In the latest issue of TV Guide Magazine, Damian Holbrook praised Scream Queens in quite backhanded fashion, “Cheers to Scream Queens for sparing Niecy Nash this long. We have no clue who the killer is, but there’s no question that Fox’s sorority house massacre would be a bloody bore without her security guard character Denise Hemphill to keep us screaming with laughter.”
Unfortunately, we’ve now had two episodes in a row without Denise (last weeks’ “Seven Minutes in Hell” and this week’s “Beware of Young Girls”), and not coincidentally I find my interest in the show waning. Random cartoon-like death scenes, such as the armless idiot needing to climb a ladder to escape the Red Devil last week, barely induce a smirk. Even Pete’s killer Matthew McConaughey impression, which he busted out this week and apparently uses whenever he’s trying to seduce Grace, does nothing for me anymore. When this show doesn’t have Gigi and Denise around it’s really just an ode to sorority house bitchery of the highest order and an excuse for a rotating batch of horror movie homages, and that becomes such a drag after a while.
The homages this week seemed to be Ouija (the Chanels use a Ouija board to contact the ghost of the Ariana Grande Chanel) and Rosemary’s Baby (Dean Munsch has it out for a co-ed who stole her ex-husband, and the co-ed happens to look exactly like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby). The sorority house bitchery was amped up even more than usual, with Chanel on her worst possible behavior, opening the episode eulogizing the Ariana Grande Chanel in a remarkably hate-filled speech, another one of those signature Scream Queens “It’s funny because she’s being such a monster!” moments. Eventually, the Chanels decide the Ariana Grande Chanel’s ghost is trying to contact them, and when they use a Ouija board to communicate the ghost indicates that Chanel is the Red Devil killer. She denies it, but the Chanels plan to kill her rather than wait await for her to kill them.
Elsewhere, Gigi’s revenge scheme isn’t going according to plan. So she sets a new plan into motion by floating a name to Grace who then uncovers a backstory implying Dean Munsch might be the killer because she possibly attempted to kill the former Kappa sister who stole her husband from her. When that same ex husband ends up dismembered with his severed head left in a water tank, Dean Munsch is arrested and charged with all of the Red Devil murders, even though the main cop, Grace/Peter, and possibly every single viewer of this episode knows that it doesn’t really add up she’d be the Red Devil (or at least one of them).
It turns out this entire episode was a huge misdirection, though. Outside of Gigi getting the ball rolling on the front end, the Red Devil was completely absent. We learn in the end that the Dean did in fact kill her ex-husband but successfully framed his new girlfriend for the murder (via a truly convoluted bit of nonsense revolving around the way she pronounces the word “bologna”). The Dean simply took the chaos caused by the Red Devil killings as an opportunity to exact her revenge on her ex and his stupid new girlfriend because hell hath no fury like a woman…well, you know.
Jamie Lee Curtis is clearly having a lot of fun playing this character, and two of the standout scenes of the episode involved her, first pretending she thought the main cop was simply initiating sexual role playing while attempting to arrest her and then telling Grace/Pete how much she was enjoying her brief stint in the mental hospital (so much time to finally get things done!). However, personally, the novelty of seeing Jamie Lee Curtis delivering such a camptastic performance is starting to wear off, and the confirmation that the Dean is a killer but probably not the Red Devil killer sort of contributes to the “Don’t care when anyone dies on this show” problem. If the Dean’s the next to go, eh, we know that she’s a truly terrible person.
At least she’s always fairly enjoyable to watch, though. The other half of the episode flirted with the supernatural as Chanel conversed with the ghost of the Arian Grande Chanel, who basically dropped some one-liners about the things she has to do in hell (Hitler motorboats her boobs now) and acted as a kind of Christmas Carol ghost, pleading with Chanel to become a better leader to avoid hell. Plus, she gave her the heads-up about the other Chanels plan to kill her via a bowling ball to the face, and the end result was a confrontation in which all the Chanels made peace and decided that the true Red Devil they should be fighting is probably Grace and Zayday.
Of course, technically, it wasn’t really a ghost who helped make this happen but instead Chanel’s medically induced fever dream.
Outside of Jamie Lee Curtis, I don’t think this show’s core cast is strong enough to support itself when characters like Denise or Gigi aren’t around to offer hilarious commentary or truly intriguing peeks into what’s happening with the Red Devils. There was some of that with Gigi in this episode, but this was mostly the Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis hour. If you adore seeing Roberts at her bitchy heights then this was the episode for you. I personally don’t see any humor anymore in her being a monster to everyone, and then even when they put her in jail or try to kill her they still end up cowering at the sight of her in fear. Put her into conflict with Grace or Zayday or the Dean. Don’t make me watch her continually call the other Chanels bitches or whores or sluts, and then pretend like I should care at all when she gets emotional because Chad might be cheating on her again. Luckily, it appears as if the Chanels will present a unified front against Grace and Zayday which should be more interesting than what we got in “Beware of Young Girls,” even if it was admittedly amusing watching the Chanels debate how they should kill someone (poisoned bras? Sugar parties with crushed diamonds in place of sugar?).
The Mia Farrow stand-in coming home to find her boyfriend’s severed hand placed on the wall to point her up the stairs (“This Way”) and then his severed foot attached to a door with red text reading “Step This Way” before finding his severed head just beyond a door which had red text announcing “Just a Head.” Can’t say I’ve ever seen someone get directions delivered by specific body parts like that before.