peter walk in on her dad in the full-on bone zone with Gigi. After picking up the pieces from that traumatic experience, the four of them move forward with their own search for Zayday, especially since Dean Munsch is being purposefully unhelpful, claiming she’s done everything she could when all she’s really done is call the cops one time to let them know Zayday might be missing. The Dean insists that Denice lead the search party, and they begrudgingly go along with it, ignoring Gigi’s tedious suggestion to check the local car washes for any signs of a highly noticeable red dirt unique to the area where Zayday was kidnapped. Instead, Denice and the group use an app to locate Zayday’s phone, and it takes them right to a cellar which a kindly old woman claims is rented out to a nice man who pays in money and on time. Earlier in the episode, we had glimpsed the cellar in a Silence of the Lambs-esque sequence, in which Zayday was being held at the bottom of a pit, but by the time Grace and the group make it there Zayday is nowhere to be found. The Red Devil does show up, though, cutting the power and using nightvision goggles to attack Denise and Gigi, ultimately felled by Gigi’s taser gun. He gets away, and Grace applauds Gigi’s courage, getting over her prior apprehensions about this being the first woman her dad had been with since her mother.
The episode ends with the reveal that Gigi is actually the ring leader of the Red Devils, as she talks to one of them in a shadowy corner of the campus and appears to indicate that whoever allowed Zayday to escape screwed up royally and must be dealt with. Reading between the lines, there must be three Red Devils.
I watch Scream Queens for three reasons: The comedy, the death scenes and the murder mystery, but it’s mostly for the comedy. The least funny part of the show for me has always been Emma Roberts extreme bitchery as Chanel No. 1. When you put her up against someone who can actually fight back, like Grace, Zayday or the Dean, or someone who leaves her flustered, like Lea Michele’s Chanel, she can be kind of fun. When you give her truly random comedy, like that beatdown of the jock in the lunch hall last week, I’ll laugh. When it is just her being beyond nasty to her underlings for 40 minutes I start rooting for the killer to target her next. “Pumpkin Patch” foregrounded that aspect of Chanel 1 more than any episode since the pilot. As a result, this might have been my least favorite episode to date.
Sure, there were plenty of funny one-liners. The Dean and Denise’s conversation about their differing sexual experiences with Chad was surprisingly funny, and Nasim Pedrad’s continued mastery of such a purposefully socially awkward character as Gigi is a delight. However, there wasn’t as much funny material for me in this episode.
That just leaves me with the death scenes and the murder mystery. On that first part, Vulture’s review summed it up best:
So far at least one person has kicked it each episode, but if there are so many damn characters, why are the only ones dying the ones we care nothing about? The only one to get iced by the Red Devil this week was Roger (or was it Dodger?) the Dicky Dollar twin who tag-teamed Chanel No. 5. I don’t remember seeing either of them even once before, so how am I supposed to feel worried about them while they are being chased around a replica of the hedge maze from The Shining? Well, I wasn’t. The same goes for the ice-cream mascot, Shondell, the Dickie Dollar who now has no arms, and just about everyone else that the Red Devil has disposed of since the premiere. Where is the carnage that really matters?
We don’t want to see humans in danger, we want to see characters in danger. The show has to build them up if it wants us to actually care about the carnage. I was tense as hell when I thought that either Gigi or my darling Denise might get an ax to the face when they were in the Red Devil’s evil lair. That was scary.
On the murder investigation part, I supposed we are meant to believe that Zayday isn’t a real suspect anymore, assuming we actually trust her story about how she escaped. Stepping back from it all, we now know that the Jonas brother faked his death and is probably one of the Red Devils, and Gigi seems to be the one in charge. That means there’s at least one more person in the cast who’s supposed to be under the Red Devil mask. I wouldn’t put it past this show to eventually have as many as four killers.
Ryan Murphy describes this show as “bubblegum splashed with blood,” and he promised THR that around 4 characters will survive. Should there be another season those characters will be transported to a new setting where they’ll be joined by a cast of all different age groups. That means that some significant characters are going to start dying soon. It’s probably about time at this point.
I mostly watch Scream Queens for the unexpected bursts of insane comedy, but most of that was Emma Roberts-dependent in “Pumpkin Patch,” which left me feeling cold.
2. “This ain’t The Marriage Ref. This ain’t Judge Joe Brown. This ain’t the Maury We ain’t standing in line trying to get tickets to Dr. Phil. I am not Steve Harvey, people. And this is not the Family Feud. I am trying to catch a killer here, people.” – Overall, though, Denise gets the best lines.
3. Funniest moment: The Evil Dead-esque point of view shots of Chanel 1 walking up the stairs of the sorority house and into her room to confront the Breslin Chanel. It made her seem like a demonic force descending upon a helpless victim, which is kind of how it played out.
4. The Red Devil who tried to wine and dine Zayday has to be the frat guy who talked her into challenging Chanel for control of the sorority, right?